Peacemakers gather in Borders to find way forward

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As conflicts rage in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria and in Iraq, international observers and peacemakers are converging on Innerleithen to explore how Scotland can be a greater force for good in the world.

Expert voices with experience of global conflict zones will lead discussion at the Beyond Borders’ International Festival of Literature and Thought on August 23-24.

The weekend festival features an exhibition of work by war photographer Paul Conroy, who was injured by the rocket attack which killed war reporter Marie Colvin in Syria, that highlights the plight of Syrian refugees in the UK, and the struggles they face while trying to build a new life.

The UN’s Paul McMahon, author of Feeding Frenzy, will discuss food security, exploring ways of avoiding hunger when the global food system must feed nine billion people by 2050.

Azerbaijan’s top blogger Emin Milli recounts his experience as a political prisoner in his talk Bearing Witness, while British-Iranian reporter Ramita Navai, of Channel 4’s Unreported World, shines a light on Tehran’s hidden life, from her book City of Lies.

Following Glasgow’s successful Games, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma shares a platform with Ugandan-born political journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, to consider how the Commonwealth could play a greater role in promoting peace.

Other diplomats include the UN’s Andrew Gilmour, Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group, and David Gorman from the Centre of Humanitarian Dialogue, discussing the realities of making peace in an ever-fracturing world, while Tim Phillips, co-founder of Beyond Conflict, shares his experience from 20 years on the front lines of peace negotiations around the globe.

Mark Muller Stuart QC, director of Beyond Borders’ festival and NGO, said: “I believe Scotland has a profound contribution to make to peace building, conflict resolution, and wider cultural exchange. It is timely to ask whether Scotland should play a greater role in international affairs.”

For the festival programme and box office, visit Or call 0131 557 7775.