Three questions to Jonathan Powell on why to talk to terrorists

Jonathan Powell, British diplomat and former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff, one of the architects behind the Good Friday peace agreement on Northern Ireland and founder of the NGO Inter Mediate, participated in FBA’s seminar in Almedalen on Tuesday 30th of June.

He recently published the book “Talking to Terrorists” where he advocates that sooner or later we always need to negotiate with terrorists; and why not sooner?

Why should governments talk to ISIS or Boko Haram?

Looking back in history, every time we meet a new terrorist organisation we say we will not talk to them and every time so far we eventually have done so to create a peace process. If this process has happened to PLO and IRA – why not for al-Qaida or ISIS?

Can you be friends with a terrorist?

As a negotiatior you need to be trusted by them and you need to have a working relationship with them. If you become friends you can fall into a “Stockholm syndrome” since they often are underdogs.

The Middle East is more unstable than in many years – what’s your prediction on the near future?

I believe we’re making a mistake to think that the Arab spring has ended. Every revolution has a counter revolution and I believe we’re looking at the middle of the Arab spring saying that it’s over, when this is just the beginning.

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Research has to reach out with results that can be put into action

After 20 years with the women, peace and security agenda we are still far from the goals where women’s participation in peace processes is a key issue. The UN Secretary General has called on international actors to look into their ways of working. To what extent can research help us develop the work for peace and security to become more efficient?

2020-12-18 11:47

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Youth, Peace and Security Adviser’s Handbook

Never before in history have there been so many young people on the planet. A very important cornerstone for reaching sustainable peace and security is to ensure that young people have the rights, tools and opportunities, to participate in a meaningful manner in statebuilding and peacebuilding processes.

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Johanna is expert on the Democratic Republic of Congo

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