The excitement is mounting...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 17:59

Backstage at TEDxHagueAcademySalon Secure Societies, the excitement is mounting. At lightning speed a lecture hall has become a forum for ideas worth spreading.

TEDxHagueAcademySalon volunteersMeanwhile, in the rehearsal room, the fascinating people with the bright ideas are limbering up. Kianoush Ramezani is deep in conversation with But Klaasen. Ken Luongo has finished giving an interview and is chatting with Andro Vos. The kind of chat that goes…

“So what’s your talk about then?”

“Oh, it’s about how can we address global nuclear security in the 21st century.”

Speakers' coach Deborah Abrahams hands out good luck cards to her high-powered protégés. Then a dry run gets underway, with host Ikenna Azuike taking everyone through their entrances and exits.

“OK, you’re still standing there, everyone’s clapping – hey, tone it down it’s never going to be that loud!” In typical Ikenna style, he has everyone laughing and relaxed.

"Right, now Sander… you come on, blah blah blah, tattoos, tattoos. Great talk, off you go! And now it’s the drone-maker Lucas van Oostrum… and that’s it everybody, thank you for a great TEDxHagueAcademy. It’s been brilliant, and good night!”

And everyone bustles off down to the auditorium to get started on an evening of inspiration. Stay glued to your screen and watch the live stream as the event unfolds.

TEDxHagueAcademySalon - your posts, tweets and comments


During TEDxHagueAcademySalon on Secure Societies, all your comments, questions and thoughts sent straight to us or via social media were collected on a digital Whiteboard. Click on the image below to see the event and your thoughts about it in a nutshell.

TEDxHagueAcademySalon Secure Societies whiteboard



TEDxHagueAcademySalon Secure Societies


TEDxHagueAcademySalon on Secure Societies on 19 March 2014 was a resounding success.

Check out the video or speaker pages to watch all the inspiring talks. And keep an eye on the website for upcoming events in 2014!

"Im lucky to be in the front row"


Just a few hours to go before TEDxHagueAcademySalon on Secure Societies opens its doors. Host Ikenna Azuike is running through the programme and studying his notes on the speakers. What's he looking forward to this evening?

Ikenna: The talks all look very interesting. I’m just lucky that I get to be front row and ask questions to all these inspiring speakers!

I’m frightened at the same time as intrigued by Andro Vos’s talk about CSI The Hague – bringing to life the series I’ve watched on TV: CSI Miami!

Ken’s talk will be interesting geopolitically, to get a better sense of the realities of governments protecting nuclear sites and getting round negotiation tables to manage nuclear security.

I’m interested in design, so I’m look forward to hearing Vera’s ideas. She’s talking about tackling fear rather than throwing security cameras at preventing crime. But I’m not sure if it’s a bit idealistic to really apply design to crime prevention the way she describes. We’ll hear what she has to say.

Kianoush’s talk is close to what I do – I make a satirical video blog – because he’s a cartoonist. I’m really interested to hear his personal story and hear how he creates cartoons to make a difference.

How can we feel safer in a changing world?


“I’ve always thought that security is a precondition for peace and justice,” says Ingrid de Beer, co-organiser of TEDxHagueAcademy. As a communications adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she has her finger on the pulse in the city that has made peace and justice its trademark. In the midst of the final preparations, Ingrid explains the inspiration behind TEDxHagueAcademy and the Secure Societies Salon.

Q: What do you do when you’re not organising TEDxHagueAcademy?

IdB: I studied law, and though I’m not working in it now, it’s always been my fascination, and I’ve always worked with it. I travelled around the world, worked in Africa and in the United States.

Then when I returned to the Netherlands I saw there was something that could be done a bit better. In The Hague there are so many organisations that work on peace and justice – about 160! But I realised that there weren’t so many people either in the Netherlands or abroad who actually know what all these organisations were doing. So my job is to shed some light on the work of these organisations, and how it affects people around the world.

Q: How did TEDxHagueAcademy come about?

IdB: It was set up for last year’s Peace and Justice event. TEDx is a nice concept because it’s about people sharing personal stories and having great ideas in different fields. So also for the theme of peace and justice I think it was an ideal concept to use. It provided a podium for different perspectives and solutions from around the world on peace and justice.

Q: How did you arrive at the theme of Secure Societies for this first Salon event?

IdB: Well, in two ways. Firstly, I’ve always thought that security is a precondition for peace and justice. Secondly, we’re having the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. This is concentrated on 58 world leaders, who’ll be talking for two days about how to prevent terrorists from using nuclear materials.

This is such a technical topic for a group of world leaders, and I wasn’t sure if this was the most effective way to secure the world. So we decided to broaden it out, and involve many more security-related topics and people that have great ideas on securing the world in many different ways.So our TEDx Salon is kind of linked to the Nuclear Security Summit, but not really. It’s more about getting people to think how we can feel safer in a world that is changing rapidly.

Q: What’s your main role in the run up to the event?

IdB: My main role is actually taking care of the stakeholders and partners, the many organisations in the Netherlands and abroad that all have great ideas about what this TEDx should be.

I’m also in charge of the fundraising, which is important because we don’t want to charge any entrance fee, because we want to make it as accessible as possible. We don’t want it to be exclusively for highbrows. A lot of students have signed up, and just people who live in The Hague and want to know more about what’s going on.

Q: Is everything ready for Wednesday?

I think it’s all going very well. Everybody’s very busy at the moment, but everyone in the team knows exactly what they have to do. So I’m very confident that it’s going to be a great event! Something that you shouldn’t miss. I think it will be something that people will talk about for weeks afterwards too.


Coaching for the four-minute challenge


Coach Maarten Mens is working with the speakers who will be packing bright ideas into punchy pitches at TEDxHagueAcademySalon. “The time frame is a challenge,” he says. “It’s easier getting the message across in 15 minutes rather than four!”

Q: What have you been working on with the pitchers up to now?

MM: So far Janet Anderson and I have been listening to the original ideas, breaking them down in some cases, and reworking ideas that some people have come up with. Then they’ll come back to me with their final pitch. Then we’ll simulate the situation, and they’ll do a great pitch. I’m looking forward to making it a success, because they’ve really had an impact on me.

Q: What’s struck you most about the pitches so far?

MM: I think the fact that they’re all about an apparent lack of awareness of security issues within society. They all have different ideas that bring that together. Take Pascal van Gimst, who says we need to make internet security like brushing our teeth. I’m just a normal guy on the street, and listening to these people makes me realise that there are things other people ought to be aware of too.

Q: How are you helping the pitchers meet the challenge of the four-minute format?

MM: Well, the people we’re working with are experts. The problem is that they tend to think what they’re saying is obvious. So what we’re doing is making it a logical and acceptable story for the audience. Being able to tell people in one sentence what they’re on about.

We’re also encouraging them to use visualisation – not slides necessarily but actual physical stuff they can bring along. That can strengthen a talk because it remains in people’s minds more than just words.

Q: How did you get into coaching speakers?

MM: Well, I started out being a presenter, discussion leader and moderator myself. Through that I started being asked to train people – help people get over their insecurities. So I decided to do a course in it, and that led me to become a presentation coach.

Even for an experienced speaker, standing up in front of an audience can be intimidating. So in a rehearsal we’ll get as close to the real thing, as possible. Simple things like practising walking on stage and taking the first breath.

It’s great to sit back and listen to people and let them find the solution to their problems themselves. The key thing is not to be judgmental, have fun, and show the enjoyment.

Maarten’s websites: /


Its like were creating a sculpture


Speakers’ coach Deborah Abrahams is busy having her first sessions with the speakers for TEDxHagueAcademySalon Secure Societies. At this stage that mainly means long-distance Skype and phone calls from her office in Amsterdam. “It’s great now I’m talking to the speakers,” she says. “Finally it all starts to seem real.”

Q: So what are you working on with the speakers at this point?

DA: Getting them to decide what’s their ‘idea worth spreading’. It’s like we’re creating a sculpture – they’re providing the clay and then we need to build the structure inside to support it. I told that to Vera Winthagen and she really understood what I meant.

All the people we’re dealing with have lot of experience with public speaking, but a TED talk isn’t a lecture, it’s not a presentation. What’s interesting about this is making the personal connection, what drives you, what inspires you, what makes you have to give this talk.

Q: So far you’ve talked to three of the speakers. What’s your impression so far?

DA: What I like about Vera Winthagen is that because she’s a designer she understands it’s about how you connect to the audience. Not just to send a message and tell the audience something, but to trigger people. She comes from a design mentality so she thinks in a very wide focus. So if I’m saying, maybe there’s something you could do to connect with the audience before they even come in, she really picks up on the idea.

What I find interesting about the Iranian cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani is that his medium is an image, a cartoon, and the challenge is how you translate that into a talk. Not that he has nothing to say – he has lots to say! He’s an incredibly engaging guy. One thing that sticks with me about our conversation is that as a critical cartoonist living in exile, for him social media is more than just a way to keep in contact with friends or promote your business – it’s a lifeline.

Andro Vos [speaker's page coming soon - ed.] from the Netherlands Forensic Institute is amazingly energetic, passionate. He has a real need to speak, in a positive way. I said, you’ve got great ideas, but we need to get the structure right, and he’s really open to working like that.

His main thing is that you should live your dream. For him that was setting up a forensic training facility in Africa. What’s amazing is that he went out on his own initiative to set it up. He and his wife promptly got robbed at gunpoint. It’s ironic, because his work is about finding the truth about crime and he was the victim of crime. But in fact that incident brought him closer to realising his dream. But I won’t say more, as I might be giving away things he wants to say in his talk.

Q: So is your job as a speakers’ coach more about the content or about the way people deliver their talk?

DA: Well, they provide the content, but I help them home in on the big idea and create the structure. Some people obviously need more help than others. Then in the next stage we’ll be working on the visuals, and how they give the talk – that’s just as important. It’s where my background in performance comes in. But you can ask me more about that in a week or two!


Deborah's website:

Secure Society generation


Have you checked on our social media channels? No? You should! We have a great group of volunteering students working behind the scenes. They’re posting, sharing and discussing. And they belong to the Secure Society generation.

It’s Friday, 16:15, a time when many Dutch people are getting ready to leave the office or have a first beer. A young, energetic, international group of students is meeting at The Hague University.

They’re volunteers discussing the social media strategy for our Salon event on Secure Societies. They’ll be spending the next four weeks posting, sharing and enhancing discussion via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.

Excitement in the air

So what it is that drives these students to spend their free time doing social media for this event?

The strange thing is when you enter the room you feel it immediately. There’s excitement in the air. It’s about discussing politics. It’s about discussing the next posts, asking questions, searching for relevant topics, talking through the do’s and don’ts. Some are reflecting on their last posts and how excited they got when people actually engaged and started discussions on Facebook. In fact, they are having a hard time to sit still.

It’s clear they feel engaged by a topic that matters to them: Secure Societies. What I picked up during the discussions. There is a feeling that they belong to a generation born into societies that are dominated by security more and more every day. And they have an urgent need to talk about it. 

Bearing fruit

“I enjoy doing social media because it’s the easiest way to connect people and share important things,” says Hajar, one of the volunteers. “For example, states might censor content, but social media still makes you aware of it.”

 “It’s a lot of work and it takes a while to get the ball rolling, but it’s for the purpose of a great event,” says David Suswa of The Hague University, who is coordinating the team.

And their work is bearing fruit. When I got home and opened my laptop, I could see another 140 fans had liked our Facebook page. I also saw new pictures on Instagram: strong pictures, pictures that matter to these students who are passionate to talk about Secure Societies.




OK, so here’s the plan…


First stop: a white board with lists and colours. Next stop: lots of new ideas and people for you to meet.

We’ve got a great website and a great social media team. Now all we have to do is explain the TEDx experience we are offering on  Secure Societies: how four speakers, six pitches, several side events all pull together on the theme of security. 

Why The Hague University?


A lot of people in The Hague don’t know that we have our very own university here: The Hague University of Applied Sciences. For some Dutch people it’s the place they knew as de Haagse Hooge School – a technical institution. But this place has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, while building its profile in the city, and all over the world - so for a TEDx event, it’s a great venue.

To start with there are more than 20,000 students. It’s huge! And it’s very international. I don’t know what proportion is non-Dutch. But every time I walk onto campus I’m struck by the cacophony of different languages.

And, as a university, the THU has developed a lot of programmes directly linked to The Hague’s identity of city of Peace and Justice – law, international communication and safety and security management – for example. So, via the university, we even get expert student volunteers who have a speciality in our new Salon subject – Secure Societies.

And THU has a superb auditorium with a great stage - look at it, it's that green rocketship in the photo -  and some really nice space for us all to interact during the evening.

For TEDxHagueAcademy this is a basic win-win situation and we are very thankful to all the staff at THU who have made it possible for us to work together on this event.

Janet Anderson


The end of an amazing journey: Tedx 9-9-2013


There are few things as satisfying and exhilarating as watching an idea turn into a reality. Organizing the TEDxHagueAcademy has been an amazing journey. We've had the most fun liaising with people all over the world in the true spirit of International Peace and Justice. We worked together to bring nine amazing talks to audiences not only in the Hague but worldwide. People from Bulawayo, Washington DC, Sofia, Beijing, Beirut- people all over the world-joined us in celebrating International peace and Justice. 

We hope that TEDxHagueAcademy has made you reflect about International Peace and Justice, and that the stories have made the seemingly abstract issues as personal and concrete as possible. We hope you have had as much fun with us, and that you will continute to interact with us and like and share our website. You can still follow us on twitter and on facebook, and you can see more images from the event on flickr.


Audience reactions


Wondering what the audience thought about our speakers? Well, you've come to the right place. Our press team spoke to a bunch of audience members to hear about their experience at the TEDxHagueAcademy.

Have a listen to what people thought about Vithika Yadav's talk, "Stop sexual violence in India - let's talk about sex."

Jean Paul Samputu spoke about forgiveness being an unpopular weapon at the TEDxHagueAcademy. He was referring to the process of peace and reconciliation after a society shares horrifying experiences. This video includes audience reactions to his powerful speech

Faisal Attrache spoke about his latest documentary project about inter-personal connections in a Syrian refugee camp at TEDxHagueAcademy. Here are some reactions from the audience to Faisal's amazing talk.

Tweet, tweet...


Our audience was hooked to social media through the day. 

The press...


Some of our audience members were interviewed at the venue. We kept everyone busy at the TEDxHagueAcademy. 

Our audience


Our audience members were attentive and interactive. Thanks for all your support in interest! 

Streaming live!


What goes behind the live stream of the event... 

The TEDx team


The hardworking and enthusiastic TEDx team that's put this amazing event together! 



Gender is a very big issue in India


Human and sexual rights activist Vithika Yadav explains why her talk on “Stop sexual violence in India – talk about sex” is so important for India.

Catch Vithika live at the TEDxHagueAcademy in  the Peace Palace, The Hague on September 9, 2013 or watch the live stream on 

Everyone needs a haircut


Faisal Attrache, Syrian-American documentary filmmaker, will be speaking about his ongoing documentary project from Zataari Refugee Camp in Jordan.

Watch his talk on “Barbers and Barriers: Creating personal connections in a Syrian refugee camp” at the TEDxHagueAcademy on September 9, 2013 in the Peace Palace , The Hague. Watch the live stream on

A peek behind the scenes at TEDxHagueAcademy 2013


The Speakers for TEDxHagueAcademy are now in the Netherlands and intensively rehearsing and preparing or their talks on Monday 9 September.

Here's a peek at what's going on behind the scenes as the speakers prepare to give the best talks of their lives. And they are making sure to have as much fun and soak in as much Dutch culture while they're at it. Watch the talks that will be the product of their labour via the live stream on  You can also follow us on Twitter @TEDxHagueAcad. 


"What it means to be an international criminal judge"


Theodor Meron, one of international law’s heavyweights and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) – tells us what to expect from his talk at TEDxHagueAcademy on September 9, 2013 in the Peace Palace, The Hague.

Watch Meron’s speech about “International Justice on trial” the live stream on   

"Too few Chinese in international justice"


Michael Liu is a lawyer representing victims at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

He shares his expectations from the TEDx Hague Academy in the Peace Palace, The Hague on September 9, 2013. Michael Liu will speak about "Why the Chinese have to be involved in international justice." You can also live stream the day's proceedings on our website.

The power of story-telling


When I first heard from Hadi Marifat about his work on 'Memory Box' as part of the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, I grew curious to find out what it could mean to people struggling to survive.

Hadi is a Masters student at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, an institute located in The Hague close to the Peace Palace. Founded over 60 years ago, the ISS has more than 10,000 graduates from 160-odd countries. The talents of ISS graduates are so varied and rich that they make me feel truly humbled.

When I first met Hadi, I knew his story was special. His project made me realize that the power of story-telling can bring down barriers everywhere -- all over the world. The same power of story-telling that moves us in the cinema or in a novel can be harnessed for peace and recovery. Memory Boxes, as used by the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation, enable those who have suffered the impact of war, regardless of time and place, to simply tell their story.

The Memory Box has given some ordinary people in a war-torn country, mostly orphans and widows, a way to express their own painful journeys and feelings. Through illustrated story-telling, they share physical things such as family photos, letters and other everyday objects associated with their deceased loved ones. The grieving women's or children's stories tell us more about the impact of war than any number of UN reports or media articles.

What emerges is the heroic efforts of ordinary people, facing reality and striving to pull themselves, and their war-ravaged society, out of war and into peace.

I'm eager to hear what Hadi will say at the TEDx Hague Academy. I'm sure he will move his audience with this remarkably creative work on peace from Afghanistan.

By Helen Hintjens

Senior lecturer in Development and Social Justice International Institute of Social Studies The Hague

Photo by E_T_2008

I cant wait for Neal Katyals inspiring story


When I first met Neal Katyal – via my work at the Georgetown Law Center - I was amazed that someone so young, so close to my own age, could have accomplished so much.

I read his article in the Supreme Court Review on the Guantanamo Bay cases and the disproportionate responses by various entities within the U.S. government. I knew that in 2001, when he was barely over 30, Katyal became one of Georgetown Law’s youngest full professors in history.

He’d already been National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department and represented former U.S. Vice President Al Gore before the Supreme Court in a challenge to the results of Gore’s presidential campaign against George W. Bush. 

One of my tasks at Georgetown was to ask whether it might be possible to schedule a radio interview with him on that most traditional of American family nights: Halloween. He seemed to easily fit it in to his busy schedule and still take his two young children out for trick-or-treating. 

This was well before Katyal made his first appearance as a guest on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report in July 2006, before the media constantly requested interviews.

The Neal Katyal I got to know in early 2004 was “just” another high-profile professor at Georgetown.  He was a highly accomplished and widely published academic. He was well-liked by peers and students, soft-spoken and friendly, but confident and quick, a second-generation American from a relatively apolitical family who managed to distinguish himself before college and attend Yale Law School before embarking on a prestigious and inspiring career.

He achieved widespread notoriety following his defense of Salim Ahmed Hamdan - Osama Bin Laden’s driver in Afghanistan, who had been detained in Guantanamo Bay - before the Supreme Court. 

Katyal was already well on his way to becoming known for his criticism of many of the Bush Administration’s policies which had been established in response to 9/11, particularly those connected to the operation of military tribunals intended to hear the cases of Guantanamo Bay detainees. 

When he took on Hamdan’s case, Katyal was writing not just his own brief, but coordinating some 40 friend-of-the-court briefs filed by human rights organizations, groups of high-ranking retired military officers, diplomats, historians, and conservative as well as liberal legal scholars. 

In all, about 1,000 lawyers and law students worked on various parts of the case, with Katyal at the helm, listening, parsing and weighing divergent views on how to frame the legal arguments.

The work was so fast and furious that for well over a year, Katyal reportedly never got more than four hours of sleep a night. He received an estimated 3,500 emails per week and spent $40,000 of his own money on the case.

According to the Yale Alumni Magazine, when Hamdan asked Katyal why he wanted to help him, Katyal responded that he was doing it because his parents came to America to give their children better opportunities, and couldn’t imagine another country on earth in which he would be able to do everything he has been able to do. The U.S. Government policy on military tribunals discriminated against foreigners because if you were an American citizen, then you got a civilian trial. But everyone else was subject to an inferior system with fewer rights. 

After the Supreme Court held 5 to 3 in favor of Hamdan, Professor Katyal spoke about the case to a group of interested Georgetown Law students. As part of that group, I was struck by his candor, his commitment to justice and his energy in the face of daunting opposition. His talk was interesting, concise and engaging. He demonstrated his strong advocacy skills and in-depth knowledge of even the smallest details of the case. 

Few were therefore surprised when he became Acting Solicitor General of the United States in 2010. Even after leaving the Department of Justice, he has worked tirelessly to challenge injustice on issues ranging far beyond military tribunals in an estimated 17 cases before the Supreme Court, 15 of which were argued in the past four years. 

With such a record, it is notable that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts recently described Katyal as “one of the finest lawyers who has argued before the [Supreme] Court.”

I can’t wait for Neal Katyal to share his inspirational and energizing story with the Hague Academy community and the world at large. 

By Micah Thorner

Photo caption: Neal Katyal at Georgetown Law.

This is the new Africa


I have one of the best jobs in the world.

I video blog at What's Up Africa - a satirical news show at RNW, about – yes – Africa. I use the show to highlight important issues affecting the lives of ordinary Africans. And – luckily for me – it’s become so popular, that I'm regularly invited to speak at events across the continent.

Travelling thousands of miles may take its physical toll, but the pay off of meeting talented and passionate people from all over Africa is worth it.

I recently had a fantastic experience at TEDxRohero. Where’s that, you ask? In Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, in Central Africa.

I stood on stage with awe-inspiring Burundians: an accomplished journalist and prize winning writer; a resolute, successful and fiercely proud Burundian nurse turned businesswoman,;a children's rights activist whose achievements in the face of huge adversity made my jaw drop; and a charming and talented young Burundian entrepreneur whose persistence, creativity and work ethic make him a role model for an entire continent - let alone East Africa. 

Those were the speakers. But equally important are the team behind these events. I also recently spoke at TEDxLuanda. You know all that stuff in the press about how the continent is rising? Well, this is it – this is the new Africa. These organising teams are hungrily pursuing a mission to inspire the youth in countries that have faced lots of challenges.

Ideas worth spreading  - as the TED motto goes - are indeed spread.

OK, it's true that only a few people can physically get to go to a TEDx. And only a small percentage of the country has access to the internet – let alone afford the ticket price. But holding a TEDx in a place like Rohero tells me a corner is being turned. And it's the same corner that an entire continent is also turning. 

So, having been on stage as a speaker, it’s now my privilege to host TEDxHagueAcademy - in my adopted home, The Netherlands - and listen to some very special ideas worth spreading.


The healing power of forgiveness: my encounter with Jean-Paul


My job involves interviewing people who have been through a lot of tragedies. The interviews are often heavy. They end in tears. They end with a bittersweet catharsis with all parties leaving the studio feeling somewhat emotionally depleted. Not so with Rwandan singer Jean Paul Samputu.

I interviewed Jean Paul Samputu back in 2009 for my public radio show The State We're In on the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. More than a million people were killed in the space of just a few weeks, including Jean Paul's family. The tragedy was compounded when he discovered his family's murderer was no nameless, faceless band of marauders, but his best friend, Vincent. So I expected a lot of pain, a lot emotional contortions. This did not happen.

Don't get me wrong. Jean Paul suffered terribly. He couldn't sing for years, falling deeply into the bottle. He was consumed with thoughts of revenge, consulted witch doctors for answers, who had none. He says he was committing suicide in slow motion.

But there was this droning, undeniable voice in the back of his head that said over and over: “forgive him.” After 9 years, Jean Paul returned to his village to find Vincent, who was understandably apprehensive at the reunion. So he called Vincent before the village and, publicly, forgave him.

Jean Paul describes that day like “...a wedding. I had joy in my life again. I was free from the prison of hatred. And he (Vincent) was free.” He could sing again. Vincent says that, although he was forced to kill Jean Paul's family, he will never be free of the guilt.  But he is no longer haunted by dreams of his victims and, whenever he and Samputu meet, “It's like a party!”

Jean Paul is a religious man. If you ask him why he forgave Vincent, he will say God told him to do it. Personally, I disagree. Especially now that Jean Paul has taken his message of the healing power of forgiveness on the road. The message I took away is this: forgiveness of this magnitude seems divine, but in fact it’s very human. We can all do it. That's why when my interview with Jean Paul ended, we all left the studio singing.   

Jonathan Groubert is the host of the The State We're In Podcast, The What's Up Amsterdam Podcast and will be hosting the TEDx event in Breda on October the 31st.

Image: TEDxBreda / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


A Frightening World We Need to See - Favorite TED Talks 1


In Pakistan, the Taliban recruit children from poor families for indoctrination into their ideology, a system that breeds suicide bombers. This is the story told in my favorite TED talk, which was presented by Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy in 2010.

Sharmeen tells the audience how these children are treated by their Taliban masters. They are poorly fed, prevented from learning anything but the most militant interpretation of Koran, and severely disciplined if they misbehave. Lacking the resources to return home to their families, they are virtually prisoners. For them, there is no way out but the afterlife. The children are promised that their miserable lives will be replaced by eternal bliss if they do one thing. Kill infidels.

"If you grew up in these circumstances, faced with these choices, would you choose to live in this world or in the glorious afterlife?” Sharmeen asks. And with questions like this, she explains the mindset that has led to the deaths of thousands of Pakistani civilians in recent years. Using shocking footage from her film Children of the Taliban, she gives us insight into a terrifying world, but one we need to know about.

Robert Chesal, Web Editor,

Sharmeen's TED talk is here:

(Photo: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy at the World Economic Forum. )

Silence Isnt Golden... Vithika Is!


When Vithika Yadav responded to our vacancy for a colleague to help launch Love Matters India, she included 5 references.

Their responses came from surprising corners; the Amazon basin, Bangkok and Phnom Penh, from her former colleagues in the fight against sexual slavery.

People said things like  "Vithika is sharp, stylish and insightful". "She is caring and a joy to work with", "She is diligent, responsible, driven and inspiring."

By this time I was getting a little anxious. She was the front runner by such a wide margin I worried we would lose her before we even started. As if smelling my fear, the next referee wrote "Don't let her get away. Vithika is Gold". Needless to say, we hired her and never looked back. Thanks to Vithika millions of people in India now have access to good information on sexual health.

The Love Matters project is doing some truly edgy work on a hugely controversial subject. You would be forgiven for imagining a tough-talking lady in this challenging role. By contrast, Vithika is possibly the most polite and diplomatic person I know - but she uses these gentle qualities in the most devastating way. I've seen her in action.

Her considerate attention can erode the will of the most stubborn government official. With cheerful optimism, she unglues barnacle-like resistance to talking openly about the sexual health issues that really matter.Vithika uses respect for others, her sense of dignity and her personal vision to pry open doors which were closed for far too long.

I hope I will never have to write a reference letter for Vithika, because I want her to remain on this project for a very long time. But if I did, I would simply plagiarize my predecessor and say "Vithika is Gold".


Michele Ernsting, Head of department for Africa and Latin America at Radio Netherlands Wordwide

Sometimes it’s good to take out the earphones and listen


I’m a journalism master’s student on the cusp of jumping into the job pool. My story is echoed across the world as graduating students are constantly reminded that the most important reason to find a job is to secure financial stability. That those who succeed in finding the job of their dreams are the minority, ahead of the curve and able to ride the entrepreneurial wave. But what happened to the adolescent (and some might say naive) notions of following your dreams, pursuing your passions and finding a job that will help others?

During my summer internship at Radio Netherlands Worldwide, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing the speakers who will address the crowd at TEDxHagueAcademy on September 9th  at the Peace Palace. They come from different countries and professional backgrounds: music, activism, law and academia. They have all forged their passions into careers and have been able to make a difference in the societies that surround them.

There is a danger my generation could become isolationist. We stick earphones in our ears when travelling, we text instead of calling, praying not to make eye contact with the person walking towards us on the street. But these interviews have reminded me that sometimes it's good to take out the headphones and listen to a stranger’s story. It has been an invigorating experience to interview the speakers, all of whom have different stories, some I'm easily able to relate to, others not so much. But the important thing is I’m learning about the world - my world. 

In the one month that I’ve conducted these interviews, I’ve become aware of India’s changing sexual landscape, thanks to Vithika; the need to provide a face to victims of war while speaking to Hadi; and about the power of forgiveness with Jean-Paul, who forgave the childhood friend who murdered his family members in the Rwandan genocide. 

Journalists are supposed to be storytellers, conversationalists, always learning and listening. My conversations were brief, but their impact long lasting, reminding me that sometimes the best stories, the ones that will have an impact on our lives, come at the least expected moments.

I hope you join the conversation on September 9th.

TEDxHagueAcademy - Organise a Viewing Party


If you want to be part of TEDxHagueAcademy, why not organise your own viewing party?

We are looking for partners who would like to set up a viewing party at their university, embassy, law firm, museum, etc.

The next best thing to being there...

Outreach is extremely important to us. TEDx is all about spreading inspiring stories and ideas. But there are limited seats available at our venue - the Peace Palace. 

We will be livestreaming the event from approximately 0900-1800 CET on September 9. You can interact with us through Twitter and Facebook. However, if this is not possible (due to time difference), you can hold your viewing party of the talks - which will be available on our website - shortly afterwards. 

If you set up a viewing party, why not add in your own local speaker? And record the event on video or photo and send it to us. Use the hashtag #tTEDxHagueAcademy for anything you put on Flickr. 

Viewing parties are independently organised and financed by the local organiser, in agreement with us. The viewing parties will be featured on our website, and included in the publicity plans.

Contact: Celebrate a TEDx!


TEDxHagueAcademy is enshrined on a fresh batch of celebratory cupcakes.

A well-deserved treat for a team who've worked tirelessly to make this event a reality!

Robert Chesal, Web Editor

Young in The Hague


I am a 23-year-old student who has lived and learned in four cities, three countries, and two continents with one big aspiration "to better the world". Luckily, I’ve ended up in The Hague, a city filled with people that share my desire for change. I mean, they don’t just hand out urban nicknames like ‘the city of peace and justice’ or ‘the legal capital of the world’ for nothing.

The Hague has earned its prestigious slogans. It hosts an unbelievable number of institutions dedicated to justice and peace, ranging from the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice to academies that disseminate knowledge on all aspects of international law. 

But in my opinion, it's the people who work and study in these institutions that make The Hague so remarkable. The city is a magnet for young, passionate people from around the world who care about a better future for peace and justice. Even a simple act like riding a tram or sitting down for a drink at a café exposes you to hundreds of different nationalities, languages, perspectives and experiences.

The city is abuzz with globally minded young people starting their careers. What's more, it's filled with ways to expand your social life and network. Thursday night is student night which means that young professionals, students, and international students head out to socialize and start their weekends early. On these nights, the streets are crowded and the 'Plein,' a main square filled with bars and cafes, is full. New events, conferences, and exhibits open every week. One of my favourite websites for information is:

And as if all of that isn’t enough, this city - jam-packed with young people - offers an abundance of internships: within a month of moving to the here, I found an amazing internship in my field. Seems like the land of opportunity has relocated to The Hague…

The Hague is where I am, where I want to be, and where the future of my field is.

Melissa Leeworthy

Image: gerardCC 2.0

Why at the Peace Palace?


It’s a beautiful building isn’t it? Every day hundreds of people pass by and get their photos taken at the gate. Those of us who live in The Hague are really proud of this great symbolic building which towers over our own “Embassy Row”. But do people really know what it is? When you say The Peace Palace – what does that mean? What’s it for?

It was about six months ago that my friend Ingrid de Beer said “wanna do a TEDx with me?” Since then Micah Thorner, Sofia Gerards, Ingrid and I have conceived of this amazing way of getting you inside the worlds of peace, justice, rule of law, peace negotiation – the worlds The Peace Palace represents. We want you to meet musicians who have learned how to forgive genocidaires. We want you to think about what items you would want to put in a box after a conflict so that you could remember what happened. We want you to be challenged by everyday sexism and realise how we need to change our attitudes in the interests of justice.

The themes are wide and varied. The venue – well just look at it – is spectacular. If you’re here in The Hague apply for a ticket You can join ask to organise a viewing party wherever you are in the world. Or just get some friends together and watch the event online on September 9. Meanwhile, join in - be inspired – send us a FB message or a tweet about the subjects and the speakers. I look forward to hearing from you!

Janet Anderson, Co-organiser


(Image: wim hoppenbrouwers / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )