Disaffection rules as Chatham House reorganises

July 16, 1999

George Joffe, whose acrimonious departure from his post as deputy director of Chatham House highlighted divisions in the foreign affairs institute, this week disclosed his blueprint for its future, writes Harriet Swain.

Mr Joffe - who claims that he had been dismissed from the institute - is working out an agreed notice period after falling out with Chris Gamble, who became head of the institution last December.

Dr Gamble proposed changes, including cuts to the institute's library and research side, that were criticised by many academic members of the institute. Others, particularly from among commercial members, welcomed them as modernising.

In a paper circulated among staff, Mr Joffe calls for the institute to maintain a solid research base and for those engaged in research to form a "community" dedicated professionally to discussion of the international arena. The library is crucial to their success, he says.

He rejects the idea that the research side of the institute should act as a type of think-tank.

A Chatham House spokeswoman said: "We are going through a period of change. People have different responses to it." She said the board had drawn up a more businesslike strategy, had deadlines to achieve and was hoping to attract a younger membership.

The institute, which also hopes to raise its profile in the press, will have a full-time press officer in place by September.

Southeast Asia specialist Richard Tallboys, a member of the council, said: "We have to be realistic and live in the modern world. We have to provide a service for people who work in international affairs rather than just those who study it."

The council was in the process of electing a new chairman as The THES went to press. The chairman will replace Lord Wright of Richmond, who is retiring.

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