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.
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.
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.