World Leaders, Civil Society Actors Launch New Global Platform to Fight Extremism
A Dozen Heads of State and Senior Ministers Join Business Leaders, Cultural Icons, Philanthropists, and Rights Activists to Celebrate Everyday Heroes
NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2017 — The Global Hope Coalition was launched this evening at a star-studded special ceremony bringing together 550 government and business leaders, cultural icons, philanthropists, and human rights activists at the New York Public Library with the avowed aim of “taking the fight against extremism and intolerance to the next level.”
Ten men and women from around the world who are taking great risks to oppose extremists, wherever they spread lies, bigotry, and hatred, were honored as “Everyday Heroes”. They included Muzoon Almellehan (Syria), Dr. Waheed Arian (UK-Afghanistan), Colonel Matthew Bogdanos (USA), Jim Estill (Canada), May Makhzoumi (Lebanon), Dr. Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mansour al-Nogaidan (Saudi Arabia), Sammy Rangel (USA), Lt. Kochar Saleh (Iraqi Kurdistan), and Latifa Ibn Ziaten (France-Morocco).
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova chaired the event, which took place in the presence of President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali. His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid represented His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, while Iraqi President Dr. Fuad Masum sent as his special envoy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, the country’s Foreign Minister. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara was represented by cabinet minister Ally Coulibaly.
From the European Union members states, President Rumen Radev of Bulgaria and President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta were present, while the United Kingdom government was represented by Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had asked Undersecretary-General Ana María Menéndez, his senior advisor on policy, to represent him at the event. Other senior United Nations figures included Vladimir Voronkov, Undersecretary-General in charge of the Office of Counter-Terror, and former Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorensen. The Counter-terrorism Coordinator of the EU, Gilles de Kerchove, represented Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Canadian government was represented by David Drake, the Foreign Ministry’s Director General for International Security and Intelligence.
Former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, and the First Ladies of Bulgaria, Ghana and Mali were among the high-level dignitaries, as were the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria. Other notable guests included former World Bank President James Wolfensohn; American actor, producer, and director Forest Whitaker; former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay; Tunisia’s Nobel Peace Laureate Wided Bouchamaoui; Middle East Institute President Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin; Smithsonian Institution’s Ambassador at Large Richard Kurin; Harvard Women’s Francine LeFrak and Goldman Sachs Executive Vice-President John Rogers.
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin emceed the gala dinner, which started with a “Welcome to New York” speech by Emily Rafferty, President emerita of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a member of the Leadership Council of the Global Hope Coalition. Deborah Lehr, Chairman of Global Hope USA, and Li Yongjun, Chairman of Global Hope Asia, described the organization’s goals of creating a global platform to empower and amplify the impact of courageous individuals who stand up to extremism, preserve cultural heritage and promote cross-cultural ties. The Coalition’s global coordinator, Abe Radkin, noted that in addition to the annual summit in New York during the opening week of the UN General Assembly, the GHC will organize two summits in France and China next year.
Juan Zarate, Chairman and cofounder of the Financial Integrity Network, and Deputy National Security Advisor to former President George W. Bush, addressed the event on behalf of the Experts Committee of the Global Hope Coalition, and outlined the strategy of the foundation for supporting and empowering the Everyday Heroes.