Generations For Peace marked its first-ever participation in the annual Peace Talks with a joint address from Wala’ Alsmadi and Zakaria El Baba on the topic of “Peace without Borders.”
September 2018 – Geneva/Switzerland: Generations For Peace participated for the first time in this year’s Peace Talks, the sixth edition of the annual initiative that highlights the powerful stories of individuals making impactful contributions to peace. Wala’ Alsmadi, a Generations For Peace Lead Pioneer and Programmes Officer in Jordan, and Zakaria El Baba, a Generations For Peace Pioneer in Lebanon, shared their personal experiences and ideas surrounding peacebuilding and conflict transformation in a joint address in Geneva, Switzerland, the location of this year’s event.
In addition to Wala’ and Zakaria, the Geneva Peace Talks hosted seven speakers – including refugees, activists, medical professionals, and more. Each discussed this year’s theme of “Peace without Borders” and highlighted the ever-increasing need to work together to achieve sustained and lasting peace.
Seeking to encourage and promote breaking out of silos and coming together to develop common understandings and identify key solutions to challenges that threaten peace on a local and global scale, the Geneva Peace Talks emphasised that each person, actor, and institution has a significant role to play in building peace and resolving conflict on all levels around the globe.
Lauding the initiative, Dr. Mohanned Al Arabiat, President of Generations For Peace, said, “Peace and conflict require a conversation that must be held by people from every context, every setting, every walk of life. This year’s Geneva Peace Talks brought together a wide range of speakers and attendees, each equipped to share a unique perspective on the practical ways in which we can help build a sustainable peace that reaches far, wide, and deep. Generations For Peace is proud to have had Wala’ and Zakaria contribute directly to that important conversation, using the platform provided by the event to share the ways they have both inspired change through and been changed by the grassroots, youth-led peacebuilding efforts of Generations For Peace.”
In her address, Wala’ Alsmadi reflected on her long experience as a volunteer, sharing, “Throughout my time working as a volunteer with both Jordanians and Syrian refugees, I have learned again and again that impact is magnified when we cross the border between our “real lives” and our volunteering. In doing so, we are bringing our example and our lives closer to those we seek to impact.” She added, “The strongest examples are those that are closest to us. This is the example we seek to lead by – one that not only crosses the borders that divide us, but erases them.”
Zakaria El Baba, highlighting the importance of sustained relationships between volunteers and their target groups, said, “The relationships we create and maintain will determine how peace is passed from one generation to the next.” He went on to say, “The theme for these Geneva Peace Talks is ‘Peace without Borders.’ But before we can have a peace that knows no borders, we must make a habit of recognising and crossing those borders in our day-to-day lives, stamping out and erasing the lines in the sand that divide ‘us’ from ‘them.’”