About the Lecture:
In the aftermath of 9/11 the international response led by the USA and its allies was described as a ‘War on Terror’ and was based on an assumption that if the aggressive power and determination implied by the term ‘war’ was applied to the problem of terrorism, it could be obliterated. At best this approach was a failure, but one could argue persuasively that the result was actually counter-productive and that the world was less safe a decade later. The terminology changed and now we speak of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). When the meaning of CVE is spelt out by security agencies and political leaders, particularly in the West, it is clear that it is founded on an analysis that assumes a pathway from extreme or fundamentalist thinking, through a process of radicalization to the violent actions we characterize as terrorism. The policy implication taken is that to combat terrorist violence one must counter extremist thinking and many official strategies such as the UK Government’s PREVENT programme are based on this analysis. Lord Alderdice will critically examine both the concept and the outcome to date of operations based on it, asking the question whether this is a persuasive analysis and likely to be effective, or whether it may be as counter-productive as its predecessor strategy – the ‘War on Terror’.
About the Speaker:
Lord Alderdice, Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (1987-1998), played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2004) and then appointed by the British and Irish Governments to the Independent Monitoring Commission tasked with closing down terrorist operations and overseeing normalization of security activity in Northern Ireland (2004-2011). He has just completed a strategy report on the disbanding of the remaining paramilitary groups requested by the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland.
He was Deputy President and then President of Liberal International (the world-wide network of more than 100 liberal political parties) from 2000-2009, and during the UK Conservative/Liberal Coalition Government was Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in the House of Lords (2010-2014). PM David Cameron also appointed him to the UK Committee on Standards in Public Life (2010-2016). Formerly a Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy, Queen’s University, Belfast and Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia (USA), Lord Alderdice is currently Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at the University of Oxford, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland (USA), Chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and since the 2015 Westminster Election, Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Northern Ireland.