Over the past 50 years, the Cyril Foster Lecture series has delivered engaging lectures from some of the world's most influential policymakers and academics. It is the University's annual distinguished lecture in the field of International Relations.

This lecture series is the legacy of Cyril A Foster. We know very little about him. Mr Foster owned several small sweet shops in and around London and lived alone in Essex. On his death, he left a bequest to the University, asking us to create an annual lecture series on the ‘elimination of war and the better understanding of the nations of the world’. This wish is particularly unusual, as he had no previous connection to the University. His kind and generous gift continues to promote international cooperation.

The 2024 Cyril Foster Lecture

The 2024 Cyril Foster Lecture, ‘On the Declining Success of Civil Resistance’, was delivered by Professor Erica Chenoweth on Tuesday 7 May at the Examination Schools

If you missed it, you can watch the 2024 Cyril Foster Lecture on YouTube.

 

Past lectures

Previous speakers include prominent figures from the world of politics and policy; Oxford has hosted prime ministers and foreign ministers to secretary-generals of the United Nations and heads of major international organisations, as well as prominent academics. See the full list of past lectures below.

  • 2023: Professor Jessica Stern (Boston University)
    Title:
    'Nuclear Terrorism: What is the Threat' (view YouTube video)
  • 2020: 60th Anniversary Roundtable
    Title:
    'Reflecting on the advances of International Relations' (view YouTube video)
  • 2019: Federica Mogherini. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
    Title:
    The EU’s Role as a Global Player for Peace and Stability (View YouTube video)
  • 2018: Professor Barbara F. Walter (UC San Diego)
    Title:
    'The New New Civil Wars' (View YouTube video)
  • 2017: Sir Lawrence Freedman (King's College London)
    Title:
    ‘Fear and Loathing in International Relations’
  • 2016: Geir Lundestad, former director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute
    Title:
    'Twenty-five Years in the Search for Peace: Reflections on the Nobel Peace Prize'
  • 2014: Professor Loukas Tsoukalis (University of Athens)
    Title:
    'Has European Integration Reached the End of the Road?' (View PDF manuscript)
  • 2013: Professor Samuel Moyn (Columbia University)
    Title:
    ‘The Political Origins of Global Justice’
  • 2011: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    'Human Protection and the 21st Century United Nations'
  • 2010: Professor Harold James (Princeton University)
    Title:
    ‘International Order after the Financial Crisis’
  • 2009: Dr William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs for United States
    Title:
    ‘America and the World in a New Era’
  • 2008: Dr Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy
    Title:
    'Europe in the World: Next Steps' (Read the PDF manuscript)
  • 2007: Dr Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
    Title:
    ‘Palestinian Refugees in their 60th Year: Issues of Human Rights, Public Policy and International Law’
  • 2006: Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons
    Title:
    ‘Democracy and Identity: Building a Global Union’
  • 2005: Dr Jessica Tuchman Mathews, President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    Title:
    ‘Getting Back on the Right Path: The US Role in the World’
  • 2004: Gareth Evans, President and CEO of International Crisis Group
    Title:
    ‘When is it Right to Fight? Rethinking the Jurisprudence of Military Force’
  • 2003: Lord Chris Patten of Barnes, European Commissioner for External Relations
    Title:
    ‘“The End of History” - The Sequel’
  • 2002: Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil
    Title:
    ‘Towards Democratic Global Governance - A Brazilian Perspective’
  • 2001: Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    'Why Democracy is an International Issue' (View the online manuscript)
  • 2000: Michel Camdessus, former Managing Director of IMF
    Title:
    ‘The IMF in 2000: What has Been Learnt?’
  • 1999: Professor Geoffrey Best (University of Oxford)
    Title:
    ‘Peace Conferences and the Century of Total War - The 1899 Hague Conference and What Came After’
  • 1998: Rolf Ekéus, Swedish Ambassador to the USA
    Title:
    ‘Controlling Weapons of Mass Destruction: The UN Experience in Iraq’
  • 1997: Dr Pierre Hassner (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales, Sciences Po)
    Title:
    ‘The Bourgeois and the Barbarian: War and Peace in the Post-Military Age’
  • 1996: Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    'The Diplomatic Role of the United Nations Secretary-General' (View the online manuscript)
  • 1995: Professor Stanley Hoffmann (Harvard University)
    Title:
    ‘Moral and Political Philosophy and International Relations’
  • 1994: Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State for the United States
    Title:
    ‘Challenges and Opportunities in an increasingly interdependent World’
  • 1993: Sir Marrack Goulding, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs
    Title:
    'The Evolution of United Nations Peacekeeping'
  • 1991: Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former US Ambassador to UN
    Title:
    ‘Pandaemonium: Ethnicity Now’
  • 1990: Prof Krzysztof Skubiszewski, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Poland
    Title:
    ‘Contemporary Europe: The Dilemma of Change and Stability’
  • 1989: His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan
    Title:
    ‘Prospects for Peace in the Middle East’
  • 1988: Lord Geoffrey Howe of Aberavon, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
    Title:
    ‘Soviet Foreign Policy’
  • 1987: Sir Shridath Ramphal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
    Title:
    ‘World Without Order’
  • 1986: Michael Howard, Anthony Parsons, Tom Franck, Tom Farer, Kenneth Dadzie, Nagendra Singh, Maurice Bertrand and Evan Luard
    Title:
    ‘The United Nations in a Divided World’
  • 1986: Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    ‘The Role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations’
  • 1985: Professor Stanley Hoffmann (Harvard University)
    Title:
    ‘Hedley Bull’s Contribution to International Relations’
  • 1984: Fernando Moran, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Spain
    Title:
    'Spain and the international order'
  • 1983: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr
    Title:
    ‘America: the Perplexities of Power’
  • 1982: Hedley Bull, Stanley Hoffmann, Rosalyn Higgins, Philip Windsor, Dominique Moïsi, Edward N. Luttwak, Michael Akehurst, Richard A. Falk, and Evan Luard
    Title:
    ‘Intervention in World Politics’
  • 1981: George W. Ball, former US Ambassador to the UN
    Title:
    ‘The View for 1981’
  • 1980: Lord Christopher Soames
    Title:
    'From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe'
  • 1979: Dr Mohamed Heikal
    Title:
    ‘Problems of Peace-making in the Middle East’
  • 1978: Lord Roy Jenkins of Hillhead, President of the European Commission
    Title:
    ‘Europe and the Third World: the Political Economy of Interdependence’
  • 1977: Dr Conor Cruise O’Brien, TD
    Title :
    'Liberty and Terror'
  • 1976: Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, Director of London School of Economics
    Title:
    ‘Inequality, Hope and Progress’
  • 1975: Elliot Richardson, US Ambassador to UK
    Title:
    ‘The Dynamics of Stability in East-West Relations’
  • 1974: Egon Bahr, Minister for Economic Co-operation for Germany
    Title:
    ‘The Future of European Security’
  • 1973: Sir Brian Urquhart, Undersecretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    ‘The United Nations: Responsibility without Power’
  • 1972: Lord Denis Healey MP
    Title:
    ‘European Security in the Seventies’
  • 1971: Lord Caradon, Hugh M. Foot
    Title:
    ‘Parliamentary Diplomacy and New Opportunities at the United Nations’
  • 1970: Lord David Owen MP
    Title:
    ‘Lions in the Path of Economic Development’
  • 1969: Reginald Maudling MP
    Title:
    ‘Money and the Nations’
  • 1968: Sir William Slater
    Title:
    ‘Hunger in an Angry World’
  • 1967: Dr Gregory Pincus
    Title:
    ‘The Effective Control of Population Growth’
  • 1965: Sir Edward Heath MP
    Title:
    ‘Britain’s Place in the Modern World’
  • 1964: Lord Patrick M. S. Blackett, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
    Title:
    ‘What are the Prospects of Disarmament?’
  • 1963: Lord Gladwyn Jebb, former Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations
    Title:
    ‘Peaceful Co-existence’
  • 1962: Lord Fisher of Lambeth, 99th Archbishop of Canterbury
    Title:
    ‘The Church and its particular Unities’
  • 1961: Paul-Henri Spaak, Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    Title:
    ‘NATO - A Link between the Peoples of the West’
  • 1960: Eugene Black, President of World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development)
    Title:
    ‘The Age of Economic Development’