North Korea: Sabre-rattling or imminent threat?

• April 26th, 2013

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has announced that it has entered into a ‘state of war’ with the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, has declared that DPRK poses “a real and clear danger”. Is this a war of words or could talk of war precipitate a full-blown military conflict?

Join us with a panel of experts to break down the escalating rhetoric and examine the intentions of DPRK. We will be asking if Kim Jong-un, the 29-year-old inexperienced leader, is just attempting to bolster his image at home or if there is any weight behind his threats.

Chaired by Charles Scanlon, BBC East Asia editor. He was BBC Korea correspondent from 1994 – 1997 and Japan and Korea correspondent 2000 – 2007.


Dr John Swenson-Wright is Fuji Bank University senior lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies at the East Asia Institute, University of Cambridge. He is a senior consulting fellow at the Asia Programme, Chatham House.

Andrea Berger is a research fellow for nuclear analysis at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and deputy director of the UK project on nuclear issues.

John Everard is a retired British diplomat, who served as British Ambassador to North Korea. He is author of Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea and is now a consultant for the UN.

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Presidential elections in Iran: Crackdowns and power struggles

• April 26th, 2013

On 14 June, Iranians will go to the polls to vote in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor. As debate around the elections begins to heat up we will be joined by a panel of experts to talk us through the power struggles and the state of opposition movements.

Although Ahmadinejad cannot run again, he has made clear he has no intention of ending his second term quietly. Our panel will be examining the power struggle at the heart of Iran’s political system and how it will play out in the lead up to the election.

A crackdown on the media has already been seen, with the arrests of 15 journalists at the end of January. With opposition leaders still under house arrest following the disputed 2009 elections, we will be asking if, once again, we will see protests on the streets of Tehran.

Chaired by Azadeh Moaveni, a former Middle East correspondent for Time magazine who has reported on Iran since 1999. She is the author of Lipstick Jihad, Honeymoon in Tehran, and co-author, with Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She writes widely on Iran and the Middle East for Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and other publications.

The panel:

Mehri Honarbin-Holliday is senior research fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University and fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS. She is the author of Becoming Visible in Iran: Women in Contemporary Iranian Society and Masculinities in Urban Iran.

Kelly Golnoush Niknejad is founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning Tehran Bureau, which is hosted by the Guardian. She is also the inaugural recipient of the Innovator Award from Columbia Journalism School for “inspiring, creating, developing, or implementing new ideas that further the cause of journalism”.

Kasra Naji, special correspondent for BBC Persian TV and author of Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran’s Radical Leader.

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The future of British journalism: A meeting of the country’s top student papers

• April 18th, 2013

Strictly by invitation only. Please contact the organisers for inquiries or view the website here.

On Wednesday 17 April, the editorial teams of the top 40 student publications in the country are coming together for an evening at the Frontline Club.

The evening will begin with a reception before moving to panel debates and talks with speakers, including: John Witherow, editor ofThe TimesSarah Baxter, editor of The Sunday Times MagazineIan Katz, deputy editor at The Guardian and Steve Richards at The Independent.

The event will be an opportunity to meet the other students running the best campus papers, with publications from the LSE, Imperial, UCL, Birmingham, Oxford, Durham, York, Cambridge, Warwick and Bristol among those attending.

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Screening: Peace vs Justice + Debate

• April 16th, 2013

The screening will be followed by a debate with Barney AfakoMugambi Kiai and Geoffrey Robertson, moderated by Matthew McAllester.

For more than 20 years, the Ugandan government has been fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony. While his army of child soldiers roams Sudan and the DR Congo, The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague hopes to try Kony one day.

Director Klaartje Quirijns filmed crucial moments in the occasionally painful process at the ICC and managed to lay her hands on rare recordings of the peace negotiations with Kony in the jungle.

She explores the different views of Western values in other countries, illustrated by the situation in Uganda. Peace vs Justice reveals the tension created by the justice offered by the International Criminal Court and the people’s desire for peace.

Directed by Klaartje Quirijns Duration: 64′ Year: 2012

This screening is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and TIME

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Soldiers’ Traumas - From World War Two to Afghanistan

• April 11th, 2013

Charles Glass is a veteran broadcaster, journalist and writer. His latest book Deserter explores the widely untold stories of the British and American deserters in the Second World War. He follows a group of soldiers into the heat of battle and explores what motivated them to take their fateful decision to run away.

Jake Wood is a former soldier who worked in parallel as a business analyst. In Among You he tells the story of his time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the battle he faced upon his return when diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through his own experiences he examines the harsh reality of front-line combat, the courage of the troops and the devastating after-effects of service that some suffer.

They will be joining us in conversation, chaired by Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, to talk about their respective works and the comparisons in the trauma suffered by soldiers from World War Two to Afghanistan.

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Ten year anniversary of the Iraq War: Have lessons been learned?

• March 21st, 2013

Wednesday 20 March 2013, 8:15 PM

Despite hundreds of thousands of people having taken to the streets of London and elsewhere to voice their opposition to military action in Iraq, on 19 March 2003, air strikes on the Presidential Palace in Baghdad began.

What followed was a US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, and marked the start of years of violent conflict. Ten years on, in a debate chaired by Channel 4 News’Jon Snow, we will ask: have lessons been learned?

The legacy of the Iraq War changed Western foreign policy, but with talk of Northern Africa becoming a new front in the war on terror, have the mistakes of Iraq been sufficiently ingrained on the consciences of populations and governments? To what degree is the impact on relations between the Middle East and the West still felt?

We will also be examining what has been heard at the Chilcot Inquiry and why we are still waiting to hear the findings.

Chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.

The panel:

Caroline Wyatt has been BBC defence correspondent since October 2007, covering the work of British Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003 she was embedded with British troops reporting on the war and its aftermath in and around Basra. Previously she has been BBC correspondent covering Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Bonn.

Rt Hon Jim Murphy is Labour Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire. He is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and has previously served as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Jack Fairweather is the author of A War of Choice: Britain in Iraq 2003-9. The Daily Telegraph’s Baghdad and Gulf correspondent for five years, he was an embedded reporter during the Iraq invasion, winning the British equivalent of the Pulitzer prize for his reporting. Most recently he has been the Washington Post’s Islamic world correspondent. He is a fellow of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and is working on a history of the Afghan war.

Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph‘s chief political commentator and author of The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock is chairman of the UN Association in the UK, the strategic advisory company Gatehouse Advisory Partners Ltd and Lambert Energy Advisory Ltd. He was a career diplomat from 1969 to 2004, developing specialisations in the Middle East, Transatlantic Relations and the United Nations. He served as UK Ambassador to the UN in New York from 1998 to 2003 and as UK Special Envoy for Iraq, based in Baghdad, from 2003 to 2004.

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In the Picture: The Grey Line with Jo Metson Scott

• March 13th, 2013

Over the last five years, photojournalist Jo Metson Scott has photographed The Grey Line, a reflection on war told from the perspectives of American and British soldiers who have spoken out against the invasion of Iraq. Their voices have been met with varying consequences, from being outcast to imprisoned, shunned to celebrated.

To mark 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, Metson Scott will be joined by Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier, to present The Grey Line, in a talk chaired by Victoria Brittain.

Metson Scott’s work has been exhibited around the UK and commissioned by a variety of organisations including The New York TimesThe Telegraph, and The Photographers’ Gallery. The Grey Line was the recipient of the inaugural Fire-Cracker Grant and will be published in book form in March 2013.

Former SAS soldier Ben Griffin was discharged from the Army in 2005 after refusing to return to Iraq. Gagged in 2008 for revealing Britain’s involvement in the torture of detainees he is now an organiser for Veterans for Peace in the UK.

Victoria Brittain has worked as a journalist in Vietnam, Southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Palestine for the Guardian, BBC, ITN and various French publications. In the last ten years her work has been mainly concerned with the fallout of the ‘war on terror’. She was co-author on Moazzam Begg’s Guantanamo memoir, Enemy Combatant.

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Analysing Kenya’s election results

• March 12th, 2013

Despite being wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, on Saturday Uhuru Kenyatta won election as Kenya’s new President. Join us as we discuss what Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory means for Kenya?

Kenyatta’s running mate William Ruto, also indicted by the ICC, is likely to become Deputy President. The turnout was high, a reported 86%, but with a marginal victory and the count plagued by delay and hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots Kenyatta’s main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has already said he will fight the outcome. We will be examining the choices made in this crucial election and what they mean for the future of Kenya.

Since the last election, a new constitution has come into force which has divided Kenya into 47 new counties, each with its own governor and parliament. The overarching idea of the new constitution is that the people will decide. We ask if this has been effective or has resulted in further division.

Chaired by Audrey Brown, a producer and presenter on BBC Focus on Africa and Network Africa.

The panel:

Daniel Branch is an associate professor of African history at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Kenya: Between Hope and Despair and Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War and Decolonization.

Natznet Tesfay is head of Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis Ltd. Prior to joining Exclusive Analysis she worked in the field of urban development, consulting for municipal governments in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Mathias Muindi is currently an editor with the BBC Monitoring office in Nairobi, which covers the entire Sub-Saharan Africa. He joined Monitoring in July 2002 after working with Kenyan media since graduating from Nairobi’s Daystar University in 1998.

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Is it a disaster if the cameras are not there?

• March 7th, 2013

Join us for a panel debate, chaired by Clive Jones, Chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee (and ITV News) with: Mike Thomson, foreign affairs correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme; Sarah Whitehead of Sky News; DFID’sDylan Winder; and Ross Preston, head of operations for international disaster relief charity, ShelterBox.

Inspired by ShelterBox, a growing emergency shelter provider in international disaster relief, we are offering a debate on how the media covers disasters, how journalists are selected, briefed and operate once in the field, and the value of their coverage.

The panel is chaired by Clive Jones CBE, the chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee. He is a former chairman of GMTV and ITV News, and an honorary visiting professor at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies at the University of Wales.

The panel:

Sarah Whitehead, international affairs editor, Sky News.

Dylan Winder, head of humanitarian response, Department For International Development (DFID).

Ross Preston MBE, head of operations, ShelterBox International.

Mike Thomson, foreign affairs correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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First Wednesday: Syria crisis - Diplomatic shifts and developing dialogues

• March 7th, 2013

A year after Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, the war in Syria is still raging and has cost the lives of more than 60,000 people. Following new US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first foreign tour, we ask if he can deliver on his vow not to leave the Syrian opposition “dangling in the wind”.

His trip has included meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and Friends of Syria in Rome. “We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming,” Kerry said at a news conference in London. “And we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”

We will be joined by a panel of experts to reflect on this latest effort by the US to engage with the crisis. Does this hint at a change in US policy toward Syria? Will this lead to any action? We will be looking at the groups and governments Kerry has met with and what their role may be in bringing the crisis in Syria to an end.

As the SNC announces plans to form a new transitional government, we ask if it is time the international community throws its weight behind them.

Chaired by Paddy O’Connell of BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House.

The panel:

Julien Barnes-Dacey is a policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. He was based in Syria from 2007 to 2010 as a journalist, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Firas Abi Ali is the Head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis, recently acquired by IHS.

Sakhr Al-Makhadhi is an award-winning journalist who has covered Syria for the past decade. Formerly based in Damascus, he regularly contributes to the BBC, Foreign Policy magazine, Channel 4 News, Al Jazeera and the Guardian among others.

Dr Rim Turkmani is a founder member of Building the Syrian State movement, and is co-chair of the Damask Rose Trust, a charity that supports development and education in Syria. She is an Astrophysicist at Imperial College London, and is a specialist in the history of Arabic/Islamic science and its influence on the west.

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On the media: Unprepared, inexperienced and in a war zone

• February 28th, 2013

A year ago, in the midst of the uprisings across the Arab world, when the news agenda was moving at a relentless pace, we brought together a group of journalists to talk about thepracticalities of life as a freelance foreign correspondent.

One year on, we take stock of the opportunities, challenges and risks that we have seen for freelancers. Should inexperienced freelancers be deterred from heading straight to conflict zones, or should training, insurance and guidance be more freely available?

In a recent piece for BBC College of Journalism Stuart Hugheswrites about the risks being taken by inexperienced freelancers. As more and more choose to cut their teeth in the field rather than in local newsrooms, Hughes will be joining us with a panel of journalists and editors to discuss what precautions need to be taken to keep them safe.

Chaired by Stuart Hughes is a senior world affairs producer with BBC News. He has worked in international news for more than a decade. Working alongside some of the BBC’s most respected correspondents, he has covered major news events around the world, including the 9/11 attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East conflict and the Arab Spring.

The panel:

Aris Roussinos is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and television news producer. Over the past two years, he has reported from Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, Greece and Sudan.

Julia Macfarlane is a freelance journalist working in Asia and the Middle East, having most recently freelanced in Lebanon for an independent documentary and BBC News as well as blogging on the Middle East for the Independent.

Hannah Storm is the director of the International News Safety Institute (INSI). Before joining INSI she worked as both a freelancer and a staff journalist for a number of broadcasters and news organisations, including ITN, Reuters, the BBC and The Times.

Colin Pereira, head of safety and security at ITN, he is responsible for the security of ITN operations in high risk environments. Previously he was deputy head of the BBC High Risk Team. He has advised on thousands of deployments around the world, ranging from the London riots to deploying crews to downtown Mogadishu. He is also head of high risk for 1st Option Safety, specialising in production and freelance safety.

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Chavez’s legacy

• February 27th, 2013

Provoking adoration and revulsion in equal measure, Hugo Chavez is a leader like no other. In October last year his loyal supporters came out to vote him back into office for his fourth presidential term.

In his new book, Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carrollsheds light on the inside story of Chavez’s life and his political court in Caracas. He will join the The New Yorker‘s Jon Lee Anderson and others to ask, after more than 13 years in power, what Chavez’s legacy will be.

With his inauguration indefinitely postponed and the severity of his medical condition unclear, we will be looking back at Chavez’s rule, examining his time in power and what the future holds for Venezuela.

Chaired by Richard Lapper, the director of Brazil Confidential, the FT‘s research service on Brazil.  He was Latin America Editor at the FT newspaper between 1998 and 2008, during which time he visited and reported from Venezuela regularly.

The panel:

Rory Carroll is the Guardian‘s US West Coast Correspondent based in Los Angeles and author of Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. For the past five years, throughout the writing of his book, Carroll has been stationed in Caracas as theGuardian‘s chief correspondent in South America.

Jon Lee Anderson is foreign correspondent for The New Yorker, and is the author of many books including The Fall of Baghdadand Guerrillas: Journeys in the Insurgent World.

Diego Moya-Ocampos is a senior political risk analyst for Venezuela for IHS Global Insight and IHS Jane’s. He previously worked as a lawyer for a private firm in Venezuela advising government agencies and private businesses on constitutional, regulatory and environmental issues, and as Chief Secretary at the Venezuelan Attorney-General’s Office.

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The Invention of the Land of Israel - book launch with Shlomo Sand and Independent Jewish Voices

• February 20th, 2013

This event is organised by Verso Books and Independent Jewish Voices, and is dedicated to Eric Hobsbawm.

What is a homeland and when does it become a national territory? Why have so many people been willing to die for such places throughout the twentieth century? What is the essence of the Promised Land?

Join Shlomo Sand and a panel with historian Donald Sassoonand human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman to discuss the mysterious sacred land that has become the site of the longest-running national struggle of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Following the acclaimed and controversial The Invention of the Jewish PeopleSand’s pioneering new work The Invention of the Land of Israel deconstructs the age-old legends surrounding the Holy Land and the prejudices that continue to suffocate it.

The Invention of the Land of Israel dissects the concept of “historical right” and tracks the creation of the modern concept of the “Land of Israel” by nineteenth-century Evangelical Protestants and Jewish Zionists. This invention, he argues, not only facilitated the colonization of the Middle East and the establishment of the State of Israel; it is also threatening the existence of the Jewish state today.

The Panel:

Professor Shlomo Sand studied history at the University of Tel Aviv and at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, in Paris. He currently teaches contemporary history at the University of Tel Aviv. His books include The Invention of the Jewish PeopleOn the Nation and the Jewish People.

Professor Donald Sassoon is Professor of Comparative European History at Queen Mary College, University of London. He received his PhD, supervised by Eric Hobsbawm, from Birkbeck College. His books include One Hundred Years of Socialism and The Culture of the Europeans: 1800 to the present.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon) founded Bindmans in 1974 and throughout his long and distinguished legal career, has specialised in civil liberty and human rights issues. He is a Visiting Professor of Law at University College London and at London South Bank University, an Honorary Fellow in Civil Legal Process at the University of Kent, and a Fellow of the Society of Advanced Legal Studies

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Two years of revolution: Bahrain’s uprising and Britain’s position

• February 18th, 2013

This event is organised by Bahrain Pro-Democracy Group in UK and Sayed Alwadaei, political activist in UK.

It is the longest and most peaceful revolution, yet the least covered by the Western media. When the youth of the Gulf island of Bahrain decided to join the Arab Spring on 14 February 2011 they were responding to the call for change that had resonated in the corners of the Arab world. Two years later, they have remained faithful to their revolutions, slogans and human values.

Their daily protests have continued against all the odds, including the political and security support by some Western governments to the antiquated Alkhalifa regime. While the British media was supportive of Bahrain’s pro-democracy protests the UK Government was less enthusiastic towards change in the political structure of a monarchy found guilty of “systematic torture” by its own commission of investigation.

These issues will be debated at a special seminar to coincide with the second anniversary of Bahrain’s 14 February Revolution. A film report highlighting the British role in Bahrain will also be shown.

Chaired by Mark McDonald, a human rights barrister and the director and principle founder of the London Innocence Project. He has lectured extensively on US death penalty litigation and constitutional law. He is the founder of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.

The Panel:

Dr Ala’a Shehabi, a Bahraini researcher and writer, and founding member of Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group campaigning for transparency and accountability in Bahrain.  She is currently an ACSS research fellow and has a PhD in economics from Imperial College London.

Farida Ghulam, a member of the Board of National Democratic Action Society “WAAD”. She is active within the women’s movement and plays a leading role in the political affairs in Bahrain. She is also the wife of the liberal secular left opposition figure and president of WAAD, Ibrahim Sharif, whose 5 years prison sentence in a military court has been upheld twice on appeal.

John Lubbock, a research and advocacy officer for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in London. He has a Masters in international politics and human rights from City University, London.

Mike Diboll, currently researching the cultural, generational and social transformation of the GCC region with a focus on higher education. He was professor of Comparative Literature at UAEU 2002-2007, University of Bahrain 2007-2009, Academic Head of CPD, Bahrain Teachers College 2009-2011.

Craig Murray, an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

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Congo Dreams: Hopes and prospects for the future

• February 14th, 2013

This event is in association with the Royal African Societyand will be held at Conway Hall.

The recent fighting involving the M23 rebel group that has put eastern DR Congo back on the front pages has reached a fragile ceasefire. Despite this being the focus of international attention, a recent Oxfam report highlights that the M23 are just one amongst many groups of rebels that regularly attack civilians, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.

In this special event in association with the Royal African Society, we will be looking at the implications of recent developments and the prospects for the current peace process. In a region so fractured and difficult to stabilise, we examine the structural problems and ask what could break the cycle of violence. Is it is time for a coordinated international approach to DR Congo?

This event is part of I Dream of Congo: Narratives from The Great Lakes, an exhibition which celebrates “the hope and optimism that pervades in the region despite years of war”.

Chaired by Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential.

The panel:

Noëlla Coursaris Musunka is an internationally renowned model, humanitarian activist and founder of the Georges Malaika Foundation, she was born in Lubumbashi, DR Congo.

Jean-Roger Kaseki, a human rights campaigner in the UK and DR Congo. He is a Labour councillor for Tollington Ward, Islington and a human rights and social justice research institute associate, at London Metropolitan University.

Kassim Kayira, journalist and commentator at BBC Africa.

Ben Shepherd, associate fellow of the Africa programme at Chatham House and former Great Lakes specialist at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

17% of ticket sales will go to Congo Connect which will distribute all proceeds raised during the exhibition to on-the-ground projects in eastern DRC, including Panzi Hospital, City of Joy and Women for Women International’s Bukavu programme.

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