Promoting Peace through Intercultural Dialogue

On 17 June, as part of the Great Get Together in memory of MP Jo Cox, the Evelyn Oldfield Unit hosted a panel discussion on promoting peace through intercultural dialogue. The discussion ranged from the impact of faith to the importance of free speech to the relationship between language and inclusion. Please listen to the full podcast here.

Promoting Peace through Intercultural Dialogue

As part of the Great Get Together in memory of the MP Jo Cox, the Evelyn Oldfield Unit held a panel discussion on the topic ‘Promoting Peace through Intercultural Dialogue’. Speakers from both the panel and the floor brought their communities’ perspectives on issues surrounding conflict resolution.

Thank you to all who attended—the event was a great success, with many interesting discussion points. The afternoon did well to bring many different groups together for intercultural exchange, and proved that diversity, peace and community are alive and well in London.

Speakers

Panellists included:

 Nabil Khabirpour, a member of the Baha’i Faith and a lawyer in the field of international dispute resolution. He is closely involved with a number of community empowerment initiatives, pro-bono legal aid and participates in the discourse on European integration and cross-border conflict resolution.
 Laetitia Leguillou, who works for Counterpoint, a social enterprise which provides NGOs with consultancy around decision making, considering the impact of culture and behavioural psychology. She has also worked for a charity promoting intercultural dialogue through art.
 Amy Shepherd, a legal expert with experience ranging from representing convicted prisoners in the UK to combating human trafficking and exploitation in the Philippines. Her research interests include the role of free speech in conflict resolution.
 Ashraf Abdelfatah, who has a masters’ in law, and is working as a teacher in Oxford. He is a leader of the Oxford Sudanese community. Ashraf facilitated the discussion.

Discussion

The panel discussed a wide range of topics relating to peacebuilding and conflict resolution. This included which groups and organisations are responsible for creating peace, discourse surrounding the “other” and xenophobia, and the changing role of religion in the modern day. Audience members were encouraged to take part in the discussion, contributing their own experiences and points of view. This facilitated a dialogue about issues which were important to the attendees and created a reflection of the topics surrounding peace and conflict which affect their communities: migration, security, integration, intercultural cooperation and more.

Breakaway Groups

In the second half of the event, audience members had more opportunity to converse with each other on peace issues.
Wilford Augustus joined the group as facilitator of the community discussion. He is a strategic communications advisor, entrepreneur and partner at TBG Media London. He is also deputy chairman political for Bayswater Conservatives, City of London. Wilford challenged participants to questions their own stereotypes and discussed the importance of language-learning for intercultural dialogue. The main takeaway of this section was the essential nature of action above thoughts and philosophy.

Cultural Stalls

In addition to the panel discussion, attendees also had the opportunity to visit stalls created by volunteers Ajok and Angel, promoting culture and community projects.

Ajok brought with her many African artefacts, displaying her cultural heritage and raising awareness of African art. The beautiful display brought together artistic creations ranging from tableware to wooden sculptures to painting, celebrating the lively and vivid work.

Angel’s stall promoted a knife crime initiative, emphasising that a knife’s place is in the kitchen and not for violence. This was executed creatively with an interactive display of tableware, fruit and vegetables. Angel also kindly provided falafel for the attendees during the break, which was greatly appreciated and fuelled further energy for discussion!

Further Resources

Find the podcast of the discussion here.

Thank you to everyone who attended—panellists, facilitators, audience members and Ajok and Angel—for making the event a success. The afternoon certainly proved that interfaith and intercultural dialogue is not only possible but already a key part of our society. Keep up the community spirit!