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L'X hosted the U7+ Student Forum on Peace and Security

The third edition of the U7+ Student Forum addressed the theme “Peace and Security – What commitments can students make to support universities as engines of innovation in peace and security?“ Hosted by École Polytechnique, the forum took place in a virtual format from June 16 to July 7, 2023, and brought together students and faculty experts from the U7+ Alliance of World Universities across the globe.
L'X hosted the U7+ Student Forum on Peace and Security
04 Aug. 2023
International, Education

What commitments can students make to support universities as engines of innovation in peace and security?” This question represented the guiding thread of the third edition of the U7+ Student Forum, inviting interested students from U7+ member universities worldwide to exchange with experts and provide ideas and recommendations. Organized by École Polytechnique, one of the founding institutions of the U7+ Alliance, in collaboration with Northwestern University, the University of Toronto, and the U7+ Student and Alumni Network, the forum took place virtually from June 16 to July 7, 2023, enabling students and faculty members from partner universities across the globe to join.

Earlier this year, at the occasion of their annual summit in March, the presidents of the U7+ member universities committed to making their universities become engines of innovation for peace and security to further positive peace. The notion of positive peace implies a comprehensive and long-term understanding of the patterns and processes that lead to sustainable peace, including solid institutions, economic stability, and social inclusion. Promoting positive peace is more likely to generate innovation in peace and security than negative peace, defined by the absence of violence or threat of violence. 

About 50 students from 20 universities worldwide participated in the U7+ Student Forum and discussed with faculty experts how students could support their universities in this vital quest.

The program of the U7+ Student Forum included panel discussions with four experts on different thematic areas, such as political, economic, social, and cultural conflicts, and an event organized by the U7+ Student and Alumni Network. Offering the participants a unique opportunity to exchange with experts in various domains on crucial topics such as international law, women’s participation and active involvement in security and peace processes, or conflict resolution in tertiary institutions, the sessions allowed for genuine exchange. Sincerely dedicated to the discussions, the participants engaged in a fruitful exchange of visions and opinions. As the participants joined from universities based in eight countries - France, Canada, England, Ivory Coast, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, and South Africa – their differing experiences and points of view to the discussions made the forum a truly global one.

Stressing the importance of navigating the political context of international law to better engage with the issues of global security and peace, Jean-Christophe Martin, professor of international and European law at the Université Côte d'Azur and director of the University's Institute for Peace and Development, presided one of the sessions. Jean-Christophe Martin outlined the "peace and security" notion in international law and spoke about the approach to peace and security based on international law.

Three other experts, very invested in their field of expertise, participated in the forum. Costanza Nardocci, Assistant Professor in Constitutional Law at the University of Milan, chaired a panel discussion on the UN resolution no. 1325, dedicated to the women's peace and security agenda and its implementation by the UN member states. Affirming the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, and the humanitarian response in post-conflict reconstruction, the resolution also stresses the protection of the rights of women and girls and the importance of integrating gender considerations into prevention, relief, and recovery efforts.

A law expert specialized in the elimination of violence against women with over five years of experience in the fields of prosecution, legal affairs, and international law practices in Afghanistan, Najia Mahmodi is a visiting professor at Northwestern University. Ms. Najia Mahmodi spoke about her professional experience promoting women's rights, gender equality, elimination of violence against women, and women in leadership in Afghanistan and discussed these vital subjects with the Student Forum’s participants.

Oluyemisi Bamgbose, Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Human Rights at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, was the first woman to be appointed Head of Department in the Faculty of Law of the university, serving two tenures (in 1997 and 2003). Today, she is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation, and Strategic Partnerships at the University of Ibadan. During the U7+ Student Forum, Prof. Bamgbose chaired the expert session on peace and conflict resolution in tertiary institutions.

The students are now preparing a set of commitments they can make to further the ones made by U7+ university presidents. The participants' remarks and promises will be shared with the presidents, making the U7+ Student Forum a platform for global exchange and a vehicle for the student's voice on crucial topics such as peace and security. "The U7+ worldwide Student Forum provides a unique opportunity for students to meet with peers from all around the world and share their recommendations on crucial subjects to weigh in on the future of education on a global scale. As we currently see various crises on a national and international level, peace and security are highly relevant and concern us all. Enabling students to participate in shaping the future by sharing their ideas and recommendations with decision-makers through events like the U7+ student forum is extremely important”, stresses Shayan Khan, a former student of École Polytechnique and Chairman of the U7+ Student & Alumni Network.