John Hume, “The Philosophy of Conflict Resolution” - Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture Series
CLAY: I am delighted to welcome you and to welcome Dr. John Hume, our guest, for the third Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture. The Nobel Prize recognizes contributions of uncommon excellence and impact in a variety of fields. Dr. Hume's Peace Prize in 1998 is in that great tradition.
I'm also delighted to acknowledge the Ford Motor Company for its support of this lecture series, that aims to bring the very best thinking on great issues to the MIT community. We are also grateful for the cooperation of the MIT Lecture Series Committee, the Graduate Student Council, and the Undergraduate Association.
A couple of housekeeping matters. After the lecture, Dr. Hume will accept questions from the audience. And following the program, we invite the audience to a reception in the lobby of the Student Center. Finally, a future note. On Tuesday, February 19, 2002, the fourth Nobel Laureate Lecture will be given by Dr. David Baltimore, President of the California Institute of Technology, and winner of the Nobel Prize in biology.
In 1998, the Nobel Committee recognized Dr. John Hume and David Trimble for their contributions to peace in Northern Ireland. For more than 30 years, violence and unrest based on religious, political, and social unrest and bias in Northern Ireland cost more than 3,500 lives, and caused untold horror and pain. The presence of violence stunted economic growth, that fed even more violence.
Throughout this. period, John Hume was the most articulate voice in Northern Ireland's political leadership and the struggle to achieve a just peace. Dr. Hume started on the path toward peace as a leader of the nonviolent civil rights movement in the late 1960s. He went on to establish a record of community leadership.
He served as a special adviser to the European Community Commissioner and various other groups. Dr. Hume is presently a member of the British and European Parliaments. Dr. Hume played two important other critical roles. He helped to create institutions in Europe and in Ireland that respected diversity, such as the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, and the European Parliament.
Drawing on the European strength, the solidarity with American and European peace collaborators, he was able to bring out the best among all parties to create a lasting peace. Dr. Hume also recognized the powerful connection between economic development and peace, and is now a champion for the nation building that will ultimately keep conflict under control.
It is fitting, in this current conflict and outrage over the tragedy of September 11, that we have an opportunity to have a true soldier of peace share his views on the subject the philosophy of conflict resolution. It is my distinct honor and happy privilege to introduce to you Nobel Laureate John Hume.
HUME: Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be with you this evening. "Lift up your faces. You have a piercing need for this bright morning dawning for you. History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage, need not be lived again."
These are the words of the poet Maya Angelou. They are words of hope. They are words that should inspire us all, at this time of great challenge, that we must never give up the search for a better world. In the search for an end to war and suffering, and in the search for peace and justice, we shouldn't give up. Because we're living at a very historic time in the history of the world.
We're living one of the worst centuries in the history of the world. Two world wars. Millions of people slaughtered. And, of course, we're living also through the biggest revolution in the history of the word, the technological, telecommunications, and transport revolution. The world is a much smaller place in your generation than it has ever been.
So as we enter in the new century in a smaller world and leave behind the century of two world wars, let us have our dream, and work for the dream that war and conflict has been left behind, and that we will be building a new world in which there will be total respect for our common humanity, and recognize that our common humanity transcends our difference.
It's a great personal honor for me to be here this evening at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to deliver the Ford Nobel Laureate Lecture on the theme of the philosophy of conflict resolution. The people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts, and indeed wider America, have been true and very consistent friends of my country, of Ireland, and of our peace process.
Our shared history and ancestry, along with the very vibrant connections that exist today, provides us all with the inspiration we need to ensure that we will all enjoy our future, the limits which are set only at the limits of our own creativity and our own imagination. The great city of Boston has been a true friend of my own home town of Derry through the troubles.
Over the years, we have made many friends, and I have made many friends in that city, whose support and friendship has been pivotal as I worked for economic regeneration and job creation as a very central role of our peace process. Because central to my own philosophy, my own political philosophy, has always been the belief that by making real politics work-- and by real politics I don't mean waving flags at one another. I mean addressing the real issues of people and living standards, of employment, of education, of housing, of health care. That we can change the dynamic of our society by concentrating on those, and transform that society.
All too many young people from my own city of Derry and across the north of Ireland got caught up in paramilitarism as a consequence of the crushing unemployment rates that crippled our prospects for peace and prosperity, because they had no hope, and discrimination was at the heart of it. In an effort to address that particular problem, I was involved in creating a project that became known as Derry-Boston Ventures.
Its purpose was to promote economic development between the two cities, that share so much history. And with the help of many of our friends in Boston, that became a huge success, leading to the creation of many new jobs, providing many of our young people with hope and prosperity. As I say, real politics.
Indeed, I believe it's highly appropriate that the venue for this speech is here, because Massachusetts Institute of Technology is renowned as one of the leading lights on the world stage in education and technology, particularly in this modern smaller world that I'm talking about. And given my commitment again to developing the IT sector in my home city, I keep telling my people that my vision is that the Foyle Valley, which is our valley, should become the Silicon Valley of Europe, allowing the vast potential of information and communications technology to be fully maximized.
Our city Derry has a youthful, energetic, and very well-educated population. And our university at Magee College has one of the best IT centers of any college in Ireland. We have a human resource base there that is second to none, and I'm determined that its full potential be fulfilled as part of our peace process by working closely with you people.
And in the intervening years, of course, we have developed Derry-Boston Ventures. And it's known as the Derry Investment Initiative. And I'm very glad that one of the leading figures and chief executive of that body is with me here this evening. The support of those real friends of Derry here in your part of the world has been invaluable as we have worked to provide and to foster new opportunity for our young people.
Today, we are closer than we've ever been in Ireland to reversing the historic tide of immigration that has brought so many Irish people to these shores over many years. Today, more and more of our young people are thankfully growing up free from violence, and able to live and work in the country of their birth. And today I want to pay tribute to the people of America who have stood with us over those years to get peace, and whose help is so central to building our new society in that new Ireland.
Because your country has been a rock-solid friend of our peace process in Northern Ireland, and continues to be. The support offered by United States has been vital as we work to leave our conflict behind. Without the United States, the peace process might never have succeeded, and perhaps we may have never been able to reach the historic agreement of Good Friday in 1998.
For example, our problem, when you analyze it, is about three sets of relationships. We disagreed about our relationships within Northern Ireland, within Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain. Therefore, to solve the problem, those three relationships should be the agenda at any talks. And that being the case, the talks should be conducted not by one government but by two governments-- British and Irish governments, and all the parties of Northern Ireland.
Now, that's common sense, and it has happened. But it took a long time to get two governments to agree to work together. Yet, in 1977, the first statement ever made by a president of the United States about the Irish problem was made by Jimmy Carter. And he was strongly advised to make this statement by four people that I'll talk about in a moment.
But the statement said, called on the British and Irish governments to work together to solve the problem of Northern Ireland. And if they did so, they would get economic support from America. Now, that sounds today a very common sense and normal statement. But in 1977, it was a very revolutionary statement.
And it finally happened in 1998, when the two governments and the parties could join the table for the Good Friday Agreement. But Jimmy Carter was persuaded to say that by four men that we called-- that I worked closely with, and they were known as the four horsemen. Senator Kennedy. And let me say in this state that no American has done more for peace in my country than your senator.
When I was elected as a very young man in 1970, my phone rang. This is Ted Kennedy. Could I meet you? I want to keep briefed on your problems. Because that's when the problems were starting. We met in Germany. And from then onwards he kept in regular contact, kept himself totally fully informed, and took necessary initiatives.
And of course the late speaker, Tip O'Neill, who was a great friend of Ireland. And Hugh Carey of New York, and Pat Moynihan of New York. And when the two governments first got together in 1985 and signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the following day my phone rang. Tip O'Neill.
John, we keep our promises-- having been promised to economically support the governments if they came together. We're setting up the International Fund for Ireland. That fund has already created 38,000 jobs for our young people in Northern Ireland and the border counties. Thank you, Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy.
Presently, of course, and given the situation of course that we're in, that bringing together people in the economic scene is part of what I call the healing process. But, as I was saying at the beginning, the challenge it now faces is to leave the conflicts of past centuries behind us. And as we enter the new century and the new millennium, let us build it as a world of peace and as regions of peace, with no conflict.
Because when you have a look at conflict, no matter where it is-- and this is me talking very simply, but I think it's also quite profound-- all conflict is about the same thing no matter where it is. It's about difference, whether difference is your religion, or your race, or your nationality. And the message that we have to get across and that we have learned in our part of the world is that difference is an accident of birth.
None of us chose to be born. And we certainly didn't choose to be born into any particular community. There's not two people in this hall who are the same. There's not two people in the whole world who are the same. Difference is at the essence of humanity, and therefore respect for difference should be very, very normal and very common. But it is the first and deepest principle of real peace and real ending of conflict.
And look at our conflict in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years. With a population of a million and a half, 3,700 people lost their lives or killed, one out of 450 people. That's the equivalent of half a million people being killed in the United States in percentage terms. That's how serious it was.
And, of course, in addition to that, over 40,000 people were maimed and injured. That's one out of 50 people. That's the equivalent of 5 million people in the United States being maimed or injured. That's how serious our conflict has been, and therefore how difficult it was to bring it to an end.
And it was also necessary because of that, in the highest churchgoing city in Europe, Belfast, to build walls, up to 12 walls, to separate and protect one section of a Christian people from another. I always described those walls as an indictment of all of us, because, as I said, our past attitudes had built them.
And for that reason, we should regard them as a challenge to us, a challenge to change our past attitudes. And when you look at our past attitudes, or our mentalities, you'll find those mentalities also exist in most areas of conflict.
There is the mentality of the unionist people in Northern Ireland, who were largely the Protestant population. And I called that the Afrikaner mindset, the Afrikaner mentality. They wished to protect their identity, and they rightly wished to protect their identity within Ireland. And I would have no quarrel with that because it's, as I say, diversity enriches society. And therefore it's right that they should wish to protect their identity.
My quarrel with them was their method of protecting it, the Afrikaner method, as I called it, holding all power in their own hands. In other words, if you weren't a unionist in Northern Ireland when we were growing up, you had great difficulty. You never would be in power of any description in politics, but you also would have great difficulty in getting a job, or getting a house, or even getting a vote. Voting was given to only those people who paid rates and rents.
And when I would be growing up, if I had been of voting age, the only people who would have votes in the house would be the father and mother. And if you owned a company, a business company, each business company had six votes. And when I was young, the mayor of Derry had 43 votes because he owned seven companies, each of which had six votes, plus his own vote.
And, of course, we suffered terrible discrimination in jobs and housing. And although they were only 30% of the population, the unionists ruled the city by a system of gerrymander. That was the Afrikaner mindset. Our challenge to that was, discrimination of that nature will, in the end, only lead to conflict, and it's not the correct way to protect your identity.
And my challenge to them was, because of your geography and your numbers in Northern Ireland, the problem can't be solved without you. Therefore, come to the table and reach an agreement that will protect your identity forever. In other words, dialogue. And dialogue is central to a peace process in any divided society.
Then, of course, there was the mentality of my own community, what's called the nationalist mentality, or the nationalist mindset. And, of course, I challenged that as well. I called that the territorial mindset. Ireland is our land. Your union is a minority in our land and you can't stop us uniting. And of course there's a lot of quarrels in the world about land and territory.
But my challenge to that mindset was, look, hold on a minute here. It's people that have rights, not territory. Without people, even Ireland, our beautiful Ireland, is only a jungle. And when people are divided, as they are in Ireland, they can never be brought together with guns and bombs. Division can only be deepened by guns and bombs, and the problem made far more difficult to solve.
And, of course, if one side uses guns and bombs, the other replies with guns and bombs. And, as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi kept repeating, and we did as well, the old doctrine of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Violence, in other words, had no role to play in solving our problem.
And, of course, given that we are a divided people and not a divided piece of earth, once again the only solution is agreement, and getting together in dialogue to reach that agreement. So the challenge to both mentalities, as I have made clear in my few words recently to you, was to come to the table and reach agreement as to how to share the piece of earth together.
And, of course, that wasn't easy. But we eventually succeeded. And I have to admit that, in my work as a political leader in working for that agreement and getting the violence stopped on our streets, I was very heavily inspired by my European experience, because I'm a member of the European Parliament, where I have been since 1979.
And when I first went there-- and I always tell this story-- when I first went to Strasbourg to a European Parliament meeting in 1979, I went for a walk. And I crossed the bridge from Strasbourg, which is in France, to Kehl, which is in Germany. And I stopped and I thought, good lord. If I had stood in this bridge 30 years ago, 1949, just after the Second World War, 35 million people slaughtered.
And if I had said, don't worry, it's all over, and in 20 years' time we'll have a united Europe. The quarrel will be over, and the French will still be French, and the Germans will still be German. I said to myself, if I had thought that 30 years ago, I would have been sent to a psychiatrist. But it happened.
And the European Union, when you think of it today, is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. And for that reason, the principles and philosophy at the heart of it should be studied by every area of conflict and brought to every area of conflict.
And when you look at the principles, they're simple and straightforward. The first principle, as I've talked about already, was respect for difference. Because what was our wars about? And respect for difference is a fundamental principle of European Union. No victory for any country.
Second principle. Creating institutions which respected those differences, a council of ministers which meets, and there's a minister from every country. And no matter how small or large the country is, none of them can dominate the others. They work by agreement.
And the second institution is the European Commission, which is a civil service of European Union, drawn from all member countries. And the third is a European Parliament, drawn from all member countries. No victories for any, but they're all there.
And then the third principle, which is the most important principle of all, which is what I call the healing process. They work together in their common interests, which was largely economics, the areas of agreement.
They spilt their sweat, as I always say, and not their blood, and by working together in their common interests, broke down the barriers of centuries. And the new Europe has evolved, and is still evolving. And although it only started out with six countries, there's now 15 there.
Those same principles are at the heart of our agreement of Good Friday in Ireland, when you look at it. Principle number one, respect for difference. There was no victory for either community in our agreement. Total respect for the unionist identity. Total respect for the nationalist identity.
Second principle. Institutions which respected those differences. An assembly elected to Northern Ireland by a voting system of proportional representation, which ensures that all sections of the people are totally democratically represented. And then that assembly proportionally elects the government or executive, and all sections are represented in the government.
And then the third principle of course, which is the most important, is that our representatives from all sections of our community work together in our common interests, economic growth. Spill our sweat, not our blood. And that's the real healing process, working our common ground together.
And as we do so, as we spill our sweat and not our blood, break down the barriers of centuries of distrust and prejudice. And the new Ireland will evolve in a generation or two based on agreement and respect for difference.
And, indeed, I come back to the importance of the United States in that healing process area. Because, given that the healing process is working the common ground together, the economic development, wiping out unemployment and giving real hope to our young people that they can earn a living in the land of their birth, United States has a very important role to play in that, and already are playing it. So, as I said earlier, when our four horsemen friends set up the International Fund for Ireland.
But, in addition to that, American investment. And of course the marketing of the products of our small industries in the United States. And of course, in recent times, we've been very fortunate, again in my own city, in attracting major American investments. My city is now the European headquarters of DuPont, Fruit of the Loom, Seagate, Stream International.
And under their roofs, young people from both communities are working together. And as they work together, our dream and hope is, of course, that we will break down the barriers of the past and that trust will grow, and the new Ireland will evolve based on agreement and respect for difference.
And let me say to you now-- and I'm sure that many of you have forgotten it-- the philosophy that I am talking to you about tonight is a philosophy that you'll find in your country. And you will find it summarized if you pull a cent out of your pocket and read it. Because there it is written. And I learned about it by studying your history as well. The three words.
And if you can't, if your eyesight is not good enough to read the cent, go to the grave of Abraham Lincoln, and there you will see the message. "E pluribus unum." From many we are one. The essence of our unity is respect for our diversity. The real philosophy of peace-- respect for difference.
Look at the whole human race. As I said earlier, humanity transcends nationality. Humanity transcends race and religion, et cetera. First and foremost, we're human beings. And our common humanity therefore demands that we respect our diversity.
And when I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in '98, I quoted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, who said, "Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart," if your troubles go on so long.
And there have been times during the last 30 years in Northern Ireland when the search for peace may have seemed futile. At the start, a cycle of violence and counterviolence, and political failure, that led to so much devastation on our streets. There was despair that it could never end.
But a well-known Belfast writer, CS Lewis, once said that, "Between no hope and very little hope, lies a vast ocean of possibility." In other words, always be positive. Look for the positive and not the negative. He was right. In Northern Ireland, there always has been hope. Ordinary people never lost faith that a new road could be traveled.
On Good Friday in 1998, the political parties of all of the north of Ireland agreed to walk a new road. We chose the way of peace, of partnership, of opportunity. And the people of Ireland, north and south, opted to walk that new road with us, because for the first time in our history-- and this is rather surprising it was the first time in history-- the people of Ireland as a whole, north and south, spoke as to how they wish to share the piece of earth together, when they came in the joint referendum, north and south on the one day, and overwhelmingly voted for the Good Friday Agreement.
And that now makes it the duty of all true democrats in Ireland to implement the will of the people. And those minorities that are seeking to overthrow the agreement are working against the will of the people.
There's one of them who's a very leading clerical politician. And I said to him, Ian, if you took the word no out of the English language, you would be speechless. And he says, no I wouldn't.
But in spite of our progress, today, more than 3 and 1/2 years later, we appear to have only traveled a short distance. But although it is a short distance, given our past number of centuries of conflict, it's quite a distance. And that's the nature of conflict resolution. There are no easy answers, or no quick-fix solutions. It's a tough and difficult process. And, of course, as I've said, it will take the healing process to complete it.
But we will not give it up. And we owe it to the people of our country and to the wider world, as I have said, to keep moving forward. Because when you have the divisions of centuries, as we have and as most areas of conflict have, you don't heal them in a week or a fortnight. It requires the healing process, the spilling of sweat and not of blood, the working together in the common interests. And that's what we are now doing.
And there's no doubt at all that our people in Ireland have set out on an irreversible course towards a peaceful future. The commitment exists to ensure that we create a future where everyone can enjoy equal and fundamental human rights, where every young Irish person can find work and enjoy a good quality of life, where the pursuit of our common interest is the most potent expression of our shared patriotism.
The fundamental implementation, therefore, of the Good Friday Agreement is the vehicle for delivering that new Ireland, in which Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenter will live together in equality and respect for diversity.
And the time has now come for the world as well to learn. And as I've already said, and I keep repeating, because it's a time to make people think, I think, that we and you, you are the generation that will be leading in the new century and the new millennium. So the challenge is to make sure that your influence is used to ensure that the entire world learns that humanity transcends difference, that difference is indeed the very essence of humanity.
Let them learn the fundamental of your constitution, "E pluribus unum." From many we are one. Its message is very clear, and it's a powerful message of peace for the world. Diversity is a good thing. Diversity is a healthy thing. Diversity enriches the world.
No longer can it be allowed to drive us apart. No longer can it be allowed to perpetuate sterile and bloody conflict. Instead, the true potential of diversity must be fostered as a valuable tool for bringing people together, for promoting reconciliation and developing new and dynamic relationships between peoples.
In short, as I made clear, no two human beings are the same, and humanity is richer for that difference. Where would we be, and what sort of a world would it be, if we were all the same? The answer to difference is to respect it and not to fight about it, to live for ideals, to live for your country, rather than to die or kill for it.
And as we begin the new century, the time has come for us all to respect our common humanity. The time has come for us all to commit fully to achieving the end of all conflict-- because the victims of conflict, no matter where they are, are human beings-- and to apply the basic principles of conflict resolution to all areas of conflict.
In short, the time for a peaceful world has arrived. In the words of President John F. Kennedy, spoken in 1963 but still as relevant today as then-- and listen to what he said-- "We can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
Let us now seek out that way of peace and justice for all the world. And when you think of those words in 1963 about this small planet, the planet today is even much smaller. Therefore, the challenge that President Kennedy put to us is much, much clearer and stronger.
And let us make it our dream and our ideal that the new century and a new millennium will be a new century and a new millennium where e pluribus unum will be the principle of the whole world and the whole planet. Thank you.
CLAY: Thank you. Your speech was very good. Why don't you just stay and we'll accept some questions.
Dr. Hume will accept some questions. There are mics in several places. Yes.
AUDIENCE: Hello. Dr. Hume, as a young person from west Belfast, Northern Ireland, I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to you. I know that without your outstanding work over the last 30 years, people like myself would never have had the opportunity to have a university education, to have a vote, and also for me to be able to say that I count the daughter of Lord Taylor as one of my good friends.
However, I'm also very concerned by the current political climate at the moment, the continuing protests in Ardoyne at the Catholic school, the breakdown of the loyalist ceasefires, and the recent revelation that unionist politicians have been speaking to loyalist paramilitaries, while at the same time trying to bring down the Assembly and refusing to sit in power with Sinn Fein. I'm just wondering how you perceive the situation developing over the next few years.
HUME: Well, as I said earlier, we have come 3 and 1/2 years, and it's not as far as we want to come but we have made considerable progress. As I say, the vast majority of our streets, there is peace in our streets and the atmosphere has been transformed. But there have been some recent difficulties.
And one of the difficulties, of course, relates to the implementation of the agreement. And the point that has to be made about that, which I have already made, is that it is the will of the people. That because when the agreement was reached, my party proposed, I proposed that the last word would be with the people and not with the politicians, so that nobody, once the agreement was put into place, could then oppose it and claim they were acting in the name of the people.
The people overwhelmingly voted for it. Therefore, it's our duty to implement it. Therefore, the one area of controversy at the minute to be implemented is what's called the decommissioning area.
In other words, the paramilitary organizations like the IRA should, with the International Commission General de Chastelain-- nobody's asking them to surrender, but they should show the International Commission that their guns have been put beyond use. They should do that as soon as possible, and that will transform the atmosphere. And I hope that they will do so.
Secondly, David Trimble and company should not be talking about withdrawing from the institutions like the executive, as you have said they are now doing. Because there again, what they're doing is working to bring down the agreement that the people have overwhelmingly voted for.
And, of course, there is also certain elements in paramilitary organizations who are trying to keep the troubles going. And north Belfast you mentioned. And my belief is that what's happening there is there are certain elements in paramilitary organizations who don't want law and order or peace in our streets, because they want to keep up their mafia work in the drugs trade, and it's not about politics.
And therefore the whole community should unite totally and absolutely against them in order to get that stopped. And I know nothing, strangely enough-- and I'm sure you'll all agree with me-- I know nothing in the whole 30 years in Northern Ireland that got as much international publicity as those children being stopped going to school in north Belfast.
And when it started, I was in Strasbourg at the European Parliament, and it had never happened before. But my colleagues from Germany, and France, and Spain, and Italy were all walking up to me. John, what is wrong? What sort of people are that who are stopping your kids from going to school?
And of course I went on the radio and television immediately to Belfast to say, I'm speaking to the Protestant people. The image that's going out to the world is that the Protestant people are stopping these children going to school. And I know that that is not correct, because the vast majority of the Protestant people are not involved in this. There's a certain minority involved. Therefore I called on the Protestant church leaders and politicians to come out and condemn it.
And they have come out and made clear their opposition to it. And we have been working to get meetings between the residents and the schools to get the matter resolved. But, as I said, there's those who are trying to stir it up, but I hope we will get it resolved.
But, as I say, when you're ending centuries of conflict, you don't get rid of the distrusts at the heart of the division in a week or a fortnight. It does require the healing process, and the framework for our healing process are our new institutions, and we must preserve those.
CURHAN: Mr. Hume, my name is Jared Curhan. I'm on the faculty at the Sloan School, where I teach negotiation. I realize this question may be outside of your immediate expertise, but given that the title of your talk is the philosophy of conflict resolution, I wanted to ask you to comment briefly on the current situation between the United States and the war on terrorism.
Specifically, President Bush was quoted recently as rejecting what may or may not have been a serious offer by the Taliban for negotiation. And I'm curious as to what you think about that stance and how your three principles might apply to this conflict.
HUME: Well, first of all, I think that the terrible atrocities committed in New York and Washington had great sympathy right across the world with the American people, and there's absolutely no doubt about that. And I have no doubt either that there's strong unity across the democratic world that all democratic governments should get together with the United States administration and to do everything in their power to bring to justice the individuals and organizations that committed those atrocities.
But in so doing, to ensure and to do everything in their power to ensure that innocent people don't suffer. Because that's one of the dangers of this type of situation, that if innocent people suffer, it creates more recruitment for the terrorist organizations.
But the other thing that I would like them to do as well is to ask for the reasons why those people did that, to find out why did they do it. Because, quite often in terrorist activity, the terrorists who are engaged in it believe in what they're doing, even though everybody else thinks they're wrong.
For example, to get the violence stopped in my own country, I got into direct dialogue with organizations that were involved, even though I totally condemned what they were doing. I asked them to state the reasons for their violence, and they stated them. And I said-- well, two reasons. The British are in Ireland defending their own interests by force. Therefore we have the right to use force to put them out.
And secondly, they're preventing the Irish people from exercising their right to self-determination. So I said, look, reason number one used to be true in the past, but it's not true in today's modern world. Britain has no economic or strategic interest in being in Ireland today. Our problem is a legacy of that past. We're a divided people.
And secondly, the Irish people, if you describe them as the people who live on the island as a whole, have the right to self-determination, yes. But unfortunately they are divided as to how to exercise it. Therefore, it's agreement we require.
Their reply to me was, you prove that and we'll chuck it. We'll stop the violence. So in my dialogue with Gerry Adams, I was asking the British and Irish governments to make a declaration which said that. And they did say it, the Downing Street Declaration.
In other words, even though most people would disagree with the reasons, then prove to these people that the reasons didn't exist anymore. Now, I don't know, and I have to admit that I don't fully understand the situation that has led to these attacks. But an attempt should be made to find out exactly why did they do it. And then address those reasons, as well as-- because no matter what reason they did it for, their method of doing it was appalling, and the people who died were totally innocent people. And therefore they should be brought to justice, and their organizations as well.
But, as I say, it would also be useful to know why did they do that. And why did an organized group of people do that? What are the reasons? And address the reasons as well.
AUDIENCE: Hi. Dr. Hume, I'm very excited about the idea you were saying about the referendum, how that kept people from co-opting the process by showing that all the people were behind it. Now, the problem is that last week I went and heard Paul Simon talk about the Marshall Plan, which was behind the, as you know, some of the foundations of the EU and the peace that we've had in the last 40 years in Europe.
And he said only 18% of Americans supported the Marshall Plan when it was implemented. And he was particularly concerned that right now politicians in America couldn't go against the general popular desire, which is not exactly towards conflict resolution, at least not peaceful conflict resolution. So I don't know what my question is. I like your idea, and I'm wondering how can you implement that idea in a general case?
HUME: I don't understand you.
Could you explain what you're asking me about?
AUDIENCE: The question is, do you think it generalizes that you can get a popular referendum to support a peaceful process? I guess that's the short version.
HUME: Well, when I was talking about areas of conflict, I was talking about divided communities in different parts of the world that are conflicting with one another. Like the Middle East is a prime example of it, for example. And again it's about territory. What I'm saying is, first and foremost, end violence, because it has no role to play in solving the problem. It only deepens the divisions.
Secondly, get into dialogue and talk and reach agreement as to how you share pieces of earth. And then get the people to approve of that in referenda. Then nobody can come out with a gun and say, oh, we're sold don't. We have been sold out. They can't say that if the people have voted for it. And that's why I think that it's a very powerful element in a conflict resolution situation and in a peace process.
ZAVERI: Hi, my name is Pedram Zaveri. I'm a graduate student here at MIT and also a native of Pakistan, which seems to be a lot in the news these days. My question is that, recently, polls in the US showed that 92% of the US population is behind George Bush, the political leadership, in the attacks that have happened in the aftermath and the military action against the Taliban.
On the other side, 82% of the Muslim population in many of the countries have sort of thought of Osama bin Laden, a terrorist, in some sense as a leader. Given those kind of support coming from the people, the populations, how do you see political leadership, who thrive on such people, masses, supporting them, how can they align themselves into negotiation?
It almost seems as though people are happy with the war that's going on. They're happy that there's retaliation, or they're happy that a war is developing and somebody will win. So how do we move from such winning the war and then winning the people over to a conflict resolution which may not be totally supported by people?
HUME: Well, how you do it is what I've said. First of all-- and I know that this is what the people are supporting-- working to bring to justice the people who committed those terrible atrocities. A vast majority of the people of the world support bringing those people to justice.
But what I'm talking about in terms of conflict resolution where you have areas of the world where two sections of people are in conflict, who live in the same areas, that their agreement should go to the people. Now, what we're talking about here in the American situation in relation to those atrocities, the facts haven't yet emerged. Therefore, people can't make up their minds until the full facts do emerge.
Like, first of all, who exactly were the people who did this and why did they do it? And they certainly have to be brought to justice for doing it because there's no justification of any description for doing what they did, and they should be brought to justice. But if the reasons gave birth to people like that, and are likely to continue to give birth to people like that, then the reasons should be addressed as well in order to demonstrate to people on the ground in those areas that those reasons don't exist.
And if there is some bitterness in those regions arising out of the past, as we know-- I mean, our quarrel started in 1689, you know. And therefore that could still be there. While this country has modernized and gone on and on and on, many people would have forgotten completely anything that happened even 20 or 30 years ago.
So what are the reasons there, is all I'm saying. I don't know what they are. I would like to know if there were reasons and what they are. Or maybe they were just traditional religious reasons from those type of people who have a very strange notion about religion. I don't know what the reasons were but I would like to know what they are. And then when they are brought forward, they should be addressed.
AUDIENCE: Dr. Hume, traditionally in Northern Ireland, political power has grown from people who've been successful as politicians, have been successful because they've held their ground, because they've stood firm, because they haven't changed. And I'm wondering whether, in your case, whether you see the peace process as being a vindication of a direction that you chose some time ago on which you've held firm. Or have you changed in your positions? And if you have changed, what has that experience been like?
HUME: Well, I haven't changed much. I went into politics to solve problems, to solve a particular problem. And in my first election in 1969, in my election literature, which can be read, I said I was seeking a mandate to find a social democratic party, and I wanted to get away from the flag-waving politics. And that the unity of our country, which we would support, could only come about with the consent of the majority of the people in the north. In other words, it could only come about by agreement.
Now, we were saying that in 1969. At last, 32 years later, the whole of nationalist Ireland are now saying the same thing, but it took a bit of time. But, also, our approach to the problem hasn't changed throughout our existence as a party. Because the problem hadn't changed, therefore neither did our approach to solving it. And our approach to solving it was based on our analysis of the problem. Number one, we're a divided people, not a divided piece of earth. Therefore, we're totally and absolutely opposed to violence.
Secondly, we're divided on three sets of relationships, as I said earlier. And those should be the agenda at any talks, and the two governments should be working together to reach agreement with all the parties. And thirdly, when agreement is reached, it should be approved by the people and not the politicians. That was our policy. It's all on the record down the 30 years. We stuck by it and stuck by it, as I said. And I kept using the same language all the time. They call it Hume-speak now, you know. Because I kept saying the same things.
It's the old pitcher in me, you know. When you're out to persuade people, you don't persuade them in one sentence or one speech. You have to keep at it. Now, when a man in a pub uses the language back to me, I realize, right, I can move on now and change my language.
But, as I was saying, we have stood by that. And the people are aware that we have done that. And, as I say, what certain unionists haven't realized is that the whole of what's called nationalist Ireland now accepts that the unity of the country can only come about with the consent of the majority of the people of the north, as well as the majority of the people of the south. Divided people, therefore agreement of sides. And that's been our consistent position throughout, and the people know that.
And, of course, certain other parties who felt that the way to solve the Irish problem was through violence, they recognized clearly that that was completely wrong, and that the strategy and tactics of that was also completely wrong. And, of course, you can't be looking to defend the human rights of your people if your method undermines the most fundamental human right of all, the right to life.
And therefore, as I say, I have every confidence that the people in Ireland know exactly not only what we have done to represent them but that we have stood firm on our policies and convictions.
CLAY: We have four people here and they will be our last questioners. The first person.
AUDIENCE: Hello. Thank you for speaking this evening. Earlier in your speech, you mentioned that you were very successful in bringing economic interests into Ireland, or gained the promises for that following a peace process, in particular the International Fund for Ireland. And you mentioned briefly that you had both the very strong educational background of your people, and you had the close ties with America.
And, looking to generalize that success, how do you think other countries where there are economic problems that are leading to the lack of peace, how can they learn from it and form some more basis for a peace process?
HUME: Well, of course, if they address the center of their conflict and they reach agreement, they then create the circumstances where they're working together. And in many areas of course-- and I was talking about this earlier today. In many areas of the world where there's terrible poverty, there's also a major lack of education. And, as I have said, when we're sending aid to third-world countries, we should also be making sure that they get an educational system. Because the aid can be used in a week, and then the next week they're looking for more.
Whereas the real wealth is its people, and it's people who create. And people are far more equipped to create when they're educated. And education-- and this is my own experience that tells me this-- is the major factor in the economic development of any country. And therefore it should be a major factor, particularly in the third world and in poorer countries, getting education in there to develop.
I mean, in my own part of the world, I can see how education transformed our society. I was the first generation, people of my age, to get educated in Northern Ireland who didn't come from a rich family. My father was unemployed and I was the eldest of seven children, yet I went right through to university. Because the very first year of the new system, the 11-Plus exam, as it was called, I got the scholarship.
Before that, there was no education available at high school level or university level to people whose parents couldn't afford to pay for it. That transformed our society. And if you look at Ireland today, for the first time ever the Irish economy is self-sufficient. Why? Because we now have a total educational system throughout the whole island.
In other words, once again coming back to my principle, respect for humanity. Human beings are the only wealth we have in the world. Make sure that they're, most are able to create that by making sure that they're as fully developed as possible with their own skills and talents through an educational system. And, indeed, there's nowhere-- and I'm talking there about normal education, like going to primary school, and going to secondary school, and going to university.
And yet I'm saying that in a building where the modernization of education is fantastic. And what you're doing-- and I'm talking about the Institute here-- not only to develop the skills and talents in a high-tech world, but also to create out there the employment in this whole new field. I mean, it's just proving how societies can be transformed and what a difference it can make. And it's education that's the first step on the road.
AUDIENCE: Dr. Hume, it's a great opportunity to meet somebody like you. For somebody like me who was born and have been living in an area of conflict for 30 years, being a Middle Eastern myself, a Jordanian from a Palestinian origin, I really-- we have been all as Middle Eastern, I think-- looking at the Irish experience with great interest. And having listened to your principles, do you think that resolving conflict in a situation like Ireland could be somehow copied in a case where conflict is under a situation of occupation rather than just division of people?
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
HUME: You see, in Ireland one of the political views was that a part of the island was being occupied by Britain. But what I'm saying is the principles at the heart of our agreement are the exact same principles that ended conflict between the peoples of Europe. We had two world wars.
And when you apply those principles to the Middle East, the first message to get over to them is that they have a quarrel, yes. But the first thing to learn is that violence in no shape or form will solve their quarrel. It will only make it worse because people on both sides will lose their lives. Therefore, the first thing they should do is stop their violence. And that's common sense.
The second thing they should then do is sit down, and talk, and discuss how they share the piece of earth together. Well, you're talking about occupation, but how they actually share the piece of earth together. And they do it in a manner where it's people that have rights, and not territory.
And that's what I'm talking about in terms of our agreement, that the government, the new government of Northern Ireland, all sections of our people, are in the government of that piece of earth. It's people that are running the piece of earth, not the piece of earth running the people.
And the same principle could apply to the Middle East, I think, if they just sit and reach agreement. Because, once again, let's not forget that people were born in a particular place. They didn't choose to be born there. Other people say, you shouldn't have been born there. It should have been me.
But, as I say, that being the case, they should agree how they share a piece of earth, not the piece of earth governs them. Because, as I said before, what is a piece of earth if there's no people? So they shouldn't be fighting about territory. They should be agreeing as to how they live together in territory.
And, also, of course I've often said-- and it's been misinterpreted deliberately by some of my own political opponents-- we're living in a post-nationalist world today. There are those who think that the nation-state is an eternal concept. But before the nation states, there were city states, et cetera, et cetera. And as the world got smaller, the nation states grew.
Now, as the world is getting smaller still, countries are coming closer together. Like in Europe today, we don't have independent European countries. We have interdependent European countries, because they're all working together in their common interests. And you take the most fundamental industry of all-- the industries that provide your food-- all decisions in agriculture for 15 of the countries are taken at European level, not at national level.
So the world evolves, and the nation-state is not an eternal concept. We've moved beyond it. But what doesn't change is that it's people who are living in the world. And it's people who have to live together. Therefore it's people who should agree on how they live together, not deciding that one piece of earth has to get some people out of it and other people into it.
CLAY: Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm concerned that this country's current reaction to the tragedies of September 11 will simply be part of a cycle of violence that we've only just begun to see. And I'm concerned that, in reacting to the events of September 11, we're not seeking justice, and rather we're seeking vengeance with violence.
Part of that concern is due to the fact that we haven't paid any attention to seeking the role of the United Nations in seeking justice. And I was wondering if you could comment on any potential roles that the United Nations could play, and how we can strengthen that role and get the United States to subscribe to it.
HUME: Well, I've already spelled out what I think about that situation. And as I said, the people should be brought to justice, and that it should be done so in a way that innocent people don't suffer. And it should also address the reasons.
And another way, of course-- you made a good point there-- that the reasons could be brought forward fully and clearly and objectively would be if the United Nations were to go into that area and find out what was the reasoning behind all of this, and explain that and make their proposals as to how to ensure that that sort of thing is not repeated.
CLAY: Last question.
AUDIENCE: Dr. Hume, thank you very much for coming to speak about issues of conflict resolution to the academic community of the Boston area. I'm a graduate student from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy just down the road.
You mentioned actors who attempt to undermine resolution efforts, and you mentioned that the people should come out against such unrepresentative factions. But my question is, how do your principles of conflict resolution relate to a complex conflict such as the one in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which those who have a vested interest in fueling a conflict such as a proxy war for natural resources are far more powerful and empowered than those who suffer from the conflict, even those who suffer on both sides of a conflict that benefits others?
HUME: Well, in areas of that nature of course, where you have what you're talking about, forms of dictatorship, et cetera, that's what the United Nations are in existence for, to deal with problems of that nature. And the United Nations should positively move into areas like that and describe to the world-- first of all, describe to the world the situation that exists in order to put pressure on those who are abusing power, and create the process which will lead to a just society in such areas.
But, you know, in dealing with an issue like that, I would like to study the whole problem in depth before, and then come up with proposals to deal with it. I was talking in general terms about areas of conflict where the conflict is clear between two communities. But other areas of more complicated stuff that United Nations-- and of course, as I've often said about the United Nations, they shouldn't just be sending armies into areas of conflict. They should be sending in a philosophy as well to solve the problem.
Because normally what happens in divided societies when you send an army onto the streets, it may stop the violence but what happens? In each side they keep getting more and more guns waiting for the army to leave. And therefore they should be taking in the philosophy.
And I've also been proposing recently at European level, at the European Union, given that it's the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. While it has many departments, normal departments of agriculture, et cetera, and economic departments, it should also have a department of peace and reconciliation. And there should be a European commissioner for peace and reconciliation. And they should take the philosophy down into the areas of conflict and talk to the different sides involved, and bring in the philosophy, not an army.
CLAY: Okay. Thank you very. much.