Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture - Dutch Minister Sigrid Kaag ‘85: ‘COVID-19’s Impact in the Middle East’
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A graduate of AUC’s Middle East program and now the minister for foreign trade and development cooperation in the Netherlands, Sigrid Kaag ‘85 will be the guest speaker at this year’s Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture, “COVID-19’s Impact in the Middle East: What Now and What Next?”.
A diplomat since 1990, Kaag has years of international experience working with different United Nations organizations and has held several positions in the Middle East. From 1994 to 1997, she was the programme Manager and head of donor relations at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Jerusalem. She then worked at the International Organization for Migration in Geneva from 1998 to 2004. Following her time in Jerusalem, she was senior UN adviser in Khartoum and Nairobi, then went on to work for UNICEF in New York and Amman.
As UN under-secretary-general in 2013, Kaag led the mission to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, after which she held the same position in Lebanon, where she was responsible for all UN activities in the country. In 2015, Kaag received an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter and in 2016 received the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize in recognition of her work in the Middle East.
As minister, Kaag focuses on finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing global issues, including education in crisis zones, gender equality, and women’s rights and leadership. Kaag is also a strong advocate for mental health awareness.
The Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture is part of the Nadia Younes Memorial Fund, which was established in honor and memory of Nadia Younes, who was tragically killed in the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on August 19, 2003 while serving as chief of staff to Sérgio Vieira de Mello. In addition to the annual series, the fund has helped establish the Nadia Younes Conference Room, which serves Cairo International Model United Nations members, and the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service.
Every year, the lecture invites renowned international figures in the fields of politics, international relations and humanitarian affairs to speak at AUC. Past speakers have included Kofi Annan (2005), former secretary-general of the United Nations; Dr. Bernard Kouchner (2006), former foreign minister of France and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières; Mary Robinson (2007), former president of Ireland and the first female to assume that post; Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland (2012), former prime minister of Norway, former director-general of the World Health Organization and founder of the sustainability movement; Nabil Elaraby (2013), secretary-general of the League of Arab States; and Nabil Fahmy (2014); Egypt’s former foreign minister and dean of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy; in addition to many other prominent speakers and global leaders.