The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown… The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that the elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers. - Margaret Mead

Background: the development of a virtual magazine about peacebuilding that focuses on initiatives being carried by people and communities that are rarely placed on the spotlight

Interactive Virtual Panel Event

26th October 2021, 4:00 pm -6:00 pm CET, online

Register for the event here

Various societies around the world are making efforts to achieve peace by working towards the SDGs. Generation after generation, people have shaped the world trying to build a better future for the youth. Now, it is the younger generation chance to take on the lead and be the change, creating a more sustainable, equal and peaceful society.

Peacebuilders in the spotlight is a discussion panel that builds on the experiences of five peacebuilders from various parts of the world that have developed strategies, from each of their fields, to contribute to the peace and reconciliation process, as well as strengthening the resilience of their communities and prevent conflict among young people, their families, and the communities they belong to, many of which are vulnerable to several factors.

The invitees to the panel are directly linked to storytelling articles from the first edition of Peace in Focus, a new publication by the Division for Peace at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) that aims to inspire the youth into becoming agents of peace and change in their own communities, by sharing stories of community leaders around the world that are working towards the SDGs at a local level. As a UN publication, the magazine recognizes the interconnective nature of the 2030 Agenda, thus presenting initiatives from all SDGs and connecting them to the SDG16. True to its target audience, the first edition of the magazine, and its launch event will put young people at the centre of the discussion.

Peace in Focus recognizes the influence of narratives in the construction of a sustainable future, and therefore, gathers stories from various regions of the world, in which their actors worked using approaches that allow for the creation of collective historical memory from new constructive and peaceful narratives about reconciliation, resilience and peacebuilding.

Panel Discussion: Peacebuilders in the spotlight

Peacebuilders in the spotlight aims to open a space for narrative and cultural expression, around the voices of many communities that have a great capacity for resilience, despite having been affected by various factors that ultimately impact the peacebuilding and resilience capacities of communities. Said efforts have been compiled in the first issue of Peace in Focus.

We believe that there are many valuable lessons learned from each of the initiatives presented on the first edition of our magazine, that deserve being shared with a wider audience. The panel discussion wants to provide a space to explore approaches that share the same goal: working towards sustainable societies in various contexts.

UNITAR is honoured to lead a virtual panel discussion open to the general public, with the participation of renowned champions in the defence of human rights and peace, who play a central role in promoting a conversation around storytelling and art as vehicles for reconciliation in society.

With this virtual panel event, UNITAR is aiming to:

  • Launch the first issue of Peace in Focus Magazine.
  • Shed light on the power of culture and storytelling tools for the promotion of peaceful relations between community members, moving from mistrust and violence to a culture of dialogue and trust.
  • Share diverse perspectives, by giving voice to champions from the fields of human rights and peacebuilding.


130-minute panel event with 4 panellists, a keynote speaker, a moderator and two cultural experiences to close the event.  

Introduction – 5 mins

Opening remarks - 10 mins

Presentation of the magazine – 10 mins

Keynote speaker - 10 mins

Panellists - 5 mins each

Discussion - 30 mins  

Q&A - 15 mins

Closing remarks - 10 mins

Cultural experience - 20 mins

The event will be conducted in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish.



Opening remarks: Mr. Nikhil Seth, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNITAR. He has over 35 years of service as an international and national civil servant, and extensive experience in leading, supporting and managing intergovernmental processes, including UN summits and conferences in the economic, social and environmental fields. He has held various positions at the UN since 1993, and since 1980 served successfully in the Indian diplomatic service.

Moderator: Mr. Alonso Ojeda Awad, Former Ambassador of Colombia to Hungary, Vice President of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and participant of the Habana discussion tables that drafted the Colombian Peace Agreement. Mr. Ojeda has over 35 years of experience in peacebuilding actions and defense of Human Rights. Currently works as an author for various magazines and acts as Director of the Pedagogy for Peace Program at the National Pedagogical University of Colombia


  • Keynote speaker: Patrick Colgan, Former Special Representative of the Irish Government to the Colombian Ministry for Post Conflict. Senior Irish public servant with a long career in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and other conflict zones. From 2016 to 2018, Mr. Colgan served as the Special Representative of the Irish Government to the Colombian Ministry for Post Conflict, where he worked with the Colombian government and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on peacebuilding initiatives and the implementation of the 2016 Colombian Peace Agreement. From 2004 to 2015, Mr. Colgan served as Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which was set up by the British and Irish Governments to manage EU funded peacebuilding and cross-border cooperation programmes in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and parts of Western Scotland. He has also collaborated in peace initiatives in The Basque Country, Korea, Israel / Palestine, The Balkans and Cyprus.
  • Kabul Dreams, Rock band from Afghanistan, established in 2008 in Kabul. The band consists of Sulyman Qardash (lead singer and guitarist), Siddique Ahmed (bassist) and Jai Dhar (drummer). The band’s motivation to perform came from their own love for music, but also from a public hunger for a new life after war – a life that included new music and art. All of the band members were born in Afghanistan, but they were displaced to neighboring countries as refugees during the Taliban reign – Sulyman Qardash in Uzbekistan, Siddique Ahmed in Pakistan, and Mojtaba Habibi Shandiz in Iran. After the fall of the Taliban regime, the band members returned to Afghanistan and met each other in Kabul.
  • Yasmina Benslimane, Young Moroccan human rights activist with Mauritanian origins. Ms. Benslimane’s professional experience involves national human rights institutions, NGOs and UN agencies such as UNESCO, IOM, UNHCR, UNDP and UN Women. Yasmina speaks on social and global issues particularly on topics related to political participation, youth & women empowerment, migration and peace-building. She has founded Politics4Her a feminist youth-led blog and movement that breaks stereotypes, helps women grow more informed, and encourages active participation in civil society.
  • Marcos Guevara, photographer, leader and former child soldier. Mr. Guevara believes in the power of images and storytelling to transform societies and bring reconciliation. His work has been displaced at national and international levels and has partnered with various international organisations such as UNITAR, UNDP and USAID.
  • Iris Nzolantima, Congolese, Iris is a feminist diplomat who is now the African Youth Charter Hustler of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She currently works as the Assistant of the Ambassador at large of the DRC President. She also worked as campaign team member of the Congolese Candidate at the SADC Secretariat, Ambassador Faustin LUANGA.  She previously worked as the Advisor in charge of Prevention, Safety and Good Governance at the Agency of Prevention and Fight against Corruption - Office of the President of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Iris is a socially engaged activist since 2015 in the promotion of gender equality, menstrual hygiene, youth inclusion and promotion and recently, the culture of Integrity. She was the Country Representative and member of the Steering Task Executive Committee of the SADC Youth Council. Iris is also part of the Gender Advisory Council of the DRC President and she is a bursary of the 2063 Academy and Apolitical.co. 
  • Gabriela Huidobro Jáuregui, forest engineer. Ms. Huidobro has closely work on various projects in the South-American Orinoco region and in the Cloud Forest. Ms. Huidobro has experience in natural silviculture, developing conservation strategies with the locals, restoration planning, ecotourism, environmental education and seedling production in nurseries. Ms. Huidobro furthered her education with a master's degree in Tropical Forestry and Management at TU Dresden. She has a passion for palm trees and research interest in fire management for both ecological and social systems.


  • Khuslen Tsend, Mongolian-German artist. Mr. Tsend’s work will be featured in one of the sections of the first issue of Peace in Focus. For the event, a giveaway of one artistic peace about climate and peace will take place among the people that join the panel.
  • Kabul Dreams, the band will offer a short concert at the end of the event.

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