During 2014–15 we took several steps to boost Chatham House’s ability to fulfil our mission to help build a more sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.
One priority has been to strengthen the institute’s capacity for interdisciplinary research. In an increasingly complex world, our research and debates have to cut across topics, countries and regions in order for us to better understand and seek solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow, from resurgent geopolitical rivalries to intense competition for resources and the spread of violent non-state actors. To this end, I have appointed Michael Keating as associate director for Research Partnerships. He will work with our research directors and programme heads to ensure the institute makes the most of its diverse range of expertise. In this context, it was satisfying to note that Chatham House was ranked second and fourth best in the world in the University of Pennsylvania’s annual think-tank survey in the categories of ‘Institutional Collaboration’ and ‘Transdisciplinary Research’, respectively.
Another priority has been to engage a more diverse set of voices in the debate on international affairs. The second London Conference, which was held on 1–2 June at Lancaster House and included a keynote post-election discussion with the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, UK foreign secretary, was attended by delegates from 39 countries. Outside the venue, the live-streamed discussions generated 1.3 million impressions from the institute’s Twitter accounts and 2,036 people from 86 countries watched the event live via webcast. These figures underscore the extent to which Chatham House is becoming part of the wider public discourse on international affairs, and I am pleased that our redeveloped website attracted 660,000 visits in the final quarter of the financial year – 53 per cent up on the same period last year.
In turn, The Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs is enhancing our ability to attract analysts and future leaders from around the world. Academy fellows from China, Japan, Russia and Syria are already bringing new perspectives and ideas to our research programmes and contributing qualitatively to all aspects of daily life at the institute.
At the same time, Chatham House continued to debate and challenge the ideas of leading figures over the course of the year. For example, Muhammadu Buhari, then presidential candidate and now president of Nigeria, engaged members with his manifesto for office; Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and recipient of the Chatham House Prize in 2014, discussed global health and development with our members; and Federica Mogherini spoke about her immediate priorities as the new EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
The year has also seen Chatham House engage in the debate over the UK’s responses to the changing international context. In the lead-up to the 7 May general election, we formed a working group on UK foreign policy and published a series of policy-oriented election notes on future UK policies towards climate change, the European Court of Human Rights, UK–Japan relations and Syrian refugees. Ongoing work across the institute in 2015–16 will feed into the UK government’s and parliament’s review of changes in the international security context and the country’s referendum on its EU membership.
These and other activities at Chatham House are taking place in an environment in which growing attention is being paid to the funding sources of policy institutes around the world. This year, we undertook new steps to increase further the transparency about our many sources of financial support. The homepage of the institute’s website links directly to a new ‘Our funding’ section which includes a breakdown of overall income and sources. We will continue to evolve our approach in order to show as clearly as possible how the institute’s various sources of funding contribute to its ongoing work and the public benefit.
In closing, I would like to reinforce one of the main messages of our chairman – that is, the tremendous support that the institute’s staff and associate fellows receive from the membership, Council, Senior Advisers, individual and institutional donors and others, including our three presidents. Chatham House would not be able to fulfil its role without their support, for which we are enormously grateful.
Dr Robin Niblett CMG