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The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy

The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD) is a non-profit and non-partisan North American international affairs think tank operating in the United States and Canada dedicated to promoting dialogue, diplomacy, prudent realism, and military restraint — principles which we believe are the four cornerstones of sustainable peace in an increasingly complex and dynamic international system.

Mission Statement

Since the end of the Cold War, North Atlantic foreign policy has experienced an intellectual fatigue and moral complacency that increasingly threatens its credibility and relevance in the post-COVID age — a world characterized by heightened international resistance to global hegemony coupled with new great powers competing for influence and recognition. 

In a time as dynamic and transformative as ours then, there is a critical need for provocative, unconventional, and independent voices in statecraft and foreign policy. IPD aims to address this deficit by cultivating a network of experts, scholars, and practitioners who are ready to provide fresh perspectives and constructive ideas to resolve global security challenges and manage the coming great power competition through peaceful means. In doing so, we believe it necessary to engage with questions of ‘power’ and the Atlantic bloc’s ‘role in the world’ in a more systematic, objective, and policy-sensitive manner — bridging the wide gap between theory and practice in North Atlantic foreign policy.

IPD regards ‘par in parem non habet imperium’ (Latin for “equals have no dominion over each other”), a maxim that affirms the sovereign status of independent states, to be the founding principle of international law. The international system is not a zero-sum winner-take-all prize to be won or a battlespace to be dominated. A healthy conception of national interest that recognizes the sovereignty and equality of all nations and cultures of the world is foundational to a new foreign policy premised on:


Tolerance for cultural pluralism and different ways of life


Enthusiasm for diplomatic engagement and other non-coercive instruments of power, and


A commitment to military restraint.

Through its publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations, IPD will encourage policymakers, and leaders in government, civil society, and business community to adopt a more restrained and open-minded approach in managing the strategic challenges and geopolitical risks of the 21st century.


Bijan Ahmadi
Bijan Ahmadi
Executive Director
Younes Zangiabadi
Deputy Director
Arta Moeini
Arta Moeini
Research Director
IPD brings together more than 30 leading experts who provide the highest quality research, policy recommendations, and analysis within our four core research programs. Click on the link below to see the full list of IPD experts.
Expert Directory

Advisory Board

Margaret-Cornish-006-Edit-Copy5 (1)
Margaret Cornish
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy / China / Canada-China Relations
Margaret Cornish is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Asian Research, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. As a Canadian Foreign Service officer, she served in New York at the UNGA in 1971, Beijing from 1972-1974, and the delegation to the European Communities from 1977-1979. She served as the Executive Director of the Canada China Business Council from 2003 to 2008.
Full Biography
Jocelyn Coulon
Jocelyn Coulon
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy
Jocelyn Coulon, Research Fellow at the Montreal Centre for International Studies (CERIUM), is an analyst, author and researcher, specializing in peace operations and Canadian foreign policy. He was a foreign affairs advisor for Justin Trudeau in 2014-2015, and a senior policy advisor to foreign minister Stephane Dion in 2016-2017.
Full Biography
David Dewitt 2
David Dewitt
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy / International Security / Asia Pacific / Middle East / Arms Control

David Dewitt is University Professor Emeritus, York University. He served two terms as York’s Associate Vice-President Research and for 18 years was director of York University’s Centre for International & Security Studies (YCISS).
Full Biography
Susan Gregson
Susan Gregson
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy / China / Canada-China Relations / Asia Pacific

Susan Gregson served in the Canadian public service with distinction for 35 years, occupying several senior executive positions. Between 2013 and 2016, she was Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific at Global Affairs Canada.
Full Biography
Wenran Jiang
Wenran Jiang
Expertise: China / Canada-China Relations / International Trade / Energy / Asia Pacific

Dr. Wenran Jiang is the President of Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum. He organized 13 large-scale annual conferences between Canada and China on energy and environmental issues between 2004 and 2017. He was a tenured professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.
Full Biography
Matthew Levin
Matthew Levin
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy / Canada-EU Relations / Latin America

Matthew Levin is a retired Canadian foreign service officer. His last assignment was Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, from 2016 to 2020. Previously Mr. Levin served as Ambassador to Colombia (2005 to 2008) and Ambassador to Cuba (2010 to 2013).
Full Biography
Peggy Mason
Peggy Mason
Expertise: Canadian Foreign Policy / Nuclear Non-Proliferation / International Security

Peggy Mason’s career highlights diplomatic and specialist expertise in the field of international peace and security, with a particular emphasis on the United Nations, where she served as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1989 to 1995.
Full Biography
Alan Whiteside
Expertise: Health Diplomacy / Health Economics

Dr. Whiteside, OBE, was CIGI Chair in Global Health Policy from December 2012-December 2018. He is a Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of International Policy and Governance and at the BSIA. He was a tenured professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.
Full Biography
Luciano Zaccara
Luciano Zaccara
Expertise: Iranian Foreign Policy / Iran / Persian Gulf / MENA Electoral Systems

Dr. Luciano Zaccara is an Assistant Professor in Gulf Politics at the Qatar University, Gulf Studies Center. Also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Georgetown University in Qatar, and Director of the Observatory on Politics and Elections in the Arab and Muslim World in Spain.
Full Biography

Research & Support Staff

Johnsen Romero
Johnsen Romero
Research & Communications Associate
Peter Huang
Peter Huang
Research & Communications Assistant
Tatiana Velickovic
Tatiana Velickovic
Research Assistant
Mitch St
Mitch St.Hilaire-McAnally
Communications Assistant
Annual Reports
Review our annual programming and activities.

Our Policy

On Independence & Integrity in Research


IPD is committed to institutional independence and independence of experts and scholars it works with.

All experts and scholars who work with IPD shall meet the highest standard of research and professional ethics.

IPD is committed to academic freedom and provides a workplace that is supportive and inclusive.

IPD helps the experts and scholars it works with to amplify the impact of their research.

IPD engages in collaboration with other organizations to advance its research work.

Our relationships and collaboration with other organizations are based on their roles as stakeholders. In all cases, IPD and scholars working with IPD reserve full authority for deciding on areas of activity, methodology, and research conclusions.

IPD has adopted policies that enshrine the requirement that its personnel, experts and advisors shall not permit the interests of any outside party to inappropriately influence IPD’s work, including its research methods or conclusions.


IPD, its personnel, and scholars may not engage in activities that constitute political lobbying.

Media Inquiries

Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  


Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security


Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.


Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.



Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 


Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 



Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.


Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.


Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.



Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor