The other summit
Nobel laureates coming to UIC this month with little fanfare
04/04/2012 10:00 PM
As Chicago gets all worked into a tizzy about the dozens of heads of state descending upon our city for the NATO summit in May, an event this month featuring world leaders has flown under the radar.
At least 11 former Nobel Peace Laureates are coming to Chicago between April 23 and April 25 for the World Peace Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which will be held mostly at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
It’s the 12th summit of Nobel Peace recipients, and it’s the first time it’ll be held in North America. Among the guests will be the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as former leaders of South Africa, Poland and Costa Rica. President Bill Clinton will also speak at the summit’s opening dinner.
The summit will also present Sean Penn with its Peace Summit award for his work rebuilding Haiti in the wake of 2010’s devastating earthquake.
The first two days of the summit will be held at the UIC Forum, and the last will be held at Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall.
The people planning the event say neighbors and students at UIC shouldn’t see much of a disruption, if any at all, to their daily lives. Any security perimeter will be small, and not anything close to what’ll happen near McCormick Place for the NATO summit in May.
With the UIC Forum so close to the expressway, it should be easy to get foreign leaders in and out of the arena without having to drive through neighborhoods. And disrupt daily life.
“These motorcades are literally going to be pulling up, dropping off and staging elsewhere,” said Maureen Meehan, a member of the summit’s planning team. “It won’t be like the NATO summit where you won’t be able to access the area.”
The summits will also be open to members of the public, who can come and watch lectures like “New Challenges for Peace,” with Gorbachev, Carter and three other presidents; “Women Forging Peace”; and “One Person Can Make a Difference.”
About 800 high school students from Chicago Public Schools and other area schools will be able to attend each day, as well as about 150 college students.
However, general registration for the event quickly filled up, Meehan said.
Local leaders big and small are excited for the event’s capability to show off the city.
“The decision to host this event in Chicago reflects the profile of our city as an international leader in civic dialogue and community involvement,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “While the summit is a global event, it will have a local impact and leave a lasting legacy on our city.”
Dennis O’Neill, former leader of the University Village Association and current leader of Connect4Communities, said he doesn’t think it’ll cause many problems for locals.
“I don’t think the issues with logistics will be too big here, because we have a lot of alternate routes in our community,” O’Neill said. “I’m guessing there probably won’t be a lot of protestors. I think it’s very positive for UIC and for the community.”