CAIN: Democratic Dialogue: New Order? International models of peace and reconciliation (Report No. 9)

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New Order?

International models of peace and reconciliation

Placing Northern Ireland

Robin Wilson

There is a well-known drinks advertisement, set in a bar during a quiz, which says: 'That night there were more questions than answers.' And plenty of questions for Northern Ireland arise from the Europa discussion.

What lessons can it learn from the international experience of all those - in NGOs, IGOS or governments - who have sought to swim against the tide of ethnic division in the 1990s? Where does Northern Ireland fit into the evolving architecture of security and human rights which the round-table charted? How does the subsequent Belfast agreement match up to international norms? And what tasks now follow it, in building reconciliation as well as peace?

But many answers also emerged from the round-table, which can assist the efforts of the region's peace-builders-and those outside who continue to show good-will towards it-in the months and years ahead. Yet first let us ask what relevance central and eastern European experiences may have for Northern Ireland? And here Rogers Brubaker has provided a fascinating validation of what are intuitively attractive comparisons.

Brubaker has developed an original analysis of nationality conflicts in the new Europe, which sets them in the context of a 'triadic configuration'.[1] He establishes through investigation of numerous cases how what is at the heart of the most intractable problems is a 'relational field' with three components - each themselves a field of diverse elements. These fields were to mark the then new states issuing from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Tsarist empires in the wake of the first world war - at the same time as the war of independence in Ireland led to the new quasi-state of Northern Ireland.

These three components are a 'nationalising state' which a new ruling majority tries to craft in its own image, a 'national minority' which in reaction seeks equal recognition, and the 'homeland nationalism' of a neighbouring state which supports the national minority. The potency of this is negatively evidenced in western Europe by the Belgian case, where the first two elements have historically been central: the Walloon-dominated 'nationalising state' facing an increasingly militant Flemish 'national minority'. As the Europa discussion identified, it has been the absence of only the last component, in terms of the attitudes of France and the Netherlands, which has ensured the intercommunal conflict never became violent.

Translated to Northern Ireland, the 'nationalising state' becomes Northern Ireland under Unionist rule, the 'national minority' the consequently disaffected northern Catholics and the 'homeland nationalism' the republic's (for the most part ineffectual) efforts to end partition. Why the Northern Ireland conflict always reverts to the 1920-22 settlement is perhaps thus more readily apparent.

As is why it has proved so fiendishly difficult hitherto, even though the substantive grievances are (say, by South African standards) relatively modest. For it has been compounded by the fact that, from another angle, the Free State was a 'nationalising' one, northern Protestants the 'national minority' and Great Britain a decidedly reluctant 'homeland' desirous principally of minimising involvement.

Having established the validity of discussing Northern Ireland in this broader context, let us revisit the five themes of the Europa discussion, with the concrete implications for Northern Ireland solely in mind.

The tension between equality and identity has been at the heart of the Northern Ireland conflict; hitherto progress towards equality, going back to Catholic emancipation in 1829, has been marked by sustained, even exacerbated, division along the faultlines of communal identity An obvious example has been the virtual disappearance during the 'troubles' of the Protestant minority (around one in five according to 60s polling evidence) defining itself as 'Irish'.

Indeed, some on both sides have seen this as an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of the 'republican struggle' - even if it contradicts the latter's desideratum, in this bicentennial year, of 'the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter'. Demands to end the 'unionist veto' have in effect been a counsel of despair that any significant section of the Protestant community can depart from what is held to be a reactionary defence of privilege, however marginal. Such pessimistic assumptions have only been encouraged and reinforced by a unionist tendency to see in all demands for equality since the civil rights movement a larger plot to overthrow the state.

Ways out of this conundrum emerged, however, from the round-table. The first was mundane, but none the less important. The experience of UNTAES in eastern Slavonia, which had sought to achieve fair treatment for the Serbian minority in the area, had demonstrated how practical co-operation on projects of larger public interest-as basic in that case as a common postal system-could help undermine intercommunal mistrust.

Of course, the hope has to be that collaboration in the new Assembly established by the agreement will have that effect when the broader public can see tangible win-win benefits emerging for all. These are small steps, but potentially cumulative and irreversible. This could be encapsulated in a wider concept of interdependence, which it was argued provided a countervailing dynamic to polarisation. The North-South Ministerial Council foreshadowed in the agreement, with its implementation bodies - however modest-in specific areas, has the potential to translate this on to an all-Ireland stage.[2]

The eastern Slavonia experience showed how it was much harder to achieve co-operation in the cultural domain - education, for example - but here it was suggested that promotion of freedom of individual identity choice was important as an alternative to sectarian communal mobilisations. Recognising, however, the compelling appeal of nationalist identifications, it was suggested that creative cultural activity had a crucial role to play here, playing as this did with the possibilities of cultural 'hybridity'. What, after all, is so compellingly 'funny' (and so apparently non-threatening) about the anti-sectarian humour of the Hole in the Wall Gang or Patrick Kielty?

International conventions could also be brought to bear here: the Council of Europe's framework convention, for example, ratified by the UK[3] and-as a result of the agreement - shortly by the republic[4] makes explicit the right of individuals to choose not to be defined by an assumed communal affiliation.

Taking these two points together, it is worth remarking that the recently relaunched Community Relations Council contains in its new logo the triple slogan equity-diversity-interdependence. That slogan neatly encapsulates the nature of the challenge. A minister for culture should surely be designated in the Assembly Executive Committee, given the luxury of having 12 seats to allocate. Further avenues for progress were identified in the international domain. Firstly, codification in conventions of rights attaching to members of minorities provide an international norm (if not yet an international court) which can be called in aid. Thus, for example, the provisions in the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages are used to back the provisions in the agreement on the Irish language.[5]

But not only can such norms be drawn upon: they can be presented as an objective international standard-rather than rights being set only in the context of a win-lose Northern Ireland argument - and so can potentially defuse otherwise highly charged issues. Here, the Human Rights Commission envisaged in the agreement will have an important public educational role to play

A striking feature of the framework convention, for example, is how, by favouring agreements between states about minorities it undermines the idea of exclusive state sovereignty and opens the door to a droit d'ingérence on the part of states concerned about 'their' minorities across their borders. Nevertheless, it equally does not support territorial claims by 'homeland nationalist' states, a factor undermining the legitimacy of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985.

The new British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference envisaged in the Belfast agreement, while it will provide a continuing forum for intercession by the republic's government with Britain over Northern Ireland concerns outside the competence of the Assembly - particularly as these bear down on the Catholic community - will thus be more legitimately based than hitherto, given the associated amendment of articles 2 and 3 of the republic's constitution.[6]

The Anglo-Irish Agreement also failed to recognise any tension between individual and collective rights, the latter in fact being assumed to dominate in its presentation of identities in entirely communal terms.[7] Yet the unionist assumption, best embodied by Robert McCartney, that only rights attaching abstractly to individuals - such as those in the European Convention of Human Rights - are permissible is equally problematic.[8] A

The problem with this latter view is that it fails to recognise that identity attaches itself to symbols with affective power. So even institutional involvement of minority groups - 'power-sharing' - is not enough. There must also be a symbolic recognition of those particular identities in which individuals freely choose to invest - 'parity of esteem'. Key is to ensure that members of particular communities do not experience a sense of having been, or of being, inserted into a relationship of subordination to others.

It is not so much, therefore that there are such things as collective rights (there are not, in the sense of communal rights, in international conventions). It is that individuals feel not only they should enjoy rights but also that a community to which they feel affiliated should enjoy security. The shorthand for the Catholic experience of Northern Ireland since partition - the 'nationalist nightmare' - encapsulates this sense of insecurity which has bound individual Catholics together in communal solidarity during the intervening decades.

So how can the interrelationships between communities be so managed as to ensure mutual security? The descent of Yugoslavia into war clearly shows how it should not be done, and, closer to home, the uphill battle which has faced the Parades Commission provides another negative example. For the evident danger of symbolic recognition (as against a 'neutral' state) is not only the exclusion of other group definitions than those around the communal divide but also the threat that the space for symbolic expression will be filled in an aggressive way which encourages essentialist and adversarial self-perceptions.

An important idea which emerged in discussion was the need for 'transcendent symbolism', so that counterposed communal symbols did not monopolise the public domain. An obvious example in Northern Ireland would be a Stormont equivalent of the handshake on the White House lawn between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, in front of the world's media, in the wake of the Oslo accords on the middle east. Notable after the Good Friday agreement was finally delivered was how all the parties separately emerged to give their 'spin' to the press and TV - a separation which was sustained into the referendum campaign and which contrasted sharply with the cross-party unity of the 'No' camp.

When the Assembly is elected, and the first minister and deputy first minister signalled in the agreement in turn appointed, there will once more be photo-opportunities for such public handshakes at Stormont to signal a new partnership cementing the communities together. The cathartic potential of such small events should not be underestimated.

There was a realistic recognition, however, at the Europa that there would be a continuing need for external intervention, given continuing internal divisions, even in a peaceful climate. Such interventions need to be handled carefully in Northern Ireland, so as not to convey either a hidden joint authority or a patronising paternalism. And the Belfast agreement is an inherently democratic agreement, which locates sovereignty very much with the people of Northern Ireland - as subsidiarity demands.

But there are major problems ahead, at the time of writing, such as the continuing impasse over decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. This is set to come to a head when the executive committee anticipated in the agreement is to be established,[9] inevitably including Sinn Féin members yet with the IRA having set its face against compliance with the decommissioning section of the deal.[10] On the other hand, the commission on policing, with its international element, is a recognition that external input will be needed to arrive at policing arrangements which can command cross-communal support.[11]

In these areas, it is in practice highly likely that the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will indeed be required, as the agreement signals, to have 'regular and frequent' meetings about issues such as these not devolved to the Assembly.[12]

Related questions arise in reconciling pluralism and common life. Belgium has 'succeeded' in achieving this through a system amounting to never-ending negotiation between representatives of its 'two communities', to which both sides are committed; institutional arrangements, such as 50-50 power-sharing irrespective of the precise communal balance; and acceptance of the 'pillarisation' of not only politics but also civil society.

The positive implications of this for Northern Ireland are evident enough. Northern Ireland's conflict will never be 'over', even when its violent expression is, and intercommunal (re)negotiation will thus remain an ever-present requirement. The Belfast agreement provides for a review four years on by the parties and governments.[13] Also implied is a recognition that democratic arrangements need not imply 'majority rule', since both communities need to buy into any initiatives. Again, here the agreement provides for core or controversial decisions to be taken by 'parallel consent' of representatives of a majority of each community or by weighted majority overall.[14]

But that uncertainty as to which is the better safeguard reflects the real downside of the Belgian approach, given its rigidity, its inability to deal with 'new' issues and the associated segregation within civil society The weighted-majority idea reflects a sense of the risks associated with 'parallel consent', of institutionalising sectarian division and marginalising non- or anti-sectarian groups in the Assembly.

It is also striking that these latter groups succeeded in inserting into the agreement encouragement of integrated education and mixed housing. This commitment to a genuine civil society, rather than pillarisation, is clearly a long-term effort, and for the first time the agreement gives official recognition to the efforts of many NGOs working in the arena of reconciliation for decades. It is important this work receives the resources it deserves, including after the EU Special Support Programme has expired.[15]

But political leadership will also be at a premium, as the further counter-example of Czechoslovakia demonstrates. There, despite a civil society largely favouring Czech-Slovak co-existence, political leaders with much more adversarial agendas were able to win out and force the 'velvet divorce'.

A further concern about following the Belgian approach is the way the latter marginalises groups outside the 'two communities'. This would be unconscionable for Northern Ireland in the light of the progress in recent years towards recognising that its multi-ethnic rainbow has more colours than orange and green. The introduction of the Race Relations Order and the associated establishment of the Commission for Racial Equality- following the increasing assertiveness of ethnic minorities through NGOs like the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities - are testament to that.

Underlying the intercommunal division in Northern Ireland has, of course, been the clash between (British) sovereignty and (Irish) self-determination. The survey of the evolution of the concept of self-determination by Adrian Guelke in this volume shows that the former 'anathema against secession has gone but the changing of borders by force remains anathema. Thus a decision by a majority within Northern Ireland in favour of secession (and integration with the republic) would be legitimate within international law, whereas the IRA campaign to force such an outcome was not.

The agreement reflects this approach in as much as it reaffirms that Northern Ireland is in effect a state-within-a-state, in which a majority can peacefully decide to secede or not to do so. This provision is underscored by reform of articles 2 and 3 - the claim these contained, in any event, had no international legal standing[16] - to bring them into line with the Northern Ireland Constitution Act of 1973, in which the majority-consent principle was first espoused. Thus in a sense the ending of the anathema against secession as such but retention of the anathema against secession by any other than electoral means legitimates both constitutional nationalist and unionist positions.

And whereas the evolving self-determination norm has nothing to say on the issue thereby raised of minorities within states, the agreement both establishes a raft of rights protections in Northern Ireland and the harmonising proposals it contains vis-à-vis the republic imply the notion that the rights of the Protestant minority in a united Ireland would be similarly protected.

The clear difficulty with this, of course, is evident once the mechanism involved is considered. The agreement specifies that the Northern Ireland secretary will hold a border plebiscite if he or she anticipates a likely majority in favour of a united Ireland. But the run-up to such an eventuality is likely to be associated with high and escalating tension and communal polarisation, with centre voters not only lacking a constitutional option but coming under intense pressure to support 'their' side in the face of mobilisation by the 'other'. Outbreaks of violence at interfaces, possibly with serious paramilitary manifestations and further forced population movements, would be probable. Amongst Protestants in particular, communal insecurity would be profound.

This is of course the worst possible basis for a benign transition to a united Ireland, which would lack legitimacy within the Protestant community because it had been carried by a Catholic-dominated majority, just as the status quo has always lacked legitimacy amongst Catholics because partition represented the ultimate gerrymander. And just, therefore, as it has widely been seen as crucial that the referendum on the agreement should be passed by a massive majority, 50 per cent plus one seems a shaky basis for an even greater constitutional transformation.

In fact, contrary to IRA briefings about a united Ireland in '10 to 15 years' consequent upon an agreement,[18] an apparent slowing in demographic trends in favour of the Catholic community and the continued existence of a substantial body of non-nationalist Catholic opinion mean any such eventuality is a long way off. Asked in a post-agreement poll how they would vote in a referendum on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, 60 per cent favoured the union, 27 per cent backed a united Ireland and 13 per cent did not know or gave no opinion.[19] The comment by the prime minister, Tony Blair, in his speech in Belfast shortly after his election that even the youngest person in the room would not see a united Ireland is likely to be nearer the mark.

But if borders clearly cannot be changed by coercion, more positive pointers for Northern Ireland come from the erosion of the idea that they are impermeable. While European integration will not 'solve' the Northern Ireland problem, it does legitimise the transfrontier arrangements in the agreement, which follow a Council of Ministers model. But, in the first instance at least, it also directs these towards pragmatic and practical, coal-and-steel areas. It is difficult to represent co-operation in tackling animal health or social security fraud as the sinister construction of an all-Ireland 'super-state', particularly given the collapse of utopian federalism at a European level.

Yet at the same time such permeability makes it possible for 'national minorities' like the Catholic community in Northern Ireland to feel much more part of the 'homeland' than would otherwise be possible-and certainly not to feel trapped in a 'nationalising state'. Hence the overwhelmingly positive Catholic reaction to the agreement, as against the uneasiness among many Protestants at the erosion of old certitudes.

Reconciling small 'p' and big 'p' political agendas comprised the last, but by no means the least, of the five Europa themes. And perhaps one place to start is modesty It has after all been Ngos - the 'loyal orders' and the 'residents' groups' who have prosecuted the parades controversy in Northern Ireland. So this is not a case of NGOS good, politicians bad.

At the same time, politicians who define politics as a monopoly of those with an electoral mandate have only seen threats in the growing NGO influence with government and IGOS in Northern Ireland in recent years-as evidenced by the tensions over the EU 'peace package'. And there has been a legitimate fear within sections of civil society that NGOS would be carved out of any new arrangements.

On both sides, arguments which ought to be about inherent tendencies become reduced to personalities. Sustained conflict along a single political axis has two enervating effects on the political class: it narrows their field of vision and it narrows their repertoire of policy responses. It also tends to lock them into adversarial ways of behaving. Civil society will of its diverse nature contain a much broader spectrum of concerns (including many unsavoury ones) and throw up more creative talents (as well as many destructive elements). The gap between the two leads to the alienation evident in Belgium but also apparent in Northern Ireland.

The positive way to address this gap is for the constructive forces within civil society to ensure 'new' issues with which politicians are inexperienced - in Northern Ireland, social exclusion, for example - are placed firmly on the political agenda. The goal is 'co-ordinated co-operation with policy-makers', which in the context of the agreement will of course now include elected representatives for the first time in a quarter-century.

Northern Ireland's 'democratic deficit' can only adequately be filled if its 'policy deficit'[20] is simultaneously addressed: otherwise, it is highly likely that business-as-usual will pertain and the democratic opportunity for policy innovation squandered. It is here that NGOS have a particular input to make.

It is clear, however, that NGOS do have to think more strategically and to co-operate better: again, they are by no means immune to the trust deficit by which all such conflict situations are characterised at the political level.

Here, the Civic Forum proposed in the agreement has considerable innovative potential, bringing together as it will business, the trade unions and the voluntary sector (and, presumably, the farmers). These represent the most constructive, and informed, civil-society voices, with considerable experience of informal 'social partnership' already The forum is to advise the Assembly and if it is to have any significant impact will have to deliver united 'opinions' to the latter, in the manner of consultative EU bodies. It will also need a right of initiative - so that it doesn't have to wait for its opinion to be asked. And it will need to have the resources to do its job properly.

The relevant clause in the agreement betrays a compromise between the desire for such input-the original proposal, from the Women's Coalition, was for a fully fledged second chamber - and the politicians' desire for control. Thus administrative support and selection criteria are to be in the hands of the first minister and deputy first minister.[21] It will be important that the latter resist the inclination to ensure the forum is a compliant poodle.

Where politicians do have a key role, however, is in balancing the still inevitably conflicting demands on government from a range of diverse NGOS. The parades controversy, including the establishment of the Parades Commission, has in a sense reflected a failure of politics in this regard, so often perceived as a microcosm for the Northern Ireland conflict as a whole. Via the new Assembly, the task of elected representatives will be to meet that challenge-and to demonstrate that politics in Northern Ireland can succeed.

In Northern Ireland, the very phrases 'security' and 'human rights' have themselves been unhelpfully counter-posed, as respectively 'unionist' and 'nationalist' concerns. What the Europa discussion highlighted is that they are in fact two sides of the same coin-that, for example, the claim of human rights for either 'side' in the conflict is often a claim for communal security.

The hope attached to the Belfast agreement is that it achieves just this objective, of offering security and human rights to all, in a manner consistent with international norms. As this concluding section has demonstrated, the agreement stands up well against such objective norms, which bodes well for its stability It chimes with the emergent international order and has the capacity, at long last, to allow Northern Ireland to hold its collective head high as it heads for the new millennium.


1Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Refrained: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp 55-76
2 The Agreement Reached in the Multi-party Negotiations, Northern Ireland Office, Belfast, 1998, pp 11-13
3as recommended in Tom Hennessey and Robin Wilson eds, With All Due Respect: Pluralism and Parity of Esteem, DD report 7, 1997
4The Agreement..., p18
5ibid, pp 19-20
6 ibid, p2
7See the preamble to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, in Tom Hadden and Kevin Boyle, The Anglo-Irish Agreement: Commentary, Text and Official Review, Sweet and Maxwell, London, 1989, pp15-16
8 See interview with Mr McCartney in Hennessey and Wilson, op cit, p50
9 TheAgreement..., p7
10 ibid, p20; An Phoblacht, April 30th 1998
11 The Agreement ..., pp 22-24
12 ibid, p15
13 ibid, p26
14 ibid, p5
15 ibid, p18
16 unpublished research by Austen Morgan kindly furnished by the author
17 ibid, pp 16-18
18 'Support for deal is growing among IRA rank and file', Irish Times, April 25th 1998
19'Four-to-one in North to vote for Agreement', Sunday Independent, April 19th 1998
20Andy Pollak ed, A Citizens' Inquiry: The Opsahl Report on Northern Ireland, Lilliput, Dublin, 1993, p319
21 The Agreement ..., p9

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Appendix I: programme

An architecture for security and human rights in Europe
March 27
Opening address: Cedric Thornberry
March 28
Theme: Reconciling identity politics with the demands of equality
Case: Northern Ireland
Speaker: Tony Gallagher
Discussant: UN representative
Theme: Reconciling sovereignty and self-determination
Case: Hungarians in Slovakia
Speaker: Adrian Guelke
Discussant:OSCE representative
March 29
Theme: Reconciling diversity and a civil society
Speaker: John Fitzmaurice
Discussant: UN representative
Theme: Reconciling individual and minority rights
Case: Ex-Yugoslavia
Speaker: George Schopflin
Discussant: Council of Europe representative
March 30
Theme: Reconciling NGO and governmental agendas
Case: Northern Ireland
Speaker: Mari Fitzduff
Discussant: NATO representative
Conclusion: An architecture for human rights and security in Europe

Appendix 2: Participants

Taciser BelgeHeiskinid Citizens Assembly Istanbul. Turkey
Aleksandra Brankovic Council for Humn Eights. Center for Antiwar Action Belgrade. Yugoslavia
Harald BugartenNorth Atlantic Treaty Organisation Brussels. Belgium
Jorg CailiessEvangelische Akademie Loccum Loccum. Germany
Finn ChemnitzOrganisatlon for Security and Cooperation in Europe Vienna. Austria
Hasmik ChoutilyanArmenian Committee, Heskinki Citizens' Assembly Yerevan. Armenia
Feargal CochraneCentre for Study of Conflict. University of Ulster Derry. Northern Ireland
Farimah DaftaryEuropean Centre for Minority issues Flensburg. Germany
Hans De BelderThe Assembly of European Regions Belgium. Brussels
Bernard DreanoHelsinki Citizens' Assembly Paris. France
Marl FitzduffInitiative on Conflict Resoloutlon and Ethnicity Derry. Northern Ireland
Niall FitzduffRural Community Network Cookstown, Northern Ireland
John FitzmauriceSecretariat General of the Commission Brussels. Belgium
Tony GallagherQueens University Belfast Belfast. Northern Ireland
Adrian GuelkeQueen's University Belfast Belfast. Northern Ireland
Ulf HansonUniversity of Ulster. Magee College Berry. Northern Ireland
Mujo HaskovicHuman Rights Contra Sarajevo. Bosnia
Avril HeffernanDemocratic Dialogue Belfast. Northern Ireland
Jacqul IrwinNorthern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action Belfast. Northern Ireland
Tony KennedyCooperation North Belfast. Northern Ireland
Petar LadjavicSerbian Democratic Forum Zagreb. Croatia
Richard LewisEuropean Commission Brussels, Belgium
Joyce McMillanSocial and Political Commentary Edinburgh. Scotland
Denise MagillStanding Advisory Commission on Human Rights Belfast. Northern Ireland
Bernhard MoltmanPeace Research Institute. Frankfurt Frankfurt. Germany
Anna NagoyaHelsinki Citizens' Assembly Bratislava. Slovakia
Quintin OliverNorthern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action Belfast. Northern Ireland
Jeannie PetersonUnited Nations New york. United States
Alexander Russetski Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Tbilisi. Georgia
George SchopfllnSlavonic/East European Studies. London University London. England
Eva SobothovaHelsinki Citizens' Assembly. Romani Section Czech Republic
Frank SteketteeCouncil of Europe Strasbourg, France
Cedric Thornberry(formerly) United Nations Geneva. Switzerland
Robin WilsonDemocratic Dialogue Belfast. Northern Ireland
John WoodsNew Agenda Belfast. Northern Ireland

Appendix 3: speakers and discussants

Harald Bungarten is head of the press and media service and deputy spokesperson for NATO in Brussels, where he has worked for the last nine years. He has written over 30 publications on national and international aspects of environmental policy, energy policy, world monetary affairs, infrastructural and regional planning and international economic and security questions.

Finn Chemnitz has since 1995 been diplomatic officer at the Conflict Prevention Centre of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna. Previously, he was deputy head of the OSCE mission to Latvia. From 1981 to 1993 he was an officer in the Royal Danish Air Force, becoming an assistant professor of strategy and political science at the Royal Danish Defence Academy.

Mari Fitzduff is a professor of conflict studies and director of INCORE (Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity), a joint project of the University of Ulster and the UN University. From 1990 to 1997, she was director of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council. She has worked as a programme consultant on projects addressing conflicts in the middle east, Sri Lanka and the successor states of the OSCE and is a board member of many national and international institutions in conflict management.

John Fitzmaurice has worked since 1973 in the General Secretariat of the European Commission, dealing with relations with the European Parliament. He also teaches at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He has written extensively on the European Parliament and European integration, two books and numerous articles on Belgian politics as well as on central Europe and the Baltic Region.

Tony Gallagher is a Reader in the Graduate School of Education, Queen's University Belfast. His research interests include education systems in ethnically divided societies and equity policy in education and employment. In recent years he has carried out research on labour-market patterns, policy towards separate religious schools and underachievement, and government initiatives on 'equality-proofing' in Northern Ireland. He is completing a book on education policy and practice in divided societies.

Adrian Guelke is professor of comparative politics in the School of Politics at Queen's University, Belfast, where he is also director of the new Centre for Study of Ethnic Conflict. Originally from South Africa he was for a period in the mid-90s professor of international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Richard Lewis is a principal administrator at the European Commission in Brussels, where he has worked on the process of European integration since 1974. For the past 13 years his responsibilities have centred on eastern and central Europe, including two years working exclusively on ex-Yugoslavia, during which time he was seconded to the conference on Yugoslavia in The Hague under Lord Carrington. A visiting fellow in human rights at the University of Essex, from 1993 to 1996 he was deputy head of the commission department setting policy on human rights.

Jeannie Peterson has recently been working for the United Nations Transitional Authority for Eastern Slavonia - as chief for reconciliation, education, culture, NGOs and religion at the headquarters in Vukovar; chief of the regional office in Vinkovci; and acting deputy chief of civil affairs. Earlier, she headed the UNPROFOR liaison office in Belgrade and the sectoral HQ in Knin, as well as the exploratory mission for UN peace-keeping in Macedonia. She has also held senior positions in the UN Department for Policy Co-ordination and Sustainable Development and the UN Fund for Population Activities.

George Schöpflin is director of the Centre for the Study of Nationalism and lecturer in the politics of central and eastern Europe at the University of London. His principal area of research is the relationship between ethnicity, nationhood and political power, with particular reference to post-communism. He is engaged on a work looking at current theories of nationalism and the impact of ethnicity on politics in Europe.

Frank Steketee is currently working in the Minorities Unit of the Directorate of Human Rights in the Council of Europe, where he deals with the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and intergovernmental co-operation in the field of protection of national minorities. Before joining the Council of Europe, he practised law and was an assistant professor at the University of Leiden.

Cedric Thornberry is an international lawyer, peacekeeper and former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, for which he worked for 17 years. Previously, he taught at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, was a foreign correspondent for the Guardian in Greece and was a practising human rights lawyer. Originally from Northern Ireland, he was one of the founders of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1968. In the 70s he represented many applicants at the European Court of Human rights. He was for four years director of administration at the UN but he spent most of his UN service in international peace keeping-in Cyprus, the middle east, ex Yugoslavia and Somalia. In 1992-94, he was head of civil affairs and deputy chief of the 50,000-person UN operation in ex-Yugoslavia as well as senior negotiator with all the Balkan parties. He is currently a consultant to NATO in the exercises it conducts with the Partnership for Peace countries and a visiting professor at King's College in London.

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