Lehigh will host Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, Samir Sumaidaie, for a presentation at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb.10 in Zoellner Arts Center. Ambassador Sumaidaie is expected to address Iraq’s national election, the U.S. presence in that country, and the prospects for democracy.
The event is the second in Lehigh’s United Nations Ambassadorial Speaker Series and is a component of the university’s Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Lehigh is one of six universities in the world to be fully recognized as an NGO by the U.N. Department of Public Information. Lehigh’s NGO status is one of many of Lehigh’s international initiatives, including the university’s Global Citizenship program, launched this fall.
In addition to other world figures, Lehigh students have a history of interacting with Iraqi United Nations representatives. In 2003, Lehigh students held a private conference with the former Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, just days before the U.S. invaded Iraq, where the students posed questions to the then current Ambassador on issues such as rights of women, Kurdish massacres and human rights violations.
Before assuming his ambassadorial role, Ambassador Sumaidaie served as Iraq’s Minister of the Interior (2004) and as a member of the country’s Governing Council (2003). While serving on the Governing Council, he chaired the Media Committee, which established the Iraqi Telecoms and Media Commission and the Public Service Broadcasting Institution. He also chaired the Committee on Provinces; acted as Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and served on the Security, Finance and Public Services Committees.
As a long-time opponent of Iraq’s former regime, Mr. Sumaidaie left Iraq in 1973 and lived in exile, mainly in London. He participated in several demonstrations and conferences against Baathist rule, including the Beirut and Vienna Iraqi Opposition Conferences in 1991 and the New York Iraqi Opposition Conference in 1992. In 1993, he joined other Iraqis in forming and launching the manifesto of the Democratic Party of Iraq.