As Leader of Northern Ireland's cross-community Alliance Party, Lord John Alderdice played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement which brought Northern Ireland's thirty year 'Troubles' to an end. He has also worked with governments involved in the Middle East peace talks.
Lord Alderdice gave an inspiring talk to FOS staff on Friday 6 September 2013, during which he reflected on dispute resolution at a global level. Giving examples from his own dispute resolution experiences in Ireland and the Middle East, Lord Alderdice made poignant observations about people’s motivations when engaged in disputes. One such point, and one that we often see illustrated at FOS, is that people are not always looking for financial gain in resolution of a dispute. Lord Alderdice stressed that in some cases, recognising and acknowledging people’s pain and suffering can sometimes be more placating than offering money.
Lord Alderdice also talked about respecting the difference in people’s cultural and educational backgrounds that causes them to approach disputes (and possible resolutions) differently. He pointed out that trust – something that many people would assume was essential for any kind of successful dispute resolution – is actually the outcome of the process rather than a pre-requisite for it.
We hope to have more opportunities for staff to meet inspiring dispute resolution specialists in the future.