Lecture by Dr Ofrit Liviatan, Director, Freshman Seminar Program and Lecturer, Department of Government, Harvard University, USA.
Including the respondents: Lord Alderdice, Professor John Brewer (ISCTSJ, QUB) and Professor Richard Wilford (School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, QUB).
The Northern Ireland’s experience, extensively explored as a historic example of conflict transformation, has been comparatively under-studied sociolegally even though legal mechanisms played a central role in the efforts to ameliorate the region’s social tensions. Striving to rectify this scholarly lacunae, Dr. Ofrit Liviatanwill draw upon Northern Ireland’s path from war to peace in discerning law’s effectiveness as a conflict management device within deeply divided societies. She will offer an alternative perspective to the currently dominating structure-oriented readings on the persistence of sectarian divisions in Northern Ireland, by proposing that law’s boundaries as a vehicle of conflict transformation are unveiled by the macro-micro interplay between structure and agency. Whereas legal structures effectively contributed to pacifying Northern Ireland’s armed struggle, they also presented human agencies with rational and instrumental opportunities to reproduce the conflict rather than resolve it. Nonetheless, even as legal structures proved limited as a conflict reduction path, the interplay dynamic between structure and agency remains promising for conflict transformation by offering agents considerable opportunities to utilize these structures as a resource enabling reconciliation.
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