Vision and Voice from the Middle East


A Networking Conference for John Smith Trust – FCO Rule of Law Fellows to examine Good Governance, Gender Equality, Conflict Transformation and the Promotion of Human Rights

British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, 
London, SW1Y 5AG

March 6th, 7th and 8th 2015


The Leaders: This spring 80 emerging leaders who have completed the John Smith Trust/Foreign Office’s Arab Partnership Programme Rule of Law Fellowship Programme, will gather in London for a three day event to celebrate their achievements and reflect on the future of their region. The Fellows are an amazing group who come from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Oman. They work in civil society, government, parliament, law enforcement, the judiciary and the private sector. Each Fellow is implementing a social action project informed by their experience in the UK. Many are dealing directly with the consequences of the war in Syria and the rise of ISIS. Others are making the Rule of Law work in challenging economic, social and political contexts. They embody the ethos of John Smith. An ethos of public service to community and country; a philosophy based on asking “Why not?”

The Weekend: The purpose of the weekend is for the Fellows to network through discussions on two themes that have run through each programme – the Rule of Law and Gender. The three day event which concludes on International Women’s Day will provide a forum to stress that the Middle East is not just defined by its problems but that it is a young and creative region and the Fellows demonstrate the difference a group of energetic and powerful individuals can make to their societies. There will be four plenary sessions which will frame the weekend:

  • The Rule of Law, Women and Conflict Transformation
  • Gender, Equality and Freedom of Expression
  • Women, Politics, Choice and Voice – Shaping the Future of the Middle East
  • Empowerment: Wealth, Distribution, Technology and Employment in the Future Middle East

The plenary speakers will explore each of these themes from their perspective. Fellows will then be asked to respond.

The Networking Outputs: The main output of the conference will be a Policy Report by the Fellows mapping out the areas in which they can work together, areas in which their projects will have an impact and areas in which they would see the need for foreign assistance. All the contributions will touch on issues related to the Good Governance, Gender Equality, Conflict Transformation and the Promotion of Human Rights for all. The Report will be split into:

Situation Report: what can we do now– this will include ideas, reflections, project proposals and reports on what could have and is having an immediate impact in the region.

The Future of the Middle East– what must we all do and keep doing – this will include ideas, reflections, project proposals and principles that can inform longer term sustainable improvements in the region. 

The Trust has already begun to work with this exceptional group of people on projects to ensure the long term sustainability of the network and help build resilience across the region. These projects include ‘Women to Women: a peer to peer Leadership Network’ which will involve twenty or more Fellows working with Iraqi women leaders.

The Creative Outputs: The Fellows will also produce outputs in a number of creative formats that will reflect on ‘A day in their lives’ and on the meaning of International Women’s Day. We are inviting various guests to join the Fellows for the weekend including writers, artists, activists and journalists. They, and the Fellows, will be encouraged to share via social media the ideas, sounds and images that emerge from the weekend. 

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