Tutu Peace Summit 2016: International Mediation

Regents University London hosted the Tutu Foundation Peace Summit 2016 on April the 9th. We are extremely grateful to our long-term partners at Regents University London for their continuous support and encouragement. The day proved to be extremely successful as Anna Delaney reports below:

“One of the lessons of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history” - Martin Bell. A thought provoking statement if ever there was one.

And thought-provoking very much defined the tone of the day at The International Peace Summit held on Saturday April 9th at Regent’s University in collaboration with the Tutu Foundation UK. The event drew in an audience of over 100 to hear experts in international relations, human rights, policing, terrorism, psychology, mediation and journalism covering topics such as policing conflict, the psychology of conflict, and the process of mediation. A day of informed and candid reflections, as well as challenging and thoughtful questions from a high calibre audience, kept energy levels high from start to finish.

The morning panel session saw Sir Hugh Orde, Peter Sheridan and PC Sakira Suzia stressing the need for “humanising conversations” in policing conflict and the value of and working with the community. Sir Hugh Orde stated, “You have to believe the unbelievable is possible” and said that “trust and risks” were vital in any reconciliation. Reflecting upon their experiences in Northern Ireland and the London Riots, all three speakers agreed that there are times for talking and times when that approach is inappropriate, but ultimately no conflict is insoluble.

An equally splendid afternoon panel saw Martin Bell, Tamara Ben-Halim, Mungi Ngomane, Serena Chaudhry and Dr Neven Andjelic share their stories from the ground - reflecting on troubles in Bosnia and Serbia and the Middle East. The speakers were diverse in age and viewpoint, but all emphasised the challenges of mediation and the importance of the language we use; it has the power to either isolate or empower communities.

Paul Randolph and Spenser Hilliard lead insightful workshops on “The Psychology of Conflict” and “Mediation In International Conflicts” respectively.

A beaming highlight of the day was the compelling speech from special guest, Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of the Archbishop and renowned human rights activist who spoke sincerely about recognising the humanity that we share. Nontombi gave us all food for thought when she reflected on forgiveness being a two way process based on respect and reaching out to one another. “Building bridges is much more difficult than constructing walls”; words which resonated powerfully in the room. Nontombi underlined the need to recognise that the person on the other side is human - just like us. Again, acknowledging the humanity that we share is the first step towards successful reconciliation.

When Paul Randolph held the reflections at the end of the day - hope - was the sentiment that seemed to reflect the mood of the room. Whether inspired by a particular remark, story or speaker, audience members expressed the enlightening and positive impact that the summit had had on the way they viewed the future and peace.

There is hope in building bridges. We look forward to the next summit!