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Peace and justice: how meetings help cities move on

Lessons learned

Experience in peace and justice make these cities the ideal destinations for conferences with a conscience. Rochelle Long reports.

The Hague, Netherlands

Home to the International Peace Palace, the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court, The Hague has a valid claim as the global capital of Peace and Justice; the place where nations from all over the world gather to resolve their conflicts. It can leverage its pool of talent – political leaders, knowledge institutions, non-profit organisations, diplomats – supplying content, context and contacts to business events centred around peace, justice, and humanitarian actions. In 2018 it was host to the 39th Annual Crime Stoppers International Conference, and the inaugural Global Legal Forum Annual Conference.

Its 2018 edition of One Young World, aimed at young, global leaders focused on making a better future, was the event’s largest summit to date. From holding its Opening Ceremony in the garden of the Peace Palace, to a range of community dinners that connected all 1,800 delegates to local citizens, start-ups, corporates and even the prime minister and the mayor, the city aided the event’s message and mission.

In 2020, The Hague will celebrate 75 Years of Freedom, with a year-round theme and events celebrating peace and justice.

Bogotá, Colombia

Following the 2016 agreement with Farc rebels, bringing an end to 50 years of conflict, Colombia knows peace is not a trending topic; it’s a long-term commitment. Greater Bogotá  Convention Bureau’s strategy ‘Changing the present, shaping the future – fostering transformation through the events industry’ has focused on how events can play their part, including bidding for conferences relevant to the growth and development of the city.

Tawakkol Karman – Nobel Laurate in Bogota

It resulted in two big wins in 2017: One Young World recognised the importance of youth in the historical moment and future of Colombia; The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates focused on the construction, consolidation and support of peace.

Events have also been recognised as an opportunity for victims and former rebels, generating employment opportunities, and improving knowledge. This includes pre or post-conference peace tours and one-to-one visits to meet different initiatives lead by victims of the historical conflict.

The convention bureau’s Synergies for Change programme offers meeting planners the option of using a Colombian business to bring a unique component to their events, while simultaneously contributing to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. This includes: dance lessons for delegates, with proceeds providing education to young Colombians; woven backpacks or other conference gifts produced by indigenous communities; and tea tastings and chocolate products that support small farmers.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast and Northern Ireland has arguably the most successful peace process of modern times; so much so, ‘Peace, Anthropology & Conflict Resolution’ has been identified as a priority for growth within the business events sector.

There are more than 60 local peace and community-related organisations in the country, many who have now partnered with local universities, companies and councils to create experiential tours and activities to share Northern Ireland’s insights, stories and learnings following The Troubles – from visiting peace walls to taking political taxi tours.

These themes and activities are reflected in some of the events it has attracted: In 2017 the International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP) held its 9th International Conference at Ulster University in Belfast. The conference theme, ‘Cities as Living Museums for Peace’, highlighted Belfast’s social and political transformation – from a divided, troubled city to a one which models peace consciousness through post-conflict healing and reconciliation.

2018 coincided with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast agreement and saw Belfast host the ‘Peace and Beyond’ conference; the ‘Build Peace’ conference, and ‘Building Peace: 20 years on from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement’.

Kigali, Rwanda

Rwanda has made significant progress in the field of peace and justice given the past tragedy of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Recently ranked as the second safest country in Africa by both the World Economic Forum and the Global Law and Order report, the WEF also ranked Rwanda as first in Africa and 23rd globally for Judicial Independence in its Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018.

Rwanda

Rwanda’s traditional Gacaca courts were revived as a way to process the millions of criminal cases that arose following the 1994 genocide, with the post-conflict justice system credited with laying the foundation for peace, reconciliation and unity in Rwanda.

The country has also become an important contributor to UN peacekeeping and African Union (AU) peace operations, supporting peace restoration in Central Africa, South Sudan, and Haiti, amongst others. It is one of the top five UN troop and police contributing countries.

These strengths have seen it win a number of events in the peace and justice sphere, including: the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference Preparatory Meeting 2017 (200 delegates); and the 11th NANHRI Biennial Conference for the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (500). In February 2019 it will host the 24th INTERPOL African Regional Conference (200).