Skip navigation

Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

Events

Seminars

Show just this event

> The information battle: how governments in the former Soviet Union promote their agendas & attack their opponents abroad

DATE: Tuesday 21 March 2017

TIME: 18:00 - 19:30

VENUE: Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Speakers:

  • Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Dr Justin Schlosberg, Lecturer in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Dr David Lewis, Senior Lecturer and Director of Education, University of Exeter
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Chair: Maeve Shearlaw, Commissioning Editor– World Networks, The Guardian

This event will focus on the ways in which governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) countries look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their points of view and exert pressure on those who oppose them. The event will look to build on and broaden the existing literature on Russian-backed internationally focused media outlets and pro-government media elsewhere in the region. It will explore how they operate to shape global narratives about their countries, influence thinking on international disputes, blunt criticism of their actions while challenging Western values and behaviour. It will look at similarities and differences between the operation of outlets from the FSU and Western supported global news services.

The event will examine the ways in which authoritarian regimes work to project their image abroad beyond the use of the media. This includes the use of sponsorship and advertising to shape international perceptions in addition to the way in which regimes create or support their own think tanks, pressure groups, diasporan organisations, parliamentary groups and work with others (such as public affairs agencies) to promote their policy agendas and influence the responses of international institutions and policy makers.

The event may also explore how government backed broadcasters, press and websites from the FSU run stories to attempt to discredit the work of diasporan and other activists challenging official narratives from outside the country. At the direction or encouragement of the authorities this can involve direct harassment, the production of untrue or politically distorted stories that aim to make activists' lives difficult even when abroad (as well as putting pressure on friends and family who remain in the country). The event will explore the growing fight for control of the social media space - with organized pro-government activity becoming increasingly visible both in responding to the actions of opposition and independent civil society and in directly promoting their agenda online. These methods include the use of paid-for trolling and the mobilization of 'patriotic youth movements' to target opponents and spread pro-government narratives to national, diasporan and international audiences.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and affiliation (if you have one). Free copies of the new publication will be available. The event is free and open to all.

Download The information battle: London, 21 March 6pm (310 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> The information battle: Brussels

The information battle: how governments in the former Soviet Union promote their agendas & attack their opponents abroad

DATE: Wednesday 29th March 2017

TIME: 4.30pm - 6:00pm

VENUE: Open Society European Policy Institute, Rue du Trône 130,Brussels B-1050, Belgium

Speakers:

  • Rebecca Harms MEP, Chair, Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
  • Kati Piri MEP, Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Jakub Kalensky, East StratCom Task Force, European External Action Service
  • Dr Justin Schlosberg, Lecturer in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London

Chair: Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

This event will focus on the ways in which governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) countries look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their points of view and exert pressure on those who oppose them. The event will look to build on and broaden the existing literature on Russian-backed internationally focused media outlets and pro-government media elsewhere in the region. It will explore how they operate to shape global narratives about their countries, influence thinking on international disputes, blunt criticism of their actions while challenging Western values and behaviour. It will look at similarities and differences between the operation of outlets from the FSU and Western supported global news services.

The event will examine the ways in which authoritarian regimes work to project their image abroad beyond the use of the media. This includes the use of sponsorship and advertising to shape international perceptions in addition to the way in which regimes create or support their own think tanks, pressure groups, diasporan organisations, parliamentary groups and work with others (such as public affairs agencies) to promote their policy agendas and influence the responses of international institutions and policy makers.

The event may also explore how government backed broadcasters, press and websites from the FSU run stories to attempt to discredit the work of diasporan and other activists challenging official narratives from outside the country. At the direction or encouragement of the authorities this can involve direct harassment, the production of untrue or politically distorted stories that aim to make activists' lives difficult even when abroad (as well as putting pressure on friends and family who remain in the country). The event will explore the growing fight for control of the social media space - with organized pro-government activity becoming increasingly visible both in responding to the actions of opposition and independent civil society and in directly promoting their agenda online. These methods include the use of paid-for trolling and the mobilization of 'patriotic youth movements' to target opponents and spread pro-government narratives to national, diasporan and international audiences.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and affiliation (if you have one). Free copies of the new publication will be available. The event is free and open to all.


Show just this event

> Iran Human Rights Review: Where now for human rights in Iran?

IHRR

Date: Tuesday 21st February 2017

Time: 6 - 7.30pm

Venue: Committee Room 9, House of Commons, SW1A 0AA

Speakers:

  • Dr Ahmed Shaheed, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and current UN SR on Freedom of Religion or Belief
  • Mehrangiz Kar, Iranian Lawyer and Chairperson of the Siamak Pourzand Foundation
  • Tahirih Danesh, Chief Editor, Iran Human Rights Review
  • Roya Kashefi-Ladjevardi, Head of Human Rights - Association des Chercheurs Iraniens

Chair: Rt Hon. Ann Clwyd MP, Chair of the Human Rights APPG

This event will take place as Iran looks ahead to a Presidential election in May 2017, where even the challenging human rights situation under the Rouhani Presidency is at risk of deteriorating further under growing pressure from hardliners. It will explore the current culture of human rights in Iran and attempts by sections of the regime to position personal freedoms as threats to Iran's security. The seminar will focus on the themes of the three latest editions of the FPC's Iran Human Rights Review: the human rights impact of the economy as sanctions are slowly lifted; issues of women and human rights; and the upcoming edition on due process (due to launch in early 2017).

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and any affiliation.

Download IHRR event February 21 2016 (210 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> No shelter: the harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union

Date: Tuesday November 22nd 2016

Time: 6.00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London

Speakers:

  • Chris Bryant MP
  • Dr John Heathershaw, Associate Professor in International Relations, University of Exeter
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre
  • Further speakers tbc

Chair: Rt Hon. Fiona Mactaggart MP, Member of the Intelligence and Security Committee

This seminar will examine the experiences of a wide range of civil society activists, opposition politicians, religious leaders and others who have had to leave their former Soviet country of origin due to the risk of persecution at home, but who are unable to escape the pressures of their country's security services, even in exile. It will discuss the experiences of activists being monitored, followed, harassed, attacked, kidnapped or killed across the former Soviet Union and beyond.

The seminar will analyse CIS security service cooperation, when the intelligence service of the country where an activist is seeking shelter either formally collaborates with or turns a blind eye to the activities of the intelligence services of the activist's home country in tracking, harassing, attacking or kidnapping them. There will be a particular focus on the activities of the security services of Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, against whom there are strong allegations of involvement in a number of murders, attacks, kidnappings and threats against activists and opponents outside their borders. It will also look at the countries where activists in exile seem to be most at risk of harassment, noting in particular the situations in Russia and Turkey.

The No Shelter seminar will also explore issues around the monitoring of activists' emails, phone calls and other forms of communication by intelligence services and the practical challenges human rights defenders and others face in keeping their information secure from prying eyes.

The seminar may also look at the role played by Western companies in exporting technology and consultancy services that help develop the surveillance systems of authoritarian regimes, or that can be used for torture and ill-treatment. It may also explore the extent to which Western intelligence cooperates with intelligence agencies from the former Soviet Union involved in such practices.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and any affiliation.

Download No Shelter Seminar flyer (360 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Exporting Repression: the spread of human rights violations in the former Soviet Union and how institutions respond

Date: Thursday 26th May 2016

Time: 1.00pm-2.30pm (light lunch available from 12.30pm)

Venue: European Endowment for Democracy, Avenue des Gaulois 29, 1040-Brussels, Belgium

Speakers:

  • Heidi Hautala MEP, Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee; Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and Co-Chair of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
  • Fernando Andresen Guimarães, Acting Director for Europe East, EEAS
  • Tinatin Tsertsvadze, International Advocacy Manager, International Partnership for Human Rights
  • Kate Levine, Lawyer, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC)
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre
  • Chair: Richard Howitt MEP, Socialist & Democrat Group Human Rights Spokesperson

Please RSVP via this form http://goo.gl/forms/KSWOjGK1Hz

The panel discussion, held in partnership with the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), will examine the role the EU can play in responding to the development of repressive laws and practices across the former Soviet Union including: 'foreign agents' laws and other restrictions on NGO activities, laws restricting LGBTI rights, security sector cooperation, limits on freedom of assembly and crackdowns on media and internet freedom.

The panel discussion will examine not only the role played by regional institutions such as the CIS, Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the promotion of such laws, but the ways in which repressive governments in the former Soviet Union work to influence how the European Union and international institutions such as the Council of Europe, OSCE, the UN, CIS, INTERPOL, EITI and international financial institutions respond to human rights abuses in the post-Soviet space.

The discussion will be based on the findings of two FPC reports in this Exporting Repression series: Institutionally blind? International organisations and human rights abuses in the former Soviet Union and the forthcoming publication Sharing worst practice: How countries and institutions in the former Soviet Union help create legal tools of repression.

Please RSVP via this form http://goo.gl/forms/KSWOjGK1Hz providing your name and any affiliation.

Download Exporting Repression: Brussels Seminar (550 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Institutionally blind? International organisations and human rights abuses in the former Soviet Union

DATE: Tuesday 9th February 2016

TIME: 6.00pm-7.30pm

VENUE: Committee Room 12, House of Commons, SW1A 0AA

Speakers:

  • Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chair, APPG on the Rule of Law and former Attorney General
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Anderson of Swansea, UK Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • Anna Chernova, formerly Programme Director,Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE
  • Tinatin Tsertsvadze, International Advocacy Manager, International Partnership for Human Rights
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Chair: Luke Harding, Foreign Correspondent, The Guardian

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and any affiliation.

This Westminster Seminar will examine the work of a range of international institutions active in the former Soviet Union including the Council of Europe, OSCE, EU,CIS, UN, EITI, Interpol and the international financial institutions, looking at how they respond to the major human rights challenges in the region. It will act as the launch event for a new FPC publication bringing together essays examining these issues from a range of experts.This seminar is the first component of a major new FPC project entitled Exporting Repression, kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations.

Institutionally Blind will explore the ways in which human rights activists and governments from the former Soviet Union region operate within and towards these organisations to promote their own positions and challenge each others narratives. It will examine how Western Governments and parliamentarians engage with and work through these organisations, looking at how their domestic political debates, such as around the UK's relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights, influence the behaviour of authoritarian regimes in the region towards these institutions.

Read more…

Download Institutionally blind? seminar flyer (420 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Traditional religion and political power: Examining the role of the church in Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and Moldova

OSF Logo

DATE: Wednesday 28th October 2015

TIME: 6.00pm-7.30pm

VENUE: Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, Victoria Embankment, Westminster, London, SW1A 2LW

Speakers:

  • Gordon Marsden MP, Secretary, All Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia (Labour)
  • Dr. Katja Richters, Department of Orthodox Christianity, University of Erfurt
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre
  • Felix Corley, Editor, Forum 18 News Service

Chair: Baroness Berridge, Chair of the All Party Group on International Freedom of Religion and Belief, (Conservative)

This Traditional religion and political power: Examining the role of the church in Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and Moldova seminar (kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations) will provide an opportunity to examine the political and social role of the Orthodox Churches in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova and of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The seminar will examine some of the key themes addressed in a new Foreign Policy Centre publication, including:

  • the role the churches play in the development of new and re-emerging national identities
  • the role of religious institutions as civil society actors in their communities
  • the relationship between the church and the state, exploring the mutual support dynamic in the states that have given political space for the church to grow in return for political backing, examining the developing role of the church as a political actor
  • the approach of the churches in promoting 'traditional' values in their societies and challenging the influence of 'Western/Liberal' values, with a particular focus on traditional gender roles and sexuality
  • the reaction of the church to minority religions, particularly newer proselytising groups, exploring the approach to freedom of religion in these countries
  • the way in which churches are expanding their role in education systems and the curriculum
  • the role of religious institutions as economic actors and how this impacts their organisational strength and resources
  • the parallels with Russia where the Orthodox Church has formed a central part of President Putin's national agenda
  • the links between the Russian Orthodox Church and its counterparts in the region exploring the extent to which ecumenical collaboration and the supervision of certain denominations is used to extend or restore Russian influence

The event is free and open to all. Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk

Free copies of the new publication will be available

Download Traditional religion and political power seminar flyer (510 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership- London second seminar

Date: Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Time: 6.00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Committee Room 16, House of Commons, Westminster

Speakers:

  • Mike Gapes MP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (Labour)
  • Laura Sandys MP (Conservative)
  • Baroness Falkner, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
  • Dr Andrew Wilson, Reader in Ukrainian Studies, UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies and Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • Dr Kevork Oskanian, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham and FPC Research Associate

Chair: Mary Dejevsky, Chief Editorial Writer and Columnist, The Independent

This second London seminar as part of the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership project, in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK, will take stock of recent developments in the EU's relationship with the countries in its eastern neighbourhood: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. The issue of the EU's role in the region and the influence of the Russian-led alternative the Eurasian Economic Union have been at the heart of a major geo-political upheaval. The decision by Ukraine's then President Yanukovych to reject Eastern Partnership under pressure from Russia in the summer of 2013 lit the spark for the dramatic subsequent events in that country, while Armenia made a similar switch under Russian pressure ahead of the key November 2013 Vilnius summit. This seminar will look at the key planks of the EU's approach to the region including the offers of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, funding for reform projects and political engagement.

Free copies of the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership publication will be available.

The event is free and open to all. Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk

Download Trouble in the Neighbourhood? London second seminar flyer (430 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership- Edinburgh seminar

Date: Thursday 26th February 2015

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Venue: St Giles Suite, Radisson Blu Hotel, Royal Mile, 80 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TH

Speakers:

  • Christina McKelvie MSP, Convenor of the European and External Relations Committee, Scottish Parliament (SNP)
  • David Martin MEP, European Parliament S&D Group International Trade Coordinator(Labour)
  • Jamie McGrigor MSP(Conservative)
  • Dr Carmen Gebhard, Lecturer, Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Chair: David Pratt, Foreign Editor, The Herald and Sunday Herald

This Edinburgh seminar for the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership project, in partnership with the European Commission Office in Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, will take stock of recent developments in the EU's relationship with the countries in its eastern neighbourhood: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. The issue of the EU's role in the region and the influence of the Russian-led alternative the Eurasian Economic Union have been at the heart of a major geo-political upheaval. The decision by Ukraine's then President Yanukovych to reject Eastern Partnership under pressure from Russia in the summer of 2013 lit the spark for the dramatic subsequent events in that country, while Armenia made a similar switch under Russian pressure ahead of the key November 2013 Vilnius summit. This seminar will look at the key planks of the EU's approach to the region including the offers of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, funding for reform projects and political engagement. The seminar will examine both the EU's objectives in the region and how Europe is perceived by the Eastern Partnership countries themselves, along with how the domestic political situation in EU member states (most notably the UK) and the Eastern Partners shapes the relationship.

The seminar will also act as the Scottish launch event for the new publication Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership. Free copies will be available.

The seminar is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk

Download Trouble in the Neighbourhood? Edinburgh flyer (450 kilobyte PDF)


Show just this event

> Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership- Birmingham seminar

Date: Tuesday 17th February 2015

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Venue: Muirhead Tower Room 121, Edgbaston Campus,University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT

Speakers:

  • Rt Hon John Spellar MP, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister (Labour)
  • James Carver MEP, European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (UKIP)
  • Dr Kataryna Wolczuk, Reader in Politics and International Studies, Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Rilka Dragneva-Lewers, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Kevork Oskanian, Research Fellow, Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham

Chair: Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

This Birmingham seminar for the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership project, in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK and the University of Birmingham, will take stock of recent developments in the EU's relationship with the countries in its eastern neighbourhood: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. The issue of the EU's role in the region and the influence of the Russian-led alternative the Eurasian Economic Union have been at the heart of a major geo-political upheaval. The decision by Ukraine's then President Yanukovych to reject Eastern Partnership under pressure from Russia in the summer of 2013 lit the spark for the dramatic subsequent events in that country, while Armenia made a similar switch under Russian pressure ahead of the key November 2013 Vilnius summit. This seminar will look at the key planks of the EU's approach to the region including the offers of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, funding for reform projects and political engagement. The seminar will examine both the EU's objectives in the region and how Europe is perceived by the Eastern Partnership countries themselves, along with how the domestic political situation in EU member states (most notably the UK) and the Eastern Partners shapes the relationship.

Free copies of the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership publication will be available.

The seminar is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk

Download Trouble in the Neighbourhood? Birmingham flyer (490 kilobyte PDF)


Older events