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How can this generation secure a lasting peace in the Middle East?

The Westphalia for the Middle East project is an initiative of the Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy of the University of Cambridge to open new, creative approaches for resolving conflict in the Middle East by looking at solutions that worked in the Peace of Westphalia.

A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East

How can this generation secure a lasting peace in the Middle East?  This is one of the great challenges facing the world today.  A 370-year-old peace treaty might hold some clues.  The Peace of Westphalia, signed in 1648, ended the Thirty Years War: a devastating conflict which killed around a quarter of Germans.  It was a landmark peace treaty, highly influential in the development of the law of nations.  Both the Thirty Years War and the conflict in the Middle East today were a messy entanglement of overlapping conflicts, both have been marked by sectarian conflict and intervention by outside countries, and both the Thirty Years War and the present Middle Eastern conflicts have been hugely costly in human life.  These parallels have been observed by a range of foreign policy practitioners including Henry Kissinger, Kofi Annan, Angela Merkel, and Richard Haass.  Peace in the Middle East cannot be imposed by external powers – it must come from the region itself.  Mechanisms and techniques that proved effective in Westphalia can provide inspiration for how this might be done in practice; an all-inclusive peace congress, innovative power sharing arrangements based on compromises, new legal mechanisms for dispute resolution, and a new inclusive security architecture committed to and guaranteed by all signatories.  The Westphalia for the Middle East project is working to encourage the formation of such an inclusive peace conference.

The next phase of the project explores the practical question of how the peace-making principles which emerged from the Peace of Westphalia might be implemented to help resolve conflict in the Middle East today. To this end we are actively engaging and working with leading policy makers, public figures, diplomats, and eminent persons from across the globe. Through a series of policy-focused workshops, consultations, closed-discussions and other exercises, A Westphalia for the Middle East is working to encourage a bold new answer to the perennially difficult challenge posed by decades of conflict in this important region.

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