The past 12 months have seen new levels of instability injected into international affairs. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued fracturing of the international system and Russia’s war on Ukraine, which triggered the largest movement of refugees since the Second World War, have had severe impacts on trade, prices and people around the world.
Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Programme and its Ukraine Forum have advised allied governments on their response to the war on Ukraine, and secured the participation of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the most watched event of the institute’s history.
The challenge now is to ensure Chatham House can bring together its diverse areas of research and offer influential ideas on how to respond to the uncertain future. Council has supported the push to define clear priorities for the institute’s work, and the launch of two new research centres covering sustainability and global governance.
Drawing out the best from the institute’s expertise in the changed geopolitical landscape will be a top priority for Bronwen Maddox when she takes over as director at the end of August. Council is delighted to have found such a worthy successor to Robin Niblett. Robin’s 15 years of inspiring leadership have seen the institute more than triple in size of staff and budget. New areas of research under his tenure include cyber policy, digital governance, global health, the US and the Americas, and the UK in the world post-Brexit.
Robin also launched the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, providing the base for many initiatives to engage the next generation. He also leaves the institute with a rebuilt balance sheet after securing some major long-term gifts; expanded and renovated premises; and a strong communications and digital infrastructure that has raised the profile of Chatham House with our audiences.
Council places on record the institute’s debt to Robin and to his wife, Trisha de Borchgrave. Chatham House’s supporters around the world were delighted to see Robin awarded a knighthood in HM The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022.
I pay tribute also to my predecessor, Jim O’Neill, and I am grateful to Simon Fraser, deputy chair, and to the other four retiring members of Council (Mimi Ajibadé, Heide Baumann, Kenneth Cukier and Tim Willasey-Wilsey) for their dedication and counsel.
Council will continue to focus on strengthening the impact of the institute’s work and on improving governance, as well as providing continuity during the leadership transition. We will act as a strategic partner for Bronwen as she takes Chatham House forward. Central to this will be implementing the institute’s plan to strengthen equality, diversity and inclusion across the board. Finally, I thank the staff for their commitment through this period of transformation.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald GCMG