Rethinking peace – Innovating the future

The first edition of the Basel Peace Forum took place from 15 to 16 January 2017

The Basel Peace Forum 2017 intended to inspire new and unconventional ideas for peacebuilding. To ensure that this happens, carefully selected leading personalities and decision-makers from business, diplomacy, academia, and civil society were invited.


Photos by Gabriel Hill

  • Basel Peace Forum rethinking peace
  • Panel1 Basel Peace Forum 2017 2
  • Panel1 Basel Peace Forum 2017
  • Basel peace forum Mediating against the odds
  • Basel Peace Forum Mediating against the odds
  • Basel Peace Congres Center
  • Basel Peace Forum Eric Sarasin
  • Basel Peace Forum Ronald Arkin
  • Basel Peace Risk analysis
  • 0Q3A8381
  • Basel peace forum day 2
  • Basel Peace Marwa Al Sabouni


Harriet Lamb, CEO of International Alert, Stefanie Bailer, professor of political science at the University of Basel and Jürg Utzinger, director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, accepted to share their thoughts on why they chose to attend the Basel Peace Forum.


The detailed program for 15 and 16 January 2017

January 15, 2017

06:00 - 06:30 PM

Opening of the Basel Peace Forum, with Jakob Kellenberger, Guy Morin and Heidi Grau

06:30 - 08:00 PM

Panel Debate: Brave New World? with Marwa Al-Sabouni, Faheem Ahamed, Pekka Haavisto, Per Heggenes and Janine di Giovanni

January 16, 2017

08:30 - 10:00 AM

Panel Debate: Mediating against the odds with Günther Bächler, Mary Fitzgerald, Patrick Gavigan, Salvatore Pedulla and Martin Griffiths


  • Dr Philipp Aeby CEO RepRisk bw

    Philipp Aeby

    The CEO of RepRisk manages the leading business intelligence provider specialized in risk analytics and metrics
  • Faheem Ahamed bw

    Faheem Ahamed

    The CEO of Lapis Communications has advised governments and chief executives on complex communications challenges
  • Marwa al Sabouni sw

    Marwa Al-Sabouni

    The Syrian architect is staying in Homs "because bad architecture helped Syria fall apart"
  • Ronald Arkin bw

    Ronald C. Arkin

    Professor Arkin is Associate Dean for Research and Space Planning at the College of Computing, Georgia Tech
  • Guenther Baechler bw

    Günther Bächler

    Ambassador Bächler is Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Southern Caucasus
  • di giovanni bw

    Janine di Giovanni

    The Middle East editor of Newsweek magazine is a war reporter
  • Mary Fitzgerald bw

    Mary Fitzgerald

    The journalist specializes in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya
  • Patrick Gavigan bw

    Patrick Gavigan

    The independent mediation consultant is currently Senior Advisor at the European Institute of Peace
  • Ambassador Heidi Grau bw

    Heidi Grau

    Ambassador Grau heads the Human Security Division of the FDFA
  • Martin Griffiths photo bw

    Martin Griffiths

    The Director of the European Institute of Peace is an experienced international peace mediator
  • Pekka Haavisto bw

    Pekka Haavisto

    The former Minister for international development of Finland is currently President of the European Institute of Peace
  • Per Heggenes bw

    Per Heggenes

    The CEO of the IKEA Foundation drives the Foundation’s funding and innovation strategies
  • Regina Joseph bw

    Regina Joseph

    As Founder of Sibylink she specializes in the nexus of strategic foresight analysis and information design
  • Jakob Kellenberger swisspeace bw

    Jakob Kellenberger

    The former President of the ICRC is currently President of the Swiss Peace Foundation
  • Hanne Melin Holbe bw

    Hanne Melin Olbe

    The Director Global Public Policy at eBay heads the Public Policy Lab for the EMEA region
  • Guy Morin sw

    Guy Morin

    As President he heads the Executive Council of the canton of Basel-Stadt
  • Salvatore Pedula bw

    Salvatore Pedulla

    At the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Salvatore Pedulla serves as Senior Political Affairs Officer
  • Reinhard Rupp bw

    Jutta Reinhard-Rupp

    At Merck she heads the Translational Innovation Platform Global Health
  • prof Juerg Utzinger bw

    Jürg Utzinger

    Professor Utzinger is Director of the Swiss TPH in Basel and specializes in epidemiology


In a novel workshop format, the personalities from business, academia, diplomacy and civil society will discuss topical issues that are relevant to peace given current social, economic and technological change, and attempt to find a way forward.

The workshops at the Basel Peace Forum 2017 will address the following themes:

1. Role of the private sector: Risk Management & Analysis

  • Dr. Philipp Aeby, CEO, RepRisk
  • Regina Joseph, Founder of Sibylink

Moderated by:

  • Danielle Lalive d’Epinay, lalive moderation

Companies, governments, think tanks, multilateral organizations and civil society undertake risk analysis when engaging in a challenging and dangerous context. The approaches and instruments for risk analysis vary considerably and highly depend on the mandate and the objectives that an entity has. In this workshop we discuss what we can learn from different risk analysis systems: How do they interact with and impact local contexts? How can the potential for companies to operate in conflict-affected situations be enhanced and what can they contribute to peace and social cohesion through smart risk management?

2. Artificial intelligence – warfare – ethics

  • Prof. Dr. Ronald C. Arkin, Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
  • Hanne Melin Olbe, Director of the Global Public Policy Lab at eBay Inc.

Moderated by:

  • Dr. Ursula König, ximpulse

Humanity expects a lot from the development of new technologies in general and of artificial intelligence and virtual platforms more specifically: support for the eradication of diseases, poverty and hunger, for the ending of wars and for the growth of human knowledge, and support for inclusive economic and social opportunities, just to name a few. But at the same time, many fear a loss of control and unintended negative consequences. We would like to open the debate and not only look at how new technologies change warfare – something that is already widely discussed – but also to ask how it could potentially be used for short-term and long-term peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

3. Health & peace

  • Dr. Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, Head of the Global Health Institute, Merck Serono
  • Prof. Dr. Jürg Utzinger, Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

Moderated by:

  • Dominique Reber, Partner at Hirzel.Neef.Schmid.Counselors

Health, war and peace are highly interlinked. Evidence suggests that strengthening the link between peacebuilding goals, institution building and the health sector is necessary because poor health is correlated with a higher risk for violent conflict and vice versa. In this workshop we discuss the following questions: How can the ability of the health sector to operate in war situations be strengthened? What is necessary in order to maintain global support for the health sector in such situations? Health services have a high potential to transcend human difference. How can this potential be better used to contribute to peace?


The Basel Peace Forum is taking place on January 15 at Museum of Cultures and on January 16 in the Congress Center in Basel

Museum of Cultures (January 15)

Münsterplatz 20
4051 Basel

Congress Center Basel (January 16)

Messeplatz 21
4058 Basel

Public side events

The Basel Peace Forum together with partners offers side events open to the public on 16 January at the Congress Center Basel

The Role of Art in Peacebuilding

Art initiatives in the context of conflicts have received growing attention. artasfoundation, the Swiss Foundation for Art in Regions of Conflict, is one of only few organisations which specialized in art initiatives in its work in regions affected by violent conflicts. artasfoundation presents how it seeks to combine in its work in the South Caucasus skills from different fields such as artistic production, international cooperation, cultural management, and peacebuilding and how it collaborates with individual artists, civil society activists as well as non-governmental and governmental actors. With photo and video documentations of projects, the presentation shows examples of successful experiences as well as challenges and risks.

Venue & date:
Congress Center Basel, Room Samarkand
16 January, 17:30 – 19:30

Dr. Sabine Jenni, Dr. Marcel Bleuler, Fenja Läser, project coordinators at artasfoundation

More information:


Nuclear weapons: Renewed global threat. Emerging solutions

With increasing East-West tension, the risk of a nuclear confrontation is on the rise again. Nuclear weapon states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals. New policies of the in-coming US Government could increase the risks of armed conflict and nuclear war. Several new states may aim to also acquire nuclear weapons (horizontal proliferation). This new situation, the significance of UN initiatives and the concept of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, in particular such a zone in Europe, will be discussed.

Venue & date:
Congress Center Basel, Room Osaka
16 January, 17:00 – 19:00

Prof. (em.) Andreas Nidecker (President of the Basel Peace Office), Arielle Denis (International Peace Bureau), Alyn Ware (Director of the Basel Peace Office)

More information:

Information for participants

Please find below information for participants


Please find below our hotel recommendations close to Congress Center.
For further accommodation options please contact the Basel tourism office:


Travel to Basel

From EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, the bus line number 50 will take you to the SBB train station in only 17 minutes. From Zurich Airport, there are regular train connections to the SBB train station in Basel taking 1 hour and 10 minutes. For detailed information and railway timetables check

Public Transport in Basel

Your hotel may offer a city ticket that you can use for trams and buses. If it does not, you can buy a ticket at any tram or bus stop. You can expect public transport to be on time in Basel. The station at Museum der Kulturen is called “Schifflände”. The station at the Congress Center is called “Messeplatz”. For detailed information and timetables on trams and buses:

Taxis in Basel

If you want to take a taxi, you can call "33er”, which is the biggest taxi company in Basel: +41 61 333 33 33. You can also use UBER in Basel.

Further information


If you need a visa to enter Switzerland, please contact Nadina Diday as soon as possible. She will provide you with an invitation letter that you can present to a Swiss embassy or consulate abroad.


If you do not have international travel insurance, please inform Nadina Diday as soon as possible.


For information on the weather in Switzerland, we advise you to check In general you can expect cold weather in January and even snow.


The currency in Switzerland are Swiss Francs. You can withdraw Swiss Francs at ATMS at the airports in Basel or Zurich, at railway stations or in the city of Basel. You will also find counters to change your currency at the airport as well as at the railway station. Credit and debit cards are accepted at most places. Some places accept Euros (only bills).

Electricity outlets

Switzerland has its own standard of electrical plugs, but they are compatible with two-pin Europlugs. However, they are not compatible with the round "schuko" type.

Information for media

All information on the media coverage of the Basel Peace Forum 2017

Media release of the 16.01.17: Basel Peace Forum calls for responsive and responsible leadership for peace

Medienmitteilung vom 16.01.17: Basel Peace Forum fordert anpassungsfähige und verantwortungsvolle Führung für Frieden

Communiqué aux médias du 16.01.17: Le Basel Peace Forum appelle à un leadership réceptif et responsable pour la paix

Media release of the 21.12.16: Basel Peace Forum is rethinking peace

Medienmitteilung vom 21.12.16: Basel Peace Forum denkt Frieden neu

Communiqué aux médias du 21.12.16: le Basel Peace Forum repense la paix

On 16 January from 1.10 pm to 1.50 pm a media event will take place at the MCH Lounge at the Congress Center Basel. The media event will be held in English. Please register by 11 January by sending an e-mail to

The media event will be opened by Laurent Goetschel, Director of swisspeace and Professor at the University of Basel. The following speakers will give their inputs on innovations for peacebuilding:

  • Marwa Al-Sabouni, Syrian architect and book author living in Homs
  • Ronald C. Arkin, Professor at the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
  • Pekka Haavisto, President of the European Institute of Peace
  • Dr. Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, Head of the Global Health Institute at Merck

> Speakers' profiles

For any media inquiry please contact us:

Lukas Krienbuehl
+41 79 245 11 65
+41 31 330 12 07