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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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Digital DNA: Technology, social cohesion and peace advocacy

We are delighted to host a session on “Technology, social cohesion and peace advocacy” during Digital DNA. In this digital age, technology is altering how we engage with the world, offering new avenues for social change. In this session we will explore how technology can help to foster contact and collaboration between groups in conflict settings and to create new ways for people to influence or take action in their community to promote peaceful attitudes.

Panellists:

Louisa Worladge – Global Lead, Digital, Partnerships and Innovation, British Council

Stephen Shashoua – Founder, Plan C: Culture and Cohesion

Hen Norton – Director and Film Producer

Louise Guido – CEO, M4 Global Partners

Angela Baker – Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Qualcomm Wireless Re

Chaired by Eva Grosman – CEO, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Conor Houston, Programme Director, Centre for Democracy and Peace Building

 

Digital DNA, Tech for Good Studio | Tuesday, 6 June | 3pm – 3.50pm

Third sector passes available at: https://digitaldna17.eventbrite.co.uk?discount=VSC

More information about Digital DNA: www.digitaldna.org.uk

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A Giant’s Cause: Solutions for Brexit | 11 May | QUB

The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union remains open and one of the options floated has been for the UK to join the European Economic Area (EEA) on the EFTA side.

The EEA extends the EU’s Single Market to three EFTA countries: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These countries are simultaneously members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). They are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, but to that of the EFTA Court. While Prime Minister Theresa May has written that the UK does not seek to remain part of the Single Market, the UK Government’s position on the ‘fourth freedom,’ the free movement of persons, has softened.

Join QPol at Queen’s as they welcome Professor Carl Baudenbacher, President of the EFTA Court, who will explore whether the EEA model, or a bespoke variation of it, would be a suitable way forward for the UK, and ensure the harmony and soft-border between the isles’ two countries.

Queen’s University Belfast, Thursday 11 May 2017, 1730-1900

Registration for the event at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-giants-cause-solutions-for-brexit-with-professor-carl-baudenbacher-tickets-33991652949

 

 

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ETA disarmament: CDPB’s Director Chris Maccabe among the International Verification Commission members

The International Verification Commission (IVC) was established in 2011 to verify Euskadi Ta Askatasuna’s (ETA) declaration of a definitive end of violence.

The Commission members include Chris Maccabe, former Political Director of the Northern Ireland Office and CDPB’s Director; Ronald Kasrils, former Minister of Intelligence and Deputy Defence Minister of South Africa; Ram Manikkalingam, Chairman of the IVC. Director of Dialogue Advisory Group and Professor at Amsterdam University, and former Adviser to the President of Sri Lanka for negotiations with the Tamil Tigers; Satish Nambiar, former Deputy Chief of the Indian Army and former Commander and Head of Mission of the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1993; Fleur Ravensbergen, Assistant Director of Dialogue Advisory Group and Aracelly Santana, former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Deputy Head of Mission, United Nations Mission in Nepal (UMIN) and former Director, Americas Office in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

For the past six years, the Commission, together with Basque institutions and Basque civil society, has worked towards achieving an orderly end of violence. Since its establishment, the Commission has verified that ETA has fulfilled its commitment to cease all violent actions. In January 2014, the Commission verified that ETA had put beyond operational use a specified quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives. This was the first step towards ETA’s disarmament

On 27 March and 6 April 2017, respectively, the Navarre and Basque parliaments resolved that the Commission “continue to use its good offices to achieve” the “unilateral, complete, definitive and verified” disarmament of ETA

In pursuance of that objective, today the Commission received, from Jean-Noël Etcheverry, a representative of Basque civil society, information regarding the location of ETA’s weapons, ammunition and explosives. This information was immediately conveyed to the relevant French authorities, who will now secure and collect ETA’s arsenal. The Commission will not be involved in this stage. The Commission believes that this step constitutes the disarmament of ETA.

The handover of information by civil society representatives took place in the City Hall of Bayonne at the invitation and in the presence of the Mayor of Bayonne Jean-René Etchegaray. It was also witnessed by His Grace Matteo Zuppi, the Archbishop of Bologna, and the Reverend Harold Good, former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

Since 2011 the Commission has worked closely with Basque political and social actors, including the Basque Government, political parties, trade unions, the business confederation and the Basque Catholic Church. The Commission would also like to thank the President of the Basque Country, Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, for his support over these years. The Commission is grateful for all of their assistance and cooperation in its task of verifying the ceasefire and the end of violence.

The Commission trusts that, with the support of all relevant actors, this historic step will help consolidate peace and coexistence in Basque society.

 

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Music Unite Culture Night

An eclectic mix of musicians gathered at the Loughside Community Centre, on the Shore Road in North Belfast to entertain an audience of over 400 people with Music Unite’s night of culture. The event was the culmination of a yearlong project facilitated by the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, project managed by Nigel Kells in association with Donal Scullion and band alongside Creative Director Leonie McDonagh of Ponydance productions.

The night of culture brought together people from different cultures and backgrounds from across Northern Ireland to celebrate our indigenous cultural traditions, the diversity of our society and the uniting power of music.

The evening started off with a variety of traditional bands from the iconic Blood & Thunder, to melody flute, then from accordion band to the melodic sound of fifes and drums and finishing the first half with the traditional solo Scottish piper much to the delight of the crowd.

We then moved to the collaboration stage of the performance and first up this year we brought together the flutes and Drums of North Belfast’s own, ‘Pride of the Shore Flute Band’ playing a few tunes of their own to warm the crowd up, then joining forces with Donal Scullion and his Rock band, to play the Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’.

The combination of crisp Blood and Thunder marching band flute with the iconic Rock sound of electric guitar, subtlety accompanied by a combination of rock drum kit and marching side drum kicked the second half of the night off in spectacular fashion. 

Following that, the far travelled Cormeen Rising Sons of William, all the way from Armagh, with 3 pieces of collaboration alongside Donal Scullion and his Rock band. They played Jonny Cash’s Ring of Fire, followed by Waltzing Matilda & to top it off, a unique medley of theme tunes from Movie classics, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and Star Wars! All while Cormeen’s Colour Party performed a marching display for the crowd, which they had created with our Creative Director Leonie McDonagh at their hall in Armagh.

This event following on from last year’s project was another major success, celebrating diversity and using the power of music to unite. Described by one band member as ‘the best craic the band have had in years!’

Music Unite project received support from The Executive Office Good Relations Grant.

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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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Belfast marks Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

A panel of expert speakers outlined the challenges and opportunities for Northern Ireland’s female entrepreneurs at an event in Belfast today to mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.

The event, in conjunction with the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, was hosted at the Ulster Bank headquarters in Donegal Square East and included student, entrepreneurs, early stage businesses and community representatives from across Northern Ireland. Speakers included Lord Alderdice (CDPB Chairman), Cathy Martin (WED Ambassador for Ireland and founder of CMPR) and Brenda McLaughlin CBE (NI Trustee on the National Board of NSPCC)

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), the world’s largest entrepreneurial and financial empowerment initiative, recently appointed country ambassadors to oversee and coordinate activities in over 144 countries worldwide, supporting, empowering, and celebrating women entrepreneurs on every continent. 51% of the UK population is female, yet just over 20% of SME are majority female led. If women started businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an 150,000 extra start-ups each year in the UK

Speaking at the event, Karen Lawther, Chair of Focused Women, Ulster Bank’s internal network  to support women in business, said: “Supporting female entrepreneurship is core to what we do as a bank, and is an important part of building a dynamic economy and business culture. We take pride in supporting initiatives like this which offer people the chance to learn, connect and gain confidence from some truly inspiring speakers.”

Addressing a Women’s Enterprise Day event at the Ulster Bank Headquarters in Belfast today, Lord Alderdice, Chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, said:

“It is a sign that things are getting better that no-one finds it remarkable for us to have women as three of the four First Ministers in the United Kingdom, but we should take this as an encouragement of what is possible, rather than as a sign of achievement.  While in some areas of work life the particular contributions of women, and the proper regard for women as equal citizens is increasingly recognised, other areas of the economy still deny themselves the business advantage that women’s creativity brings to the top table. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day gives us a chance to remind ourselves and others of the exciting successes of women as entrepreneurs in social, economic and public life.”