As violent conflict hits a 30 year high, London will host the ‘Talking Peace Festival’

London, UK: International organisations Conciliation Resources, International Alert, Mercy Corps, Peace Direct and Saferworld are joining forces to hold the Talking Peace Festival, a global arts and cultural platform to engage people in the most urgent issues of peace and conflict around the world.

The five members of the +Peace Coalition, who collectively work in 38 countries with communities, business and government to build peace, will hold the festival at Flat Iron Square, London on 21 September, the UN-recognised International Day of Peace.

“This year the Festival not only marks the contributions of people around the world to more peaceful and inclusive societies but also the launch of a new global coalition of the world’s leading peacebuilding organisations: +Peace. In the face of increasing violence and division it’s time to step up and change the way we think about, talk about and deal with violent conflict. Whether at home or abroad, across the dinner or negotiation table, honest discussions and just solutions to what is driving division in our societies is the only way forward”, says Jessie Banfield, Director of Programmes for International Alert.

Marking the London-based festival’s fifth year, five organisations are coming together to tackle global levels of violence and division, policy and politics, in support of peacebuilding. This is timely as violent conflict is at a 30-year high and there are historic levels of polarization, with more than 70 million people now forcibly displaced around the world.

“Every day we witness the devastation caused by conflict around the world, and despite our best efforts to help those caught in the crossfire, rates of violence and displacement are increasing. Yet, only 2% of global aid is spent on peacebuilding. More funds and effort should be directed to peacebuilding efforts, and less time spent talking about war and more about peace. Join us at the Talking Peace Festival where we plan to do just that”, says Selena Victor, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy for Mercy Corps.

The Talking Peace Festival will take place at Flat Iron Square, 6 O'Meara Street, London, SE1 1TE on Saturday 21 September 2019 from 12:00-23:00. Find out more at:

Festival highlights

  • Conflict Café: a tasty pop-up serving dishes from conflict zones: Run by International Alert, this year features the cuisine of the Philippines by Anglo-Filipino chef Mark Corbyn of London supperclub, The Adobros, in partnership with Eatwith. Tickets can be booked here.
  • Family and film: documenting Colombia’s civil war followed by Q&A: “El testigo: Caín y Abel” (The Witness: Cain and Abel) tells the story of Colombian Jesús Abad Colorado. When his family was murdered, he bought a camera and dedicated the next 25 years to documenting his country’s civil war. Organised by Conciliation Resources, the film screening will be followed by a Q&A with the producer. Tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.
  • Talk from Yemen: how to campaign and build communities during conflict: In this session with The Sana’a Centre for Strategic Studies, attendees will explore how civil society works within the constraints imposed by the conflict in Yemen, from building peace through street art to conducting research on gender and youth.
  • Pints 4 Peace: ‘make tea not war’: Some of the best conversations and reconciliation happen over a drink. Guided by Peace Direct, this is an opportunity to sit down and talk about peacebuilding while enjoying a beverage.
  • VR experience: from Syria for Syrians: Find out how virtual reality (VR) is helping Syrians re-connect with and discuss the heritage of their homelands, as well as that of their host countries. During the festival, attendees will be able to experience the VR and find out more about the project’s impact.
  • Music from Central Africa: The Zong Zing All Stars: A nine-piece band playing uplifting dance music called ‘Cavacha’. Cavacha' is the core rhythm of Central African music that has given rise to ‘Soukous’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ‘Makosa’ in Cameroon and ‘Coupez Decallez’ in the Ivory Coast.The Zong Zing All Stars describe their music as “perfect” for a sunny day at a festival and will be headlining the Talking Peace festival.

Notes to editor

A range of peacebuilding experts from the 5 NGOs, as part of the +Peace coalition, will be available for interview on the day.

+Peace is mobilising people, governments and the private sector to tackle global violence and division. We are 21 international peacebuilding organisations, and growing, coming together to tackle global levels of violence and division and build peace at scale. We are determined to make sustainable peace the primary objective of the anticipation, management, and prevention of global conflict. We are working to establish peacebuilding in policy, politics, and public discourse as an effective method for addressing conflict. Our goal is not only to reduce global levels of violence, but also to lay the groundwork for just, positive peace in the 21st century. The 2019 Talking Peace Festival represents the official UK launch of the coalition.

International Alert
International Alert works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace. We focus on solving the root causes of conflict, bringing together people from across divides. From the grassroots to policy level, we come together to build everyday peace. Together, we believe peace is within our power.

Conciliation Resources
Conciliation Resources is an international organisation committed to stopping violent conflict and creating more peaceful societies. We work with people impacted by war and violence, bringing diverse voices together to make change that lasts. Working across society, we connect community perspectives with political dialogue. Learning from peace processes around the world, we share experience and expertise to find creative solutions to violent conflict. We make peace possible.

Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a global organisation powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action – helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Peace Direct
Peace Direct supports local people building peace in warzones around the world. From Peshawar in Pakistan to Mindanao in the Philippines: we work directly with local peacebuilders and their communities, providing them with the skills and tools necessary to build better, more peaceful futures – one person at a time.

Saferworld is an independent international organisation working to prevent violent conflict and build safer lives. We work with people affected by conflict to improve their safety and sense of security, and conduct wider research and analysis. We use this evidence and learning to improve local, national and international policies and practices that can help build lasting peace. Our priority is people – we believe in a world where everyone can lead peaceful, fulfilling lives, free from fear and insecurity. We are a not-for-profit organisation working in 12 countries and territories across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

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