Editor’s note: Guest bloggers Ramzi Kaiss '17, an international relations and philosophy double major, and Alexandra McDevitt '17, a CISLA (Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts) scholar majoring in East Asian studies focusing on Chinese language with a gender and women’s studies minor, traveled to Bogotá, Colombia for the 16th World Summit for Nobel Peace Laureates from Feb. 2-5.
Our journey to Bogotá began this past October when we were given the opportunity to participate in the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights’ United Nations Workshop, “The Ethics of Human Rights and Development: Institutional Responsibility and Community Action,” in collaboration with Quinnipiac University and the Yale Global Justice Program. For one week we studied with some of the nation's top professors, practitioners, and human rights scholars. Because we participated in the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights, we were offered a spot in the Youth Delegation to the 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Bogotá, Colombia. With the support of President Katherine Bergeron, we took off on our next adventure.
Over six days in Bogotá, we witnessed history in the making. The 16th World Summit for Nobel Peace Laureates marked the declaration of Bogotá as the 2017 City of Peace. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in creating a peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and his government.This marked the end of a long and bloody civil war that lasted 52 years. The summit provided a space for Colombian politicians, journalists, commanders of rebel groups, and the FARC to discuss their varying perspectives on this peace process.
In addition to hearing from President Santos and other members of his cabinet, we met Nobel Peace laureates from all over the world. Almost all of the 25 laureates on stage had remarkable stories to tell.
Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel laureate from Iran, reminded the attendees of the global socio-political environment shaping our time. “I have always worked for peace, and now you call us terrorists?” she asked at the summit’s stage, bringing President Trump’s proposed travel ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries to the forefront of the discussions.
Tawakkul Karman, a journalist from Yemen, was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize when she won it in 2011 for her efforts in leading her country’s fight against human rights abuses and corruption. And Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel laureate and child rights activist from India who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala Yousafzai, talked of his work to protect the rights of over 80,000 children wrapped in the chains of child labor and sexual slavery from more than 100 countries.
Laureates and other laureate organizations participated in large-scale panels with thousands of attendees while smaller, more intimate discussions took place between the laureates and the youth delegation.
Most of our time was spent at the summit, but we also experienced the beautiful things the city of Bogotá had to offer. On the last night of our trip, we joined other youth delegates on a Chiva peace bus going around Bogotá celebrating the beginning of the peace process and visiting war monuments commemorating the lives lost to this conflict. Though the peace-bus tour was mostly celebratory, it allowed us to engage with youth groups from Bogota who have worked tirelessly to promote peace.
We are so grateful for this opportunity and are hoping that more Camels will get to enjoy this experience in the near future.