International Alert’s Talking Peace Festival To Take Place In London

International Alert, the London-based non-profit organization concerned with conflict resolution and peacebuilding, is preparing to host its annual Talking Peace Festival later this month. The event provides a platform for arts, culture, and discussion surrounding the most pressing issues of conflict and peace in the world today and coincides with World Peace Day on 21st September.

From September 21-24, 2017, this festival will aim to explore the power of dialogue in the resolution of conflict, seeking to provide a forum for the sharing of ideas and cultures.

This year, the festival features a number of events that encourage interaction and participation. The Conflict Café, previously voted Time Out’s Most Inspirational Pop-Up, will allow participants to converse over an authentic Syrian menu. It aims to use the power of food to break down barriers and spark discussion. Seated around large communal tables, diners will have the opportunity to share ideas and better understand Syria’s current plight through the exploration of its culinary culture. The chefs, Adbul Akak and Haitham Yassin, from Hama and Damascus respectively, will mix with their guests and share their ideas on what food means to them.

The Peace in Progress exhibition offers an interactive experience, bringing to life the everyday approaches we can use to make long-lasting peace a reality. The exhibition will explore specific case studies, such as Rwanda and Syria, exploring how simple practices such as talking, sharing, and playing can each help us build toward peace and resolution. A variety of games will put participants in the shoes of those affected by conflict, setting a foundation for peacebuilding discussion. This part of the festival is free and open to all ages.

The return of the panel discussion series, Peace Talks, will address the current themes of development in the world today that are affecting peace. Held in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee Europe, the discussion will focus on the experience of refugees and displaced peoples, visiting the lives of affected populations and discussing possible solutions.

The festival will also convene participants in International Alert’s pioneering Peacehack project. To spread messages of peace, the movement aims to utilize technologies, and thus, it will host a daylong ‘hackathon’ that invites technology enthusiasts to join the cause.

International Alert, founded in 1986, is one of the world’s leading non-governmental organizations both in research and on-the-ground peacebuilding projects. Founded at a time when the end of the Cold War meant a decline in international conflict but an increase in internal conflict around the world, the organization is primarily concerned with individual human security and processes of development. The understanding that conflict undermines development and threatens individuals’ rights forms the core of Alert’s mission, which is articulated in its motto: ‘Peace is within our power.’

International Alert now operates in over 30 countries around the world. While its mission is simple, the work it carries out is diverse and falls into seven key areas: climate change, community relations, crime, violence and instability, economic development, gender, natural resource management, state-citizen relations.

This acknowledgement of the global issues of resources and the environment alongside the local importance of community and identity make the work of International Alert unique and valuable. Its publications and research are highly regarded and receive attention in academic contexts and in the media.

Alert’s Talking Peace Festival is an annual celebration of peacebuilding, but more importantly, it represents an opportunity for progress, providing people with a chance to learn about conflicts today. The festival invites anybody interested in these issues to get involved, to contribute ideas, to fuel the discussion, or simply to listen and enjoy.