“It is my hope that over the next three days we can see what character and courage can do to make a difference,” Emanuel told the audience and others watching via webcast.
The summit, which runs through Wednesday, gives the public a chance to hear about human rights and global peace from those who have actively fought for them. The first day of events included the theme of “Speak Up, Speak Out For Freedom and Rights.”
Highlights of the day included Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, paying tribute to the Nobel Peace Laureates present.
“Over the past 30 years these people have bent history,” Kennedy said. “Changes came about because individual people banned together to create change. These people are here today. They have challenged government and now they are challenging us to take up the torch for a more decent society.”
Summit organizers were particularly interested in reaching out to young people, and hundreds of students were present Monday. The laureates did not waste the opportunity to address them.
“We all have the power to decide what we do in our day to day lives,” said Professor Jody Williams of the United States, who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to ban landmines. “If each and every one one of us thought about the issue that agitated them the most and volunteered a few hours a month with an organization, can you imagine what this world would be? The [Nobel Peace] Prize in and of itself is nothing, it’s the actions you do to receive it.”