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Lord Alderdice: Change and Challenge

Chairman’s Remarks – CDPB Annual Report 2017

Change and Challenge

The last year has again seen a remarkable level of activity for the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, from the excitement of our Van Morrison fund-raiser, to our rapidly expanding international activities and our engagement with ground-breaking digital developments. However across the world, it has been a disturbingly challenging time for those of us committed to democracy and peace building.

Our EU Debate NI initiative was an enormous success, but while Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU the people of the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave.  So now we face a new challenge – how to get the best outcome we can for the people of Northern Ireland – and CDPB is making its contribution to the thinking necessary in London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels.

On its own Brexit would have been a major challenge, but the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the second in less than a year, were another watershed.  For the first time since partition in a province-wide election the unionist parties saw their majority melting away, and instead of the election enabling a return to a functioning Assembly and Executive, it resulted in more uncertainty.  Unless agreement can be reached by the Northern Ireland parties before the end of June, the snap Westminster General Election may well be followed by yet another Assembly Election in the autumn, and neither of these contests is likely to improve relationships at the top political level nor bring a clear resolution of the problems.

Our on-going community programmes like Music Unite continue to do excellent work, but we are faced with the same financial challenges as others in the public and community sectors largely because the absence of a functioning Executive makes significant resource decisions impossible.  We have been cooperating with others, and especially with British Council, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in April 2018, and if our plans come to fruition we hope that we will be celebrating in the context of more hurdles overcome in the Peace Process and new lessons learnt.

Whatever the challenges at home, they pale in significance against the global canvas.  While President Santos received the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of the Colombian Peace Process, and we continue to work with our colleagues there on the implementation of last year’s agreement between the Government and FARC, there is no hiding the difficulties faced from the beginning of the implementation of the accord.  That said, it is one of the few significant peace processes anywhere in the world that is still making progress.  Democracy, peace building, and even truth in the public space have faced serious challenges across the world, not just in the descent into chaos in the wider Middle East, but in the unravelling of the European Project, the loss of by the United States of America of any sense of moral leadership, and the host of other crises and conflicts that have arisen on land and sea and in cyber space. Nowhere seems immune or entirely safe.

The Board of CDPB is determined to ensure that we do all we can to contribute to overcoming the problems faced by democracy and peace building at home and abroad, and in addition to internal restructuring we are engaging more closely with our partners, especially the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at based at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford.  We will only be successful if we strengthen our network of relationships.

I would like to express my personal appreciation to my Board colleagues, not least Liam Maskey who was with us from the start, but has stepped down from the Board for personal reasons.  I also want to note the wonderful work of Conor Houston who continues with us as Programme Director and Consultant but as his reputation has grown he is unsurprisingly in demand from many other sources, not least with his appointment as a Governor of the Irish Times Trust – congratulations Conor.

Most of all of course, I am joined by my Board colleagues in expressing our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our CEO, Eva Grosman.  She carries a prodigious work load with irrepressible charm, extraordinary energy, and a serious and profound commitment to all the causes which the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building was founded to promote.  All of you who know anything of CDPB, know how fortunate we are to have Eva, and as you read in this report about the work of CDPB over the past year, you will see the positive signs of Eva’s engagement in every single activity and project.

In this difficult and uncertain time you will be encouraged by what it is possible to achieve, and I hope that we can depend on you to work with us in making the next twelve months a better one for democracy and peace building.

John, Lord Alderdice

 

You can download CDPB Annual Report 2017 HERE.

 

Passing the Baton

Lord Alderdice Blog: Why has this generation dropped the baton?

On the long and winding road of the Northern Ireland Peace Process the most important lesson we learned was that such intractable, violent, political problems were a result of disturbed historic relationships between communities of people.

The three key sets of relationships upon which the negotiations and subsequent institutions were based were between Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists; between the people, North and South, in Ireland; and between Britain and Ireland.

So long as we kept focussed on addressing these historic, disturbed relationships and realized that changes to constitutions, institutions, policing and the administration of justice, protections for individual and group rights, and social and economic development, were all instruments to build better relationships rather than ends in themselves, we continued to move forward, and indeed had something important to contribute to others who had similarly been mired in intractable conflict.

We had learned some lessons from the European post-war experience where the French and Germans realized that the alternative to endless cyclical violence was building better relations, and they embarked on the European Project starting with the European Coal and Steel Community and eventually arriving at the European Union.

So why are things going so badly wrong, both for Europe and for Northern Ireland?

It would be tempting to assume that this was simply the consequence of the next generation forgetting about the horrors of war, taking peace for granted and confusing the instruments of peace-building with the purpose of peace-making.

The purpose of the European Project was not to create the euro and the free movement of people, goods, capital and services, or even to ensure a seat at the top table of global affairs for European politicians.

These were some of the instruments for achieving the purpose, but the purpose itself was peace in Europe.

When in recent elections I tried to persuade my Liberal colleagues to focus on the purpose instead of the instruments, they could not see what I was getting at, because they were too caught up in the game of political party rivalry to appreciate the central significance of inter-communal relations.

In Northern Ireland it was sometimes thought that if only we could change the individual leaders we could resolve the problems.

Leaders are leaders for so long as they represent as well as lead their communities, and our problems were not only about individual leaders, whether they were women or men, but about their contribution to the relationships between the communities they lead.

This year we mark 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg and triggered the Protestant Reformation. This new way of thinking did not bring peace, but the Wars of Religion in Europe. The Renaissance had started in Italy, however it was Germany that saw the birth of the Reformation and when the Enlightenment followed it had different impacts in Northern and Southern Europe. The culture of the North and South are not the same.

These communities have different ways of what Heidegger called ‘Being-in-the-World’, and what is true of Europe is also the case in Ireland. It is not only a question of identity and allegiance; there are also cultural differences.  So when John Hume said that the Germans could still be Germans and the French could still be French, but both could be Europeans, he was only partly right.

Unless a new European consciousness or culture developed, the deep and dangerous fault-line that long preceded the Reformation would remain between the north and the south.   In truth there was a need for a new shared culture to be born, and the focus on the instruments instead of the purpose was a distraction from this crucial task.

With the Enlightenment came an appreciation of the opportunities created by Human Rationality, and extraordinary progress followed in science and technology, medicine and public health, government, politics and human well-being.

Germany was the most educated country in the world in the early twentieth century and the Second World War showed us that rationality alone was not enough to contain human aggression. The result was a focus on Human Rights, recognized since at least the French and American Revolutions but now promoted across the world by the United Nations.

What the global deterioration of recent times has demonstrated is that Human Rationality and Human Rights are not enough. We need to add Human Relationships to our social understanding and engagement.

Complexity science, systems theory, large group psychology and cultural evolution all point in this direction, and the practical politics of the Northern Ireland Peace Process actually showed how it could be done.

However the insistence that Unionists and Nationalists could continue to simply follow their traditional politico-cultural routes and all would be well, was misguided. A relay race is not just about handing over a baton, it is also about continually moving forward. The next generation of politicians need not just to try to maintain what has been handed to them, but to build upon the recognition of the central significance of communal relationships and appreciate that this requires an evolution in our communal ways of ‘being-in-the-world’.

Instead of grasping this understanding, seizing the baton, and running the next stretch of the relay, the new generation of political leaders in Europe, and in Northern Ireland, seem to think that they can implement the rules without addressing the relationships; without making positive changes in their community’s way of ‘being-in-the-world’.

They have dropped the baton.

Can it be picked up again? Yes, but only if they realize that they have dropped it, and only if all sides are seized of the need to leave some old ways behind. You cannot win the race if you keep going back to the starting line, much less if you retreat to the unchanging rooms of your own team.

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Statement from Lord Alderdice on the death of Martin McGuinness

Statement from Lord Alderdice on the death of Martin McGuinness

Speaking of his sadness on hearing of the death of Martin McGuinness and sending his condolences to his family circle, John, Lord Alderdice described him as “a remarkable leader, an excellent colleague, and ultimately an essential peacemaker.”

Lord Alderdice said:

“Only a few who occupy positions of leadership are truly transformational leaders, but Martin McGuinness was one such person.  I knew him well through the period of negotiations, then during the time when I was involved with the Assembly, after that while we tried to address the complex process of security normalization and later in taking the message of hope from Northern Ireland to other places, particularly Iraq. He was the same person in each of these circumstances.  He was deeply thoughtful and insightful and when he made an agreement, he stuck to it. He had the courage to take risks, as a leader must if he or she is to make a real difference. Ultimately his journey led him to give up violence and become the essential peacemaker in Ireland and an inspiration to many others well beyond the island home to which he was so devoted.  May his family circle be comforted in their grief and may Martin rest in peace.”

Chief Anne Richardson

Healing the wounds of Britain’s relationship with the First Americans

Lord Alderdice invites you to the talk

Healing the wounds of Britain’s relationship with the First Americans

with Chief Anne Richardson

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 from 6.30pm to 8pm

Committee Room 1, House of Lords, London SW1A 0AA

Please register at www.getinvited.to/cdpb/chiefanne

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Chief Anne Richardson is the first woman to be elected to lead her Tribe since 1705 and is a fourth generation Chief in her family. She has travelled widely internationally and has served on numerous boards including, the Native American Council of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, Native American Committee of the Episcopal Diocese, Indian Ministries of North America, and the Virginia State Advisory Council for the U.S Commission on Civil Rights. She was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor to their National Advisory Council on Indian and Native American Programs and was for two years elected National Chairwoman of the Council. She continues to serve as a member.

Chief Richardson will be speaking about the situation of Native Americans in the USA today and on the role that repairing the historic relationship with Britain can play in addressing their concerns.

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Please allow 20 minutes to get through security.

 

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Lord Alderdice honoured for Excellence in Promoting Peace & Collaboration by Global Thinkers Forum

Lord Alderdice to be presented with a Special Award for Excellence in Promoting Peace & Collaboration by Global Thinkers Forum – the global platform promoting accountable leadership, women’s empowerment and youth development.

Among other Honourees are the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for Excellence in Positive Change; Alwaleed Philanthropies and HH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who donated his entire fortune to philanthropy, will be recognised with a Special Award for Excellence in Contribution to Humanity, world-acclaimed Turkish author Elif Şafak, for Excellence in Promoting Gender Equality, One Heart World-Wide, an organisation that helps reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in rural areas for their Excellence in Women’s Empowerment.

“In the 21st century, philanthropy earns a strategic dimension. At the core of this transformation is the will to hold business leaders and businesses more accountable, expand, and nurture the notion of ethical leadership. We live in a complex era; accountable leadership is being challenged every day. We need role models in giving, empowering, promoting peace, in actively effecting positive change. We are very proud of the exceptional Honourees lineup, the work of which our organisation is celebrating this year”, says Elizabeth Filippouli, Founder & CEO, Global Thinkers Forum.

The 4th Awards for Excellence Gala, celebrating the work of outstanding leaders, individuals and organisations will be hosted by international broadcaster Stephen Cole and a live concert will be conducted by famous Belgian Maestro Sir Dirk Brossé.

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Annual Report 2016: Building the momentum

If the first year was about getting started, year two of CDPB has seen the building of remarkable momentum.  Even a quick glance through the monthly calendar of events will show the extraordinary level of activity of the Centre and those who work with us, especially our Chief Executive, Eva Grosman and Programme Director, Conor Houston, to whom I want to express particular appreciation and acknowledge a profound debt of gratitude.

In addition to building on the various on-going programmes like “Unite against Hate” (look inside at the major success of Music Unite) the past year was notable for the EU Debate NI initiative. At a time when there was almost no serious public conversation about the issue, CDPB started work with universities and students, the legal profession, the business community, the agricultural sector, voluntary, community and statutory agencies, the Northern Ireland Executive, the British and Irish Governments and the European Commission to create a thoughtful and informed debate about the EU referendum. In recent months it was widely acknowledged by all sides of the argument that not only had CDPB taken the lead on the issue in Northern Ireland, but also that the open, creative and engaging way in which it was conducted owed much to the approach taken by CDPB.  Thanks to Conor and Eva for their leadership, but thanks also to those who gave us the financial support that made it possible, not least the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

While EU Debate NI comes to a conclusion with the holding of the referendum, and some initiatives such as the Leadership Academy were pilot exercises that will be assessed and may be taken forward in the autumn, other programmes like Together, TEDx, the Women’s Enterpreneurship Day (congratulations Eva on being appointed NI Ambassador for this initiative) and our partnerships with the Washington Ireland Programme and Corrymeela have already proved themselves and are an established part of our on-going Northern Ireland programme.

Last year also saw significant steps forward on the international front as CDPB welcomed visitors to Belfast and started building the foundations for substantial ongoing partnerships in Britain and Ireland, North and South America and the Middle East.

With an enlarged Board of Directors, an enhanced Advisory Board, and a new office base in Belfast City Centre, the momentum is building, and with it our need for more financial resources to help realise the CDPB vision at home and abroad.

I guarantee that as you turn the pages of this report you will begin to share our excitement and enthusiasm, and this time next year we may well be reporting on your contribution to this vital work.

John, Lord Alderdice

Chairman

 

Download CDPB Annual Report 2016 HERE.

 

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CDPB Chairman, Lord Alderdice talks to Israel TV about Peace Building

On a brief visit to Israel in March, Lord Alderdice gave an interview that was broadcast on Israel TV1′ s main Saturday evening Foreign Affairs programme.  There was a lot of positive comment from various parts of the Middle East and we thought that CDPB web-site followers might be interested to see it too.

The interview is short, but in a few minutes Lord Alderdice maps out some of the key elements to the approach that he took in addressing the Talks in Northern Ireland and the subsequent long-term and continuing process of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.  He also discusses the similarities and differences between the problems facing Israelis and Palestinians in their long-standing conflict, and the applications and limits of experiences in one conflict as applied to other places.

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Senior members of CDPB offer assistance in Colombian Peace Process

​As we come to a critical period in Colombia’s history, senior members of CPDB have returned to offer assistance on a number of fronts.

The negotiations between the Government of Colombia and senior officials of FARC are coming to a conclusion and though it had been clear for some weeks that the March 23rd deadline would not see the signing of an agreement, it was equally clear that the commitment of both sides is very likely to see a positive outcome within weeks.

Director, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Chairman, Lord Alderdice both made separate visits during March to follow on their previous involvements in the Colombian Peace Process.

In his three-day visit Jeffrey Donaldson continued his work with other Northern Ireland politicians engaging with FARC political figures and elected and governmental officials, including the Presidents of the Senate and the House in the Colombian Congress.

Lord Alderdice met senior government officials including the country’s President, Juan Manuel Santos and also spent much of his week-long visit encouraging and supporting university and professional groups and peace NGO’s, including the Colombian Peace Council and the Centre for Memory Peace and Reconciliation in Bogota. He focussed in on the needs of the seven million victims of the decades of violent conflict and explored the challenges the Government faces in re-integrating thousands of former guerillas and paramilitaries. He also addressed meetings of senior private sector CEO’s in Colombia about the opportunities and responsibilities of the business and commerce communities to contribute to the implementation of the Peace Agreement when it comes.

Speaking to the press in the Presidential Palace in Bogota after his meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, Lord Alderdice said:

“I had an excellent meeting with the President and assured him of the support and good wishes for the Colombian Peace Process of the more than 100 member parties of Liberal International, of which I am Presidente d’Honneur, and also of people across the United Kingdom and Ireland. We discussed in some detail the challenges of completing the negotiations in the very near future, seeking public affirmation in a plebiscite and the difficult and inevitably long-term work of implementation during the rest of his Presidency and beyond. The President is working extremely hard to deliver a peace that will make for a better future for the children of Colombia, and for their sake this unprecedented opportunity for a settlement must not be lost.”

CDPB intends to continue to respond positively to the requests for assistance from Colombia.

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Lord Alderdice response to the Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the developing crisis in the power-sharing institutions at Stormont

Responding in the House of Lords today to the Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the developing crisis in the power-sharing institutions at Stormont

Lord Alderdice (LD):

My Lords, for a number of years when I was on the IMC I focused a great deal on the monitoring of paramilitary organisations. Is the Minister aware that the balance and order of things in this Statement could potentially be misleading? It focuses heavily on the question of whether there has been IRA activity, as though that was the real primary cause of the current crisis, when in truth this crisis has been developing for months and months over the failure of the political parties—particularly the two leading political parties—to work together in a proper governmental way. This recent event is important, but it should not be allowed to distract us from the fact that if it were magicked away tomorrow morning, the problems would remain.

Secondly, is the Minister aware that even if welfare reform were taken back to Westminster—and if it has to be so, I certainly would not oppose it—that would still leave a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Democratic Unionist Party leadership and the Sinn Fein leadership? Without a working relationship together, the devolved structures will not be able to continue, whether or not they have a problem of welfare and whether or not there is any indication of IRA activity. One must say that Sinn Fein has said the kind of things that many people wanted it to say for years on the IRA: that this was criminal activity; that people should go to the police with information; and that there was absolutely no justification. The Statement refers to “politically motivated violence”, but I have the sense that everything we know about this incident means that it was personally motivated violence rather than for the purpose of destabilising Northern Ireland.

Therefore, will the Minister take back to his colleagues who are engaged in this process that we do not need another monitoring commission or another short-term political fix but a change in the kind of relationships there are between the senior leaderships of the DUP and Sinn Fein? If not, we will be faced, as the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, has suggested, with legislation in this place to take back powers, which would be a disaster.

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Lord Alderdice to speak at RISING – a new global peace forum

 

RISING, a new global peace forum in Coventry, UK, is launched on Monday 17 August, with a specially filmed message to the world from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Speakers confirmed for the first annual event include Rt Hon Gordon Brown, Terry Waite CBE, and Cardinal Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

With the theme ‘A Hard Road to Hope’, the inaugural RISING 15 will see global statesmen, business leaders, peace advocates and members of the public meet in the city from 11 – 13 November 2015. Together they will push forward new ways of thinking about peace and conflict in our turbulent world. Tickets go on sale shortly and it expected that up to 400 people from around the world will attend.

RISING is a partnership between Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Coventry Cathedral. Coinciding with Armistice Day and the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry on 14 November 1940, it will take place in buildings surrounding the shattered ruins of the city’s medieval cathedral. Preserved as a reminder of the trauma caused by World War Two, this iconic landmark has become a potent symbol for peace and reconciliation around the world.

Speakers at RISING 15 will include:

  • Rt Hon Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and UN special envoy for Global Education.
  • Lord John Alderdice, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, now a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords where he chairs Parliament’s All Party Group on Conflict Issues.
  • Terry Waite CBE, humanitarian, author and former aide of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon for 1,763 days.
  • Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, one of the world’s biggest Christian denominations with 85 million members in over 165 countries.
  • Cardinal Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Michael Binyon OBE, Veteran foreign correspondent and leader writer for The Times.
  • Mary Harper, the BBC World Service’s Africa Editor.
  • Sam Lee, Director of Send in the Clowns, a documentary film exploring the impact of prolonged aid in Haiti as it follows a group of idealistic volunteer performers from Clowns without Borders.
  • Iman Icar, Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, capital of Somalia and one of the world’s most divided and volatile cities.
  • Emma Sky OBE, who served in Iraq longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, first as the Coalition’s Governorate Coordinator for Kirkuk province and later as an adviser to the US Commanding General.
  • Richard Smith, a peacebuilder and anti-apartheid activist working with one of Africa’s leading peacebuilding organisations, the Action Support Centre.
  • Karam Hilly, an activist and community organiser from Syria working for peaceful demonstration and change. Karam was detained by the Assad regime in 2014 and fled to Turkey. He still works in Syria to keep hope alive, but at great personal risk.
  • Colonel Dr Brendan O’Shea, a Commandant in the Irish Defence Forces who has worked on international peace support operations in the Middle East, the Balkans and West Africa.

For more information please visit www.rising.org