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peaceday_banner2We’re delighted – and privileged – to host a panel discussion on neutrality in NGO and peacemaking activities at IWM London on 22 September, as part of our International Peace Day programme.

Starting in Neutral: What does neutrality matter in 21st century humanitarian conflict response? brings together speakers from MSF, Conciliation Resources, the International Committee of the Red Cross and International Alert in a discussion covering the meaning,  problems and perceptions around neutrality in conflict and post-conflict zones. Dr Tim Jacoby, Senior Lecturer in Conflict Studies and co-founder of the Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester, will chair what promises to be a lively and fascinating panel discussion. Hope you can join us in the Cinema at 5pm, prepared with any questions for our panellists:

Andy Carl, Executive Director: Conciliation Resourcesled the development of programme work in Fiji, Bougainville/Papua New Guinea, northern Uganda, Somaliland and Sri Lanka. Andy previously worked for International Alert (1989–94) on peace initiatives in southern Africa, Europe, Liberia, the Philippines, Colombia, Iraqi-Kurdistan and elsewhere.

Phil Vernon, Director of Programmes: International Alert joined Alert in 2004, having worked on development, humanitarian and peacebuilding programmes for NGOs in different parts of Africa since 1985. Initially a forester by training, living in Rwanda from 1992-94 inspired an interest in peace. He is a member of the Forum on Corporate Responsibility of mining company BHP Billiton, and a trustee of UK-based development NGO BuildAfrica.

Jeroen Jansen: Head of Programmes Unit MSF,  took up his current role in 2010. He had worked in the field for MSF from 2002 to 2008 in Afghanistan, Liberia, Nigeria, Darfur, Khartoum and South Sudan. He left MSF  to attend the American University in Cairo and obtaining a masters in International Human Rights Law. In 2010 Jansen joined MSF’s London office as head of the Programmes Unit.

Sean Maguire: Spokesperson, International Committee of the Red Cross, broadcasts regularly to explain the ICRC’s policies and operations in zones of conflict. He builds relationships with political, military and civil society stakeholders to generate support for Red Cross humanitarian work in situations of violence. Sean spent 20 years as a correspondent, bureau chief and news editor for Reuters before joining the ICRC in late 2011.

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Aung San Suu Kyi delivering her Nobel Lecture at the Oslo City Hall, 16 June 2012.

Aung San Suu Kyi delivering her Nobel Lecture at the Oslo City Hall, 16 June 2012. Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2012 Produced by NRK

The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991. 21 years later she was able to accept the award in person and delivered her acceptance speech in Oslo last weekend.
I watched this on Saturday. After working on the Build the Truce project for nearly 3 years I have met with, and heard the stories of, a lot of people with different experiences of conflict. Some of these experiences were of violent, armed conflict and war. Others were related to  undeclared, underlying conflict – situations of apparent ‘peace’ where people still lived with fear, threat and injustice every day. So this is the part of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech that stood out for me personally:

‘War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.’

If you haven’t already, you can watch or read the speech here.

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