Peace laureates in NI for conference

The Nobel Women’s Initiative event held at the Culloden Hotel, Co Down will explore ways of increasing global security by ending war and militarism.

The conference is being hosted by Mairead Maguire, NI’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work with Peace People. The organisation was set up to help end the conflict in the region.

Ms Maguire is being joined in Belfast for the three day event by fellow Laureates Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala and America’s Jody Williams.

It was launched on Monday afternoon with a special event at Belfast City Hall attended by 400 invited guests.

We have a great record of peace making; the rejection of the bomb and bullet and the commitment of people to solve problems are tremendously inspiring to people working in conflict situations.

Mairead Maguire

Many of the original Peace People members who marched in the iconic mass rallies in Northern Ireland in the mid 1970s are expected to attend the conference.

More than 100 women from all over the world, who have experienced conflict, will also attend to speak on subjects such as bringing an end to militaristic methods of solving conflict, and preventing rape and gender violence in areas of conflict.

Ms Maguire said many of the international participants were drawn to the conference because of the global reputation Northern Ireland has for bringing its own long-standing conflict to an end.

“The peace process in Northern Ireland gives hope and inspiration to the people living in fear of violence today,” she said.

The conference will look at ways of ending the use of sexual violence and rape as a strategy of war. It will also analyse the devastating economic and environmental effects on areas suffering from ongoing conflict.

Creative and innovative strategies that have led to an end to conflict in some parts of the world are set to be explored as well as the importance of involving women in peace processes as a tactic for avoiding further conflict.