The official website of writer

Victoria Schofield
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Selected Articles and Features

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Booksigning at Hatchards, Piccadilly October 2020

Booksigning at Hatchards, Piccadilly October 2020.

Foreign Ministers' Roundtable with Civil Society, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 27 June 2022.

The following day, with the 'heads of government' ensconced on their retreat, I sat listening to the deliberations at the Foreign Ministers' Roundtable with Civil Society; chaired by Dr Anne Gallagher AO, (Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation and member of the Round Table's Editorial board). As the moderator, she skilfully encouraged one member of civil society to comment, while a foreign minister or their representative responded.

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The leaders meet, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 25 June 2022

For me the opening ceremony of CHOGM 2022 began early. Up at 6.30am I had to be at the Kigali Convention Centre by 7.45am, my taxi driver, Eric, skilfully circumventing the road blocks and impressing on the assorted AK47-wielding guards, positioned to prevent unwelcome entrants, that I was a bona fide CHOGM media/delegate and was entitled to pass through the barriers. Once into the media centre it was a question of waiting, the Secretariat staff issuing assorted 'bibs' depending on which category of media pool we fitted. I was with the 'writers' and, with no requirement for a bib, eventually I and my fellow writers took our seats in the circular Convention Centre which, from the outside, looks like a beehive.

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Guilt and Genocide, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 24 June 2022

...Even though my focus is on CHOGM 2022, I was glad to have faced the 1994 genocide, which is so much part of Rwandan history (although it is now forbidden for Rwandans to state whether they are Tutsis or Hutus and it is certainly inappropriate to ask). A strong part of the narrative is the response (or lack of) of the international community. Far from bolstering a UN presence, when ten Belgian UN peacekeeping soldiers were tortured and killed at the beginning of the genocide, the whole force was evacuated, as were any Europeans remaining in the country while the killing continued. Nearly thirty years later this failure to take action contributes to the guilt factor which western governments feel.

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The Peoples Forum, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 23 June 2022

What with the arrival of HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in Kigali, the opening of the Business Forum by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda the closing of the Women's Forum, not forgetting the People's Forum, complemented by a plethora of side events, there was a sense of the pace speeding up as we approach the opening ceremony on Friday....Meanwhile, I'd decided to devote my time to the People's Forum, held in M Hotel, KN1 Avenue, another of Kigali's luxury hotels taken over by CHOGM for the duration; while climate, health, justice and leadership dominated the first day's proceedings, governance and freedom of expression formed the core of the People's Forum on day two.

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Arrival, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 21 June 2022

On touching down in Kigali, the first instruction, which was a reminder of Rwanda's progressive policy to protect the environment, was over the loudspeaker forbidding all entrants to bring any plastic bags into the country. But it wasn't until the following morning that I could see how far Rwanda has come in its development. 'We are all Rwandan now,' Eric, my taxi driver, assured me as he picked me up from the Hotel des Mille Collines, where I'm staying (the real-life location for the Hotel Rwanda, the emotive film telling the story of the 1,000 plus who sheltered there during the 1994 genocide). And it was clear that the most important event of the week for Kigali's 1 million inhabitants was the city's total takeover by CHOGM, banners with 'CHOGM RWANDA2022' adorning the lamp posts, and the major hotels sporting the varied flags of the member countries.

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Departure, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 20 June 2022

...The theme of this year's CHOGM is 'Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming.' As usual, several forums and side events are taking place before the formal opening of CHOGM on Thursday 23rd June. As we all know, because of Covid-19 this particular CHOGM has been a long time coming: instead of the normal two-year interval between the meetings, it's been over four years since the last CHOGM in London in April 2018 hosted by the United Kingdom.

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Book review, Kashmir at the Crossroads, Inside a 21st Century Conflict, by Sumantra Bose, Asian Affairs, Vol. LIII, 27 May 2022

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Reflections on Commonwealth Day, The Round Table,, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 17 March 2022

Her Majesty the Queen's presence at the traditional Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey was much missed, especially given that the service was to mark the beginning of her 70th Platinum Jubilee celebrations. So last minute was her absence that the schedule of events, as listed in the programme, still stated that, on arrival, the Queen would be received by the Dean of Westminster. Instead, as has already become increasingly frequent, the Prince of Wales fulfilled her role, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family. Seated close by was the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Boris Johnson, MP and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, QC, who, in turn, were flanked by a galaxy of diplomats and officials as well as representatives from all Churches and faiths.

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Book review, The Good Girls, An Ordinary Killing by Sonia Faleiro The Spectator, 20 February 2021

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'From Oxford pals to political prisoner - my 30-year friendship with Benazir Bhutto,' The Telegraph, 28 October 2020

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VE Day Reflections , The Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 11 May 2020.

On 8 May the United Kingdom celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day - Victory in Europe - in recognition of all those who had fought in the Second World War (1939-45). Having addressed the nation during the corona virus pandemic, her Majesty the Queen again broadcast a message to the people. Mindful of the continuing lockdown because of the pandemic, she recognised that 'today it may seem hard that we cannot mark this special anniversary as we would wish. Instead we remember from our homes and from our doorsteps.'...

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Covid-19: A view from London , The Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 1 May 2020.

A month or two ago no one of this generation had any concept of how a worldwide epidemic or 'pandemic' would affect our lives. Now with the rapid spread of Covid-19 from country to country, its significance has become horribly familiar, illustrated by daily statistics of those who have 'sadly died' and a whole list of do's and don'ts constricting our activities.

For those of us living in the UK being in the grip of a pandemic has also spawned a range of previously unheard of activities: lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation. But it has also generated resilience, compassion, and a realisation that, despite the challenges we are individually and collectively facing, the situation could be worse....

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Jinnah Institute Opinion 'Dear World, how is the lockdown? Kashmir', 28 April 2020

A year ago I was in the Valley of Kashmir. Although much had changed since my last visit, with new houses under construction, some roads repaired, there was still the same feeling of gloom - of people living on the edge, unable to enjoy their lives and their magnificent surroundings to the full because they never knew when the next curfew was going to be imposed, when the next crackdown would come and whose family was going to suffer premature bereavement in an 'encounter' with Indian security forces. Even so there was still an expectation that, if only the two powerful neighbours, India and Pakistan, between whom the state remains de facto divided, could sit down at the negotiating table, as they had intermittently tried to do in past decades, some equitable resolution of the issue could be achieved (provided of course there was some consultation with a representative selection of Jammu and Kashmir's 12 plus million inhabitants.) But on 5th August 2019 - not long after I'd left the Valley - everything changed....

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Once the goal was to woo Kashmir. Now Modi is bent on taking it, The Sunday Times, 11 August 2019

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Dawn chorus and the Indian elections, The What and the Why, 3 June 2019

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India's Elections: 'Dismal' voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir, The Round Table, 17 May 2019

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A day in the life of India's elections - Rajasthan, The Round Table, 7 May 2019

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London Notes: Reflections: CHOGM 2018

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London Notes: Buckingham Palace, 19 April.

 

London Notes: Days two and three, 17-18 April.

 

London Notes: First day impressions of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, 16 April.

 

Believe, a song to inspire aspiration,The Round Table, 15 March 2019

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Asma Jahangir obituary, 13 February 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/13/asma-jahangir-obituary

 

‘The greatest stories never told’, 19 January 2018

https://unherd.com/

 

Book review: Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan lost the Great South Asian War, by Myra MacDonald

 

The Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, November 2017

https://www.commonwealthroundtable.co.uk/?s=defeat+is+an+orphan

 

Book review: Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson, The Spectator, 29 September 2017

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Secrets of the Kashmir Valley by Farhana Qazi, Pharos, 2016, Foreword by Victoria Schofield

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''A portrait of the Life and Vision of Shabana Basij-Rasikh'

http://afghanwsf.co.uk/blog/a-portrait-of-the-life-and-vision-of-shabana-basij-rasikh/

 

'Kashmiris need to believe azadi will come', The Kashmirwalla, Dec. 2015

http://thekashmirwalla.com/2015/12/kashmir-needs-to-believe-azadi-will-come/

 

Geography and History conspire to make peace in Kashmir a challenge. Kashmir Observer, Dec 2015

 

The legendary Dervla Murphy, Trans Asia News, 13 August 2015.

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The intractable issue of the plebiscite,  The Kashmir Walla, 18 May 2015.

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Kashmir: 1846. 1947. 1989,  The Kashmir Walla, 18 April 2015.

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'Pakistan would have  been different if Bhutto was allowed to continue' says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,  Trans Asia News

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Benazir Bhutto: A Multidimensional Portrait by Anna Suvorova, Oxford University Press, Karachi, Foreword by Victoria Schofield:

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Why Kashmir is Still Important, Asian Affairs, Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, March 2015.

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Benazir Bhutto, OK Pakistan, March 2014.

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Love in China, Traveller, No. 3, 2013

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