During a trip to the United States last month, Shalom Chairman Fr. Patrick Devine addressed students and faculty at Harvard Law School on conflict resolution and the organization’s model for bringing peace to eastern Africa.
The address was co-sponsored by Harvard Negotiators and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Fr. Devine also gave a lecture to Harvard students during his visit.
During his lecture, Fr. Devine discussed the creation of Shalom and its model for peace in eastern Africa.
“In African conflict environments where people are killed, maimed and displaced persistently, social and religious values such as peace, truth, justice and mercy cannot take deep root,” he explained. “People cannot live normal lives or experience true peace. Neither can communities experience sustained development because periodically schools, hospitals, formation institutions, etc., become inoperable or totally destroyed. We will be forever rebuilding and rehabilitating institutions if we do not address the root causes.”
Fr. Devine stressed Shalom’s methods for recording data and adapting programs and solutions “based on the highest academic standards into the underlying causes of the conflict.” He also talked about the importance of linking education – including improving schools – into the equation for peace and stability.
Harvard Law student Matilda Janson Brolin found the lecture pertinent to her studies.
“Through his open lecture and his engagement in our Dispute Systems Design course, we students got to learn a great deal from Father Patrick Devine during his visit at Harvard Law School,” she said. “It was especially interesting to hear him combine his deep knowledge of the theory of conflict resolution with his extensive practical experience and the amazing work of Shalom. Our course covers system design for all kinds of disputes, from commercial to employment and family disputes, and I truly believe that Father Patrick’s experience and knowledge was valuable to all aspiring dispute systems designers. Yet, it was particularly interesting to the many of us who are especially interested in conflicts within the development context as well as armed conflict.”
Fr. Devine’s lecture touched on Shalom’s methodology and its researching into the root causes of violence, and included the importance of understanding key actors and issues in the conflict environment – with a model of leading them to a process of negotiation and mediation.
“For me personally it was vital since my clinical project with the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program entails delivering a training on negotiation and conflict management to an organization that works with repatriation and demobilization in the Kivu region in the DRC,” said Ms. Brolin. “To learn from Father Patrick about capacity building and contextualization of conflict management theory in Africa was therefore very interesting and rewarding. I hope to continue to follow the work of Shalom and hopefully get the chance to contribute in some way in the future.”