The Local and the Global: The Geopolitics of Peace and Conflict in Colombia, Kurdistan, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland
24-25 May, 2012, Trinity College, Dublin
Aim of conference:
Minister of State Joe Costello and Paul Murphy MEP will address a major international conference on promoting negotiated settlements to armed conflicts throughout the world as opposed to military solutions. The conference will also be addressed by a facilitator of the Colombian peace process, a member of the Kurdistan National Congress and a Sri Lankan journalist. The devastating effect of the military approach to conflict resolution has been shown dramatically by the unimaginable human consequences of the Sri Lankan military offensive against the Tamil population that ended the civil war in Sri Lanka in early 2009. However, this decade also saw a relatively successful peace process continuing in Northern Ireland, which though far from perfect, proved the potential for dialogue and negotiated settlement in the most adverse circumstances.
In the case of Northern Ireland all parties were treated with 'parity of esteem' whereas in the other cases this principle was abandoned. Governments and state security forces were supported by the major powers to adopt a military solution as opposed to negotiated settlements. In these cases we see how states have become highly militarised, threatening all forms of democratic dissent. Many communities have suffered and what is assured by the military option is a 'victor's peace'.
The conference aims to analyse the geopolitics of these four conflicts and how military means have increased human suffering and polarisation among communities and have threatened democracy, thereby exacerbating these conflicts. The Northern Ireland experience of 'parity of esteem' and dialogue could be taken as a guide to inform a global perspective for negotiated settlements to these conflicts. The conference will provide a valuable space for the experts to exchange views and experiences, in order for the participants from different countries to gain a broader perspective and learn from one another.
'At least 146,679 Tamils are unaccounted for following the last phase of the war in Sri Lanka. Wikileaks have revealed that the Co-Chairs of 2002 peace process (USA, EU, Japan and Norway) were aware of the massacre of civilians by the Sri Lankan forces, but did not want to stop the Sri Lankan government. This has happened in Guatemala, Rwanda and other places too. Geopolitics is a common factor that affects all these conflicts. A global perspective is necessary for a just and peaceful resolution of these conflicts', Jude Lal Fernando (Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin and Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka).
'Under heavy rain and amidst military and police intimidation recently at least over hundred thousand people joined La Marcha Patriótica in Bogota demanding social justice and a negotiated settlement. As organisers of this conference we intend to raise global awareness about people's power in these conflicts and promote non-militaristic approaches to conflict resolution', Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Latin American Solidarity Centre in Dublin and Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) Colombia Solidarity in Ireland.
Form of conference:
The first session will be a public meeting which will be addressed by experts from these four conflicts. This will be held from 7.00-10.00 pm on Thursday, 24 May, 2012 at the Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin.
Joe Costello TD (Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
Paul Murphy MEP.
Carlos Arturo Garcia Marulanda (A member of Marcha Patriótica, the largest peace organisation in Colombia and a Human Rights Campaigner)
His Excellency Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera, Colombian Ambassador to the UK, will attend and speak briefly on the position of the Colombian government
Mehmet Yuksel, political activist and human rights defender.
On Sri Lanka
Rohitha Bashana Abyewardena (Convenor/Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka). He is the former editor of Hiru, the Sinhala Newspaper and an expert in Geopolitics of Peace and Conflict.
On Northern Ireland
Paul O'Connor (Pat Finucane Centre) He is the project manager at the PFC-native of Derry, graduate of UU in Peace & Conflict studies, contributor in public discussions around dealing with the past, amnesties, prosecutions and the legacy of the conflict.
Respondent: On Palestinian Resistance
David Landy (Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Lecturer Department of Sociology, TCD). He is a former chair of the IPSC and author of Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel.