WMU Home > WMU News >

WMU News

Nobel Peace Prize winner to speak at WMU

March 20, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams is the featured guest at this year's Great Lakes PeaceJam Conference Friday, March 27, at Western Michigan University.

Williams, the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in the banning and clearing of landmines, will give a public address at 7:30 p.m. in the South Ballroom of WMU's Bernhard Center. Her talk, "Creating True Human Security," will kick off the conference that continues with other events Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29, that are not open to the public.

Williams' address is open to the public. Tickets to attend are $10 at the door and $5 for students.

Serving as the chief strategist for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Williams wrote and spoke exclusively on the need for a total international ban on landmines. In a little more than five years, Williams and the ICBL achieved their goal of raising public awareness about landmines and affecting a landmine ban. In recognition for their efforts, the Norwegian Nobel Committee named Williams and the ICBL as co-recipients of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Landmines distinguish themselves because once they have been sown, once a soldier walks away from the weapon, the landmine cannot tell the difference between a soldier or a civilian--a woman, a child, a grandmother going out to collect firewood to make the family meal," Williams says. "The crux of the problem is that while the use of the weapon might be militarily justifiable during the day of the battle, or even the two weeks of the battle, or maybe the two months of the battle, once peace is declared, the landmine does not recognize that peace. The landmine is eternally prepared to take victims. In common parlance, it is the perfect soldier, the 'eternal sentry.' The war ends, the landmine goes on killing."

Following the Friday evening public talk, hundreds of high school-aged children throughout Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio will spend two days with Williams during the PeaceJam Youth Conference, an event that is closed to the general public. This event is part of a year-round program that began in October 2008, in which adult club advisors were trained on the PeaceJam curriculum. Since that time, they have led regular club meetings with young people, exploring issues of violence and prejudice and studying the life and work of Williams as a role model for becoming civically engaged and bringing peace and justice to the world.

PeaceJam is an international education program built around 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Màiread Corrigan Maguire and the Dalai Lama, who work personally with the students. Their goal is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities and the world. Since 1996, more than 500,000 teenagers worldwide have participated in the program, developing more than 300,000 community service projects.

Great Lakes PeaceJam, based in Kalamazoo, serves young people in the four-state region. More than 2,300 young people have participated in Great Lakes PeaceJam programs since the initiative's inception in 2002. Funders of the project include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Fetzer Institute, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation.

For more information, visit greatlakespeacejam.org or contact Jennifer Stroven, Great Lakes PeaceJam director, at jstroven@greatlakespeacejam.org or (269) 492-7750.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400