Leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party from 1987 to 1998; one of the negotiators of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement; first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly until 2004; then appointed one of four international commissioners charged with overseeing security normalisation in Ireland. President of Liberal International from 2005 to 2009; Chair of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords from 2010 to 2014;. Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford since 2012 and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (Oxford) since 2013. Lectures, consults and writes on religious issues and on violent political conflict.
A reflection on the theme: 'Towards a Loving World, Leadership and Governance for Well-Being'.
Rationalist 'Enlightenment' principles have helped us make extraordinary progress in science, technology, education, medicine, governance, economics, and the rule of law, but they have also enabled us to make more deadly war rather than bringing wars to an end. A scientific way of thinking can help me understand how the world is made up, and what has happened in life, but it cannot tell me how I ought to relate with my fellows. Building a world characterised by loving relationships takes us beyond science and beyond cultures of shame or guilt and into new kinds of risk and reward in life and community.
At this inflection point in history, when there is an increasing need for and appreciation of the spiritual dimension of our human condition the Spirit of Humanity Forum gives me an opportunity and an encouragement to venture out into an uncertain future with hope.