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The Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture 2023

Perspective; Conscience; Integrity: Reflections from a Career in Diplomacy

Speaker: Dr Anne Anderson (Former Irish Diplomat)

Chair: Professor Richard English (Queen’s University Belfast)

April 24, 2023
Canada Room and Council Chamber, Lanyon Building, Queen's University Belfast
17:00 - 18:30

The Harri Holkeri Lecture Series celebrates the contribution of the late Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri to the Northern Ireland peace process. His aim of transforming conflict and promoting social justice in Northern Ireland and across the world is shared by the Mitchell Institute. We are honoured to partner with the Embassy of Finland, London, to host the Harri Holkeri Lecture Series.

About the Lecture

At a time of profound change in the international political landscape, this lecture examines three of the constants that underpin diplomacy in almost all circumstances: perspective, compromise, integrity. Anne Anderson draws on her own extensive experience in diplomacy to provide some illustrations, as well as addressing some of today’s most pressing issues, including the conflict in Ukraine and the West’s increasingly complex relationship with China. She also applies the same prism in looking at the post- Brexit situation in Northern Ireland and the way ahead for the island as a whole.

About the Speaker

Dr Anne Anderson had a forty-five year career in Ireland’s diplomatic service, entering the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1972 and retiring in 2017. For the last twenty two years of her career, she served successively in five Ambassadorial posts: Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geneva (1995-2001), Permanent Representative to the European Union (2001-2005), Ambassador to France (2005-2009), Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (2009-2013) and Ambassador to the United States (2013-2017). She was the first female Irish Ambassador in each of those posts. Following her retirement, she became a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Group on the Peace Building Fund (2018-2022), serving as Chair of the Group for the latter two years. Her current roles include Non-Executive Director of the Smurfit Kappa Group, Chair of the Advisory Group of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in Washington DC, and a Board member of Druid Theatre, Galway. She is the recipient of a range of honors and awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from Queens University Belfast, conferred by Chancellor Hillary Clinton in May 2022.

About the Chair

Professor Richard English is Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security, and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast, where he is also Professor of Politics. His books include Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003) and Does Terrorism Work? A History (2016). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 2018 he was awarded a CBE for services to the understanding of modern-day terrorism and political history. In 2019 he was awarded the Royal Irish Academy's Gold Medal in the Social Sciences.

About the Harri Holkeri Lecture

Harri Holkeri (1937-2011) played a prominent role in the Northern Ireland peace process, helping to forge the Good Friday Agreement. As a member of the Mitchell Committee, working with Senator George J. Mitchell and General John de Chastelain.

Harri Holkeri facilitated the decommissioning of illegal weapons in Northern Ireland. His skills as negotiator and consensus-builder were crucial in the multi-party peace negotiations. He was awarded the title of Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 for his achievement and impact in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Harri Holkeri was Prime Minister of Finland from 1987 to 1991. He was a well-respected political figure, serving as Party Leader of Finland’s National Coalition Party from 1971 to 1979. He was a Member of Parliament from 1970 to 1978. During his time as Prime Minister, he headed a coalition formed by his party and the Social Democrats. Holkeri held a number of positions at the international level and made a significant contribution to addressing global issues. He was Vice-President of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Parliamentarians from 1974 to 1975 and President in 1976. He was also a member of the Nordic Council from 1975 to 1978 and he was President of the United Nations General Assembly from 2000 to 2001.

Harri Holkeri held the Finnish Honorary Title of Valtioneuvos for his national and international achievements. This honorary title of the highest class was awarded in 1998 by the then President of the Republic of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.


Harri Holkeri Lecture Series

We have hosted 7 Lectures in the series to date. Speakers have included:


7th Harri Holkeri Lecture

21 May 2019

Bertie Ahern

Peace Process - In Light of Brexit Issues

6th Harri Holkeri Lecture

29 May 2018

President Michael D. Higgins

Remembering, Forgiving, Forgetting and Imagining

5th Harri Holkeri Lecture

9 May 2017

Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland

Reflections on Women and Peace-building

4th Harri Holkeri Lecture

23 May 2016

Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland

Women, Leadership and Peace-building

3rd Harri Holkeri Lecture

22 April 2015

Senator George J. Mitchell

Reflections on Brokering Peace in Divided Societies

2nd Harri Holkeri Lecture

29 May 2014

Ambassador Akbar S. Ahmed

Islam, Peace-building and Conflict Transformation

1st Harri Holkeri Lecture

21 May 2013

Martti Ahtisaari, Former President of Finland

Egalitarianism in Conflict Resolution


The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
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