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Established in 2000, the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at SOAS is a research-driven unit committed to the promotion of excellence in scholarship and teaching. The Centre is committed to the development of applied international studies and to ensuring that its work impacts key international debates.

The CISD podcast series is a collection of lectures, debates and conversations exploring international affairs.

Issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to humanitarian intervention are discussed by a mix of prominent scholars, students and practitioners.

The series aims to capture the multi-disciplinary approach of the Centre as well as its advocacy of the some of the more non-conventional or marginalized issues in international affairs.

On the 17th of March, Joel Simon and Elisabeth Witchel discussed the increasing threat presented to press freedom, news coverage, and the right of citizens to be informed. They talked about the modern dangers and constraints of journalism, and on the rising trend in which journalists around the world are targeted for their reporting on topical issues. Also touched upon is the fact that the suspected killers are often powerful figures in society who are rarely prosecuted, resulting in damaging consequences for the role of the media today.

On the 9th of March, Professor Charles King gave a talk on his new book, 'Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul'. Charles King reveals the hidden Islamic jazz age in a period of urban reinvention and imperial collapse: a moment when the center of the Ottoman Empire began to transform itself into a modern metropolis. Through war, regime change, and refugee flight, Istanbul emerged as a new kind of cosmopolitan center.

On the 3rd of March, Dr Susan Harris Rimmer gave a talk on gender in the field of diplomacy studies. The talk focuses on how the new representation of women and LGBTI+ persons in the practice of diplomacy since the mid-twentieth century should have made a profound impact on the field of diplomacy studies. The ensuing discussion reveals that in fact, the ‘business model’ of diplomacy has been resistant to transformation on gender equality grounds thus far in terms of language, practice and content.

On the 25th of February, the 13th Annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law lecture was held in association with the United Nations Association Westminster Branch, the Centre for International Studies & Diplomacy at SOAS, and the International Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales. The lecture was led by Dr Ahmed Shaheed. Dr Shaheed argued for a greater use of the special procedures system, including closer integration into the Rights Up Front framework proposed by Ban Ki Moon in 2013.

On the 24th of February, a panel comprised of Rebecca Sharkey, Sarah Graham-Brown and Dr Dan Plesch led a seminar that looked into the tension between military strategic thinking and the primacy of the humanitarian imperative. The discussion explores how, since the creation of the atomic bomb, the world's leading scientists and leaders have made repeated calls urging a deeper understanding of the threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons. Rebecca Sharkey is the Co-ordinater of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in the UK.

On the 17th of February, Professor Peter Slinn gave a talk on the British Commonwealth and the Rule of Law from a practitioner's perspective. The talk addressed a wide range of critical issues concerning the history and legal significance of the Commonwealth. Discussion extended as far as addressing the relevance of the Commonwealth as a political entity in the modern world. Professor Slinn qualified as a solicitor in 1967, when he began his career as a legal adviser in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

On the 20th of January, Dr Laura Hammond chaired a discussion featuring the content of the newly released book, 'Post-2015 UN Development: Making Change Happen?'. The talk was headed by a number of academics involved in the project including editors Dr Thomas G. Weiss and Stephen Browne, as well as contributor Richard O'Brien. The arguments provided are that the most valuable roles of the UN are in fostering global cooperation to confront emerging development challenges, and that there are currently concrete and realistic proposals to strengthen the UN’s capacities.

On the 13th of January, Dr Mark S. Ellis gave a talk on the topic of his new book, "Sovereignty and Justice: Balancing the Principle of Complementarity between International and Domestic War Crimes Tribunals". Dr Ellis discusses the critical issues facing international criminal justice and makes practical, forward-looking propositions on how to make the system of international law more efficient. Dr Ellis is the Executive Director of the International Bar Association (IBA), leading the foremost international organisation of bar associations, law firms and individual lawyers in the world.

On the 3rd of December, Carne Ross gave a lecture on his experience and work as a diplomat, challenging both the current British system of political government as well as standardized approaches to global crises. Discussing his books 'Leaderless Generation' and 'The Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite', Carne illustrates his purpose for founding the Independent Diplomat - a non-profit advisory group in the world of diplomacy. Carne was a British diplomat for over fifteen years before resigning in 2004 in protest to Britain's invasion of Iraq.

On the 19th of November a panel comprised of Professor Kevin Jon Heller, Shanti Sattler, Dr Mark Ellis, Dr Lutz Oette, and Dr Dan Plesch discussed the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to new evidence of national war crime trials held after World War II. This new evidence was discussed in the context of complementary justice, torture, and the prosecution of sexual crimes and low-level criminals. Professor Heller served as Human Rights Watch’s external legal adviser on the trial of Saddam Hussein and currently teaches Criminal Law at SOAS, University of London.

On the 11th of November, Jack Blum gave a lecture about the challenges of Corporate Accountability and Limited Liability (CALL) in a globalised world. He discusses it in the context of state kleptocracy and personal responsibilities. Fraud and corruption run through the economy, hidden in technology and off-shore locations. The question posed is "How can we make companies and governments more accountable?".

On the 21st of October, Dr Graciana del Castillo gave a lecture discussing the current concerns presented in her latest book, 'Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan’. The lecture included commentary on aid and drug dependency in Afghanistan, as well as the challenges that both the new government and the international community face in bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region. Dr Graciana del Castillo is an expert on countries in crises, including those affected by conflict, natural disasters and financial collapse.

On the 22nd of October, Dr David Bosco and Anthony Dworkin gave a lecture about the current and future challenges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in a world of power politics, specifically the argument that the court is biased and a Western tool of imperialism, ignoring the crimes committed by Great Power states. David Bosco is an assistant professor at American University's School of International Service.

Many hopes and expectations of what has been labelled the Arab 'Spring' in 2011 has turned into scepticism and uncertainty two years later. From Egypt to Syria the situation does not seem to be as promising for the 'freedom', 'dignity' and 'justice' that millions of Arab protesters have called for. Rabab El-Mahdi, Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo and a prominent activist, shares her thoughts on what has happened over the two years, where is it leading to, whether we are about to see the fruition of the Arab Uprisings, or have they withered away for good?

On 3rd of March, David Hammond gave a lecture about the challenges of promoting and protecting human rights in post-revolution Libya. He also spoke about the development of new rules on the use of force and human rights at sea, in relation to maritime piracy. David Hammond, a barrister, serves as UK Counsel to the Libyan National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights and has visited Libya to advise on underpinning its government’s proposed Rule of Law with the provision of Human Rights legislation.

As part of CISD’s International Relations Speaker Series, on Wednesday 19th March, Professor Page Fortna presented a research paper she is currently working on, which questions why rebels use terrorism and how it affects the outcomes of civil wars.
Page Fortna is a Professor at Columbia University in the United States and a member of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She is the author of two books: “Does Peacekeeping Work? Shaping Belligerents Choices after Civil War” and “Peace Time: Ceasefire Agreements and the Durability of Peace”.

This event was held on 4 December, 2013, and was organised by the Corporate Accountability and Limited Liability group at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London.

On 12 February 2014, the Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) held a discussion about complete and general disarmament at the Palais des Nations, the United Nations in Geneva.

Dr Manica Balasegaram is Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) Access Campaign.

He is the former Head of the Leishmaniasis Clinical Program for Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and has extensive experience in tropical medicine.

Dr Balasegaram has worked for MSF medical projects in Uganda, Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India and Bangladesh.

Manu Bhagavan talks about his new book "The Peacemakers: India and The Quest for One World); and more generally about India, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and new internationalism.

Manu Bhagavan is a Professor of History at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in the United States.

This talk was part of CISD's tea and conversation afternoon with authors working on Wartime History and the Future UN.

On the 15th October 2013 Sir Nigel Sheinwald came to discuss the changing face of diplomacy, the challenges facing the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK's ability to "punch above its weight" on the global stage. Sir Nigel was the UK Ambassador to Washington DC, Foreign Office Press Secretary from 1995 to 1998 and Europe Director from 1998 to 2000 before serving as the UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Union from 2000 to 2003.

CISD’s Corporate Accountability and Limited Liability (CALL) research group hosted a panel discussion and debate in The House of Lords on the reform of limited liability. Investors have no legal liability for any negative impact of the corporations they have shares in. Limited Liability was originally only legal on condition that it provided social value. Today, however, limited liability has become universal amongst corporations. This event is the first in a Parliamentary series.

Plenary 3 features a continued discussion on the contemporary relevance of the application of legal and political practice from the UNWCC and associated tribunals.

On the 26th of November 2013, Professor Randall Woods gave a talk about the role the CIA played in Vietnam and the impact that CIA director William Colby had.

Plenary 2: Comparing Specific Areas of Practice in International Criminal Law Then and Now (I)

This two day conference, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone, marked the 70th anniversary of a forgotten initiative in operation from 1943 to 1948 and evaluate the potential contribution of the Commission’s work to contemporary efforts for international criminal justice and human rights advocacy.

Plenary 1: Historical Perspective - A Focus on Select UNWCC Member States and their Representatives.

This two day conference, chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone, marked the 70th anniversary of a forgotten initiative in operation from 1943 to 1948 and evaluate the potential contribution of the Commission’s work to contemporary efforts for international criminal justice and human rights advocacy.

This two day conference, marking the 70th anniversary of the UN War Crimes Commission (UNWCC), explored the relevance of the UNWCC to present policy and practice. The conference was chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone.

On November 19, 2013 Martin Butcher gave a talk about his recent work on The Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations on April 2, 2013.

The 2013 CISD Annual Lecture was presented by John Ashton CBE. Mr Ashton is a distinguished diplomat with more than 30 years’ experience in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He founded the FCO's Environment Policy Department and led the UK's diplomatic efforts on global climate change as the Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change between 2006 and 2012. He joined CISD as Professorial Research Associate in January 2013.

On March 14th, Peter Katzenstein talked about 'Civilizations in World politics: Beyond East and West' at SOAS. Professor Katzenstein’s work lies at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics and addresses issues of political economy, security and culture. His current research interests focus on the politics of civilizations; on questions of public diplomacy, law, religion, and popular culture; regionalism in world politics; and German politics.