Professor Lord Alton inspires the Stonyhurst Senior Essay Society
Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool, an Independent Crossbench Peer, gave a wide-ranging and inspiring address about his humanitarian and human rights work this week.
Lord Alton spent 18 years in the House of Commons and was appointed to the Lords in 1997. Seeking “to shine a light on the world’s darker realities", Lord Alton has written human rights reports following visits to places like Burma, North Korea, Congo, Sudan and Dafur; he campaigns tirelessly on such issues as euthanasia, genocide, and the forced abortion and sterilisation of women in China.
Lord Alton underlined the importance of building bridges, not walls, in our response to these challenges, and gave us a heartening example of how dialogue and co-operation may be obtained: he had just returned from North Korea, where he had attended the first International Conference to be held at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which uses science as a vehicle for forming understanding and trust. The university – which is both independent and international - was established by Dr James Kim, a South Korean who had fought in the 1950 Korean War. Lord Alton has visited North Korea several times with his colleague Baroness Cox and has written reports on the security, human rights and humanitarian challenges with which it faces us. (A full report of his visit to North Korea, with photographs, has been posted on his web site at www.davidalton.net.)
Lord Alton left the audience of students, staff, parents and friends with a powerful message: that to show humanity and to take action in the face of injustice, rather than to turn our backs, is why we are here.