Opening Ceremony Keynote Speaker – Sunday 30 October
Nobel laureate, seasoned diplomat and international lawyer, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei has a long and distinguished career in the service of peace and international law. Dr. ElBaradei served three terms as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an autonomous intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations. During his tenure, Dr. ElBaradei pioneered safety and compliance measures to strengthen the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime. He has been a staunch advocate of nuclear disarmament, and at the same time has promoted open and fair standards to guide the peaceful use of nuclear technology for development, particularly to redress poverty and inequality in the global south.
In 1998, when Saddam Hussein expelled international weapons inspectors from Iraq, Dr. ElBaradei was convinced that Iraq’s nuclear weapons program had been destroyed, even if the status of its chemical and biological weapons remained unclear. When IAEA inspectors returned to Iraq in 2002, they found no plausible evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program. When President George W. Bush asserted that Iraq was buying uranium in Africa, IAEA investigators identified evidence of this claim as a forgery, and Dr. ElBaradei, in a memorable address to the U.N. Security Council, challenged claims of Iraq’s nuclear capability. Subsequent developments proved Dr. ElBaradei’s assessment to be correct.
Dr. ElBaradei’s reputation is that of a man committed to diplomacy, fair standards and transparency. His outspoken opposition to double standards – which occasionally has led to tensions with the U.S., particularly over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program – has earned him the respect of the international community. In October 2005, Dr. ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts “to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee commended the “incalculable importance” of the IAEA and of Dr. ElBaradei’s bold and unflinching commitment to a nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In 2011, Dr. ElBaradei emerged as a high-profile opposition figure in the Egyptian protests that culminated in Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. He continues to be a voice for change in Egypt’s march toward democracy, calling for open dialogue, transparent legal standards and respect for human rights. Dr. ElBaradei recently wrote: “The rebirth of Egypt represents the hope of a new era in which Arab society, Muslim culture and the Middle East are no longer viewed through the lens of war and radicalism, but as contributors to the forward march of humanity, modernized by advanced science and technology, enriched by our diversity of art and culture and united by shared universal values.”