First and foremost, listening to words of wisdom delivered by renowned and passionate speakers bolstered our desire to proliferate peace in its several dimensions. We were fortunate enough to be in the presence of the likes of a war correspondent, two long-standing member of the United Nations, and a driven Dutch politician whose positive impact has been felt at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Aernout Van Lynden delivered a compelling first speech during the opening ceremony, providing the participants with anecdotes and insights from his experiences relating to journalism during periods of war and peace. Having lived and worked in many warzones, Mr.Van Lynden has covered conflicts including the Lebanese civil war, the Iranian revolution, Iran-Iraq war, anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan, and the Yugoslavian crisis from 1991-99. He has received accolade on an international level for his pithy journalism and insightful revelations. His speech addressed the problematic reality facing peacemaking, but concluded with a call to never stop striving in the attainment of international solidarity.
Hans Van Sponeck is an internationally prominent figure in the field of peace and conflict resolution. Having served the United Nations Development Program from 1968 till 2000 when he resigned from his post as UN Under Secretary General to Iraq, Mr.Van Sponeck is an indubitable inspiration to all those who seek to promote the word of peace and harmony. The very fact that he resigned from his senior posting in Iraq, after strongly condemning sanctions undertaken by the United Nations and the international community on Iraq as being hurtful to the several innocent and harmless Iraqi people, is a brilliant display of how we ought to stand up against all odds in the promotion of international peace and justice. In his address to our participants, he explores the vices and virtues of the United Nations as an international governing body, and recollects insightful anecdotes of his past experiences as a UN representative driven to promote the words of peace.
Yvonne Helle is yet another motivating figurehead who has strived repetitively in the attainment of peace as a United Nations representative. Mrs.Helle has served as UN Director to South Sudan since 2013, until only recently when the UNDP team was requested to leave South Sudan by the Sudanese government. In her time as Director, Mrs.Helle outspokenly delivered the need for peace, and carried out inspiring work that resonated with the very essence of her ideals. Although South Sudan is far from any conception of peace, Mrs.Helle actively carried out programs targeting youth and internally displaced people in her attempts to educate vulnerable sectors of the Sudanese population about the need to drop arms and unite as one. In her captivating and highly informative lecture to participants, Mrs.Helle presented the multitude of of blockades she encountered whilst working in Sudan and the worrying rupture that has emerged amongst the Sudanese population. Yet despite all these troublesome encounters, Mrs.Helle presents the notion that we ought to remain defiant and sturdy as bearers of peace.
Lousewise Van Der Laan can be best encapsulated as an illustrious and enviable campaigner of justice and peace in their innumerable dimensions and forms. As a Dutch politician, Mrs. Van Der Laan remains committed towards the promotion of democratic elections in war-torn regions as a first step towards the attainment order and nonviolence. Her political experiences ranges from being a representative in Dutch Parliament striving to expand the reach of justice, to assuming various positions of responsibility at the European Parliament. As an active promoter of democracy, she has served as an election observer in recent elections in Morocco and Lebanon, as well forming part of a group of European representatives to Palestine. On top of all of this, she remains a strong voice in the promotion of gender equality, committing time towards the reduction in feminization as a result of poverty and joining the Committee on the Rights of Women and Equal Chances between 1999 and 2003. Mrs.Van Der Laan’s speech amalgamates various encounters she faced during her wide-reaching career thus far as an activist and promoter of justice. She demonstrates the need for mankind to address issues relating international justice and peace with utmost deliberation and dedication.