The Norwegian capital held the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony earlier this month, Dr. Asle Toje, Deputy Leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee (NNC), having invited Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) students, Abdulkader Hajj Abdallah, Charbel-Jesus AlDaouk, and Natalia Noujaim from the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLPS) to attend the celebration, in addition to three students from Rider University (Rider U). Both universities and the NNC have previously collaborated in organizing a Nobel Peace Prize stimulation class, “Model Nobel Peace Prize” (MNPP), coordinated by FLPS Professor, Dr. Eugene Sensenig, and Rider U Assistant Professor, Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano. Other attendees included the Norwegian Royal Family, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and the laureates.
The NDU students witnessed the second ceremony to have ever awarded the Peace Prize to three joint winners: Belarusian human rights advocate, Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights organization, Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organization, Center for Civil Liberties. The event followed with a gala dinner hosted by the Renaissance Foundation, a UK charity helping vulnerable youth in London.
The Nobel Peace Prize Forum took place the next day, where the NDU and Rider U teams listened to several high-profile international speakers discuss the Forum’s 2022 title, “Afghanistan: Finding a Way Forward.” To name a few: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeld, and Former Mayor of Maidan Shahr, Afghanistan Zarifa Ghafari were among the roster.
The visit to Oslo additionally brought the NDU students the opportunity to participate in a closed door session with their Rider U acquaintances and Dr. Toje, spanning topics from current issues in Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, and the US, to the influence of international politics on local governments, and a focus on Latin America as an example. They concluded with the importance of the Nobel Peace Prize in recognizing the laureates, and how the Nobel Committee and the Norwegian government work together to gather conflicting factions in productive conversations, even on sensitive talking points.
From their perspectives, the Peace Prize ceremony gave FLPS students hope for the future of Lebanon, particularly because of the attention given to people and causes that are under-acknowledged at best, and persecuted at worst, in their respective home countries. They are especially eager for the next joint NDU/Rider U MNPP class, starting in the 2023 Spring semester, with Drs. Sensenig, Fiske-Rusciano, and Toje taking the lead once more in engaging younger generations to become proactive players in international politics and human rights conversations.