Humanitarian Mediation

‘The way to change the game is to change the frame’William Ury (Director of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard University).

‘Appreciate their point of view.  Understand it. It is very important to appreciate the way they see it. Even if you don’t agree, say that it merits serious consideration. Don’t say that they are wrong. Appreciate their self-esteem. Acknowledge that the other person has been heard. Be prepared to argue their case better than they can before you answer it.’

The late Professor Roger Fisher in a two hour conversation with Carl Islam at Harvard Law School during a research visit as a Scholar from King’s College London to Harvard University in April 2002.


  • Humanitarian & Transformative Mediation Resources
  • Mediation of Peace Process and Agreements Resources
  • Research Bibliography
  • Blogs:

– Together we stand – divided we fall?

– Is the pen mightier than the sword?

–  Is pressure mounting for UN Security Council reform?

–  Cultural Heritage Safe Zones.

–  No Fly Zones.

–  ‘Diplomacy and defence are not substitutes for one another’ – 1961 Address at  University of Washington by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 25th President of the United States of America.

–  Ukraine – Who can Mediate?

–  Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition –  Conference Talks 14.1.2021 organised by the European External Action Service.

–  Cultural Heritage Funds – Can an ESG Fund be a Charitable Trust?

–  Afghanistan – Transforming a geo-political fiasco into a diplomatic opportunity.

Humanitarian & Transformative Mediation Resources:

Mediation of Peace Process and Agreements Resources:

Research Bibliography:

Aust, Anthony (2013) Modern Treaty Law and Practice, Third Edition, Cambridge University Press.

Bell, Christine (2008) On The Law Of Peace, Oxford University Press.

Carstens, Anne-Marie & Elizabeth Varner (2020), Intersections In International Cultural Heritage Law, Oxford University Press.

Chechi, Allesandro (2014) The Settlement Of International Cultural Heritage Disputes, Oxford University Press.

Cloke, Kenneth (2019) The Crossroads of Conflict – A Journey Into the Heart of Dispute Resolution,  Goodmedig Press.

Criddle, Evan J. & Evan Fox-Decent (2016) Fiduciaries of Humanity – How International Law Constitutes Authority, Oxford University Press.

Criddle, J., Evan Fox-Decent, Andrew S. Gold, Sung Hui Kim & Paul B.Miller (2018), Fiduciary Government, Cambridge University Press.

Crisp, Roger (2015) The Oxford Handbook of The History Of Ethics, Oxford University Press.

de Chazournes, Laurence Boisson, Marcello G. Kohen & Jorge E. Vinuales (2013) Diplomatic and Judicial Means of Dispute Settlement, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Denza, Eileen (2018) Diplomatic Law – Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Oxford University Press.

Djefal, Christian (2016) Static and Evolutive Treaty Interpretation, Cambridge University Press.

Drazewska, Berenika (2021) Military Necessity in International Cultural Heritage Law, Brill Nijhoff.

Duke, Annie (2018) Thinking in Bets, Portfolio Penguin.

Failat, Yanal Abul (2022) Outer Space Law: Legal Policy and Practice 2nd ed, Globe Law and Business.

Fisher, Roger, Elizabeth Kopelman & Andrea Kuper Schneider (1994) Beyond Machiavelli – Tools For Coping With Conflict, Penguin Books.

Fisher, Roger & Daniel Shapiro (2007) Building Agreement – Using Emotions As You Negotiate, RH Business Books.

Fox-Decent, Evan (2011) Sovereignty’s Promise – The State as Fiduciary, Oxford University Press.

Freedman, Lawrence (2013) Strategy – A History, Oxford University Press.

Gardiner, Richard (2015) Treaty Interpretation, Oxford University Press.

Goold, Benjamin J. & Liora Lazarus (2019) Security And Human Rights, Hart Publishing.

Hollis, Duncan B. (2012) The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford University Press.

Iverson, Jens (2021) Jus Post Bellum: The Rediscovery, Foundations, and Future of the Law of Transforming War into Peace, Brill Nijhoff.

Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking Fast And Slow, Allen Lane.

Kim, Jihon (2022) Non-State Actors in the Protection of Cultural Heritage: An Analysis on Their Rights, Obligations, and Roles, Springer-Verlag.

Kolb, Robert (2016) Theory of International Law, Bloomsbury.

Kolb, Robert (2017) The Law Of Treaties, Edward Elgar.

Koopmans, Sven M.G. (2008) Diplomatic Dispute Settlement – The Use of Inter-State Conciliation, T.M.C Asser Press.

Koopmans, Sven M.G. (2018) Negotiating Peace – A Guide To The Practice, Politics, And Law Of international Mediation, Oxford University Press.

Lafollette, Hugh (2010) The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, Oxford University Press.

Levinger, Matthew (2013) Conflict Analysis – Understanding Causes, Unlocking Solutions, United States Institute of Peace.

Malhotra, Deepak & Max H. Bazerman (2008) Negotiation Genius, Harvard Business School, Bantam Books.

Malhotra, Deepak (2016) Negotiating The Impossible – How To Break Deadlocks And Resolve Ugly Conflcts (Without Money or Muscle), Harvard Business School, Berrett-Kohler Publishers, Inc.

Mearsheimer, John J. (2014) The Tragedy Of Great Power Politics (Updated Edition), Norton.

Meyer, Thomas, Jose de Sales Marques & Marion Telo (2021) Towards a New Multilateralism – Cultural Divergence and Political Convergence?, Routledge.

Ormand, David (2020) How Spies Think – Ten Lessons in Intelligence, Penguin Viking.

Powell, Jonathan (2014), Talking To Terrorists – How to end armed conflicts, Vintage.

Ramsbotham, Oliver, Tom Woodhouse & Hugh Miall (2021) Contemporary Conflict Resolution, Fourth Edition, Polity.

Randolph, Paul (2016) The Psychology of Conflict, Bloomsbury.

Richmond, Oliver P. (2022)  The Grand Design: The Evolution of the International Peace Architecture, Oxford University Press USA.

Roberts, Sir Ivor (2018) Satow’s Diplomatic Practice, Seventh Edition, Oxford University Press.

Reus-Smit, Christian & Duncan Snidal (2008) The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, Oxford University Press.

Saul, Ben & Dapo Akande (2020) The Oxford Guide To International Humanitarian Law, Oxford University Press.

Shafer-Landau, Russ (2013) Ethical Theory – An Anthology, Wiley-Blackwell.

Shapiro, Daniel (2017) Negotiating the Non-negotiable, Penguin Books.

Simms, Brendan and D.J.B Trim 2011) Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge University Press.

Singer, Peter (1993) A Companion To Ethics, Blackwell Publishing.

Smith, Retired General Sir Rupert (2005) The Utility of Force – The Art of War in the Modern World, Penguin Books.

Stone, Douglas, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen (2000) Difficult Conversations, Penguin Books.

Strasser, Freddie & Paul Randolph (2004), Mediation – A Psychological Insight into Conflict Resolution, Contunuum.

Tams, Christian J. & Antonios Tzanakopoulos (2012), Basic Documents on The Settlement Of International Disputes, Hart Publishing.

Thouless R.H. & C.R. Thouless (1930) Straight & Crooked Thinking, Hodder Education.

Ury, William (1993) Getting Past No – Negotiating In Difficult Situations, Bantam Books.

Voss, Chris with Tahl Raz (2016) Never Split The Difference – Negotiating as if your life depended on it, RH Business Books.

Walker, Stephen (2021) Mediation Behaviour – Why We Act Like We do, Bloomsbury Professional.

Zwier, Paul.J. (2013) Principled Negotiation And mediation In The International Arena, Cambridge University Press.


Together we stand – divided we fall? 

Because fiduciary principles are a cornerstone of International Humanitarian Law [‘IHL’], then in theory, could a strategy to confront and defeat an invading state (‘S‘) be strengthened by integrating Cultural Heritage as an indirect tool of psychological influence and diplomacy?

This might have four aims:

(a) To drive a wedge between (i) S and (ii) it is own people, i.e. young conscripts [‘P‘], provided public opinion matters to S. The underlying rationale being that P will inevitably ask ‘why are we destroying our shared cultural heritage, i.e. who and what are we fighting for? – the survival of a ‘political elite’ in power in S (‘them‘) or P (‘us‘). That is linked to political stability within S, and is therefore a risk that must be weighed by S in a mediation about peace, just as a ‘litigation risk’ must be weighed by the parties in a mediation about a civil dispute.

(b) To drive a wedge between (i) S and (ii) it allies, e.g. by linking the award of re-construction contracts (to rebuild critical infrastructure destroyed by S in the invaded state) to the withdrawal of political support for S in the UN, as there is a universal fiduciary duty under international law to protect and preserve Cultural Heritage.

(c) Mediation of a peace process of agreement to end the war.

(d) To re-design and reform the institutional architecture of International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’), because the strength and influence of IHL as a pillar of global ‘fiduciary’ governance is relevant to National Security, i.e. because ‘together we stand and divided we fall.’

There is a tension between the:
(a)      common ground [‘CG’] represented by a shared cultural heritage (including a set of ethical, philosophical and religious values/beliefs); and
(b)      political ambitions and objectives [‘PA’] that drive military strategy in war.

A logical corollary of Machiavelli’s Principle of Survival (as I have defined it above) [‘MPS‘], is that where CG exists between an invading state and an invaded state, that the invader must destroy part of itself in order to achieve its political objective(s). Analysing the psychology of an invasion through the lens of an ‘Offensive Realism’ paradigm  (see Mearsheimer, John J. (2014) The Tragedy Of Great Power Politics (Updated Edition), Norton in the Research Bibliography and my blog ‘Is the pen mightier than the sword?’ on the ‘Humanitarian Mediation’ page at, and: Offensive realism – Wikipedia if an invading sovereign state is a hegemon (or an aspiring hegemon) [‘H’] and the political logic underlying invasion is survival, i.e. because a hegemon must dominate, then there is a paradox because PA requires the destruction of CG. In other words, to achieve its political objectives, H must destroy part of itself.

Therefore, invasion may be a political mistake. The miscalculation is that instead of H becoming stronger it will actually weaken itself, because by invading a state with a shared cultural heritage, H will to an extent destroy its own cultural identity. If that happens then over time, institutionally H may become unstable and ungovernable, resulting ultimately in the political break-up of H. The existential question for H then becomes, how do they end the war without ending up being in a worse position than they were in before it, in order to:

(i) preserve the status quo within H itself; and

(ii) restore the balance of power (i.e. the status quo ante) between H and other hegemons and aspiring hegemons in the region/world.

If I am right, then the calculus of risk by H is a dynamic that can influence a decision by H to end a war in Mediation. In other words, the fiduciary principles and norms which underly IHL are a tool in the negotiation of a peace process and agreement. It is a powerful tool, because the impact of war on CG, may influence public opinion within H and weaken support for the war.

When the political strategy of H is to create a failed state [‘FS‘], after it has failed in its primary objective to turn the invaded state into a client state, then the preservation and protection of cultural heritage in the invaded state, is arguably elevated to the level of being a threat to UK national security, becuase there is a risk of a failed state emerging within the UK’s neighbouring geo-political sphere of influence, i.e. in the heart of Europe. If the destruction of CH has the potential to politically destabilise H, then it follows that the UK also has a national security interest in the survival of H.  Therein, and counter-intuitively, lies the seed of a principle that can result in the mediation of terms of peace which ensure the survival of both H and the sovereign state invaded by H. If this geo-political interest is recognised by all parties to the conflict and their supporters, then this can open up a dialogue which includes the use of cultural heritage as a language of diplomacy, to negotiate a ceasefire and peace agreement. This is where a politically non-aligned non-state actor (‘NSA’) can play an instrumental diplomatic and mediation role.

Is the pen mightier than the sword?

Positioning for peace by restoring balance through multi-lateral diplomacy, coalition building, treaties and a reformed institutional framework. Is the pen mightier than the sword?

In ‘The Tragedy of Great Power Politics’ (2014), published by Norton, John J. Mearsheimer (R. Wendell Distinguished service Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago), explains that while security competition is endemic to daily life in the international system, war is not. Therefore, security competition rarely gives way to war. So what does? ‘The main causes of war are located in the architecture of the international system. What matters most is the number of great powers and how much power each controls. The system can be either bipolar or multipolar. The power ratios among all the great powers affect the prospects for stability, but the key ratio is that between the two most formidable states in the system. If there is a lopsided power gap, the number one state is a potential hegemon. A system that contains an aspiring hegemon is said to be unbalanced. A system without such a dominant state is said to be balanced. The basic requirement for balance is that there not be a marked difference in power between the two leading states. If there is, the system is unbalanced. Unbalanced multipolar systems are dominated by three or more great powers, one of which is a potential hegemon. Unbalanced multipolar systems feature the most dangerous distribution of power, mainly because the potential hegemon is likely to get into wars with all of the other great powers in the system. These wars inevitably turn out to be long and enormously costly. A [problem] with multipolarity lies in its tendency to foster miscalculation. Multipolarity lead states to underestimate the resolve of rival states and the strength of the opposing coalitions. States then mistakenly conclude that they have the military capability to coerce an opponent, or if that fails, to defeat it in battle. War is more likely when a state underestimates the willingness of an opposing state to stand firm on issues of difference. It then may push the other state too far, expecting the other to concede when in fact it will choose to fight. Such miscalculation is more likely under multipolarity because the shape of the international order tends to remain fluid, due to the tendency of coalitions to shift. As a result, the nature of the agreed international rules of the road – norms of state behaviour, and agreed divisions of territorial rights and other privileges – tend to change constantly. Under the circumstances, one state may unwittingly push another too far, because ambiguities as to national rights and obligations leave a wider range of issues on which each state may misjudge the other’s resolve. War is also more likely when states underestimate the relative power of an opposing coalition, either because they underestimate the number of states who will oppose them, or because they exaggerate the number of allies who will fight on their own side. Such errors are more likely in a system of many states, since states then must accurately predict the behaviour of many other states in order to calculate the balance of power between coalitions. Even assuming that the state knows who is going to fight with and against it, measuring the military strength of multistate coalitions is considerably more difficult than assessing the power of a single rival.’

Is pressure mounting for UN Security Council reform?

‘Member States must now take sides and choose between peace and aggression’ (see below) – 18.03.2022 Reuters News announced ‘Top Ex-Kremlin Official Quits Post After Condemning Ukraine War.’ The official was a former Russian deputy prime minister.

The problem with Ukraine is that there is no one who today can effectively provide an observance of the International Humanitarian Law Rules. No international peacekeeping mission is possible because Russia is blocking Security Council action.

At the diplomatic level, is pressure mounting for UN Security Council reform? Russia is being investigated for War Crimes, and the pressure for urgent reform mounts with every war crime committed against the people of Ukraine. See:  ‘As Russian Federation’s Invasion of Ukraine Creates New Global Era, Member States Must Take Sides, Choose between Peace, Aggression, General Assembly Hears – Delegates Urge All Parties to Respect Principles of United Nations Charter, Speakers Representing Small, Developing States Decry ‘Might Makes Right’ Concept – At the dawn of a new era forced upon the world by the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine, Member States must now take sides and choose between peace and aggression, delegates said today as the General Assembly moved into the second day of its emergency special session. [The emergency special session — the eleventh called since the founding of the United Nations — opened on 28 February, meeting less than 24 hours after being mandated to do so by a vote in the Security Council, following its failure to adopt a resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s recent actions in Ukraine.’  Press Releases SC/14808 and SC/14809 for details.][01.03.2022]: As Russian Federation’s Invasion of Ukraine Creates New Global Era, Member States Must Take Sides, Choose between Peace, Aggression, General Assembly Hears | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (

See also:

Cultural Heritage Safe Zones

Cultural Heritage Safe Zones as an instrument of Humanitarian Mediation’ – This is the proposed title of one of my three essays for the Diploma in Art Law Course at the Institute of Art & Law in London. For the current draft introduction to the essay, please visit the ‘Mediation of Art Disputes’ page at The thesis of the essay is ‘Could Cultural Heritage diplomacy be a neutral method of mediating a ceasefire to create a network of humanitarian corridors, i.e. by designating certain areas as “Cultural Heritage Safe Zones” and linking them up?’ In the essay I will also discuss:
(i) The relationship between the human environment, development and culture, because all civilisations spring from and are shaped by the quality of their surrounding natural elements and the histories of different peoples are inseparable from the natural conditions in which they have lived for millennia. In other words, art, literature and science cannot be understood, or even imagined, without acknowledging the influence of nature and its components. Thus, cultural diversity, like biological diversity, emerges from the various ecosystems.
(ii) The link between illicit trafficking and:
(a)        organised crime;
(b)        money-laundering; and
(c)        terrorist financing.
(iii) Why cultural identity is considered to part of human dignity, and is linked to human rights, i.e. because cultural heritage is of crucial importance to individuals and communities as part of their identity. I will also argue that since cultural heritage requires memory, this applies to both tangible and intangible heritage, because material and physical heritage needs to be placed in both a historical and cultural context, in order to understand its value.
(iv) Why mediation is a powerful tool in Cultural Heritage D #humanrights #culture #law iplomacy, and that at its centre are ‘norms’ of behaviour, which theoretically apply with equal vigour to private law claims, i.e. there is a bridge between public international law claims, and private law claims when art becomes cultural heritage. That bridge is the fiduciary doctrine of Jus Cogens.
As the war in Ukraine has brought into sharp focus, there is no one who today can effectively provide any observance of the International Humanitarian Law Rules. No international peacekeeping mission is possible, because Russia is blocking Security Council action. Therefore, the designation of an area as a ‘Cultural Heritage Safe Zone’ is also linked to two other issues that I will discuss:
(i) the powers and procedures of the UN Security Council; and
(ii) reform of the UN Security Council.


‘There is still time.’ The Vatican assesses its influence as war breaks out in Ukraine. (

Vatican Diplomacy – Diplomat Magazine

The Vatican and International Diplomacy on JSTOR

Vatican Secret Diplomacy (

New book ‘God’s Diplomats’ unveils the secret history of Vatican diplomacy | National Catholic Reporter (

The language and tools of Cultural Heritage Diplomacy enable a Mediation framework to be jointly developed by those at War by identifying common ground, i.e. a shared cultural heritage, and the connection between: (i) protecting cultural heritage; and (ii) preserving the environment, e.g. where there is a risk of nuclear contamination because a nuclear power plant is located in the War Zone and could be attacked.

In cultural heritage disputes there is a philosophical and legal nexus between the existence of ethical standards and norms of behaviour in relation to antiquities and cultural heritage (which includes landscape). Because formulating international ‘ethical’ duties of care and standards (i.e. framing and institutionalisation), that are capable of practical implementation, monitoring, and enforcement involves multi-lateral diplomacy, Mediation  is an incubation tool in Cultural Heritage Diplomacy.

Norms are linked to the existence of fiduciary duties. This is an evolving question that is linked to the concept of global fiduciary governance in the form of treaty-making and multi-lateral co-operation.

My theory is that when art [‘A’] is of cultural significance, i.e. is recognised as being cultural property [‘CP’], it forms part of a recognised heritage. If then in either a narrow or a broad sense, it becomes part of civilization and a record of human evolution (i.e. part of the consciousness and collective memory of mankind), public duties do or should attach to possession. In particular, the possessor [‘P’] who owns A under private law that is also CP, is also a custodian of the object [‘CPO’]. In which case, fiduciary duties attach to possession, e.g. a duty to preserve and protect the cultural property [‘DP’] (including an underwater site). If is a state, these duties extend to protecting the CP in the event of war. Therefore, DP is a quintessentially fiduciary duty.  The underlying premise is that every civilized society is a fiduciary of humanity, and so are their governments.

There is also a relationship between the human environment, development and culture. The commentary to the preamble to the Draft International Covenant on Environment  and Development (5th edition, IUCN Switzerland 2015) states:

‘All civilisations spring from and are shaped by the quality of their surrounding natural elements [and that] the histories of different peoples are inseparable from the natural conditions in which they have lived for millennia. … Art, literature and science cannot be understood, or even imagined, without acknowledging the influence of nature and its components. Thus, cultural diversity, like biological diversity, emerges from the various ecosystems.’

Since the Declaration of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 1972  (the ‘1972 Stockholm Declaration’) stated that ‘Man has a special responsibility to safeguard and wisely manage the heritage of wildlife and its habitat which are now gravely imperilled …’, and this ‘special responsibility’ includes a duty to restore and maintain the integrity of the environment, the existence of fiduciary duties in relation to cultural heritage is linked to wider: environmental; strategic; legal; and policy issues, i.e. international law applying to activities on the high seas and on the continental shelf.

The big question is ‘What ethical standards of behaviour do these duties give rise to?’   This is linked to:

(i)      international humanitarian law;

(ii)      the protection and preservation of cultural property; and

(iii)     illicit trafficking of art and antiquities.

The problem of illicit trafficking is further linked to:

(a)          organised crime;

(b)          money-laundering; and

(c)          terrorist financing.

Because cultural identity is considered to part of human dignity, it is linked to human rights, i.e. cultural heritage is of crucial importance to individuals and communities as part of their identity. Since cultural heritage requires memory, this applies to both tangible and intangible heritage, because material and physical heritage needs to be placed in both a historical and cultural context, in order to understand its value.

That is why mediation is a powerful tool in cultural heritage diplomacy, and at its centre are ‘norms’ of behaviour, which theoretically apply with equal vigour to private law claims, i.e. there  is a bridge between public international law claims, and private law claims when art becomes cultural heritage. That bridge is the fiduciary doctrine of Jus Cogens.

Therefore this theory is not only about mediation, it is also about the fundamental values humanity attaches to Art and Cultural Heritage, because those values can translate into norms of behaviour that can be building blocks for reaching agreement in a mediation about art and cultural heritage between both private parties and states.

This is the subject of an article I will be writing in 2022 for a Diploma in ‘Art Law’ at the Institute of Art & Law in London. See the ‘Mediation of Art Disputes’ page at

No Fly Zones

‘Air power can only be used effectively to coerce or deter if it is used in accordance with these ends. It can be called in to support a force on the ground and attack the targets indicated by the force as threatening it; and it can react to any aircraft ignoring the NFZ [No Fly Zone] and shoot it down. If it is to deter or coerce, then the opponent has to believe that targets that matter to him will be struck effectively, even if they are not necessarily those that he is risking in battle. He must also believe that you will escalate if you do not succeed in getting him to succumb at first, and that the outcome would be to his disadvantage. One is in effect negotiating by threatening or using force, in confrontation not conflict.’(‘The Utility of Force – The Art of War in the Modern World’ [2005], p.345 by General Sir Rupert Smith (former Deputy Supreme Commander (DSACEUR) in NATO. All territorial airspace is considered as coming within the purview of International Humanitarian Law [‘IHL’]. ‘IHL provides that certain areas within the territory of a party to the conflict (or in any other territory) may be rendered off-limits to military activity, through designation of the area as a demilitarised zone, a neutralised zone, and undefended locality (or safe zone), or a hospital or safety zone. Thus, IHL provisions and protection still apply, but these zones are not to be made the location of hostilities. Non-defended localities can be any town, village, dwelling, or building which is declared to be an undefended place. … Neutralised or demilitarised zones may also be established by parties to a conflict. … Demilitarised zones are outlined in article 60 of API and are intended to protect civilians living within such zones from attack by parties to the conflict. The provisions for establishing a demilitarised zone are similar to those for an undefended locality: however, demilitarised zones can only be created by agreement of the parties to the conflict. As the ICRC Commentary to the Protocols notes, the “essential character of the zones created in article 60 … [is] that they have a humanitarian and not a political aim; they are specially intended to protect the population living there against attack.”‘ (The Oxford Guide to International Humanitarian Law (2020) edited by Ben Saul and Dapo Akande), p.67. In international armed conflicts, international humanitarian law applies as soon as an armed conflict exists between states. The formal declaration of war is not required. Therefore, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 apply to the invasion of a sovereign state by another state actor. The toolbox for humanitarian intervention includes the imposition of ‘humanitarian’ no-fly zones. An undefended locality can be estatblished unilaterally. Attacking a UN safezone is a breach of the rule of law. See also the ‘Humanitarian Mediation’ page at

See also:

Diplomacy and Defence are not substitutes for one another

‘We cannot, as a free nation, compete with our adversaries in tactics of terror, assassination, false promises, counterfeit mobs and crises. 

We cannot, under the scrutiny of a free press and public, tell different stories to different audiences, foreign and domestic, friendly and hostile. 

We cannot abandon the slow processes of consulting with our allies to match the swift expediencies of those who merely dictate to their satellites. 

We can neither abandon nor control the international organization in which we now cast less than 1 percent of the vote in the General Assembly. 

We possess weapons of tremendous power–but they are least effective in combating the weapons most often used by freedom’s foes: subversion, infiltration, guerrilla warfare, civil disorder. 

We send arms to other peoples–just as we send them the ideals of democracy in which we believe–but we cannot send them the will to use those arms or to abide by those ideals. 

And while we believe not only in the force of arms but in the force of right and reason, we have learned that reason does not always appeal to unreasonable men–that it is not always true that “a soft answer turneth away wrath”–and that right does not always make might. 

In short, we must face problems which do not lend themselves to easy or quick or permanent solutions. And we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient–that we are only 6 percent of the world’s population–that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind–that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity–and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem. 

These burdens and frustrations are accepted by most Americans with maturity and understanding. They may long for the days when war meant charging up San Juan Hill- or when our isolation was guarded by two oceans– or when the atomic bomb was ours alone– or when much of the industrialized world depended upon our resources and our aid. But they now know that those days are gone– and that gone with them are the old policies and the old complacencies. And they know, too, that we must make the best of our new problems and our new opportunities, whatever the risk and the cost. 

But there are others who cannot bear the burden of a long twilight struggle. They lack confidence in our long-run capacity to survive and succeed. Hating communism, yet they see communism in the long run, perhaps, as the wave of the future. And they want some quick and easy and final and cheap solution– now. 

There are two groups of these frustrated citizens, far apart in their views yet very much alike in their approach. On the one hand are those who urge upon us what I regard to be the pathway of surrender-appeasing our enemies, compromising our commitments, purchasing peace at any price, disavowing our arms, our friends, our obligations. If their view had prevailed, the world of free choice would be smaller today. 

On the other hand are those who urge upon us what I regard to be the pathway of war: equating negotiations with appeasement and substituting rigidity for firmness. If their view had prevailed, we would be at war today, and in more than one place. 

It is a curious fact that each of these extreme opposites resembles the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead. Each side sees only “hard” and “soft” nations, hard and soft policies, hard and soft men. Each believes that any departure from its own course inevitably leads to the other: one group believes that any peaceful solution means appeasement; the other believes that any arms build-up means war. One group regards everyone else as warmongers, the other regards everyone else as appeasers. Neither side admits that its path will lead to disaster–but neither can tell us how or where to draw the line once we descend the slippery slopes of appeasement or constant intervention. 

In short, while both extremes profess to be the true realists of our time, neither could be more unrealistic. While both claim to be doing the nation a service, they could do it no greater disservice. This kind of talk and easy solutions to difficult problems, if believed, could inspire a lack of confidence among our people when they must all– above all else– be united in recognizing the long and difficult days that lie ahead. It could inspire uncertainty among our allies when above all else they must be confident in us. And even more dangerously, it could, if believed, inspire doubt among our adversaries when they must above all be convinced that we will defend our vital interests. 

The essential fact that both of these groups fail to grasp is that diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another. Either alone would fail. A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence– while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by a willingness to resist force, could invite disaster. 

But as long as we know what comprises our vital interests and our long-range goals, we have nothing to fear from negotiations at the appropriate time, and nothing to gain by refusing to take part in them. At a time when a single clash could escalate overnight into a holocaust of mushroom clouds, a great power does not prove its firmness by leaving the task of exploring the other’s intentions to sentries or those without full responsibility. Nor can ultimate weapons rightfully be employed, or the ultimate sacrifice rightfully demanded of our citizens, until every reasonable solution has been explored. “How many wars,” Winston Churchill has written, “have been averted by patience and persisting good will! …. How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands!” 

If vital interests under duress can be preserved by peaceful means, negotiations will find that out. If our adversary will accept nothing less than a concession of our rights, negotiations will find that out. And if negotiations are to take place, this nation cannot abdicate to its adversaries the task of choosing the forum and the framework and the time. 

For there are carefully defined limits within which any serious negotiations must take place. With respect to any future talks on Germany and Berlin, for example, we cannot, on the one hand, confine our proposals to a list of concessions we are willing to make, nor can we, on the other hand, advance any proposals which compromise the security of free Germans and West Berliners, or endanger their ties with the West. 

No one should be under the illusion that negotiations for the sake of negotiations always advance the cause of peace. If for lack of preparation they break up in bitterness, the prospects of peace have been endangered. If they are made a forum for propaganda or a cover for aggression, the processes of peace have been abused. 

But it is a test of our national maturity to accept the fact that negotiations are not a contest spelling victory or defeat. They may succeed– they may fail. They are likely to be successful only if both sides reach an agreement which both regard as preferable to the status quo– an agreement in which each side can consider its own situation to be improved. And this is most difficult to obtain. 

But, while we shall negotiate freely, we shall not negotiate freedom. Our answer to the classic question of Patrick Henry is still no– life is not so dear, and peace is not so precious, “as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery.” And that is our answer even though, for the first time since the ancient battles between Greek city-states, war entails the threat of total annihilation, of everything we know, of society itself. For to save mankind’s future freedom, we must face up to any risk that is necessary. We will always seek peace– but we will never surrender. 

In short, we are neither “warmongers” nor “appeasers,” neither “hard” nor “soft.” We are Americans, determined to defend the frontiers of freedom, by an honorable peace if peace is possible, but by arms if arms are used against us. 

And if we are to move forward in that spirit, we shall need all the calm and thoughtful citizens that this great University can produce, all the light they can shed, all the wisdom they can bring to bear. It is customary, both here and around the world, to regard life in the United States as easy. Our advantages are many. But more than any other people on earth, we bear burdens and accept risks unprecedented in their size and their duration, not for ourselves alone but for all who wish to be free. No other generation of free men in any country has ever faced so many and such difficult challenges-not even those who lived in the days when this University was founded in 1861. 

This nation was then torn by war. This territory had only the simplest elements of civilization. And this city had barely begun to function. But a university was one of their earliest thoughts– and they summed it up in the motto that they adopted: “Let there be light.” What more can be said today, regarding all the dark and tangled problems we face than: Let there be light. And to accomplish that illumination, the University of Washington shall still hold high the torch.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 25th President of the United States of America.

Address at University of Washington | JFK Library

See also: Who Blinks First in Ukraine? | The New Yorker

William Taylor, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine now at the U.S. Institute of Peace, told me this week, a few days after returning from Kyiv. “[Putin] will want to own or dominate or reabsorb Ukraine until he dies.”

Ukraine – Who can mediate?

As Jonathan Powell (who runs Inter Mediate in London) wrote in ‘Talking To Terrorists – How to end armed conflicts’ (2014), ‘Of course it is possible to mishandle a peace process just like any other political act, but that is no reason for not having a peace process. … President Kennedy captured the conundrum well: “A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence – while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by an willingness to resist force, could invite disaster.” … So the successful equation in dealing with serious terrorist groups is to combine military pressure down with the offer of a political way out through talks which can, over time, lead to an end to the armed conflict. …. That does not mean to say that it is sensible to plunge into a full-blown negotiation straightaway  … Rather it means that we should try to learn from past experience how best to make contact with such groups, how to build trust, how to combine force and talking, how to use third parties, how and when to turn the contacts into negotiations, how to bring those negotiations to a successful conclusion, and how to ensure the resulting agreement is implemented, so that we don’t keep on making the same mistakes.’ If these principles apply to the invasion of a sovereign state by another state actor, then, Mediation is a tool for resolving armed conflict through politics and economics. Therefore, the question is when and how to talk to Russia.
‘Whether mediation is undertaken by an international organization, State, or an NGO, any peace process needs an individual to lead the effort. … However, a Head of state, Foreign Minister, or Secretary General is likely to be too busy with other things to be able to concentrate sufficiently on a mediation process that lasts more than a few days. They may also lack the willingness to get their hands dirty with detailed strategizing and planning, doing hands-on negotiations with non-state actors, listening to civil society, conducting shuttle diplomacy, and managing a mediation team. Often, they lack the expertise required for a professional mediation effort. They may also be too closely associated with one or more parties, particularly if the dispute is in a neighbouring state. … It is therefore important to select a dedicated and professional mediator to do the work, whether implicitly in the name of a Government or Secretary General, or explicitly as a special envoy, personal representative, or the like. The separation between the two hierarchical levels can also be used to advance the negotiations, for instance by calling on involvement of the highest level at crucial moments, to increase pressure on the parties.’ (Negotiating Peace – A Guide To The practice, Politics, And Law of International Mediation’, by Sven M.G.Koopmans, 2018) Oxford University Press, paragraph 3.4.1. Who will Russia listen to? – What about a former British Prime Minister?

Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition

‘Universality of values: Cultural dimension of geopolitical competition Event’ Conference Talks 14.1.2021 organised by the European External Action Service – The presentations broadcast from: Europe; China; and India, were insightful and provided much food for thought. I think that the recognition and promulgation of universal values, possibly enshrined in an emboldened code of international law norms and standards of behaviour is linked to cultural heritage diplomacy (i.e. as bridge building and so much more). I will be writing a paper in 2022 for my Art Law Diploma course at IAL’s about ‘Practical Ethics in the mediation of art and cultural heritage disputes.’ This will include discussion of the nexus between: (i) cultural heritage law; (ii)  human rights; (iii) the moral case for restitution; (iv) norms of behaviour under international law; (v) multi-lateral Cultural Heritage Diplomacy; and (vi) Humanitarian Mediation.

As far as I am aware, there is no fiduciary doctine of custodianship, protection, and preservation in relation to cultural heritage under English law. Whether such a doctine is desirable is a controversial subject, however there do appear to be fiduciary policies in e.g. Italy. For more information please visit the ‘Mediation of Art and Cultural Heritage Disputes’ page of my website (, or just Google ‘Mediation of Art Disputes.’

Meanwhile, for my research, if anybody reading this post has any academic papers relating to the above, please email them to me at

Cultural Heritage Funds – Can an ESG Fund be a charitable trust

This is a question that I put in a slightly different way to the panel at a joint UN – Islamic Finance Summit 28.09.2021 (Islamic Finance and the UN SDG’s 2021 Global Summit); IF-SDG-2021-Global-Summit-Agenda.pdf ( (UKIFC in partnership with UN and Islamic Development Bank organised a virtual global summit on Islamic finance and the SDGs to coincide with the UN General Assembly which I was invited to attend online. Please note that I am an English Trust Law practitioner and Commercial Mediator and do not practice in the field of Islamic Finance.

I do not see any legal impediment to the creation and administration of an ESG Charitable Trust under English law, provided the trustees exercise their duties and powers in accordance with English law, see: see: Islamic law principles applicable to the administration of trusts | Carl’s Wealth Planning Blog) and Chapters 3 (Powers of Trustees), and 4 (Duties of Trustees), of my book the ‘Contentious Trusts Handbook’ published by the Law Society in July 2020: Wildy & Sons Ltd — The World’s Legal Bookshop Search Results for isbn: ‘9781784461249’

To develop a business plan and strategy for such a trust the following issues would need to be thought through and agreed (and this is not an exhaustive list):

  1.    Objectives;
  2.    Size;
  3.    Investors;
  4.    ESG portfolio principles;
  5.    Asset classes;
  6.    Asset pool;
  7.    Governance structure;
  8.    Fund management;
  9.    Management structure;
  10.    Administrative powers;
  11.    Fund management duties (including fiduciary duties);
  12.    Investment policy;
  13.    Liquidity management;
  14.    Selection evaluation and monitoring of investments;
  15.    Risk assessment & due diligence;
  16.    Regulatory compliance (including MLC compliance);
  17.    Transaction management and record keeping;
  18.    Execution rules and protocols;
  19.    Auditing; and
  20.    Legal and Data Protection compliance.

In addition advice would need to be obtained about how to structure and manage the ESG fund for tax-efficiency.

Because most professional trustees have limited knowledge of funds and ESG investing, perhaps a trust specialist, a fund specialist and an ESG specialist could make up the board of a private trust company in the structure?

I am not sure if anybody has yet designed a structure that combines the idea of a charitable trust with an ESG fund for the ethical financing of social projects, e.g. a cultural heritage project (involving Islamic Finance). Therefore, because the idea of such a structure is innovative, it will probably need a sponsor to give it wings.

Meanwhile, I invite you to connect the dots between the following ‘boxes’:

  • Environmental protection.
  • Agriculture.
  • Irrigation, clean water and sanitation.
  • Environmentally friendly energy generation, e.g. solar power.
  • Politically stable and prosperous civil societies.
  • Free trade areas.
  • UN protected enclaves.
  • Micro social projects, which together create a larger matrix of projects that can create a functioning civil society.
  • Moving refugees out of camps into a healthy, and safe environment where they can apply themselves (and acquire new skills) to create a tolerant and functioning civil society, i.e. municipal services e.g. emergency services, hospitals, schools, and the planning and implementation of building and infrastructure (which requires architects, engineers, and trades e.g. electricians).
  • Development finance provided by states.
  • Technical know-how and co-operation provided by the private sector; and
  • Ethical investment by ESG (including Islamic Finance) funds – which already exist, see: ESG and Islamic Finance collaboration could be major revenue boost for sustainable investment: report (

An idea for a specific micro-project which could form part of a larger matrix that occurs to me, is a Global Initiative to create ‘Islamic Gardens’ (i.e. as parks for planting trees, and with greenhouses for growing plants, fruit and vegetables), see for example Gardens of Paradise: past and present | Aga Khan Foundation UK ( These Gardens or Parks appear to tick all of the above boxes.

There is also a relationship between the human environment, development and culture. The commentary to the preamble to the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development (5th edition, IUCN Switzerland 2015) states:

‘All civilisations spring from and are shaped by the quality of their surrounding natural elements [and that] the histories of different peoples are inseparable from the natural conditions in which they have lived for millennia. … Art, literature and science cannot be understood, or even imagined, without acknowledging the influence of nature and its components. Thus, cultural diversity, like biological diversity, emerges from the various ecosystems.’

Since the Declaration of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 1972 (the ‘1972 Stockholm Declaration’) stated that ‘Man has a special responsibility to safeguard and wisely manage the heritage of wildlife and its habitat which are now gravely imperilled …’, and this ‘special responsibility’ includes a duty to restore and maintain the integrity of the environment, the existence of fiduciary duties (i.e. in public international law) in relation to cultural heritage, is linked to wider: environmental; strategic; legal; and policy issues, i.e. international law applying to activities on the high seas and on the continental shelf.

See further: Mediation of Art & Cultural Heritage Disputes – Carl Islam

Therefore, it would appear that an Islamic Charitable Trust could in principle be established as an ESG fund to finance Cultural Heritage projects throughout the Islamic world. However, this specific idea does not yet appear to be on the radar of either the Islamic Finance industry, academics, Governments, or UN institutions.

Afghanistan – Transforming a geo-political fiasco into a diplomatic opportunity

Applying the following conflict resolution principles to Afghanistan, and taking into account the points set out below about the transference of global economic power to Asia and the fast evolving new world economic order, can a diplomatic ‘safe zone’/ ‘breathing-space’ be created by organising an international conference about infrastructure development in Central Asia in e.g. Qatar or Turkey?

Paradoxically, could ‘Global Britain’ miss out entirely on potentially ‘the largest free trade deal in history’ because the UK is ‘going-it alone’, whereas geo-politically Central Asia as a region, is moving in the opposite direction of multi-lateral trade and development co-operation. In other words, does Afghanistan present the UK with a diplomatic opportunity for future investment in Central Asia? – see:, the extract from the ‘New Silk Roads’, and Afghanistan – Linking economic diplomacy to humanitarian relief, & evacuation’, below.

Conflict resolution principles:

  1. Transform conflict into an opportunity – ‘Every conflict takes place at a crossroads that, when recognised for what it reveals, offers each participant an opportunity to overcome what Sigmund Freud called “the narcissism of minor differences”, and thereby become better, more balanced, collaborative human beings. … At its deeper levels, conflict resolution is naturally and automatically a path of integrity and character, of heart and spirit, of learning and revolution, that begins here and now inside each of us. In the end, of course there are no paths. The way forward begins wherever we are, and opens whenever we are ready to open our eyes, drop our judgements and expectations, and act authentically. More fundamentally, we need to learn how to resolve our differences if we hope to ever end the use of warfare, reduce climate change and environmental degradation, and assuage racial, gender, national, religious, and cultural hatreds. This will require us not only to focus our energies on learning and teaching these more subtle and demanding arts and sciences in dispute resolution, but to recognise that we can only succeed in eliminating conflicts in others by discovering how to eliminate them within ourselves.’ ‘The Crossroads of Conflict – A Journey Into the Heart of Dispute Resolution’ by Kenneth Cloke (2019).
  2. Create an enabling environment for transformation and transcendence, i.e. a ‘breathing space’ / ‘safe zone’ to open up unimagined possibilities – ‘[Daniel Shapiro has] developed a practical method to bridge the toughest emotional divides. This method leverages the unique feature of conflict that has been consistently overlooked: the space between sides. We typically view conflict as a binary concept – me versus you, us versus them – and focus on satisfying our independent interests. But conflict literally exists between us – in our relationship – and in that space live complicated emotional dynamics that thwart cooperation. Learning how to transform an emotionally charged conflict into an opportunity for mutual benefit requires that you learn how to effectively navigate the space. My goal has been to decode the space between disputants and to design processes to help them work through intransigent emotions, divisive dynamics, and clashing beliefs. The result is the method that I call ‘relational identity theory’, which features practical steps that produce dynamic effects, much as the few simple actions necessary to light a pile of wood produce the dynamic effect of fire. The greatest barrier to conflict resolution is what I called the tribes effect, divisive mindset that cast you and the other side as inevitable adversaries. As long as you are trapped in this mindset, you will be trapped in conflict. The way out is to counteract the five hidden forces that draw you toward this outlook – the Lures of the tribal mind – and to cultivate positive relations via the process of integrated dynamics. In the course of doing so, you will confront unavoidable tensions – relational dialectics – that threaten to make your conflict feel like a no-win proposition. ….

In the sunny resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, I facilitated a workshop called “building peace, breaking taboos”. Its purpose was to help regional leadership wrestle with political taboos constraining progress in the Israeli Palestinian negotiations. Co-led by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Middle East quartet special envoy at the time, the session included participants ranging from high-level negotiators and government leaders to royalty and religious figures. To create a safe zone, I established the rules of our workshop [i.e. mediation], including confidentiality and mutual respect. In the tense context of the conflict, I knew that productive conversation would be possible only if participants felt safe enough to voice their honest opinions. I also emphasise that our workshop was exploratory, providing everyone a clear chance to think outside the constraints of the conflict [i.e. to think outside the box]. No one will be asked to commit to any action discussed in the workshop. This freed the participants to engage in energised conversation. Mr Blair took the floor to discuss his involvement in negotiating the Good Friday peace agreement that helped to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict. He explained that effective negotiations could not have taken place within an environment of violence and counter-attack. Both sides needed “breathing space” – [i.e. a] safe zone that, once established, opened up possibilities that Blair said he had “never imagined possible”.’ ‘Negotiating the Non-Negotiable – How To Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts’ by Daniel Shapiro (2017).

A new economic world order?

‘By 2050 the per capita income in Asia could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (‘PPP’) terms, making 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global GDP to 52%, as one recent report put it, “Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution.” The transference of global economic power to Asia “may occur somewhat more quickly or slowly”, agreed another report, “but the general direction of change and the historic nature of this shift is clear” – concluding similarly that we are living through a reversion to how the world looked before the rise of the West. The acute awareness of the New World being knitted together has helped prompt plans for the future that will capitalise on and accelerate the changing patterns of economic and political power. Chief amongst these is the Belt and Road initiative, President Xi’s signature economic and foreign policy, which uses the ancient silk Roads – and their success – as a matrix for Chinese long-term plans for the future. Since the project was announced in 2013, nearly $1 trillion has been promised to infrastructure investments, mainly in the form of loans, to around 1000 projects. Some believe that the amount of money that will be ploughed into China’s neighbours in countries that are part of the Belt and Road over sea and land will eventually multiply several times over, to create and interlinked world of train lines, highways, deep-water ports, and airports that will enable trade links to grow even stronger and faster … Today, there is a series of Great Games taking place, over competition for influence, energy and natural resources, for food, water and clean air, the strategic position, even for data. … The number of passengers travelling by plane will nearly double to 7.8 billion a year by 2036, with the growing and increasingly affluent populations of Asia, with China, India, Turkey and Thailand driving this increase. … Pakistan is now the World’s fastest growing retail market, partly thanks to the fact that disposable income has doubled since 2020. … There are fortunes to be made by being in the right place at the right time – and consequences for failing to adapt or respond in the right way. … Tastes, trends and appetites will be made in the East and not in the West. Changing aspirations, appetites and tastes will drive demand – as they always have done. … Corporate fortunes and failures will be made in the East – and not in the West. … The age of the West is at a crossroads. … The themes of isolation and fragmentation in the West are in sharp contrast to what has been happening along the Silk Road since 2015. The story across large parts of the region linking the Pacific through to the Mediterranean has been about consolidation and trying to find ways to collaborate more effectively; the trend has been about defusing tensions and building alliances; the discussions have been about solutions that are mutually beneficial and provide the platform for long-term co-operation and collaboration. These have been facilitated by multiple institutions that both enable dialogue and take practical steps to deepen ties between states – multilateral financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the New Asian infrastructure Development Bank, but also groups like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, the BRICS summits, the Transpacific Partnership (albeit without US participation) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – the last of which includes countries from South East Asia along with China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Together, these have a combined GDP of almost – 30 trillion or 30% of global GDP – and represent 3.5 billion people. Negotiations to create a modern comprehensive high quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement have intensified, raising the prospect that one economist has called the largest free trade deal in history. .. The world is spinning in two different directions: decoupling and going it alone in one, and deepening ties and trying to work together in another. … A typical example of the way in which the heart of the world is being knitted together comes from a conference held in Samarkand in November 2017 when senior officials from the Central Asian republics as well as from Afghanistan, Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, India and Pakistan, met to discuss ways of working together to deal with terrorism, religious extremism, transnational organised crime and drug trafficking under the theme “Central Asia: one past and a common future, cooperation for sustainable development and mutual prosperity.” … If Kazakhstan and Iran build transit networks, Kazakhstan may be linked to the southern waters through Iran, and Iran can be connected to China via Kazakhstan … The development of a new international north-south transport corridor that connects Southeast Asia and northern Europe has also made progress and seen government bodies in Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran working closely with each other.’’ The New Silk Roads – The Present and Future of the World, by Peter Frankopan(2018).

Diplomatic opportunity?

The UK elected to ‘go it alone’. The US President has pinned his colours to a policy of isolationism. China is the emerging global leader in Central Asia. Could the UK miss out entirely on ‘the largest free trade deal in history’ because of a lack of coherent thinking, imagination and diplomatic leadership, or does regime change in Afghanistan represent a time-limited opportunity?

AFGHANISTAN – Linking economic diplomacy to humanitarian relief, & evacuation

An idea cannot be killed by military action, however its appeal can be weakened by creating a stable and thriving economy that rewards application, in other words entrepreneurship and wealth creation are weapons that can silently defeat an ideology over time by making it irrelevant to people’s  needs, expectations, and aspirations. That is why communism was doomed to fail from the start, i.e. because it removed the incentive to work, which runs counter to human nature as most rational people want to improve not only their own lives but also to create opportunities for their children. Wealth creation should therefore be part of a coherent and cohesive diplomatic strategy for managing the risk of terrorism fuelled by a culture of crime in a hostile oligarchy or failed state. Educated Afghan refugees can help build the economies of Central Asian states and create wealth and social flourishing in the region, which in the long term may increase stability in Central Asia. Is there a time-limited opportunity for the US, EU, UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia, to jointly develop a coherent diplomatic strategy linking trade deals to an agreement by Central Asian States to provide a home for refugees from Afghanistan?

Regional preferential trade agreements have the potential to contribute to Central Asia’s economic diversification. Their usefulness is positively correlated with their capacity to facilitate trade among participants and negatively correlated with the extent of trade diversion caused by the agreement. From that perspective, the Commonwealth of Independent States free trade area is useful and fairly harmless because it reinforces the already existing regime of Central Asia’s trade with traditional partners based on a set of rules consistent with the WTO’ – Connecting Central Asia with Economic Centres: Final Report (

A potential Win/Win strategy?

  • Fly in aid to Afghanistan.
  • Fly out evacuees for settlement in Central Asian States.
  • US, EU, UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia to provide: (i) humanitarian relief to Afghanistan; and (ii) trade and development support to Central Asian States.

The problem

After the last flight has left Kabul there will be no airports under neutral control to fly in and out of, and no force on the ground to create and protect a humanitarian land corridor, and to escort evacuees to safety.

Can Pakistan and the UAE provide troops wearing ‘blue’ helmets and air cover with the agreement of the Taliban and local war lords, to operate and protect strategic airports and to ensure safe passage?

Otherwise, how are people, including UK and US citizens i.e. passport holders, left behind (who apparently number more than 2000), to get out of Afghanistan?

They are trapped.

Likewise, how is humanitarian aid going to get into Afghanistan and be distributed where it is needed?

That is where a coalition of the US, EU, UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia appear to have some diplomatic leverage, unless of course China advances into the political vacuum and eventually controls the ungoverned space. If it does, geopolitically who is going to end up being the largest investor in Central Asia – the US, EU, UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia or China?

The United States has a vested interest in promoting regional economic integration, which could catalyze political reform and reinforce efforts to stop illicit traffic and militant activity at Afghanistan’s borders. As cited in a World Bank report, landlocked countries can face average growth rates that are about 1.5 percentage points lower because of transaction costs and other inefficiencies such as unpredictability in transportation time.  In July 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the New Silk Road (NSR) initiative, a long-term economic vision to transform Afghanistan into a hub of transport and trade, connecting markets in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Some of the proposed NSR projects include completing the Afghan Ring Road; establishing rail links between Afghanistan and Pakistan; completing the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline; and creating a regional electricity market by establishing a transmission line between Central Asia and South Asia (CASA-1000).   NSR requires U.S. leadership, not necessarily an infusion of new U.S. funds. It will instead involve cooperation from multilateral development banks, foreign donors, regional governments, and the private sectorNSR has been enthusiastically welcomed by governments in Afghanistan and Central Asia who want to connect to markets in Europe and Asia and appreciate American attention to their economic challenges.   However, connecting Central to South Asia via Afghanistan will be challenging in light of the barriers to continental transport and trade, including the lack of regional cooperation. NSR will not be a panacea for Afghanistan’s economic woes, but it does offer a vision for the broader region that could foster private sector investment if projects are prioritized and steps are taken to create an enabling environment. The United States can play a vital role by supporting political and economic reform and leveraging its resources.’


See also:

Why did the UK become involved? –

What can the US do now? – Biden can still salvage his legacy and US credibility. It won’t be easy. – Atlantic Council

Scale – Half a million Afghans could flee across borders – UNHCR | Reuters

Can Central Asian States provide a refuge? –Afghanistan: Where will refugees go after Taliban takeover? – BBC News

Concerted humanitarian strategy? – David Miliband calls for ‘unified’ international engagement with the Taliban (

EU diplomatic support? – Top EU diplomat Borrell calls for dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan – POLITICO

UK logistical support? –

Regional consequences? – Afghanistan: What Taliban takeover means for the region | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 19.08.2021

Could Turkey be a diplomatic mediator? –

China – The influence of Chinese economic growth on Central Asian countries.(Business Reference Services, Library of Congress) (

Russia – Sino-Russian Economic Cooperation in Central Asia is Not What It Seems to Be – The Diplomat

India – Taliban takeover a ‘body blow’ to Indian interests in Afghanistan | Taliban News | Al Jazeera

Pakistan – Pakistan’s problematic victory in Afghanistan (

Australia – Australia and Kazakhstan: a Steppe Forward for Bilateral Ties – Australian Institute of International Affairs – Australian Institute of International Affairs

Canada –

Islamic Finance – Gulftimes : Central Asia pushes Islamic finance in preparation of post-Covid era (