Mediators Beyond Borders Congress Istanbul 2013

At the end of September I joined 200 other mediators from over 50 countries at the Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBB) Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.  I had been involved in helping to organise the congress in the months leading up to the event and I had been looking forward to finally put some faces to the names of the people at the other end of the countless conference calls and emails.

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View from the Congress venue the Legacy Ottoman Hotel

After becoming the representative for MBB at the Rotary International (RI) Convention in Thailand in 2012 (after taking a Skype call at 4:30am one early morning in Bangkok), I worked to connect MBB and TIDES Training in a formal partnership. TIDES later became one of the strategic partners for the MBB Congress.  Four members of the TIDES team flew out to Istanbul as we had been successful in our application to deliver a workshop titled “The Roles of the Mediator and the Different Forms of Mediation Used in Intercommunity: Peace building in Northern Ireland” (which was recorded and is still available here).  We ended up with one of the largest number of participants with over 50 people attending which made for some excellent dialogue and discussions.

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Alan Ruddock & I facilitating  from TIDES

In the age of social media, I was tweeting the congress for @MediatorsMBB, the MBB Kenya Initiative @MBBKenya (which I’m also a member), as well as from @tidestraining and my own person twitter account @endayoung which caused me to go through 4 fully charged phone batteries each day!

As one of the co-chairs of the MBB/Rotary International working action group, along with Vikram Kapoor, over the last year we had been invited to run a workshop at the Congress to further strengthen the links between these two organisations.   Vikram organised the workshop and I facilitated the Q&A panel which consisted of other Rotary Peace Fellows, MBB Members and Rotarians; Steve Goldsmith, Marios Antoniou, Gail Ervin and Sait Feyzioglu.

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The MBB/Rotary workshop panellists 

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Facilitating the discussion 

You can watch a live recording of the workshop below and download the notes here: MBB Rotary Workshop Notes:

MBB/Rotary Workshop Video

Video is the 5th one down and begins 9:08 into the Live Stream 

As a Peace Fellow and a member of both Rotary and MBB I believe that there is a natural connection between both organisations and it was great to move on this discussion to additional practical actions points.  Following this workshop we have had further conference calls and we hope to continue to develop our relationship by bringing our suggestions to the RI Convention in Sydney in June 2014.

If any Rotary Peace Fellows and/or Rotarians involved in mediation are interested in becoming members of MBB or vice versa please feel free to contact me for more information.

Upcoming Conference in Istanbul

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I’m looking forward to presenting a workshop at the Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBB) Congress in Istanbul this September.  MBB are currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds to video and live-stream the conference and to assist Middle Eastern and North African women activists attend the Training Institute.  With less than a month of the campaign left and almost half of the target reached there’s still time to support this great campaign.

Rotary International Peace Conference

The powerful message of “Peace though Service” of the Rotary International Peace Conference in Derry-Londonderry was underpinned by the emotive portrayal of Theatre of Witness.  We watched as a unique example of storytelling though the arts in Northern Ireland was presented though the stories and voices of some of those directly affected by the conflict.  It provided a watershed moment in the conference by allowing us to reflect on the human cost of conflict and the various approaches to dealing with its legacy.

As a member of District 1100 eClub and a year after completing my Rotary Peace Fellowship in Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok I was fortunate to present a Master Class in Peacebuilding at the Rotary Peace Conference in my home City of Derry-Londonderry.  It was a fitting venue for the Conference as the name of the City of Derry or Londonderry is still subject of an on-going naming dispute between nationalists and unionists with the mention of either name acting as a signifier of communal affiliation used to associate the speaker with one of Northern Ireland’s two main communities.

The foremost Peace Conference in Ireland this year was jointly organised by the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) and the Rotary Club of Londonderry.  The aim of which was to contribute to reconciliation, learning and full self-expression for those involved in peacemaking and peacebuilding throughout the world.  The Conference brought academics, political, business, community leaders and peace activists from around the world to venues across the city to explore making, building and embedding peace from a local and international perspective.

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The Stage at the Peace Conference 

I currently work as a training manager and mediator for TIDES Training & Consultancy who are an ethnically based non-profit peacebuilding charity based in Belfast.  Together with the Director of TIDES Training, Mary Montague I delivered a workshop titled “Practical Systemic Peacebuilding”.  This workshop focused on our mediation and “iceberg” models, systemic peacebuilding processes and the importance of theories of change in the work that we do.  My personal highlights include looking up and noticing Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka attending the workshop and also being able to talk about our work to members of the Belfast West Rotary Club who kindly sponsored my peace fellowship.

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Mr Sakuji Tanka with members of the Belfast West Rotary Club

In this the Rotary year of “Peace Through Service”, INCORE and the Rotary Club in Derry-Londonderry organised an outstanding three day conference which I believed truly showcased the potential of Rotary to contribute to Peace.

Now is the time to come and witness 

our journey from conflict, through 

reconciliation towards Peace. 

So hope for a great sea change 

On the far side of revenge. 

Believe that a farther shore 

Is reachable from here. 

Believe in miracles 

And cures and healing wells. 

Seamus Heaney

 

Beyond a Rotary Peace Fellowship

This blog was originally set up to record my time participating in a Professional Development Certificate on a Rotary Peace Fellowship from February – May 2012 in Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand.

In the past year since finishing the Fellowship I have found the course extremely beneficial to my professional life at TIDES Training & Consultancy and it has allowed me to become more involved with Mediators Beyond Borders International.

Therefore I’ve decided to continue this blog focusing on wider systemic peacebuilding issues and I’m retaining the originally blog posts under this heading in the hope that it will encourage others to apply for the Peace Fellowship and to act as a resource to those who are successful in their applications.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the application process for the fellowship and I hope you find these posts useful!

Looking over the horizon. (Image from swissre.com ad.)

Rotary World Peace Symposium 2012

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In front of the live Twitter stream from @RotaryChula using Twitterfall

On day two of the Rotary World Peace Symposium we (Class 12) ran a workshop session looking at how peace fellows (over 650 worldwide) can assist with the Rotary “End Polio Now” Campaign.  Polio has not yet been eradicated from Nigeria, Afghanistan or Pakistan and one the reasons for this is the difficulties caused by conflicts in certain areas in these countries.  One of the aims of the session was to see if we could start to utilities the alumni network in these regions and beyond.

With the help of @rotary (International) and @EndPolioNow we managed to be repeatedly re-tweeted to over 150,000 “followers”.  It was my first time  running (along with Chris Quinlan) a live Twitter stream from a conference and it was great to see first hand the power of social media in being able to get the message of the session out to many more people than were actually in the room.

Unfortunately my netbook screen has decided to kindly stop working as my Fellowship draws to a close (I’m blaming the Bangkok humidity -84% today!)  I will add more to this blog as soon as I get up and running again!

Conflict in Thailand, Reconciliation & Lessons Learned

One of the final weeks was spent looking at the conflicts in Thailand.  We focused on the aftermath of the 2008-2010 political crisis and the ongoing difficulties in the South of the country in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat.  I felt that the lectures gave a comprehensive synopsis of the complexity of the issues facing modern Thai society.

Dr. Sukree Langputeh from Yala Islamic University, deconstructing the Southern Conflict in Thailand.

A representative from the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand

Mark Tamthai, Director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace at Payap University giving a motivational talk about his lessons learned as an experienced mediator and peacebuilder

Conflict Transformation & Building a Sustainable Peace

The last two weeks have been full of beneficial lectures from topics ranging from International Humanitarian Law to the role of religion in Peacebuilding.

Kishu Daswani, A Professor of Law in Mumbai delving into questions around “Just War Theory

Dr. Chaiyan Rajchagool on the Moral Component of Peacebuilding

Some more conflict analysis tools by USAID from Jenn Weidman

An inspiring  morning with Mr Bhichai Rattakul talking about lessons from his time as Thai foreign Minister dealing with the Vietnam War & Pol Pot…

As the overall theme for this final module was Conflict Transformation I  found it really useful to hear past Rotary International President Mr Bhichai Rattakul emphasise the power of “the small things” when dealing with people but yet how to always hold onto to the bigger picture of how things will work out in the longer term 10/20 years down the road.