Geneva Peace Talks 2018

Peace Without Borders

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Peace Without Borders


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 6th edition of the Geneva Peace Talks is organized under the theme “Peace without Borders”. The speakers will share their personal experiences, stories and ideas to highlight their efforts to promote peace that goes beyond borders- be they in the mind, geographic, political or physical boundaries.

The Geneva Peace Talks are a public event co-organized by the United Nations Office at Geneva, Interpeace and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform to celebrate the International Day of Peace.


Location: Palais des Nations
Date: 21/09/2018
Time : 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm


Aya Mohammed Abdullah

Aya is a 22-year-old who has been a refugee for most of her life. She fled from Iraq to Syria after surviving 6 years of war. In 2011, Aya and her family fled to Turkey when the war began in Syria. In Turkey, Aya began working with partners of the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency in different cities and projects. Her life took a turn when she met Brandon Stanton in 2015. He was interviewing Syrian refugees who were being admitted into the US but had not yet left the country, and Aya was his translator. After learning about her life story, Brandon initiated a petition on the website to attract attention. The petition was signed by over 1 million people. In 2017, Aya and her family resettled in Switzerland, where she is now studying International Relations at Webster University and is a delegate of the Global Youth Advisory Council of the UN Refugee Agency.

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Jasminko Halilovic

Jasminko is the founder and director of the War Childhood Museum – the world's only museum that focuses exclusively on the experience of childhood affected by war. The museum was awarded the Council of Europe 2018 Museum Prize. Jasminko is also the founder and president of URBAN Association – one of the leading cultural NGOs in the Balkans region. He is the author and editor of several books, including the award-winning “War Childhood” that has been translated into six languages. In 2018, Jasminko became the first Bosnian to be selected for the prestigious Forbes "30 under 30" list.

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Diana García

Diana is a feminist activist, peace practitioner and researcher who has been active in the Colombian peace movement for the past twenty years. Her academic background includes Political Science, Gender Studies and Economy. Diana is currently a researcher at CIASE, an organization based in Colombia that promotes the integral realization of human rights. In her role as a peace practitioner, Diana focuses on creating spaces where women learn to utilize their experiences and knowledge to promote peace in their own communities. She has strategically used her knowledge of art, martial arts, gender, conflict transformation, political-emotional processes to generate actions toward building sustainable peace that is reflected in the everyday lives of people.

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Monika Hauser

Monika is the founder and executive member of the board of Medica Mondiale. Indignant at media reports about the mass rapes of women during the Bosnian war, Monika decided to travel straight to the war-torn area at the end of 1992. A few months later, in April 1993, together with local female psychologists and doctors, she opened a women’s therapy center called Medica Zenica in Bosnia. This start was made possible by both private and public donors. An office was simultaneously set up in Cologne for the charity Medica Mondiale. For 25 years, the organization has supported survivors of sexualized violence in war and conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Liberia and Northern Iraq. Monika’s commitment to support women in war and crisis areas and to speak up for women’s rights worldwide has been honored many times, including the “Right Livelihood Award” in 2008.

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Nino Rizzo

Nino is a psychologist, psychotherapist and member of the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis. After his university studies, Nino worked as a teaching assistance at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at the University of Geneva and later became a Research Officer and Lecturer at a social studies institute in Geneva. Simultaneously, Nino worked at centers for adolescents and young addicts as a psychosocial specialist. After these experiences, Nino was successively the head of the “Adolescence” section and Clinical Director at Espace A, a center that works to ensure the rights of children in adoptive and host families. Since 2016, Nino exclusively focuses on his private clinic.

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Pauline Bend

Pauline is based in Niger as the country’s representative for Fondation Hirondelle, a Swiss non-profit organization that practices and defends responsible, accurate journalism in areas of conflict and post-conflict. She joined Fondation Hirondelle in 2015 to manage the “Studio Kalangou” project in this country. In this role, Pauline works on promoting communication spaces for the most marginalized as a key tool for peace. Prior to that, she worked in the development and media support sector at the Panos Institute West Africa, from 2006 to 2015, where she was successively Regional Coordinator of the Pluralism and Media Development Program, and then Director of Programs. She began her career in the Cameroonian diplomacy between 2005 and 2006. Pauline studied in Cameroon before pursuing higher studies at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and at the University of Rennes 2 and Paris 8 in France where she obtained a PhD in Information Science and Communication.

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Hacene Ouahmane

Originally from Saint Etienne, Hacene served as a community worker at a working-class neighbourhood, which inspired him to obtain a diploma as a social assistant in 1994. Hacene has always been passionate about supporting those in difficulty and creating links among individuals and communities. In 2011, he joined L’Hospice Général, a Geneva-based institution of social action, where he was able to gain a deeper understanding of the social system in Geneva. In 2016, Hacene became a social worker for a recently opened centre that welcomes and provides shelter for migrants. There, he has worked to ensure the well-being and integration of incoming migrants. Together with his team, Hacene organized language, theatre and arts workshops, fitness sessions, among others. Hacene considers that his work at the centre was key to create harmony among people coming from different contexts. His experience at the centre successfully concluded in May 2018.

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Wala' Alsmadi and Zakaria EL Baba

Wala’ and Zakaria became part of Generations for Peace (GFP) in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Wala is from Jordan and has been involved in volunteer work for the past 13 years. She joined GFP because of its focus on fostering young leaders through sports and arts programs. Wala’ realized that this type of focus allowed participants, who had experienced violence and loss, to utilize their life experiences in a creative and constructive way. A year later, Zakaria, a Lebanese citizen who is also passionate about empowering youth, received training to lead a project to promote respect for human rights through sports and arts in partnership with GFP. One of the most memorable experiences Zakaria had while leading this project, was successfully preventing an early marriage for a 16-year-old female participant. In their work with GFP, Zakaria and Wala’ are constantly inspired by the individuals they work with to continue working towards fostering young peacebuilders.

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Special Remarks

Kofi A. Annan

Kofi A. Annan was the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations and the founder 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 mobilize leaders of all sectors to provide leadership where it was 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. In his last 2 years, under the helm of his Foundation, Kofi Annan launched projects to safeguard elections and democracy in the digital age, but also to promote youth leadership in the face of violent extremism, and to ensure that peace processes really produce lasting peace. Lastly, he advocated for agriculture that serves the poorest and emphatically warned against the dangers of climate change. He died in 2018 after a short illness.

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Antonio Guterres

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group. From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees. Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering.

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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.