Resilience is a series of conversations featuring experts and leaders from different professional backgrounds, hosted by Scott Weber, President of Interpeace.
The purpose of these conversations is to understand the role that individuals, communities, institutions and our leaders can play in building trust and a more peaceful world.
The series will begin with a focus on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact in our societies.
Episode 11 : A conversation with Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Public Health
Malaysia has been very successful in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. While many countries are reporting millions of positive cases, Malaysia has registered less than 90,000 and 429 deaths on a population of over 30 million people. Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Special Advisor on Public Health to Malaysia’s prime minister since March 2020 talked to us about the secret behind this success.
Dr. Mahmood started her career as a medical doctor before becoming a humanitarian in her own country and rising to the multilateral humanitarian system’s highest levels as the head of Secretariat of the World Humanitarian Summit and the Under-Secretary-General for Partnerships in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
In this episode of Interpeace’s Resilience Webcast, Dr. Mahmood talks about Malaysia’s significant efforts to prevent the pandemic from becoming a source of political polarization. She explains how decades of investment in public health and the opportunity to learn from previous epidemics have been key factors that account for its success. However, these factors alone are not sufficient. Building trust between the government and the population through reliable sources of information, community engagement, and comprehensive communications have also been critical to effectively managing the pandemic. In this sense, Dr. Mahmood emphasizes the importance of the authorities’ strong messaging and transparency and the public’s compliance with the government’s measures to contain the virus. “Nobody went to the streets complaining about having to wear a mask,” she says.
Episode 10 : Fidèle Ndayisaba, Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission
Fidèle Ndayisaba, Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, says Rwandans have demonstrated resilience in overcoming the enormous strain of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He explains that while peaceful cohabitation is a reality in Rwanda, emotional, psychological and even physical wounds remain, especially as genocide perpetrators reintegrate into society from prison.
The government of Rwanda is leading efforts to address a persistent burden of mental health conditions and trauma; a problem Mr Ndayisaba says is linked to the nature of violence the country had – such violence of killing people because of who they are.
Mr Ndayisaba, a former governor and mayor, acknowledges that while Rwandans are steadily recovering from the genocide, eradicating genocide ideology and denial remains a big challenge going forward. He says one way to deal with this problem and enhance a sustained future of mutual healing is to learn from history and “know what to avoid”.
He says healing is a long-term process and argues that the gains made so far in Rwanda will be sustained by an encouraging commitment of young people and political will of the country’s leadership.
In an era when polarisation is gaining momentum worldwide, Mr Ndayisaba says our learning from history is perhaps too limited. He calls for more investment in peacebuilding and in educating young people to have the critical thinking to avoid being involved in violence and polarisation.
Fidèle Ndayisaba is an economist and administrator. He has previously served as the Governor of Rwanda’s Southern Province and Mayor of the City of Kigali.
Episode 9: A conversation with Brigadier General Zakia Hussen, Deputy Police Commissioner of the Somali Police Force
Brigadier General Zakia Hussen, the Deputy Police Commissioner of the Somali Police Force is transforming a previously militarized police force into a softer institution that engages communities and involve them more in security policies, strategies, operations and intelligence. Drawing on her own experience and milestone as the first female to be appointed to her rank and office, General Zakia explains her approach to involve more women in the police force and break the barriers for them by introducing policies and practices that empower them.
At a time when the push for gender justice is gaining momentum, Brigadier General Zakia joins Interpeace President, Scott Weber in this episode of the Resilience Webcast to discuss how women are adding an enormous value on the peace and security agenda. She explains how she is using her office to rebuild trust between the Somali police force and communities in Somalia.
Despite being a prime target for organized criminal groups such as the Al Shabaab – and surviving several assassination attempts – General Zakia remains determined to break up criminal networks in Somalia, liberate areas under their control and create change. She shares specific ways her approach to security has given more flexibility to police officers while still holding them accountable. She also says understanding local dynamics and creating local ownership within the police force is an approach that other countries like the United States of America can emulate to create trust. She has a very clear message to young girls “there are no limits to your abilities”.
Brigadier General Zakia Hussen, 36, is also a diplomat and social activist.
Episode 8: A conversation with Gilbert Doumit, Public Policy and Management Expert, Political Activist
Lebanon is currently facing political, economic, and social unrest, which has spiraled in the last year, due to COVID-19 and the devastating explosion on August 4 that killed 200 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. In this episode, Gilbert Doumit, Public Policy and Management Expert, shares his unique insights on the crisis that is unfolding in his home-country. He highlights that the crisis is rooted in the sectarian-power sharing system “enshrined in every aspect of the country”, which helped end the civil war in 1990, but has now caused the near-collapse of Lebanon. Doumit unveils the different layers of the crisis and how this dire situation can create an opportunity for positive change.
Founder and Managing Partner of Beyond Group, an international mission-driven consulting firm, Doumit has worked for over two decades on social cohesion, social and economic policies and governance reforms, and facilitated dialogues in countries such as Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Nepal, Tunisia and Lebanon. As he shares his views on the current political situation of other countries in the MENA region, he emphasizes the importance of empowering citizens in Lebanon to take action and find their own solutions, without relying on foreign interference. If the crisis is not dealt with through their own means, Doumit fears that there is a risk of Lebanon transforming into a war zone. Doumit however, remains positive and shares his vision for a hopeful future.
Episode 7: A conversation with Carlos Lopes, Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance
Carlos Lopes, professor in Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, says Africa’s progress in terms of reducing inequalities continues to be overlooked even as inclusive society models become more widespread in countries across the continent. He speaks about the importance of changing the narrative on Africa – moving from pessimism and stories of fragility to optimism – explaining that the negative, pessimist narrative about Africa is enshrined in very deep-seated beliefs.
Lopes, an African Union High Representative for Partnerships with Europe, explains why African countries need to change from structural adjustment to structural change that transforms their economies, manage the underlying causes of conflict and make use of economic peacebuilding opportunities to nurture social cohesion. He gives examples of incredible progress – in African countries from Rwanda through Namibia to Morocco – that are indicative of sustainable change already happening, and talks about ways intergenerational and universal solidarity can protect peace in Africa.
Carlos Lopes is former executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa and co-author of the recently published book “Structural Change in Africa: Misperceptions, New Narratives and Development in the 21st Century”.
Episode 6: A conversation with Nelufar Hedayat multi-award-winning journalist, and Digital Correspondent for the Doha Debates
In this episode, we talk with Nelufar Hedayat, a multi award-winning journalist, documentary maker and Digital Correspondent for the Doha Debates. An Afghan, who moved to the UK as a refugee, Nelufar has gained the trust of a world-wide audience through her authenticity and ability to unite people in meaningful conversations.
Find out more about Nelufar´s path into journalism as an immigrant, how she faces the challenges to remain a trustworthy journalist in the context of misinformation. Nelufar also discuss the opportunities and limits of digital spaces as a platform for debate and social change.
Episode 5: A conversation with Sanam Anderlini, Founder and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
Episode 4: A conversation with Dr. Michael Adekunle Charles, Head of Country Cluster for Southern Africa at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
In this episode, we are honored to speak with Dr. Michael Adekunle Charles, Head of Country Cluster for Southern Africa at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Dr. Adekunle talks about the impact of COVID-19 on local communities, how local communities demonstrate resilience and the future of humanitarian assistance after this pandemic. A public health expert and seasoned humanitarian, Dr. Adekunle says the COVID-19 response should not be seen from a health perspective alone. He explains how communities are worried about their livelihoods, uncertainties of losing jobs and water and sanitation. “We ask people to wash their hands for hygiene, but the reality is that not everybody has water or running water to do that,” he stressed.
Dr. Charles says the pandemic is also an opportunity to bring people together, especially in fragile societies or countries where there are conflicts. He explains how the IFRC is using the crisis to bring communities together against the common enemy – COVID-19, in the process fostering peaceful coexistence.
Dr. Charles identifies innovation, collaboration, and solidarity at all levels of society, as critical to resolving the crisis – concluding that, “together we can succeed.”
Episode 3: A conversation with Noam Shuster-Eliassi comedian and peace activist
In this episode, we are pleased to welcome Noam Shuster-Eliassi, a Jewish Israeli Comedian and Peace Activist to talk about her personal experience with COVID-19 and how comedy makes us more resilient. Noam who recovered from COVID-19 recently, talks of her experience in quarantine at the Corona hotel in Jerusalem where she shared the same space with people from conflicting Israeli and Palestinian societies. She says her quarantine experience uniquely positioned her to see the “deep political understanding that we needed this health perspective to understand that we share the same land and our fates are intertwined”.
The comedian sees a silver lining to this COVID-19 pandemic, being an opportunity to bring people together through comedy. She explains her role as comedian to repair things that are broken and to give some light and hope to people as they adjust to the current situation. Why is comedy a powerful tool to promote coexistence?
Find out more in this episode and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #ResilienceWebcast
Episode 2: A conversation with Ambassador Frederic Ngoga-Gateretse, Head of the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division at the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission
In this episode, we explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on conflicts in Africa, the impact of viral misinformation on the response effort and how this crisis is enhancing multilateralism across the Continent.
Ambassador Ngoga-Gateretse says that African states will need to put human well-being above all else, with a focus on security, health, and education. An experienced peacebuilder, diplomat, and public administrator, he talks about the need for a new social contract in Africa after the pandemic and highlights the amazing sources of resilience that are helping people cope with this crisis.
Will the COVID-19 pandemic weaken commitments to multilateralism or lead to more solidarity in Africa? Will the pandemic exacerbate mistrust in governments or be an opportunity for trust-building?
Find out more in this episode and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #ResilienceWebcast
Transcript of the conversation here
Episode 1: A Conversation with Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi – The Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization
In this episode, we are honored to speak with Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization, to explore new responses and innovative tools to address the COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Berkley is an epidemiologist, and one of the world’s foremost public health officials. In 2009, he was selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for his groundbreaking work on HIV-AIDS.
Dr. Berkley will help us understand the complexities of this pandemic, the impact it is likely to have in the world’s most vulnerable populations, and how we can build a more resilient system to prevent such crises in the future.