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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East

When Oct 30, 2018
from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where House of Commons
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The Forum on Geopolitics is pleased to present a seminar to celebrate its latest publication, Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East. Part of its A Westphalia for the Middle East research project, led by Dr. Michael Axworthy with the project's Peterhouse Research Fellow Dr. Patrick Milton, this seminar will explore the devastating and intertwined conflicts have been raging in the Middle East for years, with seemingly no end in sight. The Thirty Years War is often cited as a parallel in discussions of the wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the conflict in 1648, has featured strongly in such discussions, usually with the observation that recent events in some parts of the region have seen the collapse of ideas of state sovereignty—ideas that supposedly originated with the 1648 settlement.


Few fresh approaches towards an overarching regional peace settlement have been proffered. However, the ‘Westphalia for the Middle East’ is a collaborative project initiated by the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge, which has gathered politicians and senior administration members from the Middle East, Europe, and the US, as well as historians of early modern Europe, in order to discuss previously unexamined avenues towards peace. The project seeks to provide much-needed new perspectives and to thereby open innovative, creative approaches for resolving conflict in the Middle East by looking at solutions that worked at the Peace of Westphalia. It takes the remarkable parallels that exist between conflict constellations in the Middle East now and the Thirty Wars then as its analytical starting point, in order to consider which diplomatic techniques, principles and mechanisms inherent in the 1648 settlement might serve as an inspiration for a new region-wide holistic settlement.     

On the occasion of the publication of a new book on the results of the project to date, Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East (London: Hurst Publishers, 2018), co-authored by Patrick Milton, Michael Axworthy, and Brendan Simms, the event will mark a pivot point for the project, by shifting from its historical focus on the early modern European background to the contemporary Middle East.

 This event is RSVP only, please register your interest to 


The Westphalia for the Middle East project is a joint initiative of the Forum on Geopolitics of the University of Cambridge and the Körber Foundation to open new, creative approaches for resolving conflict in the Middle East by looking at solutions that worked in the Peace of Westphalia.


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