Former Norwegian Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs and diplomat Thorvald Stoltenberg was a pioneer for Norwegian peace diplomacy. He passed away in July 2018, and in his memory and to honor his strong belief that knowledge and tolerance can overcome xenophobia and hate, the Thorvald Stoltenberg seminar at Utøya is an annual international meeting place for young people engaged in democracy and human rights.
“I live and work in Rzeszów, Poland, which is a city that is becoming more and more international. Our main target group is youth, and I look forward to adapting the tools I have learnt at Utøya in our organizations work to bridge the gap between the local community and the growing group of internationals”, says Elsa Daniels from the international youth organization INPRO.
Many valued the opportunity to exchange experiences and build networks with participants from a variety of countries and backgrounds. Yassine El Hadouchi works as a youth manager in Anderlecht, Brussels, and has participated in many trainings in his local community. “I wanted to be in an international environment and be able to learn techniques from a different perspective, as well as share my insights and experiences”, he explains. “Both our cities have experienced terror, and I think it´s very positive that the site of the attack (Utøya) is open, accessible and a place of learning.”
At the end of the five days many friendships had been built, and it was clear that the group had shared an experience that will not be forgotten. Many highlighted that it was particularly useful to learn about how living remembrance, as well as a human rights framework, can be used to promote tolerant and open societies. The EWC thanks all the participants and trainers for their engagement, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Together with Utøya we look forward to following their work, and to welcome new participants to next year's seminar.