Besides New York, Moscow and Berlin, Yerevan is the venue of the main program of the Aurora Dialogues. Under the motto Inspire, Empower, Impact the importance of learning from the past, acting in the present and promoting a better future was discussed this year. Discussions, panels, and lectures focused on how inspiration and empowerment can contribute to a lasting impact on the promotion of humanitarian action and initiatives. We have gathered the highlights of the conference.
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has set itself the goal of supporting people who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian aid and who help others in greatest need. In 2016, a prize worth 1.1 million dollars was created for this purpose – the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. It is in this spirit that the Aurora Dialogues series was initiated, within the framework of which the prize is awarded. Together with renowned scientists, politicians, activists, and philanthropists, the most urgent humanitarian problems are discussed and tangible solutions are sought to bring about lasting change.
Participants of the Aurora Dialogues were able to listen to many panels and lectures as well as a conversation between the Franciscan monk and La 72 founder Héctor Tomás González Castillo and Mary Robinson, former head of state of Ireland. In 2011, Castillo created La 72, a place for refugees in which they can find shelter, food, protection from violence and legal assistance. Also a finalist for the Aurora Prize, Castillo underlined in the talk how defenseless some refugee groups are: Especially women, children and members of the LGBT community are not only threatened by authorities and institutions, but also by their own family members.
In addition to the one-day conference, the Aurora Dialogues in Yerevan also offered an exciting supplementary programme. From 6 to 11 June, various lectures were to address the local people in particular. There was also a public discussion between the former US UN ambassador Samantha Power and the founding director of the ENOUGH project John Prendergast under the title: Making Change When Change Is Hard.
This year’s laureate of the Aurora Prize is the lawyer Kwan Hla Aung, who has been advocating for the basic human rights of the stateless Rohingyas in Myanmar for many years. He called for international solidarity with the fate of the Rohingya and humanitarian aid. His tireless efforts had personal consequences for the Rohingya activist: he spent 12 years of his life in prison for political activity. For this personal sacrifice, he was honored this year by the selection committee. Besides the financial support of 100,000 US dollars for Aung personally, the winner has the opportunity to distribute one million US dollars to organizations of his choice.
This year, Aurora Dialogues will be held in Berlin for the second time. Under the motto Humanity In A Fragile World – Partnering for Change, once again questions of awakening humanity on December 11 and 12 will be discussed at the venue of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former Ambassador to the USA, Tom Catena, winner of the 2017 Aurora Award, and many others will then discuss these issues.
The conference was made possible by the kind support of the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and the cooperation with the Global Perspectives Initiative (GPI). Further information on the first and second rounds of talks can be found here and here.