Civics provides privileged insight into international affairs

Bedales students have benefited from an enviable range of talks given by people whose work allows them a privileged insight into international affairs – Andrew Mitchell (now Minister for Overseas Development) and Sir Peter Wall (now Head of the British Army), for example. Tuesday’s Civics was such an occasion when Sir John Holmes gave us a tremendous insight into the complex world of humanitarian aid and the fraught area of intervention in other countries’ affairs. John’s experience with the Northern Ireland peace process, as ambassador in Portugal and Paris, and then in charge of the United Nations Emergency Relief operations gave him the ability to engage and enlighten an avid audience of students and staff: where does the doctrine of responsibility to protect begin and end? what difference to a country’s responsibilties might it make if its military intervention has been confined to the air? how did Rwanda change the consensus on intervention? how do you balance the twin imperatives of peace and justice in such a resolution like that of Northern Ireland?  how to reform the UN?  what are the limitations of moral outrage?  We ended up with a vote on international intervention in Syria;  happily –  and not least because John had outlined the context with such clarity –  the vote was a resounding NO!

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales School


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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