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Sir Graeme Lamb is not fond of theorising. However, the former Director of the UK Special Forces can claim to have played an important part in the initiative that pacified large parts of Iraq after 2006. Much of what he argued for is now part of the official US counterinsurgency strategy. But while it is easy for academics and other observers to demand that armed forces should ‘reach out’ to insurgents, there is precious little guidance on the practicalities of initiating a meaningful conversation with the people determined to bomb the foreigners out of their homeland. Lamb shared his insights as part of Emma Sky’s seminar series in Oxford on 25 October, jointly hosted by the Changing Character of War …

Only three years ago, pundits and political scientists saw the 2008 American presidential election as the beginning of a new era in Washington: the rise of President Obama and a strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress meant that after eight years away from Pennsylvania Avenue, liberals could again implement political programmes and reforms free from Republican meddling. It provided an opportunity for a fresh progressive platform and created a new mood unlike any since the early years of the Clinton administration, or maybe since the dawn of the Great Society in the 1960s. The conservatives, meanwhile, were in despair; heavy losses darkened the mood and they saw Obama as a charismatic leader who would be difficult to beat, …

Last week, Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka, Bangladesh, visited the UN Development Programme in New York City to discuss his most recent book. I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Sobhan about the motivation behind his work and learn about the years of field research that preceded it. Challenging the Injustice of Poverty: Operationalizing an Agenda for Inclusive Development Across Southeast Asia is a culmination of Professor Sobhan’s efforts to understand the roots of economic exclusion across 5 countries over the past 4 years. At its core is Sobhan’s uncompromising insistence on identifying the source, as opposed to merely addressing the symptoms of poverty. According to Sobhan, poverty is not a social …

His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon, current Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave this year’s Cyril Foster Lecture on ‘Human Protection and the 21st Century United Nations’ on 2 February at Oxford’s Examination Schools, hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations. HE Mr Ban Ki-moon was the 4th Secretary-General of the UN to give a Cyril Foster lecture and he was greeted by an audience of over 700 attendees, including the overflow rooms. From the very early days of his tenure as Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has placed humanitarian issues, and particularly the notion of the ‘responsibility to protect’, at the forefront of his agenda. More specifically, he has sought to turn ‘words into deeds’ – to translate the …