Words Matter! Tackling the Impact of Hate Speech

This page will be updated with more speakers as they are announced.

Joyce Banda

Former President of the Republic of Malawi

Joyce Hilda Banda was President of the Republic of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She was Malawi’s first female president. Before becoming president, she was Malawi’s first female vice-president. Banda was elected to the National Assembly as a member of the United Democratic Front in 2004. She moved to the Democratic Progressive Party and served as Minister of Gender, Child Welfare, and Community Services from 2004 to 2006. She served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malawi from 2006 to 2009. In 2011 she founded the People’s Party and was President from 2012 to 2024. Banda is committed to women’s rights and, through the Joyce Banda Foundation, the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project, she has helped many women achieve financial independence.

Kjell Magne Bondevik

Former Prime Minister of Norway

Kjell Magne Bondevik served as Prime Minister of Norway from 1997 to 2000, and 2001 to 2005. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs 1989-1990 and of Church and Education 1983-1986. Member of Parliament 1973-2005. He is founder and former president of The Oslo Center, committed to peace, democracy and human rights. Bondevik was awarded the Grand Cross of St. Olav in 2004, is a member of the Club de Madrid, a group of former leaders of democratic states that works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO) (video speech)​

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is globally recognised as a health scholar, advocate and diplomat with leadership in operations and emergency responses. He was elected WHO Director-General for a five-year term by WHO Member States at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017, and was the first person from the WHO African Region to head the world’s leading public health agency. Dr Tedros served as Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia’s federal government for over a decade. During this time, he made transformative contributions to the country’s health system and infrastructure, and led negotiations of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, in which 193 countries committed to the financing necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

H.E. Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa

Secretary General of the Muslim World League

H.E. Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is a globally renowned Islamic leader, lecturer, and philanthropist, he is the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), the world’s biggest Islamic NGO. Dr. Al-Issa dedicated his life to combating hate speech and extremist ideologies. In 2020, he became the first Islamic prominent figure to visit Auschwitz. He condemned the genocide. This visit has changed many of the Islamic perceptions on Jews and the Holocaust. He launched the initiative of ‘Building Bridges between the East and the West’ to counter the discourse calling for the clash of civilization between the East and West, especially after the Russia-Ukraine war. The initiative received support from the UN and the UN Secretary-General. This year Dr. Al-Issa brought together Muslim scholars from various Islamic schools of thought and sects, from across the world, to sign a historic charter, which acknowledges girls’ right in Islam to education of all levels, and that barring them from education is not Islamic. He established the International Interfaith Research Lab at the prestigious Columbia University to combat hate speech and hate crime.

Anne Lindboe

Mayor of Oslo

Anne Lindboe is the mayor of Oslo. She was nominated as the Oslo Conservatives’ mayoral candidate in 2022 and was elected on 25 October 2023. Lindboe is a pediatrician who worked as a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and served as the Norwegian Children’s Ombudsman from 2012 to 2018. She holds a degree in medicine from the University of Oslo in 2000 and an MBA in Management from the Norwegian School of Economics.  

Olemic Thommessen

Former President of Parliament of Norway

Olemic Thommessen is a Norwegian politician for the Conservative Party and was the President of the Parliament from 2013 to 2018. Thommessen was elected to the Norwegian Parliament in 2001 and was re-elected on four occasions. Previously, he served as a deputy representative during the term 1993–1997. He holds a degree in Law from the University of Oslo. He has held a wide range of tasks within Norwegian art and cultural life over a number of years. Thommessen was heavily involved in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s work against hate for inclusive and non-racist societies.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Former President of Croatia

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović served as the 4th President and the first female President of Croatia from 2015 to 2020. With extensive experience in politics, diplomacy, and security studies, she has held significant roles both nationally and internationally. She was elected to the Croatian Parliament in 2003 and served as Croatia’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2008. Additionally, she served as Ambassador to the United States and was the first female Assistant Secretary General and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Senior Leadership (2011-2014). In 2020, she became an independent member of the International Olympic Committee and Chair of the Future Hosts Commission for the Games of the Olympiad. Currently, she is a Practitioner in Residence at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management. Grabar-Kitarović is involved in various international advisory councils and boards, including the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and the High Level Advisory Council for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. She has pursued academic studies in government, international relations, and security studies at several prestigious institutions and holds a Master’s degree. She is recognized with numerous national and international awards, including the 2019 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement award.

Dr. Bernard Kouchner

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France and Co-founder of Doctors Without Borders

Dr. Bernard Kouchner was French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs from 2007 to 2010. A politician with over 18 years’ ministerial and diplomatic experience in various French governments and international governmental organisations, Bernard is also a renowned humanitarian activist. Founder and President of “MSF” Médecins sans Frontières and of Medecins du Monde –MDM, two of the largest global Humanitarian NGOs active until now in several regions of the world. Bernard Kouchner & Médecins Sans Frontières – MSF received the Peace Nobel Prize in 1999. He went on to become a minister in several French governments, in charge of public health and humanitarian affairs and in 1999, he was appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as his Special Representative for Kosovo. He has been awarded several international distinctions on Human Rights including the European prize of Human rights and became KCBE (Knight Commander of the British Empire).

Jagan Chapagin

Secretary General of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Jagan Chapagain is the Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), based in Geneva, Switzerland. An engineer by training, he began his career as a youth volunteer with the Nepal Red Cross where he advocated on behalf of communities. Prior to being appointed Secretary General, he served as Under Secretary General for Programmes and Operations and led large-scale humanitarian operations around the world. 

Catharina Bu

Secretary General of the UN Association of Norway

Catharina Bu is the Secretary General of the UN Association of Norway. She has more than ten years of experience from international development cooperation, including Save the Children and the Norwegian Council for Africa. Before joining UNA Norway, she worked for the think tank Agenda, where she published policy reports and hosted a popular podcast on international development. Ms Bu is also board member of Christian Michelsen’s Institute (CMI) and the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA). She holds a MSc in Development Studies from SOAS, London.

Pierre Krähenbühl

Pierre Krähenbühl

Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Pierre Krähenbühl is Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a position he assumed in April 2024. As head of the ICRC’s executive body, he is responsible for steering the organisation’s global humanitarian activities and its 18,000 staff in more than 100 countries, with a yearly budget of over USD 2.1 billion.

Mr Krähenbühl served as secretary-general to the ICRC Assembly (2023-2024), personal envoy of the ICRC President to China and head of regional delegation for East Asia (2021-2023). He has dedicated more than 30 years to the humanitarian sector in delegations and at headquarters in prominent roles including director of operations (2002-2014), personal adviser to the ICRC President (2000-2002) and head of operations for Central and South-Eastern Europe (1998-2000).

Mr Krähenbühl was commissioner-general and under-secretary general of the United Nations at UNWRA (2014-2019).

He holds an MA in political science and international relations.

Jørgen Watne Frydnes

Secretary General of PEN Norway

Jørgen W. Frydnes has a master’s degree in International Politics and studied Social Sciences in York, UK, and at the University of Oslo, Norway. He has 12 years’ experience from Doctors Without Borders and is also a Norwegian Helsinki Committee board member, a human rights organization focusing on Eastern Europe and Central Asia. From 2011 to 2023 he was responsible for the process and work to rebuild the island of Utøya after the terrorist attack on 22 July, the worst terrorist attack and most traumatic event in modern Norwegian history. From October 2023 he is the Secretary General of PEN Norway. Frydnes is also the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the committee of five which selects the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Hasina Shirzad

Journalist and advisor, Human Rights

Hasina Shirzad is a journalist residing in Oslo, Norway, with a Master’s degree from Oslo Metropolitan University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kabul. Her professional background includes serving as a deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s electoral committee, working with UNESCO in Kabul, the Afghan journalism team, and Khurshid-TV. Following injuries from a car bomb, she moved to Norway in 2015, where she has been involved with Dagbladet, NOAS, and the Journalism Media International Centre at OsloMet, in addition to the Nansen Centre for Peace and Dialogue. She has also engaged in writing for The Guardian, Aftenposten, and Dagbladet. Currently, she is working with human rights.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

National Leader of Belarus and a Head of the United Transition Cabinet

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a National Leader of Belarus and a Head of the United Transition Cabinet of whom independent observers agree won the presidential election on August 9, 2020, against the long-lasting dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka. In 2020–2023, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya became a symbol of the peaceful struggle for democracy and strong female leadership. As the leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, she has visited 28 countries, gathering support and advocating for the release of more than 1500 of political prisoners and a peaceful transition of power through free and fair elections. Among dozens of distinctions, she is a recipient of the Sakharov Prize awarded by the European Parliament, 2022 International Four Freedoms Award, and Charlemagne Prize. In 2021 and 2022, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and Members of the Norwegian Parliament respectively. Tsikhanouskaya has been recognized in Bloomberg’s Top 50 Most Influential People, Financial Times’ Top 12 Most Influential Women, and Politico’s Top 28 Most Influential Europeans.

Dr. Marjan Nadim

Research professor, Institute for Social Research, Oslo

Dr. Marjan Nadim holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Oslo and is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. Her research interests are related to gender equality, hate speech, free speech, immigrants and children of immigrants in education and labour market. Dr Nadim was member of the Norwegian national UNESCO commission (2013-2020), as well as the Norwegian Government’s Equality Commission submitting two official reports: NOU 2011:18 Structure for equality, and NOU 2012: 15 Policy for equality. Nadim is editor of Norwegian Journal of Social Research [Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning]. Recent publications include ‘Making sense of hate: young Muslims’ understandings of online racism in Norway’ published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies in 2023.

Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

PhD Teachers College, Columbia University

Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a Professor at Columbia University, award-winning author, survivor of the Bosnian Genocide, Executive Director of the International Interfaith Research Lab, and leading voice on violence prevention. She has received Innovation Grants from the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships leading to the development of Reimagine Resilience, a professional development program for U.S Educators and Educational Staff, and Project Belonging, a peer-to-peer project-based learning experience for students to develop local prevention campaigns. Having visited more than two hundred K-12 schools in the past few years, Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess has spotlighted the protective power of storytelling and has been a champion of the whole-of-society approach to violence prevention.

Dr. Sebastian Schutte

Senior researcher at Peace Research Institute of Oslo PRIO

Sebastian Schutte is Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, working on issues around social media and conflict, migration, and geographic research methods. He is a prolific author and some of his recent work has been published in world-class academic journals such as Terrorism and Political Violence; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; PLOS One; Social Science Research. Dr Schutte is currently working on a four-year project funded by the Research Council on “Online Dangerous Speech and Violence” (ODAS) focused on India. Project partners for ODAS are Yale University and Konstanz University in Germany.

Phoebe Mungai

Country director Kenya and Somalia, The Oslo Center

Phoebe Mungai is a highly committed member of the Democracy Assistance team in Kenya. She focuses on providing technical support to political parties and empowering women and youth. With strong strategic thinking and analytical skills, she is able to translate strategies into actionable initiatives. Phoebe has an extensive background in coordinating development partners with the government, managing programs, and overseeing grants. She has over 15 years of experience in democracy assistance, promoting youth engagement, advancing gender development, and establishing institutions in Kenya. Phoebe holds a master’s degree in project planning and management and a bachelor’s in communication.

Rolf Skjöldebrand

Co-founder of Non-Violence Project foundation NVPF

Rolf Skjöldebrand is the co-founder of Non-Violence Project foundation, (NVPF) a non-profit organisation with the mission to inspire, motivate and engage primarily young people to reduce all forms of violence. NVPF has been active for 30 years and reached out to more than 9 million students, teachers, sport coaches, athletes and volunteers in more than 30 countries. NVPF has won numerous awrads for best practice. Rolf SKjöldebrann has dedicated the last 30 years to social development. His inspiration emerge from Mahatma Gandhi´s wise words: “if you want to change the world, start with the children”.

Amanda Anvar

Advisor for Stopp hatprat (Stop hate speech), international youth movement for human rights and against hate speech, an initiative of the Council of Europe's youth council.

Amanda Anvar is a 22 years old Persian-Norwegian, queer and Christian human rights and peace dialogue activist from the district of Holmlia, Oslo. She works with the No Hate Speech Movement Norway*, as an educator at the Democracy Workshop at Utøya, and with interreligious bridgebuilding and dialogue for the Church of Norway. 

*The No Hate Speech Movement Norway aim to create a culture of human rights among young people, and strengthen the ability of young people to recognize, counter, and combat hate speech through dialogue rather than debate.

Jacqui Thornton

Award-winning global health journalist

Jacqui Thornton (moderator) is an award-winning health journalist writing for the Lancet, BMJ, Nature amongst others. She worked as Health Editor for the Sun and health correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph and has extensive experience as a global health journalist. Thornton specialises in chairing panel discussions at international medical and civil society conferences, as well as advisory boards for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.

Finn Jarle Rode

Executive Chairman of The Oslo Center

Finn Jarle Rode is the Executive Chairman of the Oslo Center. Previously, he was Executive Director at the Oslo Center, running a financial and strategic turnaround operation. Finn Jarle has previously served as Director of the Global Partnership team of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) headquarters in Geneva. He has over 20 years of experience in IFRC/ICRC and the Norwegian Red Cross. He has been IFRC’s Country Director in Afghanistan and North Korea and Regional Director for Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. He is currently the executive Director of the Hepatitis Fund.

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