South Africa opens a global dialogue from an international insight at the University of Ottawa

International and Francophonie
H.E Rieaz Shaik, Jacques Frémont and Sanni Yaya
On Thursday, November 10, 2022, was launched “uOInternational Dialogue Insights”, a new series of conferences inaugurated by the President of the University, Jacques Fremont, and Vice-President, International and Francophonie Sanni Yaya, whose office established this new series.

uOInternational Dialogues and Insights conferences are gatherings of outstanding diplomats, thinkers and speakers from all walks of life who are eager to share their expertise and thoughts on difficult issues that are of relevance to the academic community such as climate change, global geopolitics, international health, sustainability and urban planning, and sustainable mobility.

The University of Ottawa was pleased to welcome His Excellency Rieaz "Moe" Shaik, High Commissioner of South Africa to Canada, who addressed an audience of members of the diplomatic corps, as well as faculty, students and staff of the University of Ottawa gathered in Room 4007 of the Faculty of Social Sciences. This inaugural lecture was on "The Era of Geopolitical Upheaval: The Entropic Trend Towards a Fragmented World". High Commissioner Shaik, who owns a considerable experience in economics, politics, security, risk management and diplomacy, spoke to the audience for just over half an hour about the political and economic disruption, as well as the social instability that seem to have taken hold over time in our post-pandemic world.

With a remarkable rhetoric, H.E. Shaik shared with the audience on the current world order, which is "fragmented" due to the increase in geopolitical tensions between several major powers which have global repercussions. S. E. Shaik suggests that stagnation and inflation, inequality, migration issues and global debt are undoubtedly related to the rise of populism and conspiracy theories. Drawing on theories of entropy and using the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as an example, he demonstrated that despite the evidence, there is still room for hope and he believes that "a society's ability to absorb shocks stems mainly from its willingness and efforts to reverse the effects of chaos and instability." 

Following this powerful presentation, the moderator, Professor Lauchlan Munro, a socio-economist and faculty member at the School of International Development and Global Studies, thanked and congratulated the High Commissioner of South Africa for sharing such acute reflections with the academic community. Professor Munro then moderated the question-and-answer session where for the next half hour, students and faculty members interacted extensively with the guest speaker.

President Jacques Frémont was delighted with the success of this first conference in the Dialogues and Perspectives series which fits perfectly with the institution’s mandate. As an institution of higher education and research, the University of Ottawa must carry out its mission by providing a forum that promotes the exchange of ideas on difficult issues such as modern society, the current economy and political challenges that affect the way we live. Other conferences of the same kind will be presented in this series, which serves as a forum to share the most diverse opinions and ideas, which reflect the diversity of the University of Ottawa.

“This is the first time in the history of the University of Ottawa that several personalities, members of the diplomatic community will come to exchange on pressing issues with diverse perspectives without waffle or prevarication, in total freedom of speech, and in respect for each other. I hope that this series will lead the way to a genuine dialogue and change in the way we think about the world and its challenges," said Sanni Yaya, Vice-President, International and Francophonie.