International Conference

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.

1. Public Meeting (All are welcome)

Thursday 24 May, 7.00-9.45, Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

7.00-7.15 pm Opening Address
Joe Costello TD (Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

7.15-7.30 pm Keynote Address: Global Powers and Local Conflicts—Lessons from Ireland
Paul Murphy (Member of European Parliament-Ireland)

7.30 – 8.10 pm On Colombia
Nelson Raúl Fajardo Marulanda (Lecturer/National University of Colombia). He is the editor of Contribuciones para la Crítica y la Transformación and a facilitator of the Colombian peace process.

8.10 – 8.50 pm On Kurdistan
Alan Shamosson, (Foreign Affairs Representative of Democratic Union Party). He is a member of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK).

8.50 – 9.10 pm 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 the geopolitics of peace and conflict.

9.10- 9.30 pm Respondent: On Palestinian Resistance and the Role of Ireland
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

9.30-9.45 pm Q & A Session

2. Seminar (Only by Invitation)
25 May, 9.30 am – 5.30 pm:  No. 27, Pearse Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin 2

9.30-10.00 am Opening Address: The Role of the EU in Conflict Resolution—Lessons from Ireland
Emer Costello (Member of European Parliament-Ireland)

10.00-11.30 am Geopolitical dynamics of peace and conflict in Colombia, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka
1.Carlos Arturo Garcia Marulanda (A member of Marcha Patriótica, the largest peace organisation in Colombia which gathered over 10,0000 people in Bogota demanding social justice and a negotiated settlement).
2. Jeyachandran Kopinath (Founder Editor/Tamilnet). He has been the chief editor of Tamilnet and was in direct contact with the Tamil journalists in the war zone especially after the assassination of senior editor Dharmeratnam Sivaram in April 2005 in Colombo.
3. Paul Murphy (Member of European Parliament-Ireland)

11.30-12.00 pm Tea Break

12.00-1.30 pm The situation of human rights and the role of the UN and the EU in Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka
1. Mirham Yigit (Head of Kurdish Institute in Germany)
2. Andy Higginbottom (Principal Lecturer in Politics/Human Rights, Kingston University London)
3. 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)

1.30-2.30 pm Lunch Break

2.30-3.30 pm Parallel Group Discussions

1. Lessons from Northern Ireland and Palestine (led by Iain Atack, Paul Murphy and David Landy)
2. Mainstream media coverage of Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka: Exploring alternatives (led by Nelson Raúl Fajardo Marulanda, Mirham Yigit and Rohitha Bashana Abeywardena)
3. Demilitarisation and Enhancement of Democratic Space: Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka (led by Carlos Arturo Garcia Marulanda, Jude Lal Fernando and Andy Higginbottom)
4. Human Rights and Freedom of Expression: Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka (led by Alan Shamosson, Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Jeyachandran Kopinath)

3.30 – 4.00 pm Tea Break

4.00-4.45 pm Submission of Group Reports and Discussion on Concrete Measures

4.45-5.30 pm Concluding Session

Organised by:
Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin
Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka
Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) Colombia Solidarity in Ireland
Kurdish Association of Ireland
Latin American Solidarity Centre in Ireland

Funded By:
Main funders: Robert and Kezia Stanley Chapman Trust (a Quaker-based trust)
Co-funders: Trocaire and Onyva

On behalf of the organising committee

Jose Antonio Gutierrez
Colombia Solidarity Group in Ireland and Latin American Centre in Dublin

Abraham Kardonya
Kurdish Association of Ireland

Jude Lal Fernando
Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka
Mobile contact: 085 156 2980

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