17 November 2016- Peace building experts gathered in Dublin today to discuss peace building in protracted conflicts, such as Colombia, the DRC and Syria, and to examine the contribution that Ireland can make.
The Christian Aid Ireland conference ‘Peace building in Protracted Crises: The potential role Ireland can play’ also included insights from Northern Ireland’s peace process.
Christian Aid’s new global strategy on peace building and tackling violence was launched at the event.
Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland, said: 'Now, more than ever, peace building needs our urgent global attention and action. Violence and conflict is affecting almost one fifth of the world’s population and the war in Syria is nearing its sixth year, with nearly five million people having fled its bombs and bullets. Yet the cost of world military spending is said to be nearly 250 times more than is spent on peace building.
'Our history in Northern Ireland means that we understand how communities can have their lives destroyed by violence. We have shared our experience of ending conflict with other countries such as Colombia, and we must make sure that we continue this focus into the future.
'Globally we welcome international commitments to building peace, which were agreed by world leaders under Sustainable Development Goal 16, to promote peaceful societies and access to justice, but we must see these commitments translate into action by world leaders.
'Countries such as Ireland must deliver these commitments and ensure that its aid, trade and foreign policies support those facing violence and working at the front line of peace building.'
A special panel on the Colombia Peace Process took place at the conference and included Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia.
Mr Gilmore said: 'The result of the Colombian plebiscite last month was a reminder that achieving peace is never straight forward. The revised agreement announced last Saturday is good news. It demonstrates the commitment of all the parties to resolve the issues highlighted in the plebiscite. I hope that the new text will command the broad support of Colombian society. The EU is fully committed to supporting the Colombia Peace Process.'
Panellist DiegoMelo,Human rights activist with Colombian organisation, Tierra Digna, said:
'We are pleased that the peace deal will allow the rural communities most affected by the armed conflict to effectively participate in national politics. However, real peace building in rural areas will require renewed attention to social and environmental conflicts associated with foreign investments. That means advocating for better environmental licencing, an end to devastating mining policies and access to justice for the victims of so-called development.'
Rosamond Bennett added: 'Right now, Colombia needs the engagement of the international community to continue to work for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. Ireland can demonstrate its ongoing support to the Colombian government and Colombian people as they continue to work for peace.'
Speakers at today’s conference included Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia and Colombia human rights activists; Harriet Lamb CBE, CEO of International Alert, one of Europe’s leading peace building organisations; Dr Duncan Morrow, from Ulster University, Prof Ray Murphy from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, and representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar.
Christian Aid’s ‘Tackling Violence, Building Peace’ strategy, which was launched today, outlines the organisation’s work to tackle the root causes of violence, protect people at risk of violence, and to promote transparent and inclusive peace building that contributes to lasting peace, justice and security for all.
For full details of the conference and line up visit: christianaid.ie/peacebuildingagenda
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Notes to editors:
1. Violence and conflict affects approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide and typically affects countries with the highest poverty rates. Christian Aid has adopted ‘Tackling Violence, Building Peace', as a strategic priority to address these trends and because human development cannot be achieved without tackling violence.
2. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
3. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.
4. Christian Aid Ireland, with the support of Irish Aid, funds partners in Colombia working on peace building, human rights and accountability.
5. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
6. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl
7. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie