Maurice Vassie
29 October 2016

In the current era of civil wars between sects and tribes, in the Middle East and Africa with the misery they bring to non-combattants, especially women and children, we commend the desire of  British Governments to take action to prevent the suffering, but reject the recourse to armed intervention. British participation in military action and in arms sales to combattants has patently  failed to bring an end to suffering in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Iraq, in Yemen and in Syria.

We cannot understand why the United Kingdom fails to capitalise on its hard-won expertise in bringing an end to the decades of armed sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The conflict was the product of centuries of resentment and bad feeling between the Catholic and Protestant communities in both parts of Ireland. It was exacerbated by foreign involvement with the provision of funds and arms. The involvement of the British army was not effective. It was resolved by negotiation between the two combattants and between the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

It is a remarkable achievement, and can surely serve as a template in the resolution of other conflicts. In the light of the United Kingdom’s standing in the United Nations Security Council, and other international bodies, it should be able to work in conjunction with Ireland, and other nations, such as Sri Lanka which have brought an end to armed intercommunal disputes to provide a political and diplomatic task force to resolve civil conflicts.


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