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Can private diplomacy help end today’s conflicts?

June 17 /1:00 PM - 2:00 PM BST

Can private diplomacy help end today's conflicts?

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Participants (see more detailed bios below):

Alan Doss: Former Under Secretary General of the UN & former President of Kofi Annan Foundation, Chair of Advisory Board at Oxford Global Society

Sarah Boukhary: Yemen Program Manager at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

David Lanz: Deputy Director for Mediation Support and Policy at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

Paul Dziatkowiec (moderator): Director for Mediation and Peace Support at the GCSP, former senior Australian diplomat, Fellow at Oxford Global Society


The ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza have served not only to sharpen geopolitical tensions, they have seemingly also rendered ineffective a number of diplomatic methods for ending conflicts around the world. This points to the need for alternative tools for preventing and resolving conflict.  ‘Private diplomacy’ has become an increasingly common approach for exploring and ‘pre-cooking’ solutions.

Private diplomacy is sometimes referred to as Track II / Track 1.5 mediation, or simply unofficial peacemaking. These terms essentially refer to discreet, unofficial dialogue processes facilitated by non-state institutions or individuals, who convene relevant actors (or their associates) involved in conflict, with a view to developing mutually-agreeable options for preventing or resolving conflict.

Through this online discussion, the Oxford Global Society intends to shed some light on the practice of private diplomacy; and to examine whether, and in what circumstances, ‘unofficial diplomats’ may contribute to finding solutions where traditional diplomacy struggles to adapt to new international realities – and indeed, whether the two can be made more complementary.

Panelists will consider the following, among other aspects:

  • The purpose and methods of private diplomacy/track II mediation.
  • The extent to which private diplomacy works in modern conflicts, and if so, which circumstances are more conducive to its success.
  • Cases illustrating how unofficial peacemaking has helped bring an end to conflict, and where it has failed to do so.
  • The applicability of such methods to the rapidly changing international landscape (eg in addressing certain current conflicts where dialogue has failed to bring results).
  • The challenges and limits of private diplomacy.

Bios of participants:

Alan Doss

Alan Doss is a former Under Secretary General of the UN and a former President of Kofi Annan Foundation. He worked on UN development, humanitarian and peacekeeping issues for more than four decades. He represented the UNDP in various African and Asian countries, opening UNDP offices in Vietnam and China. He was appointed as deputy special representative of the Secretary General for UN peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire and then as the Special Representative of the UN missions in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After retirement from the UN and Kofi Annan Foundation, Alan continues to support international efforts to promote peace and development in various roles, including as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Peace Division of UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and as a board member of INTERPEACE. He also serves as the Chair of the Advisory Board at Oxford Global Society.

Mr. Paul DziatkowiecPaul Dziatkowiec is Director for Mediation and Peace Support at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP). He is an experienced diplomat and conflict mediator. Paul’s most recent diplomatic posting was as Australia’s Deputy Ambassador to Kenya (2009-12), during which he was the Acting Ambassador for approximately a year to Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania, and deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Nairobi. Earlier Paul was posted in Israel, and periodically served as Acting Representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Following his diplomat career, Paul joined the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) in Geneva. At HD Paul was involved in mediation in diverse conflict settings including Nigeria, Myanmar, Thailand and Ukraine. He led HD’s Ukraine program for six years. For five years Paul managed the Oslo Forum, the pre-eminent global gathering for conflict mediation.

David Lanz

David Lanz is Deputy Director for Mediation Support and Policy at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. He is a trained mediator with 15 years of experience supporting international mediation processes and leading dialogue efforts. Prior to joining the HD Centre, he was Representative for Dialogue Promotion with the International Crisis Group. He also co-headed the mediation program of swisspeace, where he led applied research projects on process design, power-sharing and sanctions & mediation. He previously served in the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, deploying as part of the organization’s response to the crisis in and around Ukraine in 2014, and worked for the UN Mission in Sudan. David holds a PhD from the University of Basel and was a visiting fellow at the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.

Sarah BoukharySarah Boukhary the Yemen Program Manager at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD). She oversees the strategic development of HD’s private diplomacy work in Yemen, as well as its operational and programmatic priorities in the country. She specializes in multi-level mediation engagements with local, national, and regional stakeholders, as well as in fostering inclusion in multiple tracks of participation. Sarah is an Erasmus Mundus scholar and holds an M.A. in Human Rights Policy and Practice, as well as a B.A. in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut (AUB). She has co-authored and co-edited a number of reports on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the MENA region and addresses the current state of affairs of mediation in Yemen and the broader region in her speaking engagements.


June 17
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM BST
Event Category:




Oxford Global Society
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