Amsterdam Dialogue 2021

17 & 18 May

Amsterdam Dialogue 2021

Click here to view the conference report


The eleventh edition of the Amsterdam Dialogue took place on 17 and 18 May 2021. Held online for a second successive time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event saw participants join us from their homes and offices around the world for two days of fruitful discussion on peace and justice. Participants explored situations from Afghanistan to Venezuela in panel discussions, which were punctuated by Q&A sessions with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the outgoing ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.


The first day of the Amsterdam Dialogue 2021 opened with a Keynote Address by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney. Assessing how Ireland could advance peace and justice as a United Nations (UN) Security Council member, Minister Coveney drew particular attention to renewed violence between Israel and Palestine, the need for a sustainable resolution to the conflict and the potential role of the international community in achieving one. This was followed by the annual Q&A session with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, moderated by Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN. Just weeks before Prosecutor Bensouda would hand over duties to incoming Prosecutor Karim Khan, the discussion offered a valuable opportunity to discuss challenges and achievements during her nine-year tenure. A panel on Sudan followed, with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Suliman Baldo discussing the prospects of a successful political transition as well as the continuing challenges the country faces. A performance by Sudanese Sufi and folk musician, Asim Gorashi, brought the session to a fitting close.


Parallel break-out panels on Mozambique and Myanmar were up next on the agenda. While participants on the Mozambique panel, including representatives from Mozambican civil society and the Armed Forces, discussed the complex and increasingly violent insurgency in the north of the country, panellists and guests at the Myanmar session analysed the aftermath of the February 2021 coup d’état. In a lively conversation between the acting Foreign Minister of Myanmar’s government in exile, Zin Mar Aung, and civil society representative Sai Sam Kham, participants discussed potential ways forward after the Junta’s takeover.


Day One closed with a session on the recent BBC-Netflix series The Serpent in which Angela Kane, Chair of DAG’s Board of Directors and former UN Under-Secretary General, gave a personal account of her experiences trailing a 1970s serial killer in South-East Asia and the gendered depiction of her character in the popular drama. Participants also took the opportunity to reflect on challenges facing women in the diplomatic world as well as their shared experiences and challenges as female diplomats and peacemakers.


Day Two began with a Keynote Address by Human Rights Watch’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth, speaking on human rights advocacy during the ongoing pandemic as well as a recent shrinking in civic space at the global level. This was followed by a session on Leadership in peace, justice and human rights with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, moderated by DAG’s Director, Ram Manikkalingam. During the Q&A, participants discussed the challenges of transitional justice from a national and international perspective, reflecting on the current Human Rights Chief’s personal experiences at both the UN and as former Chilean President. The next panel on Iraq featured Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, and UN Special Representative Jeanine Hennis- Plasschaert. The discussion centred on the future of the democratic process in the build-up to the October 2021 elections, security threats posed by non-state armed actors, economic hardship, and recent outbreaks of popular discontent in the country. A musical interlude by Sudanese singer Mona Magdi brought the session to a close.


Parallel break-out sessions on Venezuela and Yemen followed. Venezuelan government negotiator Héctor Rodríguez reflected on opportunities and challenges for a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s political crisis, as well as looming ICC investigations in the country. Yemen panellists, meanwhile, assessed opportunities to advance the international peace process in the country, offering candid analysis of the prospects for peace as well as the role of international actors in the conflict. The following session on Afghanistan featured a member of the Afghan government’s negotiation team, Abdul Matin Bek. Building on valuable insights from the ongoing peace negotiations, participants stressed the need for greater international support to the fragile talks. Ahead of the final panel, classical musicians Kevin Zhu (violin) and Rohan de Silva (piano) enthralled the audience with a musical performance, playing pieces by Edward Elgar, Josef Suk and George Gershwin. The final discussion centred on the Horn of Africa during which participants, including US Special Envoy to the Horn, Jeffrey Feltman, and Editor of the Addis Standard, Tsedale Lemma, assessed the security challenges in the region, with a focus on developments in Ethiopia’s Tigray province and on how different international actors, including the Gulf States, could play a more constructive role in the region.


Agenda day 1, Monday 17 May


13:50 – 14:15             Welcome                            

  • Ram Manikkalingam, Director, Dialogue Advisory Group

                                      Keynote address: Ireland and the UN Security Council – Advancing peace and justice    

  • Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs & Minister for Defence, Ireland


14:15 – 15:15             Q&A with the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

  • Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
  • Moderator: Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations


15:15 – 15:30             Break


15:30 – 16:30             Sudan

  • Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland
  • Suliman Baldo, Senior Policy Advisor, The Sentry
  • Moderator: Fleur Ravensbergen, Deputy Director, Dialogue Advisory Group


16:30 – 16:45             Performance by ASIM GORASHI, Sudanese Sufi and folk musician


16:45 – 17:45            Parallel Break-out Panels


  • Carlos Dias, Executive Director, Cabo Delgado Local Economic Development Agency (ADEL-CD)
  • Omar Saranga, National Director for Defence Policy, Ministry of National Defence of Mozambique
  • Moderator: Hermenegildo Mulhovo, Executive Director, Institute for Multiparty Democracy



  • Zin Mar Aung, Acting Foreign Minister, Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)
  • Sai Sam Kham, Civil Society Representative
  • Moderator: Emma Leslie, Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • 1st comment: Agnès Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International


17:45 – 18:00             Break


18:00 – 18:45             Netflix’s The Serpent: A Serial Killer, Diplomacy, and Gender

  • Angela Kane, Former UN Under-Secretary-General & Vice President, International Institute for Peace; Chairperson of DAG’s Board of Directors
  • Moderator: Leoni Cuelenaere, Former Ambassador of the Netherlands and Member of DAG’s Board of Directors


Agenda day 2, Tuesday 18 May


12:50 – 13:00             Welcome

                                        Keynote address: Human rights advocacy in the pandemic

  • Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch


13:00 – 13:45             Leadership in peace, justice and human rights:
                                       Q&A with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

  • Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations
  • Moderator: Ram Manikkalingam, Director, Dialogue Advisory Group


13:45 – 14:00             Break


14:00 – 15:00             Iraq

  • Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
  • Fuad Hussein, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq
  • Moderator: Joost Hiltermann, Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group


15:00  – 15:15             Performance by MONA MAGDI, Sudanese singer


15:15 – 16:15            Parallel Break-out Panels

                                     Venezuela: A conversation with government negotiator Héctor Rodríguez, Governor of Miranda

  • Héctor Rodríguez Castro, Governor of Miranda State, Venezuela
  • Moderator: Juan Garrigues, Deputy Director, Dialogue Advisory Group



  • Bilqis Al-Lahabi, Researcher and Yemeni Civil Rights Leader
  • Maged Al-Madhaji, Executive Director & Co-Founder of the Sana’a Centre for Strategic Studies Moderator: Vlad Corbu, Chief Programme Manager, Dialogue Advisory Group


16:15 – 16:30             Break


16:30 – 17:30             Afghanistan

  • Abdul Matin Bek, Member Of The Peace Negotiation Team Of The Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan
  • Moderator: Ashley Jackson, Co-director, Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at Overseas Development Institute
  • 1st comment: Sergio Jaramillo, Senior Advisor, European Institute of Peace


17:30 – 17:40             Performance by KEVIN ZHU (Violin) with ROHAN DE SILVA (Piano)


17:40 – 18:40             The Horn of Africa

  • Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa
  • Tsedale Lemma, Founder and Chief Editor, Addis Standard
  • Moderator: Comfort Ero, Interim Vice President & Program Director Africa, International Crisis Group
  • 1st comment: Sonja Hyland, Political Director at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland




10th January 2022