Recent Events

  • In July 2017, Dr Wilkes delivered lectures to the European conference of the Jewish Law Association, held in Vienna, on war in the thought of Obadiah Sforno, and on the reception of Maimonides’ innovative penal theory in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Hugo Grotius.
  • In July 2017, the Project Director delivered two lectures at the Al-Maktoum College in Dundee on the relationship between Jewish and Islamic Ethics in the context of war and peace.
  • On 20 March 2017, Friedrich Bokern (Director of Relief and Reconciliation for Syria) spoke at New College, Edinburgh, on ‘Building Inclusive Futures for Syrians’.
  • On 28 February 2017, Dr Ellen Zhang delivered a lecture at New College Edinburgh, ‘Philosophy of Peace: Thinking Through Laozi’s Daodejing’, co-hosted by Relwar and the Confucius Institute of Scotland.
  • Dr Wilkes delivered a paper, ‘Using social science in the service of religious peacebuilding among Syrians – lessons from a study in Bosnia-Herzegovina’, to the International Conference on Conflict Mitigation, Dialogue, and Reconciliation in Syria, held in Beirut on 17-18 November 2016, The conference, co-hosted by Lebanese American University, the United States Institute for Peace, and The International Dialogue Centre [KAICIID], brought specialists from across the region and beyond to examine the contributions to be made by scholars and NGOs as plans are advanced for a post-war Syria. It is intended that publications proceeding from the conference will be published in 2018.
  • Relwar co-hosted a Roundtable on ‘Building understanding across religious and cultural differences: The legacies of Martin Buber’ on 21 February 2017. Speakers: George Pattison (Glasgow): ‘Buber’s translator, Ronald Gregor Smith’; Yaser Mirdamadi (Edinburgh): ‘Buber in post-revolutionary Iran: when “it” turns “you”’; Ellen Zhang (Hong Kong Baptist University): ‘Buber’s dialogical mode of I-Thou in the light of Zhuangzi’s Daoist philosophy’; Christine Kupfer (Scottish Tagore Institute): ‘The relationship between Tagore and Martin Buber’.
  • In 2015, Relwar welcomed John Choo, a student at the University of Cambridge who pursued research with us on a range of topics over the summer. His interests span the range of subjects covered by Relwar, and he will be concentrating in particular on methodology in empirical studies of religion and reconciliation, on comparative Chinese-Western approaches to morals in the art of war, and on military ethics education. John has conducted research for the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. He is a student of Human, Social and Political Science at Hughes Hall in the University of Cambridge, with particular interests in the study of politics and anthropology.
  • On 1-2 May 2015, Relwar co-hosted a conference at New College on Sectarianism, Religion and Peacebuilding, together with the Centre for Theology and Public Issues and the RISECI scholars network. Speakers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Serbia, and from Scottish counter-sectarian initiatives compared and discussed experiences, and shared the results of their work for a report marking the upcoming anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on BBC Scotland.
  • On 19 March 2015, Relwar co-hosted the Scottish launch for the Open University’s AHRC project, ‘Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties Report’. Seminars for academics and practitioners were held on sectarianism and on treatments of religion in media coverage on violence. Speakers included Professor John Wolffe (Open University), S.J. Brown (Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Edinburgh), Dave Scott (Campaign Director, Nil by Mouth: Challenging Sectarianism), John Mason MSP (SNP, Glasgow Shettleston) Professor Jolyon Mitchell (Director, Centre for Theology and Public Issues) and Professor Mona Siddiqui (Professor of Islam and Interreligious Studies, University of Edinburgh).
  • In June 2014, Relwar hosted a two day event, ‘Preventing Atrocity Workshop: Reasons to Engage with the Religion and Ethics of the Other’. 25 stakeholders, practitioners and academics gathered in Edinburgh for a workshop focused on religious dimensions of civilian protection. Participants included staff from the UN, ICRC, HRW, Islamic Relief, Finn Church Aid, the British Army, DfID, and the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. Academics participating with specialisms relating to religion and atrocity prevention from across the UK and from a range of schools in the College of Humanities and Social Science. Follow-up plans and a full report will be posted asap. For more information, see http://wp.me/PguTB-ra.
  • On Wednesday 30 April 2014, Professor Nigel Biggar (Oxford) delivered a lecture on his new book: In Defence of War. A lively discussion with colleagues from Edinburgh ensued, with results likely to feature in a number of publications.
  • Results from the survey on attitudes to reconciliation activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina were published and launched at the Holiday Inn Sarajevo on 18 December 2013: copies of the full report at https://relwar.wordpress.com/activities/research/second-survey-published/.
  • The second annual conference of the Edinburgh Peace Initiative, ‘Voices in Conflict: Rights, Realism and Moral Outrage’, was held in Edinburgh City Chambers on 19-20 October 2013. Over 100 participants included speakers from around the world, local practitioners, artists and people affected by conflict, academics and students from across Scotland. The conference was linked in to the Commission on Global Citizenship, and a keynote was delivered by commissioner Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. More reporting can be found at https://www.facebook.com/epiedinburghpeaceinitiative. Follow up activities are now planned for the months ahead. Contact george.wilkes@ed.ac.uk.

  • On 2 October 2013, the Project hosted a visit from Steven Leach, an interfaith activist involved in developing interfaith peacebuilding, research and academic programming in Southern Africa, and increasingly across Africa.

  • On 22 June 2013, Project associates presented papers at a conference in Sarajevo on attitudes to reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on gender and reconciliation work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and on the impact of local context on uses of interfaith dialogue in peacebuilding work.
  • On 18-19 May 2013, Gorazd Andrejc presented a paper on religious pluralism and the Slovenian military chaplaincy at an international conference hosted by the University of Oslo. The conference is expected to be the first in a series focused on military chaplaincy and religious diversity in the military.
  • On 13 May 2013, George Wilkes met with members of the Desmond Tutu Centre at Liverpool Hope University.
  • On 4 April 2013, as part of the Festival of Middle Eastern Politics and Spirituality, a panel was held on Non-Violence at St Augustine’s Church, Edinburgh, with George Wilkes responding to a presentation normally given to the military by Alistair McIntosh.
  • On 23 March 2013, the Project hosted a Day Seminar on Conflict Mediation, together with the Edinburgh Peace and Conflict Group and the Edinburgh Peace Initiative. Participants were addressed by a panel of experts, including Dr Cecelia Clegg and Dr Gillean McCluskey from the University of Edinburgh, Hugh Donald from A Place for Hope, Liz Law (a neighborhood and landlord-tenant mediator with wider experience of peacebuilding as well) and Graham Boyack from the Scottish Mediation Network.
  • On 23 March 2013, Gorazd Andrejc spoke to a public audience in Exeter on the Project’s work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, hosted by the St Michaels Lecture series.
  • On 26 March 2013, a workshop reviewing the Project’s research on religion and reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was held in Sarajevo by a circle of members of the Academy of Sciences of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • On 17 March 2013, Dr Wilkes delivered a keynote address to the Edinburgh Middle East Festival of Spirituality and Politics entitled ‘When armed forces kill civilians: Honour, shame and the military in the Middle East and North Africa’. A debate followed a series of panel interventions, from Dr Clare Duncanson (Politics and International Relations, Edinburgh), Megan Bastick (DCAF), Dr Keith Hammond (Education, Glasgow) and Professor Douglas Cairns (Classic, Edinburgh).
  • On 6 March 2013, the Project co-hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr Stephen Goodwin, entitled ‘Power, Authority and the Responsibility to Protect: Some Christian reflections from the Balkans and Middle East’. Dr Goodwin, of Yeditepe University, has extensive background in the study of religion as a factor in conflict, in politics and in peacebuilding work in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Turkey. He finished his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2005, and is the author of Fractured Lands, Healing Nations (2006). Co-sponsored by the Edinburgh Peace and Conflict Group and the Just World Institute.
  • On 1 March 2013, Dr Wilkes delivered the keynote address to the York St John University conference on Religion and Conflict, entitled ‘Religion and pluralism: tools for rethinking our approach to ending conflicts’.
  • On 28 February 2013, Dr Wilkes spoke at the Seminar on Political Violence at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.
  • The fourth workshop of the Edinburgh Peace and Conflict Group was held on November 5, 2012, and was addressed by Megan Bastick of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. The Group discussed gender issues in the context of security sector reform, before planning further engagement with a range of peacebuilding NGOs.
  • Launch of Survey on Attitudes to Reconciliation and Trust-Building in Bosnia-Herzegovina: The results of the survey ‘Reconciliation and Trust-Building in Bosnia-Herzegovina’ were launched with a press conference and a series of expert meetings in Sarajevo on October 29 and 30, 2012. The Survey Report can be downloaded here.
  • The Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace took a lead in the organisation of the first symposium of the Edinburgh Peace Initiative, held on October 20-22, 2012, entitled ‘Conflict Resolution, Peace-Building and Peacekeeping: the Civilian Contribution’. Over 150 participants examined a wide range of challenges for peacebuilding initiatives through 20 PeaceLab discussions and 8 forums for practical innovation. Plenary debates and lectures were led by a series of globally-prominent peacebuilding experts, including Abdullahi An-Naim, Christine Bell, Jolyon Mitchell, Amal Hamidallah, Scott Appleby, Oliver McTernan and Julian Weinberg. The symposium heard from a range of experienced speakers from Sudan, Eritrea, the USA, Ireland, the UK, India, the Gulf states, and Israel, and from academics with a specialist interest in peacebuilding in Europe, Africa, Latin America and South Asia.  The Edinburgh Peace Initiative is supported by over 30 civil society bodies and involves a wide range of peace-building specialists from Scotland and internationally. The Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace will be following this first symposium with programming for interested partners both locally and internationally. Further details are available here.
  • The third workshop of the Edinburgh Peace and Conflict Group took place at 4-5.30pm on Thursday September 27th, 2012, co-hosted by the Rights, Humanitarianism and International Development network.   This series of workshops is especially geared to the interests of postgraduates from across the College of Humanities and Social Science, and is sponsored by a consortium of research institutes and groups in different departments. The workshops are designed to encompass postgrad interests in peace and conflict conceived broadly, and to provide opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement.   For further information, please email Dr George Wilkes (george.wilkes[@]ed.ac.uk).
  • On September 11, 2012, BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief featured a discussion on Civilians and Ethics in Wartime Today. Speakers included General Lord Richard Dannatt, Dr George R. Wilkes, Director of the Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace, Ajmal Masroor, broadcaster and imam in East London, and the Reverend Alan Billings, former Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at the University of Lancaster. The event was recorded as part of the BBC’s ReThink Festival. A webcast is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/belief.
  • Steven Gordon spoke to a Humanitarian Practitioner Seminar at New College on Friday August 24, 2012, on ‘Ethical issues in humanitarian operations: focus on security and media practices’. Currently the Regional Security Advisor for the Danish Refugee Council covering Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, he has been working in conflict zones for the past 19 years, starting out as a photographer, then gradually working more and more for NGOs. He has specialised in media and humanitarian security, working in the Balkans for nearly 8 years, the Middle East, South Asia, East Africa as well as Darfur, has worked for Reuters, AFP, AP and the Sygma agency as well as most of the UK broadsheets, for large US NGOs as well as UK and Irish organisations. He was also a witness at the ICTY in the Milosevic case.
  • The second meeting of the Postgraduate Workshop on Conflict and Peace was held on May 30, 2012, in the Senate Room, New College. Presentations were given on drone warfare, on disappearances in Nepal, on the role of peacekeepers, and on the use of music in conflict transformation. Further information may be found at the Workshop’s blog.
  • The Seminar on Conflict Transformation and Peace-Building discussed interdisciplinary challenges in the field at its third meeting on May 29, 2012. Following the meeting, plans were set in motion for the coordination of a research project addressing some of the key challenges. The Seminar is supported by a cohort of partner institutions within the University of Edinburgh: IASH, the Global Development Academy, the Just World Institute in the School of Social and Political Sciences, the Global Health Academy, the School of Health in Social Sciences and International Education. We will be pleased to hear from researchers and practitioners working in related fields. Preceding meetings discussed disciplinary perspectives on ‘Peace-building’ and ‘Conflict Transformation – Conflict Resolution – Conflict Management’.
  • On Wednesday 6 June 2012, Dr George R. Wilkes spoke at a panel on the Arms Trade Treaty, sponsored by Amnesty International Edinburgh. The Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace aims to develop an ATT-related programme, taking off from the work of the Interfaith Working Group of the Control Arms Coalition. For more information about the Arms Trade Treaty, see http://www.un.org/disarmament/convarms/ArmsTradeTreaty/.
  • On Wednesday 9 May 2012, Dr George R. Wilkes and Dr Cecelia Clegg took part in a ‘Forum on the Consequences of the Arab Awakening’. Co-panellists included Professor Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, and Professor Dabir Tehrani, Honorary Professor at Heriot-Watt University. The Forum was staged by the Edinburgh Middle East Festival 2012.
  • On Friday 4 May 2012, the Project hosted a seminar under Chatham House rules on ‘Compromise in Humanitarian Negotiations’, together with Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Global Development Academy, the Global Health Academy, the Centre for African Studies, the Just World Institute and Edinburgh Research and Innovation. Follow-up activities are planned.
  • The Project co-hosted a lecture at the Trans-Atlantic Seminar on “International Development and Faith Groups”, delivered by Mike Battcock of the Department for International Development, 16 March 2012 together with the Just World Institute and the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. A webcast is available at http://www.pol.ed.ac.uk/events/transatlantic_seminars/webcasts.
  • A number of Project associates were in attendance at the launch of the Edinburgh Peace Initiative on 2 March 2012, having played a supporting role in the development of the Initiative over the preceding months. The EPI is designed to further Edinburgh’s capacity for sophisticated peace-building, with networking between peace-builders being at the heart of its first phase. Supporting organisations include UNESCO-Scotland, UNA-Edinburgh, and a series of Peace and Justice forums across the city. The initiative is also sponsored by a spectrum of Edinburgh’s religious communities, and is a marker of the legacy of the former Lord Provost, George Grubb.
  • In January 2012, the Project Director, George R. Wilkes, presented a paper on religious peace groups in Israel to a conference on ‘Religion, Conflict, Violence, and Tolerance in Global Perspectives’, held in Abuja, Nigeria, hosted jointly by the International Studies Association and the Pan-African Strategic and Policy Research Group.
  • A workshop on ‘Reconciliation and Trust-Building in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ was held at New College on December 14-15, 2011. Speakers included Lord Bonomy, former judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Donald Reeves, Director of Soul of Europe, and academics with a specialism in this area from across the UK. For more information, see here.
  • In December 2011, Gorazd Andrejc spoke at the University of Ljubljana on the Project’s work in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • In November and December 2011, Dr Wilkes spoke on the Project’s work at the seminar of the Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, gave lectures on humanitarian intervention and events in the Middle East and North Africa at the Morningside Peace and Justice Centre and at St Augustine’s Church, Edinburgh, and lectured on contemporary Jewish debates over humanitarian intervention at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.
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