Editorials, NN 287

Northern Ireland:

Nul points’ for zero sum games – but who makes the rules?

There is a tendency to see everything in Northern Ireland in ‘zero sum’ terms; a win for them’uns is a loss for us’uns, and vice versa. In relation to Brexit there would seem to be a clear zero sum game in progress; an Irish Sea Border being seen as a defeat for unionism, an Irish border ‘border’ being a defeat for nationalism. But things are, and should be, somewhat more complicated than that.

Talking generally (before going on to look at the current situation) the complications are to do with both parity and justice. Clear victory for one side and clear defeat for the other can be very dangerous because it creates resentment and ill feeling which can then spill over into various other aspects of life. Then there is also the question – what is just? In the sectarian and heated political environment of Northern Ireland these are not easy questions to answer but it is still possible to at least try to listen to ‘the other’ and see what can be done. However sometimes what can be done to ‘even the score’ may be limited, though using ‘neutral criteria’ such as established human rights norms may help in some cases.

While it has been stated before here that some policies of the EU, in relation to neoliberal economic policies and increasing militarisation, are very unwelcome, the UK decision to pursue Brexit was part of a flawed decision making process. Yes, a majority in the UK voted for leaving the EU but a larger majority in Northern Ireland voted to stay. People in the UK knew not what they were actually voting for and that meant that any democratic mandate for it has been very shaky.

Be that as it may, the DUP/Democratic Unionist Party jumped in enthusiastically to the Brexit camp, thinking that it would make Northern Ireland more ‘British’. They seriously overplayed their hand. They could have backed Theresa May’s deal to ally the whole UK to EU standards which would have meant no ‘Irish Sea Border’. Instead they went for broke. However the reality of the power relationship between the larger EU and smaller UK, and the nature of the EU single market, meant disaster for them. While all the time denying their role in such a cock up for unionism, they initially played down the significance of the Northern Ireland Protocol until unionist opinion exerted itself and they felt they had to be more strident. Unionist and loyalist rhetoric has been ramping up.

Pretty much all of unionism is now singing from the same song sheet in demanding that the Protocol be replaced. Even senior figures got in on the act. Peter Robinson said it might come to a choice between Stormont (the Assembly) and the Protocol because of the difficulty in opposing it while being involved in the power-sharing Executive. However unionist commentator Alex Kane pointed out that each time there is a break or hiatus in government in Northern Ireland, unionism comes back weaker. David Trimble argued forcefully that the Protocol breached the Good Friday Agreement because it changed the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the agreement of the (unionist) majority. Arlene Foster spoke about the need to heed the will of the majority, seemingly ‘heed’ as in ‘accede to’.

But to each argument there is a counter-argument. Some pointed out that ‘unionism’ is no longer ‘the majority’ in Northern Ireland (even if there is not a majority for a united Ireland). Unionists were happy, in relation to the majority in Northern Ireland voting to stay with the EU, to point to the (small) majority in the whole of the UK who voted for it; but when it came to the government of the UK making an arrangement that they did not like, they spoke about ‘the majority’ in Northern Ireland. Others said that if David Trimble considered the NI Protocol to breach the Good Friday Agreement, surely Brexit did this first (this matter is open to endless debate but Brexit has certainly affected human rights issues in Northern Ireland).

The EU has indicated it may be open to flexibility in the implementation of the Protocol but both it and the British government have indicated the Protocol is here to stay. The EU says the British need to live up to their side of the bargain (e.g. real time information sharing on trade flows) before considering liberalisation of rules. From its point of view the EU may need to protect its single market but there is nothing which stipulates there has to be the particular level of bureaucracy which interferes with a variety of aspects of previous trading patterns, and availability of products as it has in Northern Ireland, even though Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market and Britain does not. There could be a very considerable simplification of what is required through trusted trader status, analysis of trading patterns and information (as the EU have asked for) and so on.

The unionist demand for the complete replacement of the Protocol is unlikely to get much traction except in extremis. Britain – England – wants to move on. And this is where the danger comes. There is no easy alternative, and a trade border on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be even more difficult to police and would replace one set of people feeling a grievance with another (nationalists and republicans). But the longer problems are highlighted, and the slower it is to get issues sorted, the more strident voices in unionism and loyalism will get ramped up and the closer loyalist paramilitarism may get to violence. The risks to the EU single market could be protected in a much less obtrusive way.

So action is needed fast. Whether ‘the maximum’ can assuage unionism remains to be seen. Business on the other hand wants certainty and some firms in Northern Ireland importing certain goods have had major problems, others involved in exporting welcome the opportunity for freer trade with the EU than now enjoyed by Britain. The EU and British government, or indeed the Irish government, simply stating that the Protocol is here to stay is not very helpful; telling people “you have made your bed, now lie on it” is hardly conducive to de-escalation. Unionists are feeling aggrieved and need listened to carefully; however what could, or should, be done in response is another matter. It is not a matter of stringing anyone along but exploring what options exist; those may be limited but need attention and action straight away.

Unionism is not the force it once was in Northern Ireland. But those who consider themselves British need listened to carefully, just as those who consider themselves Northern Irish or Irish. When it is disturbed, ‘parity of esteem’ can turn into ‘parity of steam’ and the lid risks getting blown off. Such an explosion is not in the interest of anyone or of progress in what passes for a ‘peace process’ in Northern Ireland.

Good riddance, Direct Provision (whenever it eventually disappears….)

When the Direct Provision system was introduced in the Republic a couple of decades ago to provide shelter to refugees and asylum seekers, it was a ‘temporary’ arrangement that became semi-parmanent. It was also a very large and distinct blot on Ireland’s record on human rights and treating people fairly. With direct provision centres often located in out of the way locations, and crowded conditions with no choice as to whom you associated with (or even shared a room with), and no choice of food or opportunity to cook for yourself (to name just a few issues), it heaped insult on injury for people who had already been through so much. It has been kicking people while they were down. Mental health and self esteem suffered. The opportunity for integration suffered. Eventually people gained the right to work after six months in the country but the whole system was unfit for purpose.

Agencies or groups working in the field such as MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland https://www.masi.ie/ ) and Doras (in Limerick, http://doras.org/ ) have welcomed the announced government plans in its White Paper, with some reservations, but it is clear they are not ‘holding their breath’. Plans are largely in line with the proposals in the Catherine Day report of the October 2020. Doras say“We are concerned to see that there is no clear plan to deal with the large backlog in International Protection cases…….. we would like to see the closure of centres beginning this year, instead of 2022, as stated in the White Paper. Conditions in many direct provision centres are currently below acceptable standards, and the daily experiences of international protection applicants are far from acceptable.”

MASI say “The White Paper is ambitious in some areas and lacks imagination in others……. MASI is appalled by the decision not to provide supports for asylum seekers to live independently in the community if they do not avail of 4 months of Direct Provision (whatever name the government calls it) after lodging their asylum claim…..While the White Paper has some positive changes including the end of shared living spaces for families and supports for children, it does have problematic areas that make it difficult to hold the State accountable without putting the provision of accommodation and other supports for asylum seekers on a statutory footing…..”

If “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” there is a long way to go yet. The crazy thing about Direct Provision (with accommodation provided by commercial enterprises) – beyond its considerable human rights abuses – is that it is, as the Day report indicated, more expensive in financial terms than the proposed alternatives. Speedy change is needed and putting services on a statutory basis so that any breaches can be adequately and swiftly addressed.


Let’s celebrate

International Women’s Day……

………and honour the Spirit of the feminine in our shared history today.

By Miriam Ryan

A spirited Cork woman known as Mother Jones, dedicated her life in the U.S. 1860s, to upholding justice and fearlessly supported labour rights, and mining communities and children’s right to be just kids, with her dignified socialist ideas, and trade union activism. Having suffered much tragedy in her personal life, she stood against the abuse perpetrated by a powerful patriarchy, on those people who actually helped create their obscene profits. Intimidation, mocking and jail terms never dimmed her clear seeing and understanding of where terror and injustice was rooted. She is remembered in song by the talented Lisa O Neill, using Mother Jones’s refrain as the chorus of the song, “Pray for the dead. And fight like hell for the living”.

Let’s celebrate Margaret MacCurtain/Sr. Benvenuta, Lecturer and Historian who saw fit to rewrite women back into history. ‘Herstory’, a series of talks held in the National Gallery in the 1990s by Sinead McCoole who recently  wrote the whole story of the Gifford Sisters’ life and their sacrifices and love of freedom. And Grace Gifford who married her lover Joseph Mary Plunkett at midnight, in Kilmainham jail in 1916, and who later that day ‘forgave’ the very young courageous British soldier, who sobbed at her door, ashamed that he had been part of the firing squad, who had shot her husband. And Dorothy Macardle, writer playwright, activist and historian, whose book ‘The Irish Republic’ (1973), is regarded as one of the most influential accounts of the Irish War of Independence.

We honour the present Raging Grannies, and the ‘Guantanamo Granny’ Margaretta D’Arcy for their love of people and human rights and their abhorrence of the cruelty of injustice.

In pre Celtic times, a body of just and sophisticated Laws were enacted by the people for the people. This rich code of laws created the most enlightened , humane legal structure in all of Europe. They were based on restitution and compensation, with no call whatsoever for the death penalty. These laws dealt with every aspect of daily life, for example land disputes, theft, violence, marriage, divorce and no forced marriage was tolerated. And the care of animals and trees, and birds and bees, was taken very seriously. Sadly they were lost in time through invasion and Christianity. Our language was forbidden and placenames, in which so much traditional knowledge was stored, were almost lost. Love of learning and poetry and music is still central to our character, as a culture. It is said that those in power write the history but those who suffer write the songs and poetry and music. The artist Sinéad Smith was part of the “Name the children project” remembering all the children who died in war.

Claire Sands that ‘fearless, feisty, fiddler’ wailing out her songs from a deeply spiritual, raw, ancestral depth to honour Mother Nature and the human spirit.

Tolu Mackey and her Lyrics “Togetherness” digging deep into her soul for such richness.

Ruth Anne, Karen Casey, Angel with her Gospel singing, and of course Denise Chaila with “Anseo”, all wonderful poets and musicians who reveal to us who we are.

And the writer Dervla Murphy who cycled around India, Africa, Russia, and Europe opening up a wider world to an insulated 1970s Ireland, with the diaries of her courageous solo travels. The wonderful writer Edna O’Brien’s novels and Sinéad Bourke’s “Tilting the Lens”, all educators.

And Ann Lovett who tragically lost her life alone as she gave birth, teaching us how essential us human beings are to each other, and how essential it is we face ourselves, and our past. We honour Joanna Hayes, and the recent official apology she and her family received for such cruel disregard of the truth, in the 1980s Kerry Baby case. And Nell McCafferty, writer and journalist and author of ‘In the Eyes of the Law’, who garnered support exposing this miscarriage of justice, and on the patriarchal justice system. Nell’s “Good night Sisters” refrain to us all, from her RTE series, in 1980s, spreading great hope of a more enlightened Éire.

And all those women in the Mother and Baby homes, who suffered so much, while a patriarchal system continued to inflict on society, a warped way of looking at the world. And the sheer honesty of Sinéad O’Connor’s wonderful voice, calling out abuse, perpetrated by institutional patriarchy. And Dolores O Riordan’s who rocked the music world with her song “Zombie”, awakening a consciousness of peace against war profiteers, and demanding all of this be done peacefully. As Kathy Kelly with her Irish roots, speaks about the past where ‘weapons were created for war, but war nowadays is created so as to sell weapons’, and obscene profit made out of the creation of human misery. And our former President Mary McAleese, for her fearless practical peaceful, insightful support for genuine human rights.

History should be about classes and events and stories and not about individuals, so Anna Parnell wrote in 1880s. Her book”‘Notes from the Ladies’ Cage” is a record of women’s participation in the Land League, and her pioneering campaigning for housing rights for the urban poor, yet she was perceived as a threat to both the Fenians, the Republicans, and the Church authorities.

We honour Bernadette Devlin/McAliskey, the youngest MP ever, with her astute mind and deep sense of a just society, aware of the class war, perpetrated in Northern Ireland against the whole community. And Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Peace Laureate in 1976, who instigated a call for cross community support to end the Troubles, and Inez McCormack trade unionist and human rights activist. All peaceful revolutionaries from the depth of the heart of the human Spirit, under the guidance of our Goddess Brigid and our insightful, enlightened Brehon Laws, when we understood the meaning of the necessity for social justice, before empire tried to trample our Spirit. In Jo Kerrigan’s book on the Brehon Laws she wonders why today these enlightened laws are not implemented, which would create for us all ‘a World beyond War’. This is a celebration of the feminine, which is found deeply in all of us human beings.

International Women’s Day is on 8th March. The Northern Ireland programme (starting 3rd March) can be found at https://www.reclaimtheagenda.com/iwd-2021 but for the Republic you may have to look out locally and search.

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Meeting/Conference reports:

by Rob Fairmichael


In reporting on the World Beyond War (WBW) meeting series in Ireland, and the Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP) conference in Europe, I am deliberately focusing on particular points of interest that I found and not attempting a comprehensive summary. In any case the videos of the WBW series are available online, with other material, and the report on the UCP conference will in due course join the other ones on the Nonviolent Peaceforce website from the other continental conferences.

1. A World Beyond War?

Conversations on Alternatives

– Meeting series

The World Beyond War chapter (they use the US terminology) in Ireland organised this excellent series of well attended speaker meetings in January and February 2021, accessible to anyone online. All the sessions, and more, are available at https://tinyurl.com/9pvcjuee

There was a chime between the first and last contributions in relation to the United Nations. Denis Halliday, as a former Assistant General-Secretary, obviously knows his way around the UN. He sees the General Assembly as representative, but spoke of how the powerful countries wanted to control it from the start – which they do through permanent membership, with veto, of the UN Security Council; they are the people who start the wars. The USA, France, China, Russia and the UK have veto power. However he contrasted the work of the forty of so specialised UN agencies. Ed Horgan spoke of how these powerful countries put themselves above international law and readily use their veto to block any sanctions or action against them, e.g. in the invasion of Afghanistan which was in breach of the UN Charter. Ed Horgan identified the US, Britain and France as the main offenders in this context. He suggested taking matters to the UN General Assembly as the only way around this issue, and that military peacekeeping should be removed from the UN Security council and given to the General Assembly (where there is no veto).

Denis Halliday comes from a Quaker family and his father was very involved with the Irish Pacifist Movement https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/albums/72157716965641481 He saw racism and colonialism at work in Africa. In his work in and on Iraq in 1997-8 he saw how sanctions punish the poor, and how Madeline Albright thought half a million children dead as a result was ‘worth it’. He worked to increase the impact of the ‘oil for food’ programme. He spoke about the devastating effect of DU/Depleted Uranium in the ammunition used by the USA in Iraq. He identified white Christian Europeans (i.e. Europeans or people of European origin) as the most dangerous people. He resigned from his post as UN Assistant General-Secretary to work to expose what was being done to Iraq at the time of Kofi Annan.

In answer to a final question from Peadar King about whether he saw the current time as more or less volatile than in his young days, Denis Halliday readily identified today as more volatile, frightening and dangerous. And this is itself frightening.

Clare Daly grew up in a family that was both military (her father was in the Irish army) and religious. But her opinions developed; indeed there can’t be too many parliamentarians who have been arrested and charged in their own country for a nonviolent action ‘walk on’ at an airport to protest against government policies, as she has over Shannon airport. Being neutral is more than not starting wars, she stated simply but cogently.

Clare Daly spoke about growing EU militarisation and the move towards an EU ‘European’ army, and the seismic shift to direct funding of militarism. There was an attempt to justify this through the creation of a ‘common enemy’ which doesn’t exist. There is now a uniformed EU border force with a massively increased budget. And the military budget has increased dramatically, much more than is spent on something like combatting Covid. Ireland has a global standing beyond our size, she said, which could be used for peaceful resolution. Some parliamentarians are well disposed to neutrality and peace but are unwilling to stand up to their party. She spoke in favour of peace and open borders, as well as ensuring people had the proper assistance to live in their own countries, and tackling climate change.

Dave Donnellan, who was the next speaker, is also a graduate of the Shannon Airport College of Walk Ons (it took him four and a half years to graduate to freedom), and began, in relation to a question about military destruction of the environment, pointing out that the Pentagon is the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. He spoke about the thirty court appearances involved in his (and Colm Roddy’s) Shannon action and how this process itself was a punishment. He spoke about how trees take care of each other, ‘mother’ trees, and so should we…. In relation to a question about how we get environmentalists to take peace seriously, and peace activists to take environmentalism seriously, he spoke of relationships and our relation to the planet and cosmos as opposed to ‘whole spectrum dominance’ which is about dominance, control and subjugation. He had spoken movingly about his attachment to Pakistan from living there and the night time grandeur of the stars, infinite and beautiful, and feeling on the inside of that.

Suad Aldarra and Yaser Alashqar, respectively from Syria and Palestine, now live in Ireland. They spoke about human displacement as a consequence of war. The 70 million displaced people today may be the highest ever. When the war came to her home, Suad Aldarra had fled first to Egypt but with the coup and chaos there, and the banning of Syrian refugees, was forced to flee again; she spoke of being torn between different worlds, an identity crisis, and the difficulty in knowing who she is. However she is a data scientist, a storyteller and writing a book on the Syrian diaspora.

Yaser Alashqar spoke about the siege of Gaza, where he comes from. People cannot leave Gaza, they are trapped; Israel may justify attacks by referring to Hamas but they bomb civilian homes. And the vast majority of people in Gaza are refugees to begin with, i.e. coming from or their families coming from other parts of Israel and Palestine. Yaser Alashqar is now an adjunct professor of Peace Studies at TCD. While recognising a certain amount of popular support in Ireland for Palestine he said there is not so much at governmental level; there is arms trade with Israel and involvement with training, universities and research; “Ireland could do better”. Palestine was dropped from the FF-FG programme for Government. Ireland complains about refugee numbers but doesn’t support conflict resolution and human rights internationally. Both Suad and Yaser have had good experiences of welcome in Ireland as well as more negative or open ones.

Ed Horgan, with very significant experience of peacekeeping with the Irish army, spoke on whether militaries are the most appropriate peacekeepers. He spoke of how some UN peacekeeping missions were not allowed succeed by the five veto powers who, as mentioned above, placed themselves above international law. Success is claimed in East Timor, 1999-2000, he said, but it failed to stop genocide there for the 25 years previously; successful operations he pinpointed were Sierra Leone and the Sinai. He argued strongly that Ireland should only be involved with UN peacekeeping operations, not with the EU or anyone else. He spoke about a variety of other peacekeeping operations and lessons from them.

In relation to a question as to whether the military are suitable peacekeepers, he felt in the early stages (of conflict or emerging from conflict) it is useful to have people with military skills and military vehicles for protection. However he stated strongly that aggressive powers should not be involved in such operations. He went on to speak about the failure of the UN peacekeeping operation in Rwanda; permission to intervene was refused by Boutros Boutros Ghali. He also spoke about the crimes against humanity of the big powers.

2. Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP)

European conference organised by Nonviolent Peaceforce

UCP’, unarmed civilian protection, includes monitoring, accompaniment, being present and working with people at risk in many different ways and contexts. This European event was the final regional or continental conference in a worldwide process which has been proceeding for some years to establish good practice, and ‘what works’.

Organising a conference online while maximising participation requires a high degree of organisation and thankfully this was fully delivered. While a participant in such an event is likely to miss the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends in breaks over coffee or evening conviviality, and the chance to grab someone for further elucidation or points of networking, the ‘chat’ facility online can provide a way for slightly less formal interaction, either with the whole gathering or ‘privately’ to an individual. It is still not the same thing and the online pace can be frenetic. And I couldn’t make Irish coffee for people (with neat, vegan or non-alcoholic options)….

See photo and some other info at https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/50973503687/in/dateposted/

The reports from conferences on ‘the other’ continents on this topic can be found at https://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/what-we-do/developing-and-expanding-the-field

The conference was organised in 6 sessions; introductions to each other and the topic, four ‘subject’ sessions and a closing session which provided report back and chance for further reflection. The ‘subject’ sessions were on ‘Working for the rights and security of refugees’, ‘Monitoring, observing and protecting against violence by police and other state agencies’, ‘Working with tensions in communities to prevent or reduce violence’, and ‘Unarmed civilian protection in contexts of war and violent conflict’. Discussion and themes overlapped considerably between the subject sessions so my comments are not necessarily defined by the session. This conference was about ‘UCP’ work in Europe, not about Europeans being involved in projects like Peace Brigades International (PBI) elsewhere (many moons ago PBI did have an assessment done by Lynne Shivers on a possible project in Northern Ireland)

The opening session included a quick intro to the concept of unarmed civilian protection by Christine Schweitzer. As she pointed out there are lots of different terminologies used (and different ones in different languages). In English, ‘protective accompaniment’ and ‘civilian peacekeeping’ would be part of it. However there are other models which weren’t covered in the weekend including the kind of long term mediation presence which Quakers are often involved in (e.g. Quaker House in Belfast) – though Quakers did get mentioned by Christine. As she pointed out it is alsoa practice of activists developing their own strategies of self-protection, collectively or individually.”

In one slide Christine Schweitzer identified the following types of work in this field:

Longer-term projects with protection as part of the mandate, with the Cyprus Resettlement project, Balkan Peace Team and the monitoring work in Northern Ireland as perhaps the main NGO projects, and with missions by the European Union and OSCE as governmental missions;

– Short-term inter-positioning projects during the wars in the Balkans, and shorter-term peace team activities, for example in Germany (Gorleben) and Turkey.

– Situational protection against violence, with protection of refugees in the early 1990s the prime example.

– Protection activities by projects that were about other objectives but who took a role in protection when the situation warranted it;

– Non-cooperation and public protest in case of fighting the Mafia.”

I missed the session ‘Working on the rights and security of refugees’ which is not an area I am involved in but would have been interested to learn more, not least because in the European and EU situation it is a vital area of concern. However a summary was provided in the final session (and ‘post it’ type notes provided for each session). Points included creating space for refugees, building trust and relationships; concrete realistic goals; precise observation; having experience of different cultures; looking for allies (‘feeding angels not monsters’), including local small businesses; and looking outside the box. The tension between documenting what is taking place and respecting people’s dignity and privacy was one of the areas of concern; blurring people’s faces in photos and video was one possibility mentioned. Obviously the context is of tightly closed borders and increasing criminalisation of solidarity and humanitarian work.

There were different experiences in different environments, for example in relating to police or building relationships with them – where possible this was certainly considered important. One comment on a country from the former Yugoslavia was it depended on the individual police commander what was possible. The use of mobile phone cameras to document police and other behaviour also varied greatly, with seemingly important use in Belarus and Palestine but in France there is an attempt by the authorities to criminalise such practice. And the extent to which this might be considered antagonistic behaviour also varied, and in addition there was a warning about GDPR issues in the EU, as well as issues to do with encryption. So awareness of issues and possibilities is vital but it may be impossible to generalise what someone should do in a given situation.

The final session showed some demand to hear more about people’s practice, and this may happen, because apart from the session on ‘Unarmed civilian protection in contexts of war and violence’ – which had four short talks – sessions were ‘sharing and discussing’ so we got some context but not a huge amount about most. This model went straight to discussion of issues rather than going through description of practice first.

The speakers at the session on ‘Unarmed civilian protection in contexts of war and violence’ were Ann Patterson and someone called Rob Fairmichael, both on Northern Ireland; Goran Bozicevic on the Western Balkans, and Giulia Zurlini on Kosovo. Ann Patterson showed a short video on the formation of the Peace People (produced for their 40th anniversary) and spoke about some of the early Troubles peace activities, including standing between soldiers and civilians. I covered monitoring by INNATE, CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice, and MNI/Mediation Northern Ireland, in relation to the latter particularly a three-year project in an urban interface area of Belfast. The INNATE ‘Monitoring/Observing’ checklist which featured as a backdrop in one of my slides received some attention https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/25987023457/in/album-72157629555375796/

Goran Bozicevic spoke of work in Pakrac, the Balkan Peace Team, and the importance of practical solidarity work during the turbulent period of war and conflict. Giulia Zurlini spoke of standing with both communities in Kosovo, staying when there were threats, speaking their languages, listening to the stories of those suffering but rehumanising ‘the enemy’, as well as providing practical help to people. https://www.operazionecolomba.it/galleries/storia/kossovo/2010/

The importance of socialising with local people, in various ways including drinking or smoking, came up. And also the fact that it can be easier to work with women and young people than men – and I think it was Goran who said, when questioned about working with young people, that he was working with the peacemakers of twenty years’ time. Knowing limitations was also something covered, in relation to two erstwhile antagonistic ethnic groups living side by side in a German city; they cooperate well together and can deal with commonalities and issues arising – but discussing the issues between their homelands is a step too far.

As stated, this is not a comprehensive coverage of the conference, just some issues that come to mind. The link to the other continental material is worth following up (given near the start of this piece)….and the European report will join those, most likely autumn 2021, before a final pulling together of experience from this very worthwhile global project.