Emory Report
February 14, 2005
Volume 57, Number 19


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February 14, 2005
Speakers to bring two views on Northern Ireland

Lailee Mendelson is communications specialist for the office of international affairs

In February, the Halle Institute Speaker Series brings two leaders in conflict resolution: Nobel laureate John Hume, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in contemporary Irish history; and Nancy Soderberg, foreign policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton, whose new book challenges the United States’ self-perception as a superpower.

On Feb. 18, Hume will speak on “The Peace Process and Northern Ireland: Benefits of the Ceasefire” in 205 White Hall from 4:15–5:30 p.m., with a reception following. The topic is one Hume is uniquely positioned to address; he was an architect of the 1994 cease-fire between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Unionist paramilitaries, efforts for which he and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. Hume’s visit to Emory is co-sponsored by Irish Studies, the W.B. Yeats Foundation, Special Collections, Ireland House Georgia and the Southern Center for International Studies.

Hume first came to prominence in the 1960s when, inspired by the example of Martin Luther King Jr., he led a nonviolent civil rights movement in his Northern Ireland hometown of Derry.

In 1969 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Parliament and a year later helped found the non-sectarian
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which he led from1979–2001. He served as a member of the European Parliament from 1979–2004 and as a member of the British Parliament, representing the constituency of Foyle, from 1983–2004.

Hume set aside partisan differences and braved the ancient sectarian divide to negotiate with Unionist leaders in talks that led to the 1993 joint declaration by Britain and Ireland. He then pressured the governments in Dublin and London to enter into talks with all parties; his contacts with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, which became public in 1993 amid great controversy, were instrumental in bringing about the 1994 cease-fire.

Hume also was one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, ratified overwhelmingly by voters in Ireland. Following the agreement, he led the SDLP in elections to the new Northern Ireland Assembly. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he is the winner of the 1999 Martin Luther King prize for Nonviolence and the 2001 Gandhi Peace Prize.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Emory community will get another perspective on the Northern Ireland peace process from Nancy Soderberg, who worked on the 1994 ceasefire from the U.S. side. Soderberg wrote The Superpower Myth, due out next month, in which she argues that military force is not always effective, that allies and consensus-building are crucial, and that the current U.S. administration’s worldview has adversely affected policies toward Israel, Iraq, North Korea, Haiti, Africa and al-Qaeda.

Soderberg was a senior foreign policy advisor to former President Bill Clinton from the 1992 campaign through the end of his second term, and she received international recognition for her efforts to promote peace in Northern Ireland. She also advised on policies toward China, Japan, Russia, Angola, Haiti, the Middle East, the Balkans, and a variety of conflicts in Africa.

From 1993–96, she was the third-ranking official at the National Security Council, and from 1997–2001 she was alternate U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Soderberg is now a vice president at the International Crisis Group, which advocates policies to prevent and contain conflict.

Soderberg’s lecture will be held in 207 White Hall from 4:15–5:30 p.m., followed by a reception. For more information on these or other Halle Institute events, call 404-727-7504.