‘Impossible’ conflicts can be resolved

The positive legacy of the Belfast Agreement

Sir, – The peace agreement struck on Good Friday 1998 was thought of as “impossible” by commentators through the many years of conflict that preceded it. But, with the patient support of countries from four continents, the peace process succeeded at community, civil society and national levels.

It showed how layers of conflict can be resolved to achieve peace. Today the agreement, and the process that followed, stand as a hugely important beacon of hope where conflict exists throughout the world.

The growing numbers living in extreme poverty in the world are relying on such hope. The hunger and displacement they suffer are largely the result of instability, conflict and, increasingly, climate-related crises.

There are more than 100 million people forcibly displaced in the world today – a figure which has doubled in just 10 years.


Global hunger levels have risen significantly with 830 million people facing hunger on a daily basis. After decades of steady global progress in eliminating extreme poverty, it has been growing again since 2018.

The US president Joe Biden’s visit to Ireland, 25 years on from the Belfast Agreement, is a timely reminder of the critical and powerful role that the US can play in facilitating peace and progress.

The current downward trends for conflict and climate-related crises must be reversed.

The US government can drive progress, galvanising the essential support of countries from around the world to address these crises with the patience and steadfast determination that was exhibited by former president Bill Clinton, Senator George Mitchell and many others from US civil society to support a path forward on this island.

The world’s most vulnerable communities are today heavily dependent on the US government. It is providing more than three-quarters of the total global humanitarian aid to many of the most forgotten crises where Concern works.

These include the millions suffering hunger from climate change and conflict in the Horn of Africa or the one million stateless Rohingya, currently housed in overcrowded refugee camps on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Guided by Dubliner Samantha Power, the US government has placed the treatment of child malnutrition high on the global humanitarian agenda, in partnership with Irish Aid and other donors.

This type of leadership increases investment in, and the focus on, the prevention and treatment of malnutrition from countries around the world.

More must be done to galvanise the support of richer countries to ensure no child dies of hunger in our world.

“Impossible” conflicts can be resolved. Climate change and its impact can be addressed. However, this can be done only with the kind of political will and commitment that Ireland benefited from 25 years ago. – Yours, etc


Chief Executive,

Concern Worldwide.