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Seminar with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

14 December 2018 klockan 08.25

On 12 December, the Swedish Parliament held a seminar with Doctor Denis Mukwege, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. The Speaker Andreas Norlén opened the seminar, after which the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a panel spoke about how sexual violence in war and armed conflicts can be strategically prevented and how survivors of sexual violence can obtain redress.

Speakers and members of the panel at the start of the seminar.

Speakers and members of the panel at the start of the seminar. Photo: Anders Löwdin

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad because they have both “put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims”.

Doctor Denis Mukwege has spent a great part of his adult life helping women who have become victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Denis Mukwege first spoke with the moderator Ambassador Annika Ben David and then there was a panel discussion with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the former UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström (Social Democratic Party), Olle Thorell (Social Democratic Party), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Margareta Cederfelt (Moderate Party), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Angela Muvumba Sellström, Researcher at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.

The Speaker’s welcoming address

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Honourable Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ministers, Members of Parliament, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome one of this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Dr Denis Mukwege, to the Swedish Parliament.

According to the will of Dr Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prize is awarded to those who have “conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”. Regarding the Nobel Peace Prize 2018, this could not be more true.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates of 2018 are Dr Denis Mukwege and Ms Nadia Murad, two people who have, as stated by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, “put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims”.

It is a privilege for me and for the Parliament to host a seminar on such a crucial topic, a topic that has the strong support of many Swedish policymakers and NGO:s in Sweden, who are also striving to combat sexual violence in conflicts.

The two laureates are from different parts of the world and they have worked with this issue in different ways. But they have both strongly contributed to making the world recognize these crimes and acknowledge the rights and dignity of the victims.

Unfortunately, Ms Nadia Murad hasn´t had the possibility to travel to Stockholm but tonight we honour and celebrate her important work as well. She has bravely stood up for women and girls and spoken out against the perpetrators, holding them accountable for their atrocities.

Dr Mukwege, your dedication, courage and compassion is not only striking, but it is also inspiring and admirable. More than 50 000 women and children, survivors of sexual violence, have received help, care and treatment at the Panzi Hospital. Furthermore, you have raised your voice in order to speak clearly about sexual violence in war and armed conflict and in defence of the survivors.

As Nadia Murad and Dr Mukwege have shown us, these acts are nothing but horrendous crimes, and they are methods of warfare used against individuals, against families and against societies. The consequences and the suffering are beyond comprehension, at all levels.

The international community has taken important steps but there is simply so much more to be done. We must work hard to be able to guarantee women and children their human rights and to prevent rape, sexual slavery, sexual assaults and similar crimes, and to end impunity. The perpetrators must face justice. This is important not only to protect the life and health of individuals but also to be able to build sustainable peace and to ensure that women can take an active part in their societies, also to replace the rule of terror with the rule of law.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dr Mukwege is the main speaker of the seminar but I would also like to welcome our distinguished panellists: The Minister for Foreign Affairs and former UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, From Committee on Foreign Affairs Olle Thorell (Social Democratic Party) and Margareta Cederfelt (Moderate Party), And from the University of Uppsala, Angela Muvumba Sellström.

The purpose of the panel and the seminar is to discuss how sexual violence in war and armed conflict can be prevented strategically. A further purpose is to explore how survivors of sexual violence can find a platform themselves from which to raise their voices and to gain recognition and reparations.

Permettez moi aussi avant de donner la parole à notre modératrice, Madame l’ambassadrice Ben David, de saluer notre lauréat du prix Nobel de la Paix dans la langue de Molière.

Docteur, c’est un immense honneur de vous avoir ici, je pense que nous sommes tous très touchés par votre histoire exceptionnelle. Encore une fois soyez le bienvenu parmi nous !

I´ll take it in English as well: With these words I would like to give the floor to the moderator, Ambassador Annika Ben David.

Thank you.