This year’s theme is “Let’s Talk Peace!”. The Geneva Peace Talks 2014 will highlight how communication tools, techniques, and channels can contribute to resolving conflict. Speakers will reflect on how they have personally overcome the challenges of communication in their involvements in peacebuilding, communications, peace negotiations, as well as discussions with perpetrators of violence and underrepresented groups to build lasting peace.
Coming from violent and divided environments as well as backgrounds in science, art, business, and more, speakers will share their personal stories of peace and how communication has made a difference in their peacebuilding efforts.
The Geneva Peace Talks are a public event organized on the occasion of the International Day of Peace in a partnership between the United Nations Office at Geneva, Interpeace and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform.
Mediation at school
Susan Guerra and Ines Daccord – Teacher and student
Susan is a teacher at the junior high school in Sécheron, Geneva and trains students to mediate conflicts in pairs. Ines, who was previously her student at Sécheron, now mediates conflicts between other students. She is now a student at the Sismondi High School. Ines and Susan will reflect on the mediation programme at the Sécheron school.
Effectively communicating tolerance
Randa Kassis – President of the Movement for a Pluralistic Society
Randa is a Franco-Syrian politician. She is the Founder and President of the Movement for a Pluralistic Society. A few months after the revolt broke out in Syria, Randa became the President of the Secular Syrian Coalition and occupied this position until 2012. She was a member of the National Syrian Council but was excluded after her repeated warnings about the increasing number of Islamists within the ranks of the Syrian opposition. She is now a leading commentator on the Syrian conflict and will speak about the value of effectively communicating tolerance in multi-ethnic societies.
Cartooning for peace
Jean “Plantu” Plantureux – Cartoonist
Plantu moved to Brussels to attend drawing lessons at Ecole Saint-Luc founded by Hergé. In 1972 he joined the newspaper Le Monde with a first cartoon on the Vietnam War. He won the “Rare Document Award” at the Angers Festival du Scoop for managing to the signatures of Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres on the same drawing. In 2006 Plantu turned the wish he shared with Kofi Annan into reality – a large number of cartoonists were brought together and the initiative Cartooning for Peace finally saw the light of day. To date, 130 cartoonists from all over the world have joined the initiative.
Bringing parties in from the cold
Monica McWilliams – Professor of Women’s Studies
Professor of Women’s Studies in the Transnational Justice Institute at the University of Ulster, Monica played an instrumental role in the Multi-Party Peace Talks, which led to the Good Friday Agreement. She co-founded a political party, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, which was successfully elected to the peace negotiations. Monica is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly and served as Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Her work focuses on domestic violence, human security and the role of women in peace processes.
Gangs build peace in El Salvador
Rafael – Gang member
Rafael is a member of a Salvadoran gang. He has been facilitating dialogue that was initiated between the two main gangs in El Salvador in March 2012. As part of the commitment of the gangs to build peace in El Salvador, Rafael is working to reduce violence in his country.
Peace – an inside job
Judson Webb – Programme Manager
Based in Sweden, Judson is an independent American actor, writer, producer, director and peacebuilder. Currently employed by Initiatives of Change Sweden (IofC), he works as a consultant focusing on training public speakers, performers and private individuals in discovering and applying mindfulness, self-awareness, and peacebuilding tools in both their private and professional lives.
What does it mean to be a peace mediator?
Jeremy Brickhill – Director of the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme
Jeremy is a peace mediator with a broad range of experience in security transitions and post-conflict processes in African countries. He has participated in several ceasefire mediation processes for both African governments and rebel movements. He is currently the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme in Harare, Zimbabwe, which aims to contribute to the effective and sustainable modernization and transformation of the security sector in Zimbabwe. His Peace Talk will focus on how parties to a conflict come together and communicate during peace negotiations.
War reporting – a battle with dilemmas
Gunilla von Hall – Journalist
Gunilla is a Swedish foreign correspondent and journalist for the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper in Geneva. Gunilla has covered conflict around the globe including in Iraq, Bosnia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Based in Geneva for more than 20 years, her topics range from humanitarian issues, international politics to health and world trade. She has a bi-weekly column in Svenska Dagbladet about international affairs. Gunilla has been published in the Swedish anthology “The War & The Truth” and her stories have been selected for “Good Swedish Journalism.” She was President of the United Nations Correspondent’s Association in Geneva (ACANU) from 2011 until 2013.
Building peace in Venezuela
Doris Barreto – Peacebuilder
Doris is a Venezuelan peacebuilder. Her various experiences have enabled her to bring different local community members together. Through her involvement in “Fe y Alegria”, she reached out to impoverished and excluded people so as to enable them to better integrate and participate in Venezuelan society. Doris has also been involved in reducing armed violence. Doris strives to develop partnerships and works alongside other institutions in Venezuela in order to promote social activities for different community groups. Doris is also pursuing her peacebuilding activities by working in a community center in Catuche.
Shooting and talking
Eman Mohammed and Mati Milstein – Photojournalists
Breaking barriers and cultural taboos in a conservative culture, Eman is Gaza’s only female photojournalist. Mati is an Israeli Jewish photojournalist who has been working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel since 1998. Together, these two photojournalists shed light on how people on either side of the conflict have dealt with war in their everyday lives. Both photojournalists have their photos appearing in a wide range of international outlets including Le Monde, the Washington Post and Haaretz.
Interpreting for peace
Andrew Brookes – Interpreter
Andrew is a retired United Nations interpreter. He studied Arabic and Persian at Cambridge University and lived and worked in Iran and Oman for many years before joining the UN as a translator. With the UN, he was based first in New York, then in Vienna, Nairobi and Geneva. Apart from many conferences, his work has taken him on peacekeeping missions to Nicaragua and Iraq, and on human rights missions to countries as different from each other as his own United Kingdom and the Central African Republic.