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Caux Forum 2017: Official Opening
Friday 30 June 2017, 14.00-17.30

Exploring the links between inequalities and extremisms

Official Opening of the Caux Forum
Friday 30 June 2017, 14.00-17.30, in Caux, Switzerland

Are today’s growing extremisms fuelled by inequality? Is globalization a source of widening economic and social gaps, not only in developing countries but also in the strongest economies worldwide, which at the same time is creating breeding grounds for conflicts, violence and expressions of intolerance?

Through storytelling and a panel conversation, we will highlight inspiring personal stories of individuals who work on preventing extremism in their communities or their jobs. We will connect these stories with approaches taken by business, government and international organizations and explore how these efforts can be coordinated.

The Official Opening will set the tone for the whole Caux Forum 2017, which through events, dialogues and training programmes, will address extremes of all kinds. It will be a unique opportunity to discuss, share and discover global issues in a multicultural and diverse setting, and to encourage each of us to get inspired and take action to stand against extremes, to promote dialogue and respect and to work for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world, one step at a time.  

Caux Palace


13:30     Welcome drinks

14:00     Official Welcome by:

  • Mr Laurent Wehrli, Mayor of Montreux
  • Mr Antoine Jaulmes, President of the CAUX-Initiatives of Change Foundation

Storytelling* and interaction with the audience, facilitated by Barbara Hintermann, Secretary General of the CAUX-IofC Foundation, with Hasan Hawar, a student and refugee from Syria, and Bjørn  Ihler, a young leader of the Kofi Annan Foundation’s Extremely Together Initiative and survivor of the Anders Breivik terrorist attack, who uses art to counter extreme right wing narratives.

Classical music by Michèle Bächthold-Götze, mezzosoprano, and Sonia Hauser, piano

15:30     Tea and Coffee break

16:00     Classical music by Michèle Bächthold-Götze, mezzosoprano, and Sonia Hauser, piano

Panel conversation* and interaction with the audience, facilitated by Serge Michel, reporter for Le Monde and chief editor Le Monde Afrique, with:

  • Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations
  • Ambassador Heidi Grau, Chief of the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Ramiro Santa, Director of Integral Responsibility at OCENSA

Closing remarks by Cornelio Sommaruga, Honorary President of the International Association of Initiatives of Change International

Classical music by Michèle Bächthold-Götze, mezzosoprano, and Sonia Hauser, piano

17:30    Farewell drinks, optional short visit of the Caux Palace

18:30    Dinner




Click here for more information about the Caux Forum 2017


Cornelio Sommaruga
Cornelio Sommaruga, Honorary President of the International Association of Initiatives of Change International

Cornelio Sommaruga was born in Rome in 1932 of Swiss parents. He graduated with a doctorate in law from the University of Zurich in 1957. He held diplomatic posts from 1960-68 in The Hague, Bonn and Rome with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. From 1969-73 he was Deputy Head of the Swiss Delegation to EFTA, GATT, UNCTAD and ECE/UN in Geneva, and from 1973-75 he was Deputy Secretary General of EFTA in Geneva. He worked in the Federal Office for External Economic Affairs in Berne from 1976-83, when he became State Secretary for External Economic Affairs until 1986. From 1987-99 he was President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva. Since retiring from the ICRC he has served on a number of national and international Boards. He is honorary President of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). He is currently the President of GICHD, Geneva International Demining Institute, which he founded. He is married, with four daughters, two sons and 14 grandchildren.


Serge Michel
Serge Michel, Reporter for Le Monde and Chief Editor Le Monde Afrique

Serge Michel, 48, is reporter at large for Le Monde and chief editor of Le Monde Afrique, the African version of the website Michel has worked as a journalist in Switzerland, Iran, the Balkans and Africa. In 2001, he won the Albert Londres Prize, France's most prestigious journalistic award, for his work in Iran. He’s the founder of the Bondy Blog, a popular website and a stunning experience of “citizen journalism”, written from within the volatile French suburbs. Together with Paolo Woods and Michel Beuret, he has published China Safari – On the trail of Beijing’s expansion in Africa  (Nation Books, 2009), charting China’s dramatic rise in Africa. Michel’s last book Marche sur mes yeux, portrait de l’Iran aujourd’hui (Grasset, 2010, with pictures of Paolo Woods) is a thrilling, controversial, in-depth look at the Iranian society and recent history. Michel has written for le Monde, le Temps, le Figaro, le Point, Géo, Aperture, Fortune, Foreign Policy and The Independent.


Ambassador Heidi Grau, Head of Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Heidi Grau was appointed as Head of the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in August 2015. She joined the Swiss diplomatic service in 1997 and was first assigned to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, where she worked on transition in CIS countries. She was then posted to the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow from 1998 to 2002 and to the Political Division for Peace Policy and Human Security in Bern until 2006. At the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York she was in charge of humanitarian and environmental questions and then served as Deputy Permanent Representative until she became Ambassador and Chief of Staff to the Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in December 2010. In May 2012 she was appointed as Head of the Task Force leading the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship. Heidi Grau holds a M.A. from the University of Zurich in History and Russian Philology. She speaks German, English, French, and Russian.


Kate Gilmore
Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

Kate Gilmore was appointed United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights on 1st December 2015. Prior to joining OHCHR, Ms. Gilmore was Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Previously, she was National Director of Amnesty International Australia and then Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International. Ms. Gilmore started her career as a social worker and government policy officer in Australia, where she was granted honorary appointments to provincial and national public policy and law reform processes, including membership of the country’s first National Committee on Violence Against Women. Ms. Gilmore holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Universiy of New England and postgraduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Melbourne and Community Development from RMIT.


Hasan Hawar
Hasan Hawar, Student and refugee from Syria

Hasan Hawar fled Syria to avoid military service. From Turkey, he decided to make the journey to Europe by land and sea and arrived in Switzerland in 2015, where he received refugee status and where now lives with his sister. His parents, his brother and another sister still live in Damascus. Having learnt German in just over a year, Hasan will pursue his IT-studies in Switzerland from September 2017.





Michele Bachtold Goetze
Michèle Bächtold-Goetze, mezzosoprano

Michèle Bächtold-Goetze started her singing career as a soloist, performing for numerous concerts in Switzerland, Germany, France, Hungary and the Netherlands. She put her international singing career on hold when she started a family, devoting herself to teaching and to her passion for dance. Connecting music, movement and emotions, she has been working for many years as a “teaching artist” for the organization “Dancing classrooms”, teaching ballroom dancing to students to promote mutual respect and trust, as well as for the organization “Dance with me” to build community bonds through creativity and dialogue.



Sonia Hauser
Sonia Hauser, pianist

Sonia Hauser’s piano career has led her to the Jaques-Dalcroze Institute at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, the Geneva Music conservatoire, and is now teaching piano in the music school of her career’s debut. She loves to explore her instrument through a range of musical ensembles, from chamber music, concertos, orchestras and alongside choirs. Lately, her passion for accompanying singers was revived when she met Michèle. Her curiosity for human nature and her own personal quest have led her to trainings on Transactional Analysis, on the Rességuier method or on Thai Yoga Massage, but the shared joy of musical emotions remain at the heart of her practice.


Michèle's and Sonia's paths have crossed recently and this encounter has inspired the two musicians to create a duet ensemble to explore the world of « Lieders », German poems for solo voice with piano or instrumental accompaniment. For the occasion of the official opening of the Caux Forum they will sing songs by Johannes Brahms and Richard Strauss.




We will hear two personal stories on experiences of inequalities and extremisms. One is from a Syrian refugee who is now studying in Switzerland. The other is from a survivor of the 2011 Norway attacks who founded Omelas, a programme which brings together the world’s best data scientists, software engineers, and counterterrorism experts to defeat violent extremism.

Panel Conversation*

Representatives from business, government and international organizations will explore opportunities and challenges of applying human rights in business as a way forward to reduce social and economic gaps and to being compliant with human rights standards. They will discuss polarization in Europe and elsewhere, be it between left and right wing politics or between protectionism and globalization, and highlight practical ways of countering inequalities and extremisms.