Coventry's RISING global peace forum announced

University news / Research news

Monday 17 August 2015

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Coventry CathedralRISING, a new global peace forum in Coventry, is launched today with a specially filmed message to the world from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Speakers confirmed for the first annual event include Rt Hon Gordon Brown, Terry Waite CBE, and Cardinal Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

With the theme 'A Hard Road to Hope', the inaugural RISING 15 will see global statesmen, business leaders, peace advocates and members of the public meet in the city from 11 - 13 November 2015. Together they will push forward new ways of thinking about peace and conflict in our turbulent world. Tickets go on sale today and it expected that up to 400 people from around the world will attend.

RISING 15 is a partnership between Coventry City Council, Coventry University and Coventry Cathedral. Coinciding with Armistice Day and the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry on 14 November 1940, it will take place in buildings surrounding the shattered ruins of the city's medieval cathedral. Preserved as a reminder of the trauma caused by World War Two, this iconic landmark has become a potent symbol for peace and reconciliation around the world.

Speakers at RISING 15 will include:

  • Rt Hon Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and UN special envoy for Global Education
  • Lord John Alderdice, former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, now a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords where he chairs Parliament's All Party Group on Conflict Issues
  • Terry Waite CBE, humanitarian, author and former aide of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon for 1,763 days.
  • Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, one of the world's biggest Christian denominations with 85 million members in over 165 countries.
  • Cardinal Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Michael Binyon OBE, Veteran foreign correspondent and leader writer for The Times
  • Mary Harper, the BBC World Service's Africa Editor.
  • Sam Lee, Director of Send in the Clowns, a documentary film exploring the impact of prolonged aid in Haiti as it follows a group of idealistic volunteer performers from Clowns without Borders
  • Iman Icar, Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, capital of Somalia and one of the world's most divided and volatile cities
  • Emma Sky OBE, who served in Iraq longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, first as the Coalition's Governorate Coordinator for Kirkuk province and later as an adviser to the US Commanding General.
  • Richard Smith, a peacebuilder and anti-apartheid activist working with one of Africa's leading peacebuilding organisations, the Action Support Centre.
  • Karam Hilly, an activist and community organiser from Syria working for peaceful demonstration and change. Karam was detained by the Assad regime in 2014 and fled to Turkey. He still works in Syria to keep hope alive, but at great personal risk.

The event has won the personal backing from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation will act as the Patron. In a special video message Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

Sometimes, when we watch the evening news and consume our daily diet of stories of intense violence, extremist and anti-social behaviour, we question our abilities to stop our collective plummet into the abyss. On evenings when I don't switch on the evening news, I tend to go to bed filled with hope, largely due to the young people I meet who seem to be seized with the task of righting the imbalances caused by us oldies.

I wish to thank you all so very much for the work you do inspiring peace and reconciliation in our global village. Thank you in particular to the organisers of RISING 15, Coventry University and its Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry City Council and Coventry Cathedral, for identifying the necessity to face up to the challenges to peace of our times.

Laura Payne, RISING director and research fellow at Coventry University's Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, said:

Addressing conflict can seem an impossible task, leading to paralysis, hopelessness and despair, but we know from the past that we can achieve the impossible when it comes to peace. Wars and violent conflicts end. How they end is in our power to decide.

The Hard Road to Hope theme of the forum recognises how hard it can be to strive for peace against the odds and honours those who do so. We have a lot to learn from the roads they have travelled and may be surprised and heartened by the reality that, at first, their journeys seemed impossible too. Their remarkable efforts will inspire, affirm and call to action.

Rising has been more than a year in the making and we are delighted with the response we have received from across the world. We believe there is an opportunity to mobilise diverse groups of people around new ways of thinking about peace, and the response we have had from the international community only strengthens that belief.

Further speakers and events are still to be announced. The programme line up, current list of speakers and ticketing information can be found at

For more information, please contact Hannah Mackenzie or Chris Baker at Four Colman Getty: / 020 3697 4270 / 020 3697 4252 / 07872 176270