The 20th Century saw two World Wars, mass murder and starvation in China and the Soviet Union, genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia, and more. It also produced remarkable stories of conflict resolution, and the births of new democracies.
These include the end of the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa, the end of the 300 year Troubles in Northern Ireland, the end of mass atrocities at the hands of child soldiers in Liberia, and the end of one of the most brutal occupations of the 20th century in East Timor.
Each was accomplished by leaders who “went against the grain” of conflict and took effective actions to bring their nations through the horror and out the other side. They were courageous, principled, and inspiring leaders.
The truths these leaders knew about conflict and resolution are as applicalbe and as powerful today as they were in past decades. They have worked across regions of the world. But today, as new generations take center stage in world affairs, their stories are in danger of fading into history. They are seldom taught in schools. They long ago moved out of the 24-hours news cycle; when the bleeding stopped, the television cameras left.
We cannot, and should not, attempt to face and solve today’s erupting and threatened civil conflicts, and violent occupation in different parts of the globe, without knowing these men and women, understanding what they knew about leadership, and applying the lessons their lives impart to our own communities, our own countries, our own regions of the world.
They give us a standard by which we can choose the kind of leaders we want — and the kind of leaders we can aspire to be.
Resolving Conflict is a proposed “online museum” that will use world-class designers and video producers to bring together the stories of these conflicts, and the stories of the men and women who led their nations to the other side of conflict. The site will make them accessible across the world, and will help to inspire a new generation of peacemakers.
Each section will include an interactive timeline of key events, with narrative, photos, video, audio, personal letters and artifacts, and testimonials, to give users a moving, informative experience of both the conflicts and their resolutions.
The site will be promoted through a social media campaign and a YouTube channel that forwards the message of the site. Sponsored posts and ads will be targeted on social media channels to counteract the barrage of antagonism, hatred, and incitement to violence on social media. They will draw people to the site, where users will be exposed to and learn about another approach to national problems and conflict.
the history makers
A Northern Irish Catholic, he began peace talks between the Protestants and Catholics in 1993. These talks began the movement that would result in the disarming of the IRA and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. His work brought an end to the Troubles, a thirty year violent conflict.
In the midst of the brutal Liberian civil war, she organized the women of Liberia — Christian and Muslim — in a mass action for peace. Starting with a few and growing to hundreds then thousands, the women helped to push warlord Charles Taylor out of power and bring in a new day of democracy.
In exile for 24 years, he was the lone voice fighting for the survival of the people of East Timor while they suffered a brutal occupation. HIs work was integral in ending the occupation and the establishment of East Timor, now Timor-Leste, as the first new democracy of the millennium.