Senator Mitchell delivers a message of hope
28 April 2008
Over 1,000 people attended the Philharmonic Hall to hear the lecture of Senator George Mitchell, Chair of the Northern Ireland peace negotiations.
Entitled "The Challenges facing Western Democracies in the 21st Century", the lecture, which was part of LJMU's Roscoe Lecture series, looked at US and UK relations and modern-day concerns affecting world peace.
Central to Senator Mitchell's lecture were a number of dangerous new trends which he stated posed a threat to democracy and the UK and US alliance.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons, terrorist groups, increasing competition for energy security, climate change and the rise in hostility towards the US were all, he said, causes for concern. He gave particular attention, however, to the subject of terrorism, talking of his experiences in Northern Ireland and the current world situation. He dismissed the term 'War on Terror' saying "Terror is a tactic, not an enemy." Therefore, he said, it could not be tackled using traditional military action alone. His answer was negotiation and provision, outlining that violence breeds in hopeless environments.
He commented: "In Belfast they told me there was a high correlation between unemployment and violence. They said where men and women had no opportunity and no hope, they were more likely to take the path of violence. They told me that despair has the fuel for instability and conflict, that hope is essential to peace and stability. The conflict in Northern Ireland has obviously never been exclusively or even primarily economic, it involves religion, national identity, territorial disputes and many, many more factors but if there is to be durable and lasting peace and stability there, in the Middle East, The Balkans, Africa and anywhere else, people need hope."
Concluding the lecture he said: "Democracy means the rule of the people but it must also mean the opportunity of the people. The 21st Century can be, like so many in the past, a time of endless war, of famine, of oppression, of injustice but it also can be a time when the dominant powers use their strength carefully and commit their people, their power and their prestige to a great and noble vision, a world largely in peace with freedom, education, opportunity and prosperity extending to more and more people throughout the world. That's our challenge, we must make it our destiny."
Click here to download an mp3 file of the Roscoe Lecture.