Commemoration of the life of Mohamed Sahnoun

Caux Forum 2019

Mohamed Sahnoun commemoration 2019 picture


Mohamed Sahnoun leaves behind the memory of a very wise man. There have been very few men like him, may he rest in peace.

Cornelio Sommaruga

Mohamed Sahnoun was an Algerian diplomat and President of Initiatives of Change from 2007 to 2008. His great ability to listen and understand others enabled him to bring together certain conflicting parties. He created the Caux Forum on Human Security, a conference which still runs today. A commemoration ceremony was held for his family and friends on Wednesday 10 July 2019 in the main hall of the Caux Palace.

It was in this intimate and solemn atmosphere that his friend and Honorary President of Initiatives of Change, Cornelio Sommaruga, recalled the life of Mohamed Sahnoun. He was an exemplary figure in the diplomatic world whether in his role as Ambassador of Algeria, advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Kofi Annan or President of Initiatives of Change. In the words of Cornelio Sommaruga, ‘he was a source of motivation and encouragement in his role as diplomat and mediator in the service of peace.’

His Excellence the Ambassador of Algeria to Switzerland recalled that in addition to his exceptional professional career, Mohamed Sahnoun was, above all, a friend. ‘During my first meeting with him I saw his humility, his lucidity, his ability to listen and his love for his country.’ These touching words were followed by a trumpet performance by Nick Foster, Director of the Caux Forum.


Hania Sahnoun, daugther of Mohamed Sahnoun


Hania Sahnoun, Mohamed’s daughter, highlighted that ‘peace can only be achieved by civil society’. It was for this reason that Initiatives of Change held an important place in Mohamed Sahnoun’s heart. Finally, Richard Werly, friend and journalist for Le Temps, expressed his thoughts through a piece read by Barbara Hinterman. For him, Mohamed Sahnoun, was a source of wisdom, someone who knew how to listen and understand whether in a personal or diplomatic situation.

Mohamed Sahnoun’s family and his closest friends were invited into the prayer room which will be renamed in his honour. The gathering observed a minute’s silence whilst his portrait was hung on the wall. Mounir Beltaifa, IofC’s Vice-President then offered a prayer in Arabic.

The commemoration ended with a few words from Andrew Stallybrass who remembers Mohamed Sahnoun as the epitome of the values he spoke about, a characteristic which makes him so memorable. Barbara Hinterman encapsulated these values, ‘Mohamed was a man of dialogue, a man who believed in loving each other, in human fraternity and in the responsibility to protect.’


Mohamed Sahnoun commemoration 2019 picture


Text: Nicole Walther

Photo: Paula Mariane

Featured Story
Event Categories
Caux Forum

related stories

CDLS 2019 panel Laubsch Duncan Brown

Investing in the future of life on Earth

‘What would it feel like to be the last White Rhino?’ Alan Laubsch, founder of EarthPulse, asked participants in the third day of the Caux Dialogue for Land and Security 2019 (CDLS). ‘Your family has ...

YAP 2019 congratulations

Fresh air for Young Ambassadors

This year’s Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) brought 39 young people from across Europe to Caux for four intensive days of training in how to work for change in their communities. They then took part...

CPLP 2019 group garden

Young people unleash their potential

The Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP) is way more than just a four-week training programme. It is a platform where young leaders from all over the world explore personal and global change. It...

Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019

It takes more courage to love than to hate

The Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue 2019 took place during the Tools for Changemakers conference, bringing together people of Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish backgrounds to explore sensitive issues th...

Caux Palace

Going down the mountain

When people say that Caux is a life-changing experience, it is not just a cliché. For some, this is their first time out of their countries. For many, it is an opportunity to work with their traumas a...

Summer Academy 2019

Summer Academy on Land, Security and Climate is launched in Geneva and Caux

The inaugural Summer Academy brought together 18 participants from Afghanistan/Denmark, Bhutan, Germany, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Nigeria/UK, Philippines, Portugal, Somalia/UK, Spain/Switzerland, Swed...

Week of International Community

Week of International Community 2019

Thirty people, aged from five weeks to 78 years old, from 10 countries gathered for the Week of International Community (WIC) from 19 to 26 June, to prepare the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre for ...

Brian Iselin

Brian Iselin’s fight against modern slavery

The sun is slowly setting but the air is still warm as ten people form a circle to listen to Brian Iselin’s captivating story told during the human library as part of the Ethical Leadership in Busines...

Femmes du Mali, JGHS 2019

Forgiveness, listening and dialogue at the heart of peace circles in Mali

On Thursday 4 July at the Caux Forum I met a group of four women involved in the peace circles in Mali: Boye Diallo, Mamou Soucko, Kadidia Djenepo and Kadidiatou Mint Hanka. Peace circles is a project...

LPM 2019

Healing the alienation of young European Muslims

How can the alienation felt by so many young Muslims be healed? Imam Ajmal Masroor believes that the alienation stems largely from the inner conflict generated by feeling caught between two value-syst...

Jens Wilhelmsen

Jens Wilhelmsen: IofC values as a practical tool for change

After fighting against the German occupation of his country, Norway, Jens Wilhelmsen worked with Initiatives of Change (IofC) in Germany and Japan. In over 70 years of fulltime work for IofC on three ...

Svitlana Gordijenko

One way to make the world live as one

When I first took part in the Caux Artists Program (CAP) in 2013, its director, Bev Appleton, told us, ‘Be the best you can be, so we can teach you more’. This year I came back for the third time. The...

Hasan Davis and son

Hope-Dealing: Father and Son

Hasan Davis is a self-proclaimed ‘hope-dealer’, who has dedicated his life to engendering purpose, confidence and determination in young people across the United States and the globe. His son, Malcolm...

CPLP 2019 group

Meet the people who serve the Caux Forum

Front stage at the Caux Forum we have plenaries, workshops, tasty meals and rooms with a view. Back stage are the 22 people who run the departments which provide beds, food and beverages, clean rooms,...

Marc Isserles

How storytelling can foster healing and reconciliation

Marc Isserles’s poignant one-man show, We Must Save the Children, comes to life when you discover that his grandparents sought shelter at the Caux Palace in 1945 as Jewish refugees. The play took plac...

related events

opening ceremony 26 June 2019

Opening Ceremony