Chatham House

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, is one of the world’s leading independent policy institutes. Founded in 1920 in London, Chatham House engages governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, media and its members in open debate and confidential discussion on the most significant developments in international affairs. Chatham House’s mission is to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

In 2013 the Asfari Foundation and Chatham House established the Asfari Fellowship scheme, which brings emerging civil society leaders from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Iraq to Chatham House to spend ten months at the Queen Elizabeth II Academy. The fellowships provide young Arab leaders with the skills and opportunities to participate effectively in policy making in their own countries and in the Arab region, as well as informing global decision-making at a time of great change for the Arab world and for the world community. The Foundation believes that at Chatham House – at the intersection of independent research, objective debate and policy making – the young leaders will be able to enhance their skills, knowledge and networks so they can play an effective role in positive change for the future.

CHQE11-0010In 2013-14 the Foundation supported two Syrians and one Palestinian fellow at Chatham House, who conducted research on regional water resources, sectarianism in Syria, and the role of women in the Arab uprisings. In 2014-15 it supported a Jordanian, a Gazan Palestinian and a Syrian fellow, working respectively on the effectiveness of local NGOs, EU policy towards Palestine, and international aid to Syrian civil society. In 2015-16 it supported a Jordanian fellow working on the prospects for a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone, a Lebanese fellow working on Kurdish local governance in Syria and the region, and a Syrian fellow working on emerging trends in Kurdish politics in Rojava in Syria. It is currently supporting one Iraqi fellow and one Lebanese fellow working on the situation of Iraq in transition and cybercrime legislation in the Gulf countries respectively.

The Asfari Foundation also supports the annual Asfari Forum, which brings together civil society practitioners from the Arab region to discuss key issues of concern with an international audience. The launch of the Forum in November 2015 brought together a panel of experts on Middle Eastern civil society to discuss how sectarian narratives associated with the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa are shaping community relations across the region. The full transcript of this event can be read here. In 2017 the Forum will be held in April.

DSC_0165Building on the successful ongoing partnership between the Foundation and Chatham House’s Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, the Foundation announced a cornerstone contribution towards Chatham House’s Second Century Initiative in November 2014. The gift will contribute to the extension of the Asfari Fellowship programme for a further three years, as well as to the establishment of the ‘Asfari Centre’, an innovative, multi-purpose space for fresh thinking and problem solving at the core of the newly established Queen Elizabeth II Academy at Chatham House. The Centre, due to open in June 2017, will provide Academy Fellows – including fellows from the Arab world – with the best possible learning and networking environment in the heart of London.