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Rt. Hon. Peter Hain Speaks about His Experiences and Lessons from the Northern Ireland Peace Process

15/12/2008

The Rt. Hon. Peter Hain, former Northern Ireland Secretary under Tony Blair, spoke at ICSR on 15 December 2008 about his experiences in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Hain, whose political history includes involvement in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and a critical role in Northern Ireland peace negotiations, reminded his audience that the agreement reached in that long-lasting conflict was neither inevitable, nor reached without close attention from the very highest level of the UK government.

Hain emphasised the critical importance of engaged leadership from the Prime Ministerial or Presidential level in shepherding negotiation processes, suggesting that the lack of such consistent leadership has led the Middle East peace process to suffer from a series of fits and starts over its history.

He added that many core elements of the Northern Island peace process success, such as open dialogue, attention to local socioeconomic factors, and willingness to bring the most polarised groups in the conflict into talks, are critically important and applicable to current peace efforts in the Middle East.