In my life-time there has never been a greater need, across the world, for people to work for democracy and peace building.
When we started CDPB our focus was largely on Northern Ireland – what we had learned, and what we needed to do to complete the Peace Process. It has been exciting and inspirational to work with colleagues in CDPB, especially our remarkable CEO, Eva Grosman, as well as with friends and co-workers in the public, private and community sectors at home and right across the world. As you will see from even the briefest glance through the pages of this report, CDPB has been active from the Middle East to Latin America, throughout Europe, with colleagues in the United States, the United Kingdom and of course North and South of the border in Ireland.
In all these many activities we have seen much to confirm and develop both our understandings of conflict and violence, and also what we might call ‘civil paths to peace’. However, as I noted in last year’s report, we face huge challenges. How can we contribute to getting devolution in Northern Ireland back up and running? What is it possible to do to improve the atmosphere and attitudes in our divided community? Where can we find the best ideas for achieving an outcome to Brexit that takes us forward and not backward on the island of Ireland and in the United Kingdom? These are tough questions, and the answers involve everyone paying some kind of price, but with the chance of enormous community benefit.
You will see in this report an extraordinary range and level of activity. Some of our work, like Music Unite, has built on the methods and ideas that we have been using for a few years now, albeit with a number of new partners and new types of music. In other areas we have been exploring novel ways of understanding what can be done to capitalize on the extraordinary pace of technological development. There has rightly been much focus in the media on the threats from social media to personal privacy and freedom, and the proper functioning of democracy, and we are very conscious of these challenges, but we also believe that these technologies can bring new options and opportunities for democracy and peace building and we will continue to work on this in the upcoming year.
In any report of the past year I must of course draw attention to the cooperation with the British Council and others on the Peace and Beyond Conference in Belfast in April 2018 marking the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This was a week of amazing events with real political significance and impact and we hope to work further with British Council in the next twelve months.
As we indicated last year the Board of CDPB has decided to engage more closely with some of our partners outside Ireland and especially the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at based at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford and already I look forward to being able to report next year on the new ways in which we are continuing to fulfil our commitment to democracy and peace building.
There are few things that are more challenging, or more worthwhile and necessary, and few colleagues more inspiring to work with than those in CDPB.
Why not join us and make your contribution?
John, Lord Alderdice