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Text says Reimagining Victory  - photograph of a hand making the V sign

2020 marks the 75th anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day when the Allied nations celebrated victory over Nazi Germany and Japan. But in today’s context, as conflicts descend into protracted crises, what does it really mean to ‘win’ a war and what challenges do we face when it comes to peacebuilding? Journalists, peacebuilders, artists and academics question the concept of victory through a series of debates, discussions and performances.

The digital series is free to view below and via Imperial War Museums’ YouTube channel.


  • Portrait photograph of Steven Pinker
    Steven Pinker

    INTRODUCTION: Understanding Victory Today

    Steven Pinker, psychologist and best-selling author of The Better Angels of our Nature, gives the long view on war and peace, and asks whether the last world war really is the last.

  • Ritula Shah
    Ritula Shah

    TALKING HEADS: Steering a Country to Peace

    BBC Radio 4’s Ritula Shah speaks to Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and member of The Elders; Martin Griffiths, UN Special Envoy for Yemen and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, former Chairperson of the Peace Panel of the Government of the Philippines, about their varying experiences of steering a country to peace.

  • Portrait photograph of Lyse Doucet
    Lyse Doucet

    PANEL: Mission Accomplished? Victory in the Age of Endless Wars

    A panel including Jonathan Powell (former diplomat and negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement), Margaret MacMillan (historian and IWM Trustee) and Tarak Barkawi (Professor of International Relations, LSE) unpick the traditional concept of military victory and ask what it means to ‘win’ a war today, in an age of unending conflicts and protracted crises. The conversation is chaired by BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, Lyse Doucet.

  • Portrait photograph of Waad Al-Kateab
    Waad Al-Kateab

    PANEL: Healing From War: Building Peace After Conflict

    Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Liberia, Nepal, Colombia - more than 1,500 peace agreements have been signed since 1990.  Rachel Clogg, (Senior Advisor, Conciliation Resources), Simon Wessely (conflict psychiatrist) and Waad Al-Kateab (director of BAFTA-winning For Sama) ask whether peace processes always mark the end of hostilities and how countries can move on in the wake of deadly violence and societal divisions. The conversation is chaired by BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowen.

  • Portrait photograph of Lindsey Hilsum
    Lindsey Hilsum

    DEBATE: The West Should Not Use Military Force to Prevent Mass Atrocities

    Should the West use military force to prevent mass atrocities? Some argue the West has a responsibility to protect civilians around the world, whilst others say the West should stop acting as a global police force. Instead of putting boots on the ground, we should be pushing for political and diplomatic solutions. Channel 4’s Lindsey Hilsum chairs a debate between Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Director of LSE's Centre for Women, Peace and Security and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network and David Aaronovitch, journalist and author of ‘My Family and other Communists’.  

  • Thomas Rid
    Thomas Rid

    DEBATE: Cyber War is a Threat to Peace

    Can cyber war really be a threat to peace, when no actual acts of physical violence are committed? Some argue that the term ‘cyber war’ itself is a misnomer, while others point to the devastating impact of increasing numbers of cyber attacks committed by states, terrorists and criminal organisations alike. The Sunday Times’ Rosamund Urwin convenes a debate between Kim Zetter, investigative reporter and author of Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon and Thomas Rid, political scientist and author of Cyber War Will Not Take Place.

  • 24 Hours of Peace - branding
    24 Hours of Peace

    PODCAST: 24 Hours of Peace - dramatic reading

    A dramatic reading of a real-life conversation between Jo Berry, daughter of Sir Anthony Berry, killed in the 1984 Grand Hotel Brighton bombing, and Pat McGee, a member of the IRA who was responsible for the attack. 

    Introduced by Neil Bartlett (playwright and director of 24 Hours of Peace) and Jonathan Cohen (Executive Director, Conciliation Resources)

    Cast: Miranda Richardson & Steffan Rhodri


    This podcast is an extract from "24 Hours of Peace" by Neil Bartlett, a Thomas Carter Projects production, staged live at the Royal Exchange Theatre  and broadcast live by Resonance FM on Remembrance Sunday 2019.

  • Aminatta Forna
    Aminatta Forna


    Three writers read from their work, exploring the themes discussed in the symposium. Featuring Philippe Sands, barrister and author of East West StreetAminatta Forna, author of Happiness and Hisham Matar, author of The Return



Conciliation Resources is an international non-governmental organisation committed to stopping violent conflict and creating more peaceful societies. For over 25 years, they have worked with people impacted by war and violence, bringing diverse voices together to make change that lasts. They connect the views of people on the ground with political processes, and share experience and expertise so others can find creative responses to conflict. 

To keep up-to-date with the work of Conciliation Resources, subscribe to their e-newsletter.

Conflict: Look Closer

We have a global crisis. More than 1.5 billion live in countries affected by violent conflict – that’s one in four people. Armed conflict is shattering communities, forcing people to flee their homes, destroying livelihoods and blocking access to health and education. The result: cycles of suffering, poverty  injustice, and more violence. To build peace, we need to take a closer look at conflict. Current approaches aren’t working. Military responses alone do not provide solutions. Worldwide investment in development, diplomacy and peacebuilding falls dramatically behind military expenditure. We seem unable to protect people, or to prevent war or resolve conflicts peacefully. Conflicts are viewed in an over-simplistic way. Responses are often short-term and decisions made remotely - without involving the people affected. But conflicts are complex… Conflict looks very different up close. Look behind the headlines, and you gain insight, appreciate the complexities. You can see it’s not just about states and governments but about people and their communities. All conflicts have a local face. That’s why it takes long-term collaboration between people with different skills and perspectives, working together at different levels, to find alternatives to violence and build a just and sustainable peace. There are thousands of people working for peaceful change right now, and organisations like Conciliation Resources are working with them. We bring people together and help them resolve their differences through dialogue and mediation. We help communities talk to politicians and other decision-makers. We challenge dangerous stereotypes, foster understanding and use our expertise and resources to help others work towards peace. We are working hard to ensure that people in the middle of conflict – including women, young people and minorities – have their say. If we remember that no conflict is clear-cut and each has its own dynamic... if we look past today and tomorrow, into the future, committed to collaboration and understanding we can find new ways to end and prevent wars. And step-by-step, we can build peace. It’s time to take peacebuilding seriously. Look closer, and help people resolve conflicts peacefully.
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*Please note, discussion participants do not represent the views of Imperial War Museums or Conciliation Resources.


Covering 1914 to the present day, the IWM Institute is a hub to explore and experiment with new ways of deepening public understanding of war and conflict through research, public programming and digital innovation.

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