© Judah Passow 2002

Strategic Peacebuilding

The Strategic Peacebuilding Programme (SPP, formerly the Middle East Programme) seeks to contribute to preventing, transforming and ending violence by changing how people think about and engage with conflict. We facilitate innovative and strategic dialogues to lay the foundations and ripen the conditions for effective conflict-resolution efforts.

By creating space for people to engage strategically with one another, SPP seeks to open-up fresh possibilities for conflict resolution. Using the knowledge and expertise gained from dialogue, we seek to give third parties - be they the UN, governments or civil society - the critical insights they need to develop effective policies and peace processes.

Our creative approach encourages a deeper appreciation of the causes and drivers of conflict in the Middle East and seeks to challenge established ways of thinking. For over a decade, the SPP has been facilitating inclusive dialogue, often engaging with groups that sit outside the official diplomatic process, to explore means of resolving the conflict.


In a world seemingly beset by intractable conflict, conflict resolution needs to be flexible, responsive and innovative. Reactive, short-term responses can miss opportunities for peace, or even worsen the situation. Strategic thinking and long-term engagement is needed.

Third parties tend to respond to conflict from the perspective of their own vested interests and in pursuit of a particular agenda. History demonstrates that military intervention, a common immediate response, generally exacerbates and entrenches conflict; wounds are deepened and become part of a collective narrative of victimhood and vilification.

Alternatively, conflicted parties can be pressured to meet at the negotiating table or to seek common ground and reconciliation through dialogue. However, these processes can be prolonged and fruitless if the parties are not yet ready for them or if they do not provide space to tackle the real grievances behind radical disagreement. They can give a semblance of peace-making while the core needs and grievances of the parties go unaddressed.

With the increase of conflicts which seem resistant to traditional conflict resolution methods, new approaches urgently need to be pioneered. Theorists and practitioners of peace-making, as well as governments and international organisations, must adopt a responsive and adaptable approach.

ORG seeks to lead the way in fresh thinking about conflict resolution, inform third parties and engage with alternative on-the-ground methodologies that first ready the conditions for peace processes, and then bolster them when they are in motion.

Our approach


We do not believe it is the role of third parties to advocate for any particular party or political outcome to a conflict. SPP instead acts as an independent facilitator with no agenda other than how genuinely to transform violent conflict and ripen the conditions for the parties to develop their own solutions.


SPP explores key issues and questions that are rarely addressed or under-discussed. Its projects make space for under-represented and fresh voices to be heard, and make new links between people. Putting creativity at the heart of its work ensures SPP’s approach is flexible and adaptive.


SPP believes people determine whether a process is effective or not. For this reason, SPP works hard at understanding the local environment and actors. It identifies the right people to engage in its projects and invests in people by building capacity and trust. Furthermore, SPP adopts a consultative and collaborative approach, working closely with local partners and international consultants and advisors.


SPP combines practice with theory, believing the two to be completely interdependent; through practice we fine tune theory, learning and drawing from experience; and through sound research and deep understanding of conflict, we can create a more effective and responsive methodology. In addition, we seek to facilitate integration and cross-fertilization between projects, sharing local information and expertise.


SPP’s approach is anchored in local realities, rather than driven by idealism. We believe it is important to start where parties are and not where third parties want them to be. Methodologies must be strategic, calculating how minimum requirements can be met, and adapting to ensure success rather than doggedly maintaining a particular approach on principle.  

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Gabrielle Rifkind

Gabrielle Rifkind is a senior consultant to the Strategic Peacebuilding Programme (fomerly Middle East Programme), which she founded and directed until 2015. She is the Director of the Oxford...

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Dr Refqa Abu-Remaileh

Refqa Abu-Remaileh works for ORG as a consultant on the Palestine-Israel projects, having worked previously as Middle East Programme (now Strategic Peacebuilding Programme) Manager. She is an...

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Dr Ranj Alaaldin

Dr Ranj Alaaldin is an Associate Fellow at Oxford Research Group (ORG) working closely with the Strategic Peacebuilding Programme as a specialist on Iraq. He holds a PhD from the London School of...

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Dr Bashir Bashir

Bashir Bashir works with ORG as a consultant on its strategic thinking projects in Israel and Palestine. He is a Research Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, our local partner. ...

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Marzuq Halabi

Marzuq Halabi is the Local Coordinator of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel Group under the Middle East Programme at Oxford Research Group (ORG). He is a journalist, writer, political advisor and...

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Professor Oliver Ramsbotham

Oliver Ramsbotham is a Consultant on Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Strategic Peacebuilding Programme (formerly Middle East Programme). He was Chair of the Board from April 2007 until...

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Alexander Scott

Alexander Scott works for ORG as the Strategic Peacebuilding Programme (formerly Middle East Programme) Officer. He primarily supports the Projects Director for the Israel and Palestine tracks to...

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Lord John Alderdice

Lord Alderdice is a medical doctor, psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has been active in politics since the 1970s. He was a key negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement. He sits as a Liberal...

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Yossi Alpher

Yossi Alpher is Advisor to Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Middle East Programme. He was Co-founder and Co-editor of the bitterlemons.net family of internet publications. Alpher is a former...

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Ahmed Badawi

Ahmed Badawi is Co-founder and Executive Director of TRANSFORM: The Interdisciplinary Centre for Conflict Analysis, Political Development and World Society Research. He was Project Director (Israel/...

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Richard Barrett CMG OBE

After a 30-year career with the British Government that included postings in Canada, Jordan, Turkey, and to the United Nations in New York, Richard Barrett was appointed by the UN Secretary-General...

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Michael Brearley

Michael Brearley is a psychoanalyst. He was a professional cricketer who captained England between 1977 and 1981. He has long had an interest in how to get teams to cohere, and how to deal with...

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Sir Richard Dalton

Sir Richard Dalton is Advisor to Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Middle East team. He was formerly a member of the British Diplomatic Service. Richard Dalton has served as Consul-General in Jerusalem (...

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Brig Gen (Retd) Amira Dotan

From 1965 to 1988, Amira Dotan served in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) finishing as the Head of the Women’s Corps with the rank of Brigadier General, the first woman in the Israeli history to...

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Sir Vincent Fean

Vincent Fean spent 38 years in the British Diplomatic Service, latterly as Ambassador to Libya (2006-10) and Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14). Now retired from the Diplomatic Service, he focuses...

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Dr Tony Klug

Tony Klug is a special advisor on the Middle East to the Oxford Research Group and an international board member of the Palestine-Israel Journal. He has written extensively about Arab-Israel...

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Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer

Daniel C. Kurtzer holds the S. Daniel Abraham Chair in Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He served in the United States...

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Dr Yonatan Mendel

Yonatan (Yoni) Mendel is the Director of the Israeli Strategic Forum (ISF), a project of Oxford Research Group (ORG). Yoni is the Projects Manager of the Mediterranean Unit at the Van Leer Jerusalem...

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Nicolas Pelham

Nicolas Pelham is The Economist’s Correspondent on Middle East Affairs and is based in London. He spent five years as a senior analyst for International Crisis Group, reporting on Iraq, Lebanon and...

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Giandomenico (Gianni) Picco

Gianni Picco is Consultant and Advisor to Oxford Research Group (ORG). He worked for some 20 years (1973-92) at the United Nations. Gianni Picco led the task force which secured the cease-fire...

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Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcolm Rifkind served in the Foreign Office from 1982-86 as a Minister of State and from 1995-97 as Foreign Secretary. From 1992-95 he was Secretary of State for Defence. He is currently MP for...

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Baron Paul von Maltzahn

Paul von Maltzahn, born 1945 in Demmin, Pomerania, was raised in Holland. He has read Law and Arabic in Heidelberg, Munich and Hamburg. After having taken his Law Degree 1968 in Hamburg he studied...

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Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson is a former Foreign & Commonwealth Office diplomat who specialised predominantly in the politics of the Arab world. In later years he specialised in conflict resolution with the...

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Ofer Zalzberg

Ofer Zalzberg is a Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa Program. His current interests and areas of specialisation are the theory and practice of conflict...

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Dr Husam Zomlot

Ambassador Husam Zomlot co-founded in 2007, together with senior Palestinian political, civil and acadamic leaders, the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG). He currently serves as the head of the PLO...

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