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INCORE: Courses: SAARC -

South Asian Conflict Resolution Programme (SAARC)

From January 12th – April 1, INCORE hosted 20 visitors from five south Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on a three-month training programme for South Asian professionals active in peace and conflict work. The group comprised a mixture of MP’s, academics, civil servants, journalists, NGO workers and members of civil society.

The programme involved a mixture of seminars, workshops, roleplay situations and guest lectures by prominent policymakers, practitioners and academics active in peace and conflict issues internationally. Comparative and shared learning was a core component of the methodology employed. Among those who spoke with the group were Prof. John Hume, 1998 Nobel Laureate and former Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader; Fine Gael MEP John Cushnahan; Lord Alderdice, member of the International Monitoring Commission and until recently Speaker of the NI Assembly; and Councillor Eoin Ó’Broin of Sinn Féin. 

Members of the group conducted field visits to Belfast and Dublin, where they met with political leaders, government officials, prominent NGO’s and the media. Each participant completed a two week work placement. This involved linkages with a number of organizations, including the NI Human Rights Commission, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Women’s Aid Foundation, Peace and Reconciliation Group, the Junction, the NI Equality Commission, the Special E.U. Programmes Body, the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, the Irish Times (NI bureau), BBC Radio Foyle, FOSEC, the Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics, Mediation Northern Ireland, the Conflict Trauma Resource Centre, Corrymeela, NI Council for Ethnic Minorities, and INCORE itself.

The programme was funded under the British Council’s Chevening Scholarship scheme. It aimed at exposing professionals working in a variety of contexts to the Northern Ireland peace process and to best practice in conflict resolution.

According to Programme Co-ordinators Steve & Sue Williams:

‘This programme has confirmed the importance of working regionally, since conflicts nowadays are not confined to individual countries.  It has also demonstrated the usefulness of Northern Ireland as a laboratory, where visitors can learn from the experience of local people as well as academic expertise’.

A special reception hosted by University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Gerry McKenna concluded the 3-month programme. After presenting each delegate with a certificate marking the completion of the course, Professor McKenna said,

‘We have been privileged to host such a dedicated and professional group and hope that the shared learning experience you have gained here in Northern Ireland will have a positive impact on conflict resolution in South Asia’.

All participants in the course affirmed these sentiments. According to one,

‘I had to come all this way, not only to learn about Northern Ireland, but to get to know people from my own region whose governments are at odds with my own’.


Disclaimer: © INCORE 2010 Last Updated on Friday, 19-Mar-2010 15:50
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