The Peace and Security Session at this year’s Summit was an incredibly evocative and emotional one, as all Counsellors and Delegate Speakers reflected on the horrific recent events in Beirut, Iraq and Paris, Mali, Syria and in many other places this year. The keynote address, made by Maajid Nawaz, the co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation and Former Islamist, firstly offered a fascinating insight into the mind set of extremists and the radicalisation of young people by ISIS and other similar terror organisations. He spoke about what he called the 'Voldemort effect', saying that we have to be able to name the ideology in order to defeat it.
Once the Delegate Speakers were introduced by their Counsellors. Li Xiaopeng, Four time Gold Medal winning Gymnast, introduced the first Delegate Speaker PJ Cole (Sierra Leone). PJ's charity has rehabilitated over 800 child soldiers in Sierra Leone and, most recently, he set up Ebola clinics to educate and treat victims. He said that 'in order to challenge the intolerance that drives conflict, we need hope that victims can become victors' and spoke about the stigamatisation of Ebola victims in the last year.
Maajid Nawaz then returned to the stage to introduce Libyan Delegate Speaker Fatma Elzahra Elshhati (Libya). Fatma has worked to increase the freedom of speech in Libya since 2011 and said that 'too many voices were confronted with too many weapons in Libya and those with weapons had a seat at the negotiating table'. Fatma fights daily to make sure that journalists are heard and that censorship does not destroy their integrity.
The third Delegate Speaker Arizza Ann Nocum (Philippines) works to increase inter-faith collaboration through libraries in areas with high terror activity. She was highly praised by her Counsellor, World Cup Winning Goalkeeper, Hope Solo, who said that she was so inspired by the 21-year-old activist. Arizza was passionate in her plea that 'if our own countries wage war, it is our responsibility to wage peace instead' to a standing ovation from the audience.
Noam Shouster (Israel) also received a standing ovation for her emotional speech about Arab-Israeli relations. Ron Garan, a Former NASA Astronaut, introduced Noam and spoke about her work with Interpeace, where she promotes for the collaboration of different stakeholders in order to work towards a sustainable peace building process. Noam said that she grew up understanding a variety of cultures and religions, she went to a school where she was taught Arabic - 'the language of the Middle East'. Noam also said that ironically, the people of her generation who do speak Arabic, speak it for military purposes. There was also a particularly moving moment during the Q&A session, when a Palestinian delegate, Eman Hamdan, stood up to say she was proud and surprised that she would be returning home to tell people that the speech that inspired her most was from an Israeli.
The final Delegate Speaker was Francois Reyes (France), who set up his think-tank, Reveil Citoyen, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. His initial speech was going to be about the attacks and the impact that they had on France, however, last week everything changed with the horrific scenes in central Paris. Francois told an emotional audience that the victims were killed by 'cowards who wrongly believed that they killed in the name of religion'. He also that being at One Young World restored his confidence that we can overcome intolerance and that he will continue to work towards limiting extremism, both in the form of Islamism and in the form of the right wing extremism that is more and more prevalent in France.
The session concluded with a minute of silence for the attacks in Mali, France, Lebanon and Iraq in the last week, and in memory of all the victims of of terror around the world.