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Nobel peace prize winner Juan Manuel Santos visits Trinity

20th November 2018

His Excellency former President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, spoke about his search for peace at a public event in Trinity College Dublin last week.

At the event, a documentary entitled ‘Port of Destiny: Peace” was screened which charts President Santos’s journey from a hard-line Minister for Defence warring against the FARC, to a President committed to peacemaking in Colombia. This was followed by a Q&A section where President Santos answered audience questions about the challenges of ending Colombia’s fifty year civil war.

Chair for the evening Linda Hogan, Professor of Ecumenics, asked President Santos, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, about the moments which inspired him to aim for peace. He spoke passionately about how the terrible costs of the war to the victims and the drain on the economic development of the country convinced him to try. He also discussed how he studied seventeen international peace processes — including the Irish one — to learn how to create the conditions for peacebuilding.

He also spoke honestly about some of the mistakes made in the process, such as the decision not to brief the media till everything was agreed, leaving space for fake news to spread about the coming deal and the huge challenge of finding the line between justice and peace in any attempt to create a peaceful post-conflict society. President Santos stressed his fundamental belief in political process and the importance of undertaking transactions and negotiations with ones enemies if peace is to be achieved.

The evening was organised by the staff of Peace Studies in the School of Religion in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Organiser of the event, Dr Gillian Wylie, Assistant Professor in International Peace Studies, commented: “It was a huge honour for Trinity to host Nobel Laureate Santos and the chance to hear his honest insights into the work of peacebuilding was an invaluable experience for our students.”