2020 Peace Summit in Bangkok

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The 2020 Peace Summit of emerging leaders is a conference that hosts 500 young leaders from around the globe where they will learn the skills and tools that are important to creating a generation of dynamic leaders and individuals.

The summit will be held at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, from the 5 to 7 of February 2020, with UNE represented by a four-person delegation of students and staff.

The mission of The Humanitarian Affairs is to empower young people and facilitate youth who are passionate about positive social change, and believe that peace must be achieved sustainably for it to be lasting.

UNE students Keegan Altmann, Kylie Hart, and Alana Smyth, along with staff member Dr. Vanessa Bible will travel to the 2020 Young Leaders Together for Peace Summit in February, with the generous support of the Student Services & Amenities Fee (SSAF)

As part of the Summit, the group take on the role of Humanitarian Affairs Peace Ambassadors for a period of one year, devising their own projects in collaboration with experts at the Summit, and then implementing their projects in their own communities (including the UNE community). We couldn’t be more excited for them and cant wait to see how they #DoSomeGood in our community inspired by this great initiative.

Dr. Vanessa Bible is a Peace Studies lecturer and is the Faculty Observer for the UNE group at the summit. She spent a few minutes discussing the Peace Summit, and inspiring us with why young people are the future to positive social change

Part of your role is encouraging young people to step up and create change, what inspired you to do this?

I think that the one thing that I find most rewarding about teaching peace studies is empowering young people to be the change they wish to see in the world. Peace studies can be a very heavy discipline, as we deal with real-world issues such as social and environmental injustice, and the horror of war. It’s no good just teaching about how terrible the world can be – we must also equip students with the knowledge and skills to confront these issues, and most importantly, the belief, that we can cultivate peace, from an individual right through to a global level. Young people are the future!

You are heading to the Summit as a group officer, what are you most looking forward to within this event?

Hearing from global leaders, further deepening my international perspective, and learning about organic and community-based peacebuilding initiatives around the world. It’s always inspiring to learn about different approaches to peace.

Why are young people pivotal to achieving positive social change?

It’s a well-established fact that in any society, at any point in history, young people are more idealistic. They’re dreamers. But at the same time, they often see things with more clarity. Harnessing this youthful energy and passion is so valuable, as young people should be the change-makers. It’s their future. Perhaps now more than ever before, young people have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Climate change, in particular, will affect – and is affecting – every possible facet of life. Transforming despair into action is one of the most important things that we can be doing, and older generations owe it to the youth to hand some of this power over.

What does attending this event mean for UNE?

It will be wonderful to represent Peace Studies at UNE on an international stage at the UN Conference Centre. UNE’s peace program is invaluable – we offer a unique perspective, and so many of our students report the transformative effect that our units have, and the lifelong learning that they take away with them.

I hope that our attendance at the Peace Summit helps to further raise the profile of our humble but critically important discipline.

Kylie Hart is one of the three UNE students who have been lucky enough to be part of this amazing opportunity! She also caught up with us to talk about what she hopes to learn from this event

What do you enjoy about studying Peace Studies at UNE

I enjoy the variety of topics we learn about and the fact we look at specific case studies and major issues in more depth. It can be a tough topic to learn about sometimes, but I found it easy to reach out if I was struggling.

What inspired you to want to attend this event?

I really enjoyed learning about peace studies and I plan on doing more as part of my degree. When Vanessa first mentioned the Peace Summit I thought it sounded very exciting and a fantastic opportunity to take away so many important things; from what is impacting our society, to meeting similar-minded people from around the world.

What do you hope to learn from the conference?

I’d like to learn about what issues young people from other countries are concerned about. I’d also like to learn about the sorts of ideas we can bring home, such as how best to engage with other people and make a difference here. The speakers also look very interesting and I am very keen to see what we might learn from them.

What is one integral global issue you are looking forward to discussing at the conference?

I am eager to discuss climate change and the effects that it is having, and could have on peaceful relations. I think especially with the things we are seeing in Australia right now it’s really important to address how we are going to handle things going forward.

What does achieving peace sustainably mean to you?

Achieving peace sustainably to me means being dedicated to meeting the needs of all living things, not just people but also animals and the earth, and to do this in a way that is fair and just.

One of the first things mentioned in our textbook was that peace may be infinitely approached but possibly not quite reached. This to me means that achieving peace is a journey – a constant process of removing oppression where we see it and building a fairer and more sustainable world. If I can share a quote from our textbook that really struck me regarding this – it’s a Hebrew Rabbinic quote that says,

It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it

Thank you to Vanessa and Kylie for speaking with us! Their outlook is nothing short of inspiring and we are so excited to see what they accomplish during the year as Humanitarian Affairs Peace Ambassadors.