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Chatham House is an independent international affairs policy institute and membership organization for individuals, corporations, governments and NGOs.
Our mission is to be a world-leading source of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas on how to build a prosperous and secure world for all.
The origins of Chatham House lie in a meeting convened by Lionel Curtis in Paris on 30 May 1919 at the Hotel Majestic, the headquarters of the Dominion delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. The British and American delegates, under Curtis' leadership, conceived the idea of an Anglo-American institute of foreign affairs to study international problems with a view to preventing future wars and sustain peace.
In the event, the British Institute of International Affairs was founded separately in London in July 1920 and received its Royal Charter in 1926, when it became the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The American delegates developed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York as a sister institute. Both are now among the world's leading international affairs think-tanks.
'Chatham House' is both the name of the building in which it is based and the name by which the Royal Institute of International Affairs is widely known. In recognition of this, Council in 2004 decided to adopt 'Chatham House' as the primary identity for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which remains the formal name for legal and financial purposes.
Originally the institute was called the British Institute of International Affairs, but changed to the Royal Institute of International Affairs after it was granted its Royal Charter in 1926.
10 St James's Square is named Chatham House in honour of William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham (Prime Minister of Britain 1766-68) who lived there from 1757 to 1761.
In 1923 Colonel Reuben Wells Leonard, a Canadian businessman and philanthropist, heard that 10 St James's Square was for sale and offered to buy the house for the then British Institute of International Affairs. At his request it was named Chatham House in honour of William Pitt, 'to whom they, as Canadians, owed their status as British subjects' (referring to the Seven Years' War).
The House has given its name to the famous Chatham House Rule.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) is a charity registered with the UK Charity Commission (no. 208223). The bulk of its funding comes from three sources: membership fees, supplemented by additional individual discretionary donations; sponsorship for some of its conferences and events; and grants and donations (from trusts, foundations, governments, corporations and individuals) for its various research activities. The institute receives no statutory funding from any government, either UK or overseas.
Chatham House is committed to providing transparent and accessible information on its funding. The institute also operates on the basis of principles and supporting processes that are designed to ensure an independent approach to its research and convening activities. These processes are overseen by Chatham House’s ruling Council which is elected from its members and who are responsible, as outlined in the institute’s Charter and By-Laws, for its overall governance.
More details on Chatham House’s finances can be found in our Annual Review and in our Annual Report and Accounts. This includes a full list of the institute’s Partners, Major Project Sponsors, Research Supporters, Corporate Members, and individual donors (to the Annual Fund, the William Pitt Group and the Director’s Research Innovation Fund). Separate lists of Corporate Members, Academic Institutional Members and NGO Members and information about corporate subscription levels and benefits are available.
Research is structured around four areas:
The strength of our research lies with the research staff at Chatham House and their diverse backgrounds and expertise. Our researchers have joined us from a variety of other roles e.g. from within non-profit organizations, corporations, media, academia, Law, and journalism.
Disseminating our research findings and promoting independent analysis is core to Chatham House's mission. In addition to our publications and events our researchers regularly provide commentary in the media and write Expert Comment on current news stories.
Researchers also give evidence to Parliamentary Committees as well as public presentations and private meetings to disseminate the findings of Chatham House research.
Our Patron is Her Majesty The Queen.
Chatham House has honorary Presidents from each of the three major political parties at Westminster - a reflection of our independence from government.
The Panel of Senior Advisers was established in 2008 to provide a forum through which Chatham House can seek advice from a group of individuals with deep, first-hand experience of policy-making and business. None of these groups have any role in the governance of Chatham House.
Membership of Chatham House is open to individuals and organizations with an interest in international affairs. There are three types of membership - Individual Membership (including full membership, under 35s membership, student membership and web membership), Corporate Membership and Academic Institutional Membership. More information
Chatham House is precluded by its Charter from expressing any institutional view or policy on any aspect of international affairs. It does not receive any statutory government funding and is not a government organization, although some government departments are corporate members of Chatham House and may fund specific projects.
The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House with the aim of providing anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. It is now used throughout the world as an aid to free discussion. Meetings do not have to take place at Chatham House, or be organized by Chatham House, to be held under the Rule.
The Chatham House Rule reads as follows:
'When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.'
Chatham House runs many different types of events including conferences, members events, research events and special events such as the Chatham House Prize ceremony. From the outset it has attracted outstanding figures including Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Yasser Arafat, Vladimir Putin, Thabo Mbeki and Kofi Annan.
Members events are specifically for Chatham House members but many of our other events are open to a wider audience. Check the events pages for more information.