Alumnus Portrait
24 September 2020

Alumnus Younes Zangiabadi Co-founds the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD)

Originally from Iran, Younes, who recently graduated with a Master in International Affairs, is positioning his think tank as a source of new conversations and progressive foreign policy to redefine and challenge the existing dominant approach to foreign policy discourse. He currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. 

With a strong background and extensive experience in public policy, diplomacy and advocacy, the Graduate Institute was the most attractive destination for me to advance my academic and professional skills. 

The Institute is located at the heart of global multilateral diplomacy, where some of the most significant, complex and long-standing international disputes – such as the Iran Nuclear Deal – have been negotiated and mediated through peaceful forms of diplomacy. 

As a graduate student intellectually invested in debates around legal regimes of sanctions on Iran, I was particularly drawn to the Institute for its leading research projects, like “Bombs, Banks, Sanctions”, and classes on “Nuclear Negotiations with Iran”, which brought together some of the most well-known experts and diplomats in the field to discuss important subjects of sanctions, diplomacy, and nuclear non-proliferation. 

Having access to this international network, I, along with a friend at the University of London’s Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, co-founded the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD), which began as a side-project while we both pursued our master’s degrees in International Affairs. Building our foundation upon dialogue, diplomacy and constructive engagement, we aimed our foreign policy think tank at being the source of new conversations and progressive foreign policy to redefine and challenge the existing dominant approach to foreign policy discourse long entrenched by the “blob” – the North Atlantic foreign policy elite.

As part of this project, we first engaged in fundraising, organising policy briefings, publishing research analyses and articles in established journals and conducting interviews with various media. After almost two years, we were able to draw from our network and build a solid organisational structure. In addition we successfully secured funding from the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence, several foundations and corporations. This allowed us to run four different programmes at the IPD, including “International System 2050”, “Asia”, “Middle East” and “Canada’s Role on the Global Stage”.  

It is exciting to see that what we, as students, started as a small project is now a fully-fledged organisation that is scaling up, adding more experts, scholars and former diplomats to its team. Today, through publications, conferences, policy briefings and recommendations, the IPD has expanded its influence through active engagement with policymakers and leaders in the government, civil society and business community in order to adopt a more restrained and open-minded approach in managing the strategic challenges and geopolitical risks of the 21st century.