Peace Happens!

ACEI UN Representative Justine Heckmann and Cassandre Guibord Cyr attended the Geneva Peace Talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 September 2016. You can read highlights from Justine’s report below. You can watch a full video of the Peace Talks at the UN web-TV here.

Geneva Peace Talks 2016: Peace Happens

The International Day of Peace, observed around the world every year on 21 September, is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. In conjunction with this special day, the Geneva Peace Talks 2016 were held. Co-organized by the United Nations Office at Geneva, Interpeace, and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, the Peace Talks were held in partnership with the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, and the Global Shapers Community Geneva.

This year’s peace talks, the 4th edition, with the theme “Peace Happens,” highlighted different peace initiatives and the people behind them. At the event, speakers from diverse backgrounds delivered inspiring talks about how they are working to promote peaceful societies through inclusion, dialogue, and negotiations.

Speakers at the event described how everyone can contribute to peace, on local or global levels. Peace can be achieved through strong leadership, values, human connections, and trust building. Some of the speakers talked about the importance of inclusive dialogue, teamwork, and inclusion of women in peace negotiations. For peace to happen, it requires all people working together in order to create a sense of belonging.


  • Mimoun Berrisoun: Founder and Managing Director of 180° Wende, as well as Young Leader at the Kofi Annan Foundation’s program Extremely Together
  • Hadja Saran Daraba Kaba: Secretary General of the Mano River Union. A pharmacist by profession, she is a socially activist former minister and former employee at the United Nations
  • Lionel Aeschlimann: Managing Partner at Mirabaud & Cie and member of the Board of the Swiss think tank Avenir Suisse
  • Karim Wasfi: Chief conductor and Director of the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra
  • Helen Calle Lin: restaurateur, music, graphic arts, and culture entrepreneur in Geneva
  • Marc Bonnet: Head of risk management at the International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
  • Ahmed Labnouj: Program Coordinator for Libya and Tunisia at Interpeace
  • Mirelle Widmer & Nicolas Witschard: Mireille Widmer, security and development adviser, and Nicolas Witschard, counsellor for community action at the City of Geneva. Both are members of the “neighborhood contract,” in the Pâquis neighborhood of Geneva

For more information about the Geneva Peace Talks speakers, please go here.

Additional Information:

Geneva Peace Week will be held from 7-11 November 2016, hosted by UNOG, Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, and the Geneva Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies. Learn about ACEI’s Center for Education Diplomacy side event and how other organizations will be participating here.

Anne Bauer