Editorial - We still have peace lessons to learn

Former US president Bill Clinton told a Derry audience this week that the north’s peace process is an example to people around the word.

Following his tribute to Derry’s Nobel Laureate John Hume, the ex-president said the hard-learned lessons of our peace process offer hope to war-torn regions across the world.

He went on to cite recent moves by Basque separatist group, ETA, and the emerging peace process in Columbia as examples.

There is no doubt that the ending of one of the world’s longest and high profile armed conflicts here in the North attracted significant attention across the world.

And it is also true that the major development in our peace process; ceasefires, prisoner releases, decommissioning and the establishment of new political institutions - and the comparative speed with which these were achieved - have provided a template for those facing similar problems in other countries and states.

However, while we can and should help those emerging from conflict in other countries, we should not lose sight of the lessons we still have to learn from others in terms of getting to a position of genuine reconciliation and developing trust between communities. In order to achieve this we have important lessons to learn from other countries such as Spain in how it dealt with the legacy of its bloody civil war and decades of dictatorship; Germany in how it coped with reunification and modern day nation building; and South Africa on how it is continuing to confront the contested legacy of apartheid.

Just like our own peace process, the experiences of these countries was not perfect, but they do provide valuable lessons that we must learn and, more importantly, be willing to learn.

It’s a two way street and we still have a long way to go.