Overview

Established in 2009, Ottawa Dialogue is a university-based organization that brings together research and action in the field of dialogue and mediation. Guided by the needs of the parties in conflict, Ottawa Dialogue develops and carries out quiet and long-term, dialogue-driven initiatives around the world. We create forums where parties can explore difficult issues in an analytical, problem-solving way to develop new paths forward. We then work with our partners to transfer these ideas to places where they can make a difference.

As a complement to its field work, Ottawa Dialogue pursues a rich research agenda focused on conflict analysis, third party dialogue-based interventions, and best practices relating to “Track Two Diplomacy”.

The interplay between our research and insights from the field help us refine our approach to facilitation and dialogue, challenge assumptions, and generate innovative ideas.

Mission & Vision

Mission

To facilitate sustained dialogue aimed at preventing, mitigating and resolving conflicts, and to advance research and best practices in this field.

Vision

Our vision is of a world where people turn to dialogue and other collaborative approaches in order to resolve their differences.

Our History

In April 2009, a small group of experts from India and Pakistan convened a quiet discussion at the University of Ottawa about the state of strategic relations between the countries. From that exploratory discussion, an ambitious agenda emerged pointing to the need for sustained and facilitated dialogue on this critical matter that impacts global security.

The April 2009 talks evolved into the first long term process under the auspices of Ottawa Dialogue. Since then, Ottawa Dialogue has expanded into an institution housing several dialogue initiatives covering a range of issues, including:

  • Military-to-military confidence-building between India and Pakistan, particularly along the Line of Control
  • Iran-US relations
  • Israeli-Palestinian relations, particularly with respect to security arrangements
  • Regional security in the Middle East
  • India-Pakistan intelligence engagement
  • India-Pakistan-Afghanistan relations

Over the years and across these many dialogue-based initiatives, Ottawa Dialogue’s work has bridged the gap between research, practice and policy.

Our Team

Peter Jones, Ph.D.

Peter Jones, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Peter Jones holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from Kings’ College, London, and an MA in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. Before joining the University of Ottawa, he served as a senior analyst for the Security and Intelligence Secretariat of the Privy Council of Canada for 7 years and also with Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs for 7 years. He also led the Middle East Security and Arms Control Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden in the 1990s. Peter leads problem-solving dialogues around the world and has published what is widely regarded as the standard text in the field, and also publishes regularly in leading journals in the field.

View Peter’s research here.

Dr. Jones can be reached at peter.jones/@/uOttawa.ca

Peter Jones, Ph.D.

Esra Çuhadar, Ph.D.

Head of Research

C. Esra Çuhadar is the Head of Research of the Ottawa Dialogue, joining in 2024. She was previously a senior expert for dialogue and peace processes at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Esra Cuhadar is an associate professor of political science at Bilkent University in Turkey, and a senior fellow at the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative in Geneva. She was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at USIP in 2018, and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 2011–12.

Dr. Çuhadar can be reached at ccuhadar@uottawa.ca

Laura O’Connor

Laura O’Connor

Senior Programme Officer & Research Coordinator

Laura O’Connor is the Senior Programme Officer & Research Coordinator at Ottawa Dialogue, having joined the team in 2018. She currently works on dialogue programming in South Asia and on ongoing research projects. From 2021 – 2023, Laura worked as a Junior Fellow at the Council for Strategic and Defense Research in New Delhi, India. Laura is involved in a number of local and national non-profits and holds an interest in peace studies and gender equality, working as a freelance writer and speaker on both subjects. In addition to her work at Ottawa Dialogue, Laura sits on the Executive Board of International Student-Young Pugwash.  She holds a degree in Political Science and Communication from the University of Ottawa.

Laura can be reached at loconnor/@/uottawa.ca

Laura O’Connor

Fernando Aguilar

Head of Operations And Administrative Coordinator

Fernando Aguilar is studying his master’s degree in Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, and he holds a Joint-Honours BA in Economics and International Development Studies from the University of New Brunswick. He is a researcher at Ottawa Dialogue. Fernando has been a graduate research assistant in a variety of projects such as the GSPIA National Security Task Force and Community Impact Assessments. Fernando is highly interested in education, history, and international affairs, working as lead researcher and project manager for the Office of Experiential Education and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training.

Fernando can be reached at fagui059/@/uottawa.ca.

Marie-Claude Alarie

Julia Palmiano Federer, Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Palmiano Federer is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zürich. Julia holds a PhD from the University of Basel and an MA from the Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID). Julia has published academic articles and policy papers on diverse topics in mediation including norms, gender, counter-terrorism and multi-track diplomacy, as well as on Myanmar politics. She has also lectured and taught in numerous campuses and institutions in Europe, North America and Asia. As a former Program Officer in the mediation team at the Swiss Peace Foundation, she provided support to civil society actors and the negotiating teams involved in Myanmar’s peace processes. Before joining swisspeace in 2013, she started her career with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Human Rights Watch and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Find out about her research here: https://juliapalmianofederer.com/ 

Laura O’Connor

Aleem Bharwani

Senior Research Fellow

Aleem Bharwani is a physician (internal medicine) and associate professor at the University of Calgary where he founded the UCalgary Pluralism Initiative and is now its Academic Director. Dr. Bharwani is also the Director of Public Policy and Partnerships for the Cumming School of Medicine as well as for the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. He is an active citizen, serving on a variety of community and corporate boards. At the Ottawa Dialogue, he is a senior research fellow focusing on Track Two diplomacy in public health.

Dr. Bharwani can be reached at abadmin/@/ucalgary.ca

Laura O’Connor

Josh Nadeau

Research Fellow

Josh Nadeau joined Ottawa Dialogue as a Fellow and facilitator in 2022. He holds an MA in conflict studies and was based in eastern Europe for nearly a decade. Since 2020 he has provided research and facilitation support at the Mediation and Dialogue Research Center (MDRC) in Kyiv, Ukraine, and has conducted dialogue projects and facilitation training across the post-Soviet space. His work also focuses on societal issues in North America, using dialogue practices to address ideological conflicts and sociopolitical polarization. He hosts a dialogue series called Kitchen Talks, helps coordinate the Let’s Talk Ottawa initiative and offers regular workshops and training on dialogue techniques and group facilitation. He speaks English and Russian.

Josh can be reached at jnade76/@/uottawa.ca

Laura O’Connor

Mina Vaish

Peacebuilding Curriculum Developer and Project Officer

Mina is a Toronto-based mediator and global peacebuilder. She is the Lead Curriculum Developer and Project Officer for the Ottawa Dialogue relating to Track 2 and 3 dialogue and mediation training. She is an experienced mediator, with 19 years of full-time experience in mediation and has mediated some 2,000 cases in various contexts. She is the past Chair of the Women in Mediation, United Nations Working Group for Mediators Beyond Borders International, and is specifically involved with increasing the capacity and effective participation of women peacebuilders and mediators globally, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions relating to Women, Peace and Security. Mina has a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto) with a specialization in dispute and conflict resolution.

Mina can be reached at mina@yorkmediation.com

Laura O’Connor

Maria Bolano Valle

Administrative Officer

Maria B. Valle is a dedicated Psychology student at the University of Ottawa with an interest in social and child development, cultural diversity, and research. As an Administration Officer for the Ottawa Dialogue, she combines her belief in International Human Rights with her academic background to make a meaningful contribution to the organization’s research initiatives. She is driven by a desire to expand her understanding of social issues and contribute to positive change.

Maria can be reached at mbolanov@uottawa.ca

Funding

Funding for our dialogue-based initiatives comes from a range of government and institutional donors. Currently, the three largest donors are: the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the US National Defense University; the Foreign Ministry of Finland; and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. Ottawa Dialogue also benefits from in-kind contributions from the University of Ottawa. Previous donors have included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Global Affairs Canada, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Funding for our Research Programme comes from: Bridging Insights at Harvard University; the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue at the University of Ottawa; the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa; the United States Institute of Peace; and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.

Financial management of Ottawa Dialogue partnerships at the University of Ottawa is conducted according to the Canadian accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, with regular internal audits as well as policies and practices meeting or exceeding the requirements set by provincial and federal legislation for fiscal responsibility and transparency.

Support Us

By getting involved with Ottawa Dialogue, supporters and mission partners can help contribute to preventing, mitigating, and resolving conflicts around the world. Joining us means being a part of industry-leading research and action.

We are always interested in connecting with new partners interested in our work. Use the contact form to reach out for more information about how to support Ottawa Dialogue.