Hi all, I’m Erick Ford, the AIDemocracy Southeast Regional Coordinator at George Mason University.  Last Friday – March 26th 2010 – over 100 members of the George Mason University community welcomed Former UN Ambassador Ahmad Kamal of Pakistan to the Fairfax campus for a discussion about building sustainable peace and security for future generations.

This was the second year in a row that Ambassador Kamal made the trip to George Mason. The forum was hosted by GMU’s Global Relations Organization, Americans for an Informed Democracy, the Public and International Affairs Department, Global Affairs Department, and the Office of the Provost, with support from the Student Government President Devraj Dasgupta.  The purpose of the forum was to bring the leaders of tomorrow an opportunity to ask and learn directly from today’s global leaders.

Ambassador Kamal spoke on various subjects including the Middle East peace process, Iran, nuclear proliferation, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Russia, US debt, the WTO, global concentration of wealth, welfare states, access to water, and the role of the US and the UN in maintaining global peace and security.

After he spoke, we opened the floor for questions to the Ambassador.  Many members of the audience asked questions particular to the announcement earlier that day of the US and Russian agreement to reduce their nuclear stock piles. Ambassador Kamal commented, “now instead of destroying the world 1,000 times over they will only destroy the world 800 times over.”

He was also asked about the relationship between the US and Israel and its recent strains that seem to be growing.  He responded by explaining that in order for peace between Israel and Palestine to really work  people must be given a choice in their homeland. Before the Middle East was split up by the British and the French after WWI most of the people got along.

Afterward, Ambassador Kamal was honored by the Global Relations Organization with a reception dinner, where 30 members of the community gathered for the opportunity to meet and discuss issues in a less formal setting.  Discussions ensued on US healthcare, European healthcare, the role of NGO’s in the UN, and building a stronger relationship between the UN and universities. During the reception, the Vice-President of Global Relations, Stephanie Tran, asked Ambassador Kamal about the change in the American presidency and in the country itself.  He says that he can really feel the change and that change is real in America.

Throughout the entire Global Forum and reception dinner, one thing Ambassador Kamal continued to suggest is that climate change, water issues, war, and all the other issues will not affect him or people of his generation; it is up to the youth, the generation now in the universities and entering the world, the ones who will be most affected, to really  address these issues in a serious manor.

I think this is something for every generation to consider and to take an active role in their world.  Before the Global Forum I had the privilege to speak with Ambassador Kamal about some ideas, one of them is to build a closer relationship between the UN, universities, and the youth.  During the Global Forum over 50 letters, about America’s foreign policy and foreign aid, were signed and sent to Senator Webb’s office in DC.

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