I have served as Irish Ambassador to India, Holy See, Finland, Russia, and the OSCE (Russia, 2009 – 2013; OSCE, 2013 -2017). Before that I was privileged to play a part in the Northern Ireland peace process.
I am delighted to have the opportunity as Senior Fellow to contribute to the forward-looking research and teaching that takes place at Kennedy Institute.
Over many years one of my main interests has been interpreting our peace process – that is, helping friends in other situations to draw encouragement and perhaps some lessons from the changes on the island of Ireland and in Irish-British relations. I have been closely involved in joint Irish/British initiatives regarding Kashmir and in Sri Lanka. In the OSCE I helped to present our peace process to a European audience in the perspective of the so-called ‘protracted conflicts.’ This year I am involved in lesson-sharing in Korea and in a project on the ground in the Palestinian territories.
In 2018, my principal activity on behalf of Kennedy is to lead a research project on ‘Religion and Conflict’ in the framework of the OSCE Academic Network. The project aims to examine aspects of religion and public policy in the OSCE region, in the light of:
- The role of religion and inter-religious dialogue in peacebuilding
- The role of a deeper dialogue inclusive of a religious perspective in creating bonds of respect and loyalty within and between societies
Over the coming year, I will be contributing to Kennedy’s teaching and training activities. My interest here is in the changing character of diplomacy and international relations; new thinking on the need for a stronger and more widely based consensus, linking domestic to foreign policy; and the role that can be played by a dialogue inclusive of religious leaders and actors and partnerships involving the religious or belief communities. There is scope to help graduate students become more able in assessing developments in international diplomacy in the light of conscience-based arguments; and to see more clearly the many different ways of contributing professionally or personally to transformation at the global level.
I am grateful to the leadership of the Kennedy Institute for giving me these wonderful opportunities and enabling me to integrate my work at Kennedy with a parallel appointment as Distinguished Global Fellow at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton – where I am contributing to a five-year inquiry on religion and global concerns.