The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice’s annual Spring Festival of Conflict Transformation runs 26 April-11 May at Queen’s University Belfast. It features 11 events, free and open to the public, including discussions, lectures, film and art with topics including the Trump White House, terrorism, borders, radicalisation and genocide.
Among the highlights is Belfast native Niall Stanage, who will go ‘Inside the Trump White House’ in a lecture and discussion on 27 April, 6.30-8.00 pm in the Peter Froggatt Centre, Room 0G/007, at Queen’s.
Stanage is White House columnist for The Hill, the nonpartisan political newspaper and website based in Washington, D.C. He has covered four presidential elections and is a frequent TV commentator on both sides of the Atlantic, most commonly for MSNBC, Sky News and the BBC. Stanage wrote extensively about the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, reporting first-hand from the first caucuses in Iowa, through the party conventions and presidential debates, and onto Election Day itself.
A panel discussion on ‘Radicalisation and Religious Freedom on Campus in the Community,’ opens the festival tomorrow on 26 April, 12 noon-1.30 pm (including lunch) in the Old Staff Common Room. The discussion will explore factors that contribute to radicalisation, as well as how people experience limitations on religious freedom. It will consider the UK’s ‘Prevent’ strategy and key issues related to radicalisation and religious freedom in Northern Ireland.
The discussants are Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland; Dr Kristin Aune from Coventry University, whose new book (Religion and Higher Education in Europe and North America, Routledge, 2017) explores the role of universities in monitoring religious fundamentalism and freedom of speech on campus; Dr Zaheer Kazmi, Research Fellow at the Mitchell Institute; Mrs Thelfa Ahmad, a student in Electrical Engineering at Queen’s University who has been living in Belfast for twenty years since leaving Iraq; and Mr Moustafa Faheem, President of the Queen’s University Islamic Society, and a Computer Science student, originally from Egypt, who has been living in Northern Ireland for eight years.
Other panel discussions include ‘Does Terrorism Work?’ on 8 May at 5 pm in the Council Chamber/Canada Room and ‘The Border through Time’ on 3 May at 6 pm in the Council Chamber/Canada Room.
‘Does Terrorism Work?’ features Prof Richard English, author of Does Terrorism Work? A History, Prof Adrian Guelke, author of The New Age of Terrorism and the International Political System, and Dr Andrew Thomson, who specialises on ‘paramilitarisation’ and the Colombian peace process. There will be a wine and canape reception following at 6.30 pm.
‘The Border through Time’ features Garrett Carr, author of The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border; Brian McGilloway, author of the Inspector Devlin series set in Tyrone/Donegal borderlands; Lorraine Dennis, Prisons Memory Archive; Anthony Haughey, Dublin Institute of Technology; Aisling O Beirne, Ulster University; Katy Hayward, Mitchell Institute; and Ulrike Vieten, Mitchell Institute
The annual Harri Holkeri Lecture is set for 9 May, 5.00-6.45 pm in the Council Chamber/Canada Room and features former Finnish President Tarja Halonen on ‘Reflections on Women and Peacebuilding.’
Halonen was the 11th President of the Republic of Finland, serving two terms of office from 2000 to 2012. She was Finland’s first female head of state. Halonen is renowned for her work and involvement in human rights, democracy and civil society. Throughout her career, she has worked to advance social justice, equality, women’s rights and sustainable development. In 2009, President Halonen succeeded Mary Robinson as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders.
Now in its fifth year, the Harri Holkeri Lecture Series recognises and celebrates the contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process of the late Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri, who worked alongside Senator George Mitchell during the negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement. Holkeri’s aspiration to transform conflict and promote social justice in Northern Ireland and across the world is shared by the Mitchell Institute.
Participants should register individually for events using the Eventbrite pages, particularly for those which include refreshments.
Disclaimer: I work in the Mitchell Institute