Geneva Peace Talks 2017

Building Bridges

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Building Bridges

Every year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people. The topic of inclusion and respect for diversity is an important one affecting all of us, especially in these times.

Building on the success of the four previous Geneva Peace Talks, a fifth edition is planned for 21 September, 2017. Organized under the theme “Building Bridges,” the Geneva Peace Talks aim to encourage and promote breaking out of silos and working together to generate common understandings and solutions in today’s times where uncertainty has become the new norm. Through personal stories, speakers will share tangible experiences and ideas to inspire people and spark a discussion on how each and every one of us can play a role in reaching out and building bridges. The talks highlights that, now more than ever, we need to work together to achieve long lasting peace. The Geneva Peace Talks symbolically stand for a Geneva spirit to resolve conflict through finding common ground amongst diversity and this year aims to contribute to this path towards more peaceful societies.

Location: Palais des Nations, Room XIX
Date: 21/09/2017
Time : 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm


Special Remarks

Kofi A. Annan

Kofi A. Annan was the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations and is the founder and chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation. In 2001, he and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. He set up the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to mobilise leaders of all sectors to provide leadership where it needed. The Foundation works on the premise that there can be no long-term peace without development and no sustainable development without peace. Mr. Annan chaired the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security and in January 2013, launched the West Africa Commission on Drugs, as a response to the surge in drug trafficking and consumption in West Africa and their impact on security, governance and public health. He is an active member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights, and in 2013 was appointed its Chair.

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Heba Aly

Heba strives to put quality, independent journalism at the service of the most vulnerable people on earth. She spent one decade reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia before taking over the leadership of IRIN News, one of the world’s leading sources of field-based journalism about humanitarian crises. In her work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Bloomberg and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, from Syria to Afghanistan, from Sudan to Libya, she has seen societies torn apart by war and politics, as well as the power of the human spirit to rise above these divisions.

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Azra Hadzic

Azra is an architect who spent most of her career (1992-2014) at the Institute for the Protection of Monuments within the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports in Sarajevo. More than twenty years of work allowed her to gain a specific experience in the preparation of project documentation for conservation, restoration and reconstruction of architectural and archaeological heritage, supervision of building works, development of management plans, as well as to participate in the projects that included co-operation with international organizations. Until the end of 2013, she was a member of the National Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Co-operation with UNESCO and since 2014, she works as an independent expert on conservation and restoration projects both in and outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Christian Picciolini

After leaving the American hate movement he helped build in the 1980s and 90s, Christian graduated from DePaul University and became a respected peace advocate. He won an Emmy Award in 2016 for his role in directing and producing an anti-hate advertising campaign that helped disengage youth from white supremacist groups. Most notably, in 2011 he co-founded Life After Hate, an NGO dedicated to helping others gain the knowledge necessary to disengage from violent extremism. In 2015, Christian published his memoir, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, where he details his involvement in the early American white power skinhead movement.

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Sihem Bensedrine

Sihem is the head of the Tunisian Dignity and Truth Commission, tasked to investigate crimes committed under the country’s pre-revolutionary regimes. A high-profiled Tunisian journalist and human rights activist, she has been at the forefront of the fight for human rights in Tunisia, including freedom of speech and women’s rights. A graduate of philosophy of the University of Toulouse (France), she was among the founding members of the Tunisian Human Rights League, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 as part of the “National Dialogue Quartet”. In 2011, she received the Human Rights Watch “Alison de Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism”.

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Saba Temelso & Dan Stein

Dan is a social do-gooder who often has his fingers in several different pies but focuses his efforts on projects that build community and Saba is a refugee from Eritrea who has been living in Geneva for over 5 years. After organizing a community kitchen in Geneva for several years and contributing to a refugee kitchen project called Options Food Lab in Athens, Dan recently co-founded the Swiss NGO Cuisine Lab and the Refugee Cultural Festival which demonstrate his interest in harnessing creativity and culture, to share and learn from each other. Saba is passionate about cooking and serving others, working as a chef at Cuisine Lab. People who have tried her injera, a bread typical from Eritrea, say it is one of the best they've ever had.

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Hyung Joon Won

Hyung is a South Korean violinist trained at the Juilliard School. In 1990, he performed at the World Economic Forum which celebrated the 1990 reunification of East and West Germany. This inspired him to think of music as a medium of reconciliation. In 2009, with the hope of creating a joint North and South Korea orchestra, he founded the Lindenbaum Festival Orchestra. Since 2009, he is planning to hold a joint orchestra concert between the Koreas. Hyung believes that eventually, his dreams will come true. His relentless efforts towards making his dream a reality is captured in the documentary film named “9 at 38,” soon to be released.

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Hassan Ismail

Hassan Ismail

Hassan is the focal person for Interpeace’s Kenya Program and currently leading the nascent Mandera pilot peacebuilding program. He has over 18 years of experience working in Northern Kenya, Somalia and Nairobi. He has, over this period, worked with Oxfam Québec, GENCAD International, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the Kenya Red Cross, the Kenya Teachers Service Commission, and as an independent consultant for various UN agencies, INGOS and regional bodies. Born and raised in North Eastern Kenya, Hassan holds an MA in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. He is close to finalizing a PhD in Leadership and Governance and is an active member of the Kenya Red Cross’ National Disaster Response Team.

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Sonja Stojanović Gajić

Sonja Stojanović Gajić is the Director of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, a leading Western Balkan security think tank. Having grown up during nineties as a youth activist in the war-affected Balkans, she got involved in security sector reforms as she realised that that sector is potentially the biggest spoiler of nascent peace and democratisation in the region she lives in. She has more than fifteen years of dealing with security sector reforms across the Balkan region, through research and engagement with governmental and non-governments actors across borders. She initiated Security Research Forum Belgrade-Pristina-Tirana that worked on decreasing security dilemma in Serbian-Albanian relations.

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Alvaro Pico Malaver

Brigadier General Álvaro Pico Malaver

Álvaro is a Brigadier General of the National Police of Colombia and the Head of the Police Unit for Peacebuilding (UNIPEP). He is part of the governmental delegation in the peace negotiations with the ELN in Quito, Ecuador, and was part of the technical sub-commission for the peace negotiations with the FARC-EP in Havana, Cuba. He has a Bachelor's degree in administrations and criminalistics, is a specialist in security and human resources management with a diploma in the administration of justice and diligence of identification as well as in the management of public security. He was the Director of Interpol Colombia, Director of Schools of the Police, and Director of the General Santander School and Commander of the Metropolitan Police of Cúcuta.

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Geneva, Switzerland, has been viewed by the world as tolerant, neutral, and peaceful for centuries. The 24 constituent agencies of the United Nations, 250 NGOs, and variety of private sector actors have become known as International Geneva.

International Geneva is at the heart of a global discussion which seeks to improve international governance mechanisms. The unique combination of stakeholders fosters a network of actors on crosscutting themes such as peacebuilding. Unparalleled synergies emerge as a result of these platforms, creating new spaces for policy innovation across different institutions and sectors. Moreover, Geneva’s vast infrastructure enables it to host key conferences such as on the occasion of the International Day of Peace on 21 September. All these attributes attest to the city’s role as a global hub for issues that can be resolved through multilateral diplomacy.