Peace tops agenda for world forum (Belfast Telegraph)

Peace tops agenda for world forum
Mary-Anne McNulty (Belfast Telegraph)
11 May 2011

A major international peace studies symposium is to be held in Londonderry this month.

The second annual Forum for Cities in Transition conference will see delegates form 12 conflict-affected cities, including Jerusalem and Beirut, gather in the Guildhall for the four-day event.

According to forum chiefs, delegates chose member city Londonderry as this year’s venue because of the “desire to come and learn first-hand from the cities’ experience of the Northern Ireland peace process”.

The forum, an initiative of the Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation at the University of Massachusetts Boston, was set up in 2009 with the aim of encouraging mutual learning, dialogue and the resolution of conflict through non-violent methods.

It is based on the principle that cities in conflict or that have emerged from conflict are in the best position to help other cities in the same situation.

Derry/Londonderry forum Michael Doherty said he expected day two of the conference, which will focus on the positive impact the arts has had on community relations in the city, to be a particular highlight.

“We want to show participants how we’ve used various forms of art to transform our communities, and used culture and arts to bring our two communities together”, he said.

Delegates will be brought on a special fact-finding  tour of many of the city’s cultural hotspots, including the Playhouse and Waterside theatres and the Bogside Artists’ area.

Panel discussions showcasing the output of the city’s artists and performers have also been arranged.

“We want delegates to go home with practical ideas and solutions they can put into practices at home and strengthen their own efforts in peace building in their own cities.”

Other topics which will be explored include the wider peace process in Northern Ireland and the experiences of women in transition societies. The conference runs from May 23 to 26 at the Guildhall.

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