Over 400 delegates from 55 countries negotiated, engaged in dialogue and expanded their global networks, all with the aim of working towards global peace and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Throughout the summit, individuals who had suffered from unimaginable atrocities, violence and injustice spoke not only about their experience, but how they have moved forward from their trauma. With a very intimate understanding of the importance of peace the speakers provided a captivating vision of a peaceful future, motivating the next generation of leaders.
Students heard from many notable international speakers throughout the summit including
Zak Ebrahim. Zak’s father planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. Despite being subjected to violence and extremist ideologies, Zak has used his experiences to fight terrorism and bigotry. He believes that violence is not inherent, it’s a choice. For Zak, peace arrives through advocacy.
Rahila Haidary, an Afghan refugee who escaped from the Taliban Rule, was another inspirational speaker who shared her experiences. As a six-year-old, she was made to dress up like a boy in order to attend school and was threatened with death when discovered by the Taliban. Her experiences gave her the courage to be a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for gender equality and human rights.
Fourth year Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student Camille Etchegaray said, “This experience has widened my scope of understanding of conflicts occurring around the world and has redefined my personal interpretation of peace. Learning how people have reconciled past traumas, found connection with the outside world and inner peace within themselves was inspiring.”
Students participated in collaborative workshops alongside the speakers, academics and government officials. These workshops focused on the themes of peace, forgiveness and transformation. Delegates participated in the United Nations Relief Web Peacebuilding Challenge, whereby participants represented different countries and had to reach a resolution over a fictional territorial dispute. The challenge provided the perfect opportunity for delegates to hone their negotiation and diplomacy skills, learning how these skills are applied to solve international disputes within a United Nations setting. The opportunity for students to further develop their legal reasoning, problem solving, and communication skills has been described as invaluable for their future studies and professional careers.
Bangkok certainly delivered as Thailand’s cultural capital, with students finding the opportunity to visit Thailand’s must-do attractions such as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the Grand Palace. In the evenings, the students soaked up the nightlife in Bangkok including quirky markets and late-night snacking.
“Peace is not simply the absence of war, but also a world where we can recognise our differences, be able to manage conflict constructively and where everyone has the right to education. For many of us, this is the beginning of our journey to working towards meaningful change and a better future for all,” said fourth year Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Nathan Hua.
Find out more about QUT's law and justice international experiences.