Bangsamoro leaders learn from the Northern Ireland peace process


IT’S almost 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast agreement signalled the effective end of large scale violence in Northern Ireland.

The experience of ending generations of conflict, plus the ongoing work to cement peace and reconciliation, continues to offer lessons to other societies experiencing deep divisions.

SCI recently hosted a delegation of leading figures involved in peacebuilding in the Autonomous Region of Bangsamoro (Philippines), who visited the United Kingdom through Conciliation Resources (UK).

The Northern Ireland events coordinated by SCI saw delegates meet key political and community leaders from a diverse range of perspectives, offering insights into the historic and ongoing efforts to bridge divisions.

SCI deputy director Pádraic Quirk, who welcomed the delegates, said: “Northern Ireland still has much to learn from the experience of others, but equally, Northern Ireland continues to be relevant to peacebuilding activities around the globe, with lessons for funders, activists, politicians and policy-makers.

“There is the experience of conflict resolution, the learning from failed and successful political agreements, the grassroots work that goes on within and between communities, the journey of policing reform and the experience of power-sharing government in a deeply divided society.

“Even as we approach a significant anniversary in the Good Friday/Belfast agreement, we continue to learn from the ongoing efforts to deal with political tensions, with the legacy of conflict and to find ways to future-proof the peace.”

Avila Kilmurray, who coordinates the peacebuilding focus within SCI, added: “As people emerge from violent conflict it is essential that local communities that suffered the greatest impact of the violence can benefit from a sense of everyday peace where they see their life opportunities improving.  There needs to be investment in community activism as well as in the development of a responsive politics.”

SCI hosted leaders from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well as representatives from the Indigenous People’s communities, civil society, and women’s organisations in the Bangsamoro region. (Read more about their peace process in a Conciliation Resources summary here.)

The delegation met with government representatives, peacebuilders, community activists and politicians from across Northern Ireland society.

Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black welcomed the delegation at City Hall

In addition to facilitating international study visits to Northern Ireland, SCI has produced research drawing lessons for other societies. This includes: