It is not often that a member of the Northern Ireland local party speaks to the United Nations, but that is what has happened this week. On 13 September, John, Lord Alderdice spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on the Role of Mediation in Conflict Prevention and Resolution, highlighting some key issues in mediation work with groups in violent conflict.
- The power of the past – with repetitions and reactions to hurts over centuries, not just years.
- The impact of the emotions – I react not out of rational self-interest but emotionally, and often to my cost.
- The toxic effects of injustice and humiliation – resulting in devoted actors, who, if they find no other way may react with self-destructive violence in what they perceive to be a higher cause. If you humiliate me, I will remember it forever and find it hard ever to forgive you.
- And finally the need to construct a robust process through which I begin to relate directly to ‘the Other side’ as human beings with good in them as well as bad, and recognizing the faults on my own side in the past and the present