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School of Diplomacy and International Relations

Nobel Laureate Addresses University Community on Modern Slavery  

Nadia Murad holding microphone and speaking on stage.Nobel laureate Nadia Murad delivered the keynote address at the 2019 Forum on Modern Slavery in Bethany Hall on Friday, September 27.

Murad, who was kidnapped from her hometown in 2014 and held by ISIS for three months, received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to prevent sexual violence and genocide.

"As a school of international affairs within a Catholic university, it is imperative that we embrace these difficult conversations and compel our communities to act against atrocities including human trafficking," said Elizabeth Halpin, associate dean of external affairs at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. "We are so proud to have partnered with Bob Boneberg of the Slave Free Community Project, the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the International Justice Project to put on such a robust and productive conference with top experts in the field and vibrant participation from the campus and community."

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and Special Representative on Human Trafficking for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, opened the conference with a video message where he spoke of the urgent need to find solutions to protect vulnerable groups from human trafficking.

The day-long conference examined topics such as the current status of modern slavery in the U.S., slavery as an instrument of armed conflict, the impact of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 on slavery, and how to prevent slavery with the help of education, visual media and current technology. Expert panelists discussed possibilities for eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking, their vision for the future, and what the public can do to eradicate slavery.

Alyssa Futa, a junior diplomacy major, called Murad's keynote address "an incredibly surreal experience." A Hawaii native, Futa said, human trafficking "is close to my heart because where I am from, this is also a pressing issue. To know that this still exists and is growing every year is mind blowing, so to even play a small role in raising awareness and encouraging education and advocacy was incredibly rewarding."

Murad received an honorary doctoral degree from Seton Hall before a question and answer session moderated by David Brancaccio of National Public Radio's Marketplace.

"It was our great honor to be able to provide—now Dr.—Nadia Murad with a Seton Hall University degree, and to have her share her passion and mission with us," Halpin said. "Everyone she met was impressed by her kindness, generosity, and humility."