The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, visited Sweden, Finland and Norway between 30 August and 9 September. In all three countries Mr Gounden had a series of meetings with senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, as well as various civil society organizations and research institutes.
ACCORD receives funding from the governments of all the above three countries which includes: a grant towards core organizational activities from Sida, Sweden; a Civil Military Coordination (CIMIC) Programme funded by the Government of Finland and the Training for Peace (TfP) in Africa Programme which is funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Finland Mr Gounden also conducted an interview with Mrs Elizabeth Rehn as part of ACCORD’s Leadership Programme. The focus of the interview was on civilian leadership in peacekeeping, with particular emphasis on the role of women. Mrs Rehn’s distinguished career has included serving as Minister of Equality Affairs and Minister of Defence in Finland; Member of the European Parliament; UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights during the war in the Balkans. Mrs Rehn has also been a candidate for the Finnish Presidency. While in Finland Mr Gounden also attended a lecture presented by former US Vice President Al Gore, which was held at the University of Helsinki.
Vasu Gounden interviewing Elizabeth Rehn, Helsinki, Finland, 05 September
Vasu Gounden presenting on the Role of Civil Society in Peace Building at the FK Norway’s Lecture Series, Oslo, Norway, 08 September
In Norway Mr Gounden was invited by FK Norway - or Fredskorpset in Norwegian (formerly known as the Norwegian Voluntary Service) to be a resource person at their lecture series on the 7 and 8 September. The focus of the lecture series was peace building in a broad context and from various angles and perspectives. Mr Gounden presented two lectures to delegates on the topic “The Role of Civil Society in Peace Building”. Other topics included: “My Jihad – Islamic Identity meets Western Urban Values”; “The Role of Women in Peace Building” (presented by Mrs Elizabeth Rehn); and “the Integration of Ethics in Military and Business Settings”. On 7 September the Mayor of Oslo hosted an invitation-only lunch at the City Hall which was followed by speeches to be given by the Norwegian Minister of International Development, Eric Solheim; and Noble Laureates Wangari Mathaai, José Ramos-Horta and Rigoberta Menchú Tum.
Vasu Gounden meeting with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta (Prime Minister of East Timor), 09 September, Oslo, Norway