About Conflicts Forum
Conflicts Forum aims to shift Western opinion towards a deeper, less rigid, linear and compartmentalised understanding of Islam and the Middle East. We do this by looking at the root causes behind contrasting narratives: by looking at how structures of language and interpretations that are projected onto events from a template of prior expectations unobtrusively determine the way we think – piercing through to the pre-suppositions, concealed premises and even to the buried metaphysics that lurk behind certain narratives; by challenging Western understandings of ‘extremism’ and the policies and politics that result from this; and by working with political groups, movements and states to open new thinking about political potentials. Although not a particular focus of our work, reconciliation is sometimes an outcome of what we do. By examining problems in terms of differences of thinking, language and intellectual and metaphysical traditions, we are able to frame these differences as more than simple struggles for power.
Conflicts Forum tries to co-participate in both the Western and Islamic spheres, in order to better understand the forces of inter-relationship. We do not lecture people on what they should, or should not do. We listen, and as we listen, we ask them to think in other images and ways, perhaps to shift from a literal, political level to an emotional or even to a meta-historical understanding of an event. Our aim is to remain a discreet forum in which ideas can be explored – and developed.
Rather than espouse policies, three principles guide our work. We believe that:
- Any solutions in a region undergoing turbulent transformation ultimately will bubble up to the surface from within the region. This is not simply an exercise of splitting the difference in some abstract power-play, it is more a question of how to bring potentialities that are already there – and have been there – to come into being. We believe foreign players should be much more cautious and aware of their limitations when dealing with the issues of the region.
- International law, adherence to the Charter of the UN, by the UN itself, and by Security Council member states, and to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states represent the only presently available basis on which the stability of the region can be secured – pending the necessary amendment of the international order and international institutions.
- When Western foreign policy attempts to promote its own style of governance come at the expense of a peoples’ right to adopt different styles of living, they face fundamental challenges from those for whom their style of governance is an extension of sovereign interests, rather than individual human rights. We believe moral structures linking the individual to society, as well as society’s responsibility to the individual, need to be more deeply addressed to challenge assumptions on both sides.