World Affairs

Kjell Magne Bondevik is the former Prime Minister of Norway, a position he held twice from 1997-2000 and from 2001-2005. Following his life in politics, Mr. Bondevik became president of The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. In early 2006, then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him as the new Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, an area that includes the troubled regions of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. As an ordained minister and president of The Oslo Center, Mr. Bondevik is deeply involved in promoting international human rights and interfaith dialogue. He argues that instead of aggravating conflicts, religions—by focusing on common values—can join forces and make constructive contributions to conflict resolution. Mr. Bondevik joins the Council to discuss his organization’s work in bringing together influential politicians, religious leaders and academics into a much needed dialogue on religion, tolerance, diversity, women’s rights and democracy. He will discuss his recent partnership with the former President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, and how the two have been working together to increase understanding, reduce tensions, counter stereotypes, and promote peaceful dialogue between the Islamic world and the West.

Direct download: 09-30-09_Kjell_Mange_Bondevik.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

Abraham Verghese is Professor and Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Born to Indian parents in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa where he began his medical training. Today he is a practicing physician turned award-winning writer. His first book was named Best Book of the Year by Time magazine and was later made into a movie. His latest work, Cutting for Stone, is the story of Marion and Shiva Stone—twin brothers orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance. The twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution yet it is their passion for the same woman that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland. When the past catches up, Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. The story is as much about the coming of age of Marion as it is that of Ethiopia, a geography and tumultuous political landscape familiar to Verghese.

Direct download: 09-29-09_Abraham_Verghese.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

As the United States takes the lead on international efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons, Charles Ferguson, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force, and Task Force member Scott Sagan will discuss key recommendations on ways to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. The Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, states that while “the geopolitical conditions that would permit the global elimination of nuclear weapons do not currently exist,” steps can be taken now to diminish the danger of nuclear proliferation and nuclear use. The report also evaluates the best way to contain the threat of proliferation posed by Iran, North Korea and other potential nuclear threats.

Direct download: 09-28-09_Ferguson_Sagan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

Experience shows that physical reconstruction alone is not sufficient for the sustained, long-term politi cal and socio-economic development of societies emerging from conflict. Attention must be paid to the institutions that underlie function ing economic and political systems. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), joins the Council to offer new perspectives on the critical juncture between democratic governance, market institutions, and a functioning private sector. Traditionally, in dealing with post-conflict reform and peace-building issues, reformers have focused on security operations and humanitarian assistance as a key to moving countries out of conflict. Although important in their own right, such efforts must be complemented by institutional reforms, such as good governance, anti-corruption, the rule of law, and the strengthening of civil society. Citing examples of CIPE’s work in fragile states such as Pakistan and in post-conflict states such as Afghanistan and Iraq, Dr. Sullivan will address the role of private enterprise in promoting a strong, well-functioning society and the particular challenges faced in these vastly different environments.

Direct download: 09-24-09_John_Sullivan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:50am PDT

Opposition leader, pro-democracy campaigner, social worker, and women’s rights advocate Mu Sochua joins the Council to discuss her efforts to oppose sex trafficking, domestic violence, land grabs and corruption in Cambodia. A member of the opposition party in the Cambodian parliament, Ms. Sochua recently attempted to sue Prime Minister Hun Sen for defamation but the court dismissed her suit and instead upheld the prime minister’s counter-defamation lawsuit in August. Sochua was fined and had her parliamentary immunity stripped in a court case that attracted the attention of the UN High Commission on Human Rights. She and other human rights groups argue that the Cambodian government is using the courts to silence political opponents, journalists and human rights activists. Mu Sochua originally served as a member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet but left the position after witnessing government corruption and is now a senior member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. A former minister of women’s affairs, in 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to stop the trafficking of women in the Cambodian and Thai sex trade.

Direct download: 09-17-09_Mu_Sochua.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:57pm PDT

The World Affairs Council is pleased to co-sponsor a Marines’ Memorial event with journalist Nicholas Schmidle to discuss the most recent and turbulent period of Pakistan’s history. In February 2006 Schmidle traveled to Pakistan hoping to learn more about the place dubbed “the most dangerous country in the world.” After spending two years covering Pakistan and being deported twice by the Pakistani authorities for his reporting, his observations provide a contemporary history of this country at a time when President Pervez Musharraf’s power was waning and the Taliban’s was growing, and when Americans began to realize that Pakistan’s fate is inextricably linked with our own. A fellow at the New America Foundation, Schmidle writes for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Smithsonian, and received the Kurt Schork Award for freelance journalism in 2008.

Direct download: 09-15-09_Nicholas_Schmidle.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:55pm PDT

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