This article first appeared in the Daily Bruin by JJ Yang.
Early Wednesday morning, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon canceled his scheduled appearance at UCLA.
Within a few hours, organizers at the UCLA Burkle Center quickly booked two highly regarded individuals for a lunchtime talk today regarding the conflict in Sudan.
The event, reorganized with the help of the Law School’s International Human Rights Program, will now feature Brian Kelly, a spokesman for the U.N. Mission in the Sudan, and Alfred Orono a former Ugandan child soldier who now prosecutes genocide criminals.
“We thought it would be a way to make lemonade out of lemons,” UCLA Burkle Center Director Kal Raustiala said.
In his three decades with the United Nations, Kelly, who is an Irish national, has served in apartheid South Africa and East Timor during its independence from Indonesia, according to a biography found on the UCLA Burkle Center Web site.
Orono, at the age of 11, was involved in the overthrow of Uganda dictator Idi Amin.
In 1993 as an exile in Southern Sudan, he escaped by walking 48 miles into Kenya where he was given U.N. protection. He immigrated to Canada in 1995 and attended law school.
Following the cancellation, for which Raustiala said Ban called to apologize, U.N. senior officials alerted the Burkle Center of the speakers.
“They flew to Los Angeles before Ban Ki-moon canceled. Since they were here, we were able to secure them for the talk before they went back,” said Ayla Dillard, Burkle Center program manager.
The cancellation of the secretary general was due to a meeting of world leaders regarding the global financial crisis. Despite some disappointment, Raustiala said he was pleased with the speakers.
Talks are already underway for a future lecture by the secretary general.
“We are already discussing days in the winter quarter for his return. I’m optimistic that we would have him in campus next quarter,” Raustiala said.