President Obama was not the only high level politician on campus on Tuesday. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik made an appearance at the La Follette School to promote the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights and its mission.
The Prime Minister spoke to a gathering of about 25 students, faculty, and staff to discuss avenues and methods for promoting peace and understanding in the world. Mr. Bondevik advocated that peace could be achieved through increased religious and cultural understanding, and that mutual understanding could bring a resolution to conflicts mired in ethnic, cultural, and religious dispute. Mr. Bondevik also remarked that through dialogue parties in conflict could reach a deeper level of understanding that could not only bring about peace, but maintain it.
Mr. Bondevik also unveiled his “Code for Holy Sites.” The Code promotes a list of rules and guidelines aimed at promoting religious freedom in areas defined by religious and ethnic conflict. He advocated that such a code could best be employed in Jerusalem where the spiritual centers of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are stacked one on top of the other, and have been a source of contention for millennia. Most notably, Mr. Bondevik proclaimed that lying at the center of the Israel-Palestine conflict are the disputes involving the Wailing Wall and the Dome of Rock. The Prime Minister stated that in order for there to be peace between Israel and Palestine there must be a resolution on Jerusalem; and there can be no resolution on Jerusalem without a resolution on the holy sites.
It was an intriguing and educational lecture with everyone in attendance gaining new insights into religious freedom and human rights.
H.J Waukau is a first-year MIPA student at the La Follette School.