Yemen: Pathways to Peace – Promoting Peace Through Art

Event Details

An evening of music, film & debate with Yemeni artists & human rights defenders exploring how art & culture contributes to peacebuilding

This is the first Geoffrey and Elizabeth Carnall Award Lecture and will be a free, online event.

Tue, 21 September 2021. 19:00 – 20:30 BST


This is the first Geoffrey and Elizabeth Carnall Award Lecture and will be a free, online event.


Radhya Al-mutawakel, Yemeni human rights defender and chairperson of Mwatana Organisation For Human RightsMwatana is the recipient of the first Geoffrey and Elizabeth Carnell Peace Award.

Shatha Altowai, Yemeni visual artist and Artist Protection Fund Fellow

Saber Bamatraf, Yemeni self-taught pianist and composer and Artist Protection Fund Fellow(who will perform one of his compositions)

Kate Nevens, co-author of ‘Broken People Can’t Heal a Nation’ about the importance of the Arts in Peacebuilding in Yemen.

Chaired by: Jolyon Mitchell, professor of communications, arts and religion at Edinburgh University and editor of Peacebuilding & the Arts (2020)

About the event:

Yemen’s civil war, now in its seventh year, has been called an ‘invisible war. It has killed more than 250,000 people including18,400 civilians making this country the world’s largest humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades, according to U.N. agencies. Yemen is also experiencing the world’s worst food security crisis with 20.1 million people—nearly two-thirds of the population—requiring food assistance at the beginning of 2020.

Individuals and communities that have been subject to protracted violent conflict seek ways to move out of a cycle of violence,toward healing and reconciliation. The power of art to inspire change within people and communities has made it a valuable peace-building tool.

During the evening we will explore how art and culture can contribute to peace and reconciliation in Yemen with artists and human rights defenders who are using their art to inspire healing and change.

Radhya Al-mutawakel will join us live from Yemen to talk about the human rights situation in her country;

Kate Nevens will talk about the report she co-authored :’Broken People’s can’t heal a nation’ which is about the importance of the arts in peacebuilding in Yemen

Shatha Altowai and Saber Bamatraf will introduce their documentary film ‘Voice of the Rainbow’ .

After a panel discussion about the role of the arts in peacebuilding and reconciliation, Saber will perform live on the piano some original music he has composed.

More about the speakers:

Robert Rae: A theatre and film director, writer and producer – Robert was Artistic Director & Chief Executive of Theatre Workshop Scotland and is now heads Art27 a platform for artists, arts educators and arts organizations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and beyond.

Radhya Al-mutawakel is a human rights defender and the Yemeni co-founder and chairperson of Mwatana Organisation For Human Rights, an independent organisation working to defend and protect human rights in Yemen and the winner in 2020 Anna of the Politkovskaya Award. In 2019 Al-mutawakel was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. In February 2021, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kate Nevens is a freelance facilitator and researcher specialising in gender, youth, peace and security, and human rights. She is also a consultant to the Yemen Policy Center and co-author of the recent report: ‘Broken People Can’t Heal a Nation.’ The Role of Arts in Peacebuilding in Yemen.

Shatha Altowai is a Fellow in residence at Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, at the University of Edinburgh. A visual artist since 2014, Shatha was awarded an IIE-Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellowship 2020-21. In July of this year she won the John Byrne Award selected from nearly 300 creative entries.

Saber Bamatraf is an APF Fellow in residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. In a country that had no music schools, Saber is a self taught pianist and composer.

About the report: ‘Broken People Can’t Heal a Nation: The Role of Arts in Peacebuilding’ in Yemen By Yazeed al-Jeddawy, Maged al-Kholidy and Kate Nevens

This Report looks at how the arts and peacebuilding have historically intersected in Yemen, and how traditional arts are alive today and are being used to promote peace and war. It demonstrates the variety of ways in which the arts promote and educate on the values of peace, equality and cultural diversity while also being a tool for documenting life during war, telling untold stories and preserving collective memory. It also highlights the use of art for advocating against violence and human rights violations, for supporting the psychosocial wellbeing of traumatized people, and for rebuilding relationships in communities torn apart by the war. The Report concludes with recommendations for a number of different ways in which the arts can make a direct and indirect contribution to peacebuilding in Yemen.

A Peace and Justice Scotland in partnership with SE Scotland Quakers. 

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