Kenyan Future Leaders connect with the Elders during London visit

Kenyan Future Leaders Connect in the UK
Kenya’s Future Leaders Connect representatives have had a busy schedule while in the UK. Photo: Twitter/ke_British

Members of the 2018 Future Leaders Connect programme from Kenya have visited a number of iconic locations in London during a trip to the UK.

Dr Bosire Wairimu, Sahil Shah, Shamsa Omar and Desma Natome visited 10 Downing Street and the BBC World Service.

They also took part in a debate hosted by the British Council along with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with The Elders, an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Elders were joined by former UN High Commissioners and young leaders to discuss the future of human rights and ethical leadership on Monday evening.

Speakers included former UN High Commissioners for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and Louise Arbour along with SOAS President Graça Machel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Topics for discussion during the evening’s debate were whether our human rights are better protected today than in 1948, what makes and ethical leader and what is the greatest challenge to the future of human rights.

Reflecting on the current challenging context of the UDHR anniversary, Gro Brundtland said that many contemporary political leaders give the impression they are “unmoved by this landmark text”. She went on to day that nationalism, migration and climate justice are some of the most important issues today.

Discussion how human rights can be protected, Valerie Amos expressed the need to “stand firm”, calling on leaders to hold each other to account.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described the challenge of defending human rights in the current political climate as a ‘brawl’ and Mary Robinson said the Elders were “determined to defend the values of multilateralism”.

Ms Robinson went on the say she believes the “Existential threat of climate change” in the greatest threat to human rights while Al Hussein said in his opinion it was “mediocre public leadership”.

Calling for citizen action, anger and advocacy to defend human rights and meet the challenge of climate change to guarantee equality and justice, Mary Robinson said: “People need to take this personally”. Hina Jilani went further, challenging human rights defenders to “turn fear into outrage.”

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that global democracy is threatened by people who are eroding gains on human rights made in the last 70 years.

Ernesto Zedillo added that to protect and implement human rights, you have to engage with institutions of government and develop effective policies while Stellah Bosire said she worried about the future because she seen no compassion.

“Where is the future for inclusion and diversity?” she asked before adding: “But then I have hope – because of you.”

Graça Machel told the gathered Future Leaders Connect members that is was their “time to lead”, telling them to “build a social movement, be vocal (and) don’t allow anyone to silence you.”

During their time in London, the Future Leaders Connect delegates visited the Houses of Parliament where they met Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, who Sahil Shah described as “one of (his) biggest inspirations”.

They also took part in a presentation by Clerk of the House of Commons David Natzler, Speaker of the House John Bercow and the British Council’s John Dubber on “Running Parliament”, joined a mentoring session with former Scotland and Northern Ireland Minister Lord Andrew Dunlop, and had a guided tour of the Parliament building by SNP MP Peter Grant.

Last month all 50 Future Leaders Connect members from around the world received training on advanced leadership and policy in Cambridge.

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