top of page


Please see below for a full list of past speakers. 



Michaelmas Term 2023:

Wednesday 11 October, 18:00


Monday 16 October, 16:45 virtual     

Wednesday 25 October, 17:30

Wednesday 1 November, 11:00

Thursday 2 November, 17:30

Monday 6 November, 17:30

Friday 10 November, 17:30

Tuesday 14 November, 17:30

Thursday 16 November, 17:30

Friday 24 November, 11:45

Monday 27 November, 17:30


Ali Maisam Nazary, (NRF) Afghan Foreign Minister

Dmitri Alperovitch, Investor, Philanthropist, and Russia-Ukraine Expert

Bill Browder, Human Rights Activist & Campaigner

Juan Manuel Santos, Former President of Colombia (2010-2018)

Sir David Hare, Theatre & Film Director

Tobias Ellwood MP, Former Chair of the Defence Select Committee

Ai Weiwei, Artist & Human Rights Activist

Gina Miller, Activist & Businesswoman

Peter Foster, Journalist and Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times

Sir Laurie Bristow, Former UK Ambassador to Afghanistan (2021), Russian Federation (2016-2020), and Azerbaijan (2004-2007)

David Gauke, MP for South West Hertfordshire (2005-2019) and experienced cabinet minister

Hilary Term 2023-2024

During HT23 OxfordSpeaks hosted two speaker series: (a) our regular series and (b) our series focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Events taking place as part of the latter series will be marked by an asterix (*).

Tuesday 23 January, 17:30 

Wednesday 24 January, 18:00 

Wednesday 31 January, 18:00

Monday 5 February, 18:00 

Tuesday 6 February, 18:00 

Tuesday 13 February, 18:00

Wednesday 21 February, 18:00

Friday 23 February, 17:30

Friday 1 March, 18:00 


Shaharzhad Akbar, Afghan Women's Rights Activist 

* Avi Shlaim, Pre-eminent historian of the Israel-Palestine conflict

* Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian politician, Leader of the PNI

* Ehud Olmert, Former Prime Minister of Israel (2006-2009)

Lord Michael Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK

Ken Roth, Former Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Pastor Munther Isaac, Palestinian Theologian and Activist

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Former UK Foreign Secretary

Lord Karan Bilimoria, British businessman and entrepreneur

Trinity Term 2023:

During TT23 OxfordSpeaks continued with both its regular series and its Israel-Palestine series.  Events taking place as part of the latter series are marked by an asterix (*).

Monday 22 April, 18:30 

Thursday 25 April, 14:45

Tuesday 30 April, 18:00

Wednesday 8 May, 18:00

Wednesday 13 May, 18:30

Wednesday 29 May, 18:00

Wednesday 5 June, 12:30 VIRTUAL

Wednesday 5 June, 18:00 

Thursday 6 June, 18:00        

To view videos of past speaker events, please see the link below:



Nimco Ali, British social activist & CEO of The Five Foundation

Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

* Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Diplomat & Activist

Shirin Ebadi, Iranian human rights activist & Nobel prize winner

Daron Acemoglu, Economist & Political Scientist

Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond, Former President of the UK Supreme Court

Elizabeth Maruma, Tanzanian Lawyer & Biodiversity Leader

Henrietta Bowden - Jones OBE, Doctor & Psychologist

* Gideon Levy, Israeli Journalist 

More about our past speakers below...

Ali Maisam Nazary

Ali Maisam Nazary is the National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister. Before the Taliban’s takeover of the country, he worked on various political campaigns within Afghanistan before becoming President of the Massoud Foundation (an Afghan NGO). Following the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 2021, he became the NRF’s foreign minister. He will discuss the state of Afghanistan under Taliban rule and his views on Western-Afghan relations post-2021.


Dmitri Alperovitch

Dmitri Alperovitch is a renowned investor, philanthropist, and expert on US national security and cybersecurity issues. Born in Moscow in 1980, he immigrated to the US in 1995 and helped found a variety of successful tech startups . Most notably, in 2011 he co-founded CrowdStrike, a security technology company focused on helping enterprises and governments protect their intellectual property and secrets against cybercrime.

In 2020, Dmitri founded the Silverado Policy Accelerator, which is a nonprofit focused on helping solve the United States' greatest foreign policy and national security challenges. He correctly predicted in December 2021 that Russia would invade Ukraine, and has warned of the possibility of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan within the decade. He was sanctioned by the Russian Government in November 2022.

Given his expertise of US national security issues and foreign policy, he will join OxfordSpeaks to discuss the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, growing tensions over a possible Chinese incursion into Taiwan, and the balance of global power between East and West as the 21st century unfolds.


Screen Shot 2023-10-13 at 3.38.13 AM.png
Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 12.39.16 PM.png

Bill Browder

Bill Browder is an American-born British human rights activist. After founding Hermitage Capital Management in 1996, he became the largest foreign investor in Russia, growing the fund (initially worth USD 25 million) to a USD 4 billion; Hermitage became the best-performing fund worldwide. 

However, following Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power in 2000, Browder began exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. In November 2005, he was declared a “threat to national security” by the Russian state and was deported. In 2008, Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials that involved the theft of USD 230 million of state taxes. Magnitsky was arrested and eventually died in prison on November 16, 2009.

Since then, Browder has sought to deliver justice for Magnitsky and accountability for the Putin regime from outside Russia. He started a global campaign for governments around the world to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers, including those who were responsible for Magnitsky’s death. Such ‘Magnitsky sanctions’ have now been ratified by governments in the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union, among others. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Browder has worked tirelessly to support the Ukranian people, arguing for increased Western support of the country and seizures of Russian Central Bank assets. He has also vigorously campaigned for the rights of Russian dissidents such as Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to a 25 year prison term in April 2023.


Screen Shot 2023-10-24 at 3.45.28 PM.png

Juan Manuel Santos

Juan Manuel Santos was the President of Colombia from 2010 to 2018. He is known for spearheading the Colombian Peace Process, which saw in 2016 brought an end to the country's decades-long civil war with armed militant guerrillas (most notably, the FARC). 


Mr. Santos also led the process to convene a special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGASS 2016) to discuss more effective ways to face global drug cartels, and was one of the founders and architects of the Pacific Alliance.

Mr. Santos was the sole recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for ending the longest armed conflict with the oldest guerrilla in the Western Hemisphere (his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end). He was also awarded the Lamp of Asis by the Catholic Church and the Tipperary International Peace Award in Ireland for his efforts to bring peace to his country and the region.

Mr. Santos will engage in a moderated Q&A before taking audience questions.


David Hare

Sir David Hare is a British playwright, screenwriter, and director. He is the recipient of two Academy Award (Oscar) nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, three Golden Globe nominations for the same, and is a BAFTA winner. His plays have starred icons including Meryl Streep (Plenty - 1978), Carey Mulligan (Skylight), and Ralph Fiennes (Straight Line Crazy); in total he has earned three Tony Award nominations for Best Play and two Laurence Olivier Awards. A great many of his works have political undertones; Stuff Happens (2004), tracks the Bush Administration’s descent into the War in Iraq, and The Power of Yes (2009) follows the making of the 2008 Financial Crash. Sir David will be speaking with us about his life, career, and contemporary politics.


Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 12.40.52 PM.png

Tobias Ellwood MP

Tobias Ellwood is a Conservative MP and Former Chair of the House of Commons’ Defence Select Committee. Having served extensively in the British Army, he became Conservative MP for Bournemouth East in 2005. 

He is known for a number of outspoken positions on a variety of foreign policy matters. He was one of the first current Conservative MPs to call for a closer relationship with the European Union post-Brexit, and is a proponent of restarting diplomatic relations with the Afghanistan’s Taliban-run government, in spite of human rights concerns. 

He will speak and answer questions on these and a range of other issues.


Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 12.45.13 PM.png
Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 1.00.54 PM.png

Gina Miller

Gina Miller is a Guyanese-British business owner and activist. She is best known for initiating a legal case (R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) against the UK Government in January 2017. Her legal challenge was successful, and forced the UK Government to seek parliamentary approval for its withdrawal agrement with the European Union before implementing Brexit. In September 2019, she successfully challenged the Johnson Government's prorogation of Parliament, which led to the reopening of Parliament and caused the prorogation to be ‘expunged’. She founded the True and Fair Campaign in 2012, calling for an end to financial misconduct in the investment and pension industries. She launched the True and Fair Party in 2021. 


Peter Foster

Peter Foster is an experienced journalist and author, having reported from New Delhi (2004-2008), Beijing (2008-2012) and Washington DC as the Telegraph’s US Editor (2012-2015). He was the Telegraph’s Europe Editor between 2015 and 2020, covering the reaction to the Brexit referendum and the subsequent negotiations between Britain and the bloc. EU referendum and the most tumultuous negotiations He joined the Financial Times as the paper’s Public Policy Editor in 2020. His most recent book (What Went Wrong With Brexit: and What We Can Do About It) offers an incisive and well-written account of the precarious outcome of Britain’s post-Brexit settlement with the EU. He will discuss his book and his experiences as a journalist more broadly during his visit to Oxford. 


Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 1.02.30 PM.png

Sir Laurie Bristow

Sir Laurie Bristow is an experienced British diplomat who most recently served as the UK's final Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2021. Sir Laurie stayed behind in HKIA (Kabul's airport) for two weeks after the Fall of Kabul to the Taliban on 15 Aug 2021 to process the evacuation of at-risk Afghans and British nationals. 

Earlier in his career, Sir Laurie served as the UK's ambassador to the Russian Federation (2016-2020), and the UK's ambassador to Azerbaijan (2004-2007). 

He will speak to us about his experience in Afghanistan during the Fall of Kabul along with his views on UK policy towards a Taliban-led government going forward.

Screen Shot 2023-11-03 at 2.16.37 PM.png

David Gauke

David Gauke is a British political commentator, solicitor and former politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for South West Hertfordshire from 2005 to 2019. He served in the Cabinet under Theresa May, most notably as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor from 2018 to 2019. First elected as a Conservative, Gauke had the Conservative whip removed on 3 September 2019 and until the dissolution sat as an independent politician. He now serves as the Head of Policy at MacFarlanes LLP, and writes for the New Statesman.



Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 1.05.36 PM.png

Shaharzad Akbar

Shaharzad Akbar is an Afghan women's rights activist from Afghanistan, currently in exile, and an Academy Fellow with Chatham House and a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford. Shaharzad has a diverse professional background in human rights, media and culture and youth mobilisation. Shaharzad is a board member for the International Service for Human Rights and a member of the International Advisory Council for Institute for Integrated Transitions.

Shaharzad’s experience spans establishing and running a consultancy firm in Kabul, supporting Afghan civil society and media in her role as Country Director of Open Society Afghanistan, and working with the government of the Republic of Afghanistan on development issues. Prior to the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Shaharzad was the Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Shaharzad has advocated for the human rights of Afghans, a dignified and just peace and accountability for gross violations at the international level, including through engaging with the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council. Shaharzad’s writing has appeared in Afghan and international media, including Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, Newsweek, the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Just Security, and academic journals. Shaharzad completed an M.Phil at Oxford University, UK, and previously obtained her B.A from Smith College, USA.

SIGN UP LINK: Event signup run by the Oxford Diplomatic Society. Event will be held in Brasenose College.

Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 12.13.58 AM.png

Avi Shlaim

Avi Shlaim is a Fellow of St Antony's College and is one of the foremost scholars of the Israel-Palestine conflict. As one of the 'New Historians' of critical zionism, he has written a number of formative books on the conflict, including 'The Iron Wall', which explores Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors from its inception to contemporary times. 

Professor Shlaim was born in Baghdad in 1945 and grew up in Israel. He read History at Jesus College, Cambridge, 1966-1969 and did an M.Sc. (Econ.) in International Relations at the London School of Economics, 1969-70. He was a Lecturer and then a Reader in Politics at the University of Reading from 1970 to 1987.

Mr. Shlaim will give prepared remarks before taking questions from the audience.

Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 12.15.06 AM.png

Mustafa Barghouthi

Dr Mustafa Barghouti is the secretary general and co-founder of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) – also known as al-Mubadara. A physician by practice, he has been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) since 2006 and is also a member of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC). In 2007 he served as minister of information in the Palestinian unity government. He ran for president in the 2005 presidential election, coming second after Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti has worked extensively on defending human rights and internal democracy, and is the founder and chairman of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS).

Dr. Barghouthi will give prepared remarks before taking questions from the audience.


Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 12.16.34 AM.png

Screen Shot 2023-09-30 at 12.12.26 PM.png

Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert served as the 12th Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009 and before that as a cabinet minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006. Between his first and second cabinet positions, he served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. 

Mr. Olmert is known for being one of the few Israeli Prime Ministers to come close to reaching a comprehensive peace agreement with the PLO. He will give prepared remarks on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas before taking questions.

Lord Michael Heseltine

Screen Shot 2024-01-14 at 5.47.51 PM.png

Lord Michael Heseltine is a British businessman, Conservative politician and patron of the Tory Reform Group. He was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001 and was a prominent figure in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. In 1990, he stood for leadership of the Conservative Party against Margaret Thatcher, and whilst he was unsuccessful, this triggered Thatcher's eventual resignation. A self-made millionaire, Heseltine entered parliament in 1966, entered the Cabinet in 1979 as Secretary of State for the Environment, and was Secretary of State for Defence from 1983 to 1986. In the latter role, he was instrumental in the political battle against the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Heseltine was widely considered an adept media performer and charismatic Minister, although frequently at odds with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He resigned from the Cabinet in 1986 over the Westland Affair and returned to the backbenches. Heseltine then returned to government as Secretary of State for the Environment, with particular responsibility for 'reviewing' the Community Charge, widely and correctly expected to lead to poll tax being abolished, allegedly declining an offer of the position of Home Secretary. After the 1992 general election he was appointed Secretary of State for Trade and Industry choosing to be known by the title, dormant since 1974, of President of the Board of Trade and promising to intervene "before breakfast, dinner and tea" to help British companies. Heseltine resigned his Henley-on-Thames constituency at the 2001 election, being succeeded by Spectator editor Boris Johnson, but remained outspoken on British politics. He has recently been involved in the pro-European movement in the UK, both during the 2016 referendum and in the aftermath of Brexit.


Ken Roth

Screen Shot 2024-01-14 at 5.46.28 PM.png

Kenneth Roth served for nearly three decades as the executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading international human rights organizations, which operates in some 100 countries. Before that, Roth was a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington.

A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigative and advocacy missions around the world, meeting with dozens of heads of state and countless ministers. He is quoted widely in the media and has written hundreds of articles on a wide range of human rights issues, devoting special attention to the world’s most dire situations, the conduct of war, the foreign policies of the major powers, the work of the United Nations, and the global contest between autocracy and democracy.

Roth is currently writing a book, Righting Wrongs, to be published by Knopf, about the strategies used by Human Rights Watch to defend human rights, drawing on his years of experience.


Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcom will be giving a speech entitled: "Russia -- a Riddle, wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma"


Sir Malcolm is a British Politician serving as MP for Edinburgh Pentlands from 1974-1997, then again as MP for Kensington and Chelsea from 2005-2010. During his long tenure in Parliament, Rifkind served as Defence Secretary of the United Kingdom between 1992-1995, and Foreign Secretary between 1995-1997 in the cabinet of Prime Minister John Major. During his cabinet tenure, Rifkind argued for an increased military budget and oversaw Britain’s involvement in the wars in former Yugoslavia. He worked further to advocate for greater stability in the Middle East, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and the creation of a Middle Eastern equivalent of the OSCE. He has since been appointed by the OSCE as a member of the Eminent Persons Panel on European Security, published his personal memoirs, Power and Pragmatism, and appointed visiting professor of war studies at King’s College in London.

Sir Malcolm will give prepared remarks on contemporary Russian politics and Western policy towards Russia following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 before taking questions from the audience.


Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 12.42.11 AM.png
Screen Shot 2024-01-11 at 12.43.14 AM.png

Lord Karan Bilimoria

Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, DL is the founder of Cobra Beer and Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership Limited. Lord Bilimoria is the Founding Chairman of the UK India Business Council, a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, a former Chancellor of Thames Valley University (now the University of West London); he was the youngest University Chancellor in the UK when appointed. Karan was a former Senior Non-Executive Director of the Booker Group now TESCO PLC (2007-2016); he is one of the first two visiting entrepreneurs at the University of Cambridge; he is a founding member of the Prime Minister of India’s Global Advisory Council. In 2006, Karan Bilimoria was appointed the Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, making him the first ever Zoroastrian Parsi to sit in the House of Lords. In 2008 he was awarded the Pravasi Bharti Samman by the President of India. He is an honorary fellow of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Judge Business School, Cambridge University. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young and graduated in law from the University of Cambridge. He is also an alumnus through executive education of the Cranfield School of Management, the London Business School and the Harvard Business School. In July 2014, he was installed as the seventh Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, making him the first Indian-born Chancellor of a Russell Group University in Great Britain, and he is the President of the UK Council for International Students Affairs (UKCISA). Since 2017 Lord Bilimoria has been a Bynum Tudor Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Lord Bilimoria is an Honorary Group Captain in 601 Squadron Royal Air Force. In June 2020, he was appointed President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).


bottom of page