In his stately lectures, David Trimble talks about leading when times are tough and bringing about change when seemingly everyone, inside and outside your group, is against you. The Nobel Peace Prize winner provides a fascinating exploration of leading through change, drawn from a world-historic example that still resonates today.
David Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing something many people thought they would never see in their lifetime: he brought peace to Northern Ireland. Trimble’s deft negotiation of the landmark Belfast Agreement set the civil war-torn province on the path toward the peace it now enjoys—and established him in the first rank of the world’s most accomplished politicians and humanitarians. Ultimately, this member of the House of Lords succeeded in moving not just an organization, but also an entire community in a new direction, and did so in the face of intimidation and accusations of selling out. And, he’s talking about it.
Trimble’s historic decision to engage in dialog with his nationalist counterpart, John Hume (with whom he shares the Nobel), was a visionary step in resolving the seemingly intractable conflict. In 1995, after a distinguished career in law and politics, Trimble was elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He quickly led unionism into discussions with the other parties in Ireland, and worked closely with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. On Good Friday, 1998, the Belfast Agreement was signed. It provided power-sharing between unionists and nationalists, repaired relationships between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and between Ireland and Britain, and set the agenda for a lasting peace.
Trimble’s personal choice of negotiating with other parties was only the first step; he also had to convince his own party, as well as his loyalist constituency, to accept his choice and embrace a new beginning.
Ireland to Iraq A Nobel Laureate on Ending the Conflict in the Middle East
Can the lessons learned in negotiating the peace settlement in Northern Ireland be utilized to harness peace in the Middle East? In this talk, Trimble shares the monumental lessons he learned in negotiating The Belfast Agreement, showing us how they may hold the key to ending the similar conflict between Palestine and Israel, between the Sunnis and the Shiites. How do warring factions of different political and religious beliefs, with generations of violence toward each other, move toward disarmament; and how do they do it with words, not weapons? What needs to be the catalyst for change, and how do we begin? Trimble brings his political acumen and humanitarianism to a delicate subject matter.