The Global Center facilitated a one week-long study visit to Northern Ireland for a delegation of civil society leaders and senior police officials from Somalia. The visit was organized as part of an EU-funded project that aims to support the development of a nationally owned, accountable, and integrated Somali security architecture.

The Northern Ireland conflict and eventual peace process provides an insightful case study of how community policing and restorative justice can help address the drivers of inter-communal violence and foster peace between communities in conflict. Although the economic, social, and political context of Northern Ireland – both today and at the height of the Troubles – differs significantly from that of Somalia, the Northern Ireland experience can still offer crucial lessons to communities struggling to overcome protracted conflict.

The program focused on discussions with senior and rank-and-file police officers, civil society representatives and community activists, political and religious leaders, police-community liaison officers, the national policing board, former combatants engaged in peacebuilding, justice and community-centered initiatives, and academics. The delegation met with representatives of a number of community organizations including Community Restorative Justice Ireland and Northern Ireland Alternatives, as well as from local Policing and Community Safety Partnerships. The delegation had the opportunity to witness an active police operation in Belfast city center, and visited a number of government offices around the city including the Northern Ireland Department of Justice at Stormont, the Belfast Headquarters of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Policing Board, and the Police Federation of Northern Ireland. Discussions over the course of the visit revolved around several key themes, including: the politics of peacemaking; the role of leaders in change-making; public trust, credibility, and legitimacy; accountability, transparency, and inclusion; and the importance of focusing on what works for communities.

For additional information about the study visit please contact Mr. Matthew Schwartz at mschwartz@globalcenter.org.

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