Professor Sir Hew Strachan addresses Belgo-British Conference about First World War Centenary

Posted on on 11 October 2013
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The annual Belgo-British Conference, this year entitled “History and Reconciliation: Engaging a New Generation”, considers the First World War Centenary amongst a wide range of topics including education, culture, sports, media, politics, and diplomacy.

The yearly meeting between the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Council, and EGMONT – the Royal Institute for International Relations, is being held on the 10th - 11th October 2013.

As preparations to mark the Centenary of the First World War are underway in both countries and across Europe, the Belgo-British Conference "will discuss how to engage a new generation to keep history alive and reflect on lessons learned from past conflicts".

The British Ambassador to Belgium, Jonathan Brenton, said that the conference "is an important theme in the context of the First World War Centenary with a fascinating range of speakers and we want the conference to engage the new generation directly, for example through social media".

Keynote speakers

Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, Oxford University, will be addressing the conference during a session entitled "commemoration and reconciliation".

Professor Sophie de Schaepdrijver, Associate Professor of Modern European History, Pennsylvania State University, will also address the conference during the session. This will be followed by a question and answer on 'How should we define and pursue “reconciliation” in the light of the “lessons learned” of the First World War and what role is there for historical narrative and commemorations 100 years later?".

A further session will pose the questions: "Is reconciliation a message that still resonates in 21st Century Europe? How successful are we at reconciliation? How do we foster reconciliation?".

The Centenary and other topics, such as UK-Irish reconciliation, ethnic identity and reconciliation in the Balkans and "the case of Sikhs in the UK" in the context of the Centenary will be the focus of discussion.

The Belgian and British Co-Chairmen of the conference, Lode Willems and Sir Stephen Wall, said that "reconciliation is key to peace building, but our European experience shows that it is a very complex and slow process".

"We must have a sense of history if we want to have a sense of the future. When we think of conflicts in our present world, it is useful to record that for so long Europe was also a continent of permanent conflict".

"This year’s Conference will focus on engaging new generations to reflect on past conflicts in order to work towards peace in the future".

The conference concludes today.

Source: Inside Government UK press release

Date of press release publication: 09/10/2013

Images courtesy of the Inside Government UK website