Learning the lessons of the Irish peace process

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- The production of internationally-accessible and definitive accounts of the implementation of the Irish peace process;
- Strengthening global knowledge of conflict resolution and management in real-life conflicts;
- Enhancing our knowledge of optimal management of post-conflict transitions in areas such as peace-keeping, constitutional design, reforming gender relations, strengthening states and civil society and rebuilding economies and enterprise;
- Identifying emerging trends in international security policy, the changing nature of peace support operations and the challenge of dealing with violent political extremism and online radicalization;
- Identifying key factors in managing the risk of conflict in the period of transition from authoritarian states to democracy;
- Rebuilding societies through enterprise development programs;
- Developing study programs for women and young people in conflict areas;

The vital work of the IICR can only be achieved through collaboration with strategic partners, nationally and globally. The success achieved to date in the Irish peace process has relied heavily on our American friends who have accompanied us on the arduous journey to peace and reconciliation. However, even as we export our extensive knowledge of conflict resolution around the globe, we must guard against complacency in relation to our own turbulent past.

Although the conflict in Northern Ireland has been well documented as one of the most successful peace processes in recent times, there is still a gulf to be bridged between communities in Northern Ireland who have drifted and stayed apart for decades. The issue of sectarianism remains to be resolved fully and the challenge of overcoming longstanding, deep-seated perceptions cannot be underestimated. The key goal is to reconcile these communities and their differences and to build a future in partnership which is fully inclusive for all stakeholders. In achieving this goal, we will continue to depend on our robust partnerships with colleagues and organizations in the United States. The work of the IICR will be central to achieving this goal, ensuring that past efforts for peace are understood not only internationally but also for future generations in Ireland.

The importance of our efforts were recognized by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As a longstanding advocate and friend of the Irish peace process, it was fitting that she preside over the establishment of a new institution dedicated to applying the lessons of our often troubled history in Ireland to current-conflict and post-conflict regions around the globe. Speaking at the event, Secretary Clinton said of Dublin City University,

"At DCU, you are renowned not just for your world-class academics but also your engagement within the world, your international student body, your commitment to help solve urgent global problems through study and innovation, and your new Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, which I can assure you, will have a busy agenda ahead of it. Because you are absolutely right that the lessons learned here in Ireland about how to build peace could be of great use to other peoples and nations."
 
Our generation has seen the transformation of Ireland from conflict to peace. We owe it to those still subject to inter-communal or inter-state violence to show that peace is indeed possible out of age-old and seemly intractable conflict. At DCU's Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction, we aim to play an active and important part of that process, both nationally and globally.

MacCraith is a professor and president of Dublin City University in the Republic of Ireland.