History

The Next Century Foundation was established in 1990 by the late Claud Morris. Its conception followed the seemingly endless tragedy of Palestine and Israel and the repeated decimation of Lebanon. In what appeared then to be a period of little hope for change in the Middle East, a new approach was needed to change the stalemate. Claud Morris said at the time, "We have reached a point where man must either solve his problems in the Middle East or be destroyed by them. We must go forward. To give way to extremism is to give way to the forces of darkness everywhere. We need a hurricane of commonsense."The initial membership consisted of a coalition of like-minded British, Arab and Jewish figures from diverse backgrounds; business, politics, diplomacy and journalism. Prominent members included:    

  • The Lord Weinstock
  • The Lord Alliance of Manchester CBE
  • Mr. Jaweed Al Ghussein 
  • The Lord Goodman 
  • Mr. Haim Zadok 
  • The Duke of Devonshire.

These founding members felt that private rather than public diplomacy would be crucial in bringing about positive change in the Middle East. Removed from the often-damaging glare of media attention, meetings of the new Foundation were held, and continue to be held, without publicity, in total confidence, in a spirit of candour and frankness. Over the years, the Next Century Foundation broadened the scope of its activities. From a forum focusing almost exclusively on the Arab-Israeli conflict, it began applying the same principles of discretion, trust and plain speaking to other areas of instability, both in the Middle East and further afield, in locations as diverse as Kosovo, Kashmir and Sudan.What has happened since NCF’s founding? In Madrid and Washington in the mid-1990s, the first steps toward peace were made. Progress has been hard-won, but there persists a defiant spirit of hope and reconciliation which continues to move the Middle East gradually forwards.The NCF itself has achieved a number of notable successes over the course of its existence:

  • Run missions into Iraq on behalf of the UK Minister of State for Foreign Affairs prior to the Iraq war, to examine prospects for war avoidance.
  • Taken a team into Libya during the 2001 civil war and advised the White House on the seminal importance of avoiding the fall of Misrata.
  • Monitored every major election in Iraq, travelling throughout the interior and helping safeguard this emerging democracy.
  • Established the International Media Council to examine problems of bias and racism in the media. Founded the associated International Media Awards.
  • Provided the only forum for direct dialogue between Serbs and Albanians over Kosovo (The West only permitted proximity talks at the time).
  • Produced seminal reports on shared sovereignty issues with regard to Kashmir and Jerusalem.
  • Worked assiduously on Mid East Peace Process issues encouraging a  Comprehensive Peace Process, based on the Abdullah Plan/Arab Peace Initiative/Israel Peace Initiative.

 The NCF remains active on a wide range of issues. The current Secretary General is William Morris.