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About Scilla Elworthy

Scilla Elworthy founded the Oxford Research Group in 1982 to develop dialogue with nuclear weapons decision makers, and set up Peace Direct in 2002 to support local peace-builders in conflict areas. Three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003.

Articles by Scilla Elworthy

This week’s front page editor


Adam Bychawski is an editorial assistant at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Chilcot: all peaceful options were not exhausted

Tony Blair told Chilcot Saddam Hussein was, “a man to whom a last chance to do right is just a further opportunity to do wrong. He is blind to reason.” 

Love in a time of hatred

To prevent terror requires radical acts and working with women. To build peace requires courage, determination, compassion and a budget.

Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world

If we want to ensure that humanity is not doomed to repeat its bloodiest century, the logical move would be to mount an international campaign to see that competent women are swiftly accepted into policy-making positions in all conflict countries, says Scilla Elworthy

Egypt: small oases of transformation

The new Heliopolis university in Cairo has developed from SEKEM principles and is devoted entirely to sustainable development. Scilla Elworthy reports on the challenges of setting the pace of social innovation in education

Peace can be planned. Just like health

"Violence can be prevented. This is not an article of faith, but a statement based on evidence" (WHO 2002). Scilla Elworthy calls for a strategy based on the clear evidence of what is working in scattered pockets around the world, with the creation of 'Infrastructures for Peace' at its core.

"Feast with your enemies" - Dekha Ibrahim Abdi

What do I do differently as a result of knowing this great woman? I utterly believe in the power of one local person to transform a violent situation. I know that humiliation is the driver of most incidents of violence, and that respect is the best antidote to humiliation, and I try to apply that. On the weekend of the UK memorial service for Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, Scilla Elworthy remembers her friend

Scilla Elworthy

“In 2012, due to a massive public awareness campaign, the global public became aware that it was not only necessary, but possible, to evolve individual and collective consciousness, as Einstein had insisted would be necessary for survival. As a result, decisions affecting the planet began to be made from a new, long-term perspective that for the first time took as its premise a holistic, collective, interdependent view of the earth and its inhabitants.”

Is it time for a worldwide strategy for the building of peace?

On average, one dollar spent on programmes to prevent violent conflict achieves as much as sixty dollars spent reacting to crises once violence erupts. So why is there no worldwide strategy for the building of peace? November 1918 marked the end of the 'war to end wars'. One hundred years later, we should now be calling for a new Versailles Convention.

If diplomacy fails

How can the crisis over Iran be resolved without resort to violence? Scilla Elworthy looks at the possibilities for creative action at citizen level.

Learning from Fallujah's agony

The second siege of Fallujah by United States forces in November 2004 inflicted huge damage and casualties on the Iraqi city. Scilla Elworthy asks what went wrong, and what strategy could have worked better for civilians and military alike.

Tackling terror by winning hearts and minds

The decisive instrument in preventing attacks like those in London is the capacity of the human mind to imagine and implement solutions that lead to real change. Scilla Elworthy proposes a fresh way of addressing terrorism.

Peacemaking at the sharp end: Iraq before and after war

One year on from the Iraq war, an experienced researcher of military conflict and peacemaking asks: was there an alternative, what can be done now, and what are the lessons of Iraq for conflict prevention and peace-building worldwide?

The anniversary of the war on Iraq falls on 19-20 March 2004.

Iraq: a way out?

Is there a practical, realistic alternative to seemingly inevitable war with Iraq? The experienced policy analyst Scilla Elworthy builds on her recent visit to Baghdad to propose a peaceful solution that yet speaks to the realities of conflict.

The crisis over Iraq: the non-military solution

What would a non-military strategy for dealing with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq involve? A seminar convened by London’s Royal United Services Institute and the Oxford Research Group, and involving government and NGO representatives from around the world, recently addressed this vital issue. The ORG’s director presents her own interpretation of the proceedings.

Waiting for the dawn: a Baghdad diary

In early 2003, amidst the inexorable build-up of US forces in the region, the director of the respected Oxford Research Group visited Baghdad to gauge the current situation on the Iraqi side and to consider alternatives to war. Here is her vivid diary of an extraordinary few days.

The road not taken

What happens if you introduce the idea of cost control into the handling of terror? The beginnings of an audit.


9/11: What should we do now?

A group of key thinkers on matters of war, fear, human and international relations discuss the possible outcome of post-9/11 policies at an event held by openDemocracy and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in October, 2001. Here are some excerpts…

Widening Atlantic?

Security policy differences between Europe and the US are real and growing. A researcher of international security and conflict mediation sketches those differences – from missile defence and weaponisation of space to nuclear policy and arms control. Is US “unilateralism” a danger, and how should its allies respond?
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