Bowdoin College

11/20/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/20/2023 21:32

Visiting Scholars Tap George Mitchell Northern Ireland Papers for Pioneering Digital Project

Deane spoke about the development of the Mitchell Principles and how central they are to Quill's Writing Peace initiative. "Years ago, when first I looked at the Mitchell Principles, there were eighteen different versions, and it took a very long time to study them." Now, she explained, "as if by magic," Quill can demonstrate visually, in an easy and accessible way, how these principles took shape, and how Mitchell painstakingly tackled the thorny issue of decommissioning-the task of prevailing on paramilitary groups on both sides to compromise and lay down their weapons. These negotiations took a long time, enthused Deane, and Quill enables users today to see how the delicate talks unfolded-hand-written notes and scratched-out clauses are clearly visible on the documents. "You can see layer upon layer of interest and excitement!"

As the Mitchell Principles took shape, said Deane, they established parameters for minimizing violence, supporting negotiation and the democratic process, creating a willingness to endorse existing agreements, and encouraging restraint from engaging in acts of aggression. "The language was very particular, as it had to satisfy so many people," she said.

"Mitchell demonstrated the duty of democratic diligence for delivering peace, and that's crucially what makes him so important," she added, "and why the Mitchell archive is essential for everyone looking at how you create negotiations and mechanisms for peace going forward."

The presentation by Shelley Deane and Annabel Harris was sponsored by the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, as well as the Department of Government and Legal Studies and the John C. Donovan Lecture Fund.