What makes us different?

Many groups publish studies, convene symposia, and promote their own solutions to international security challenges. ORG, however, has its own distinguished contributions in this field that set it apart. It has successfully lured opposing sides in major international controversies into productive Track II sessions. It has taken principled positions without allowing itself to become an instrument of partisan politics. Through such capabilities, ORG has gained the respect of governments and groups in civil society throughout the world.

Henrik Salander, Former Deputy Director-General, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative

ORG is a peace and security think tank or NGO (non-governmental organisation). Like all think-tanks we do analysis and reports that attempts to propose new policy solutions.

We provide a meeting ground where establishment and more radical ideas can cross-fertilise. It is about getting new and more sustainable thinking taken up and incorporated within the establishment.

We work to address the toughest security questions using detailed research and drawing on deep understanding of how human beings behave.

No-one else puts such a priority on this combination of political analysis and understanding of human behaviour. The results are original insights into what is possible.

ORG’s founder Dr Scilla Elworthy

Our team combines detailed and interdisciplinary knowledge of global security issues together with a deep understanding of political decision-making, and many years of expertise in facilitating constructive dialogue.

Oxford Research Group occupies a uniquely valuable position among peace and security think-tanks. It constantly challenges prevailing security norms, and provides a fruitful environment for decision-makers and opinion-formers to come up with fresh thinking on ways to resolve the major conflicts we face.

Jonathan Steele, Senior Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian

ORG's approach to dialogue

ORG has many years of experience of fostering dialogue in focussed, structured and empathic ways. This can range from events focusing at fostering a culture of strategic thinking in government to dialogue engaging those involved in the most difficult political disputes.

Prominent here is our work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where ORG has pioneered the encouragement of inclusive Palestinian-Palestinian and Israeli-Israeli strategy groups to address the complex conflict system. Results have been encouraging, and this remains a key feature of ORG’s Middle East programme.

One of our most innovative approaches here addresses what Professor Oliver Ramsbotham, active in our Middle East work, calls ‘radical disagreement’ in his 2010 book Transforming Violent Conflict.  We aim to engage on the agonistic dialogue - dialogue between enemies - to work on how it can be explored, understood and managed even in those intractable conflicts where conflict resolution (settlement and transformation) has so far failed.

As one of our participants at an event in Gaza said:  "If we can’t do reconciliation from top-down, we can try to do it from bottom-up." We have facilitated a small technical committee representing Hamas, Fatah and independents to act as neutral broker to provide momentum for change.

The facilitators in our Israeli project have employed training in the analysis of complex systems to open up thinking and get away from habitual short-term or ‘linear’ thinking that perpetuates the status quo. The emphasis here has been on considering alternative concepts of Israel’s security.