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"Direct action: when and why?"- Dr Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

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Streamed live on Feb 24, 2014

"We believe that intensifying peaceful civil disobedience is not only ethically justifiable but morally necessary," Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo told The Independent last year. In his Distinguished Public Lecture for the Oxford Martin School, Dr Naidoo will look at when and why direct action should be deployed, drawing on recent campaigns such as last year's protest at an Arctic oil drilling rig, which saw activists arrested by Russian authorities and held for 100 days.

Dr Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International. In addition to leading the organisation to critical campaign victories and augmenting its influence in international political negotiations, Naidoo has been responsible for promoting considerable growth and activity by Greenpeace in the Global South. He has also been influential in fostering further cooperation between Greenpeace and many diverse parts of civil society in the fight to avert catastrophic climate change and promote environmental justice.

Naidoo became involved in South Africa's liberation struggle at the age of 15 and as a result of his anti-apartheid activities, was expelled from high school. He was very involved in neighbourhood organisation, youth work in his community, and mass mobilisations against the apartheid regime. In 1986, Naidoo was arrested, charged with violating the state of emergency regulations and was forced underground for almost a year before fleeing to exile in England. During this time he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where he later earned a doctorate in political sociology.

After Nelson Mandela's release in 1990, Naidoo returned to South Africa to work on the legalization of the African National Congress. During the democratic elections in 1994 he directed the training of all electoral staff in the country and was one of the official spokespersons of the Independent Electoral Commission.

Naidoo was the founding executive director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), an umbrella body for the South African NGO community. Moved by the fact that South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women, he also served as convener of the National Men's March against Violence on Women and Children in 1997.

From 1998 to 2008, Naidoo was the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.

Naidoo also chaired the Partnership for Transparency Fund that supports civil society efforts to fight corruption globally. He played a key role in proposing and supporting the creation of the civil society index, which is today a recognised tool to measure the health and impact of civil society. In 2010, Naidoo wrote Boiling Point: Can Citizen Action Save the World, which gestured towards the possibility of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.

Naidoo has also served as a board member of the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), the world's largest gender justice network. In 2012 he was appointed to the UN Women's Global Civil Society Advisory Group.

In 2003 he was appointed by the former Secretary General of the United Nations to the Eminent Persons Panel on UN Civil Society Relations. He was also invited by the UN Secretary General recently to serve on the MEN ENGAGE Board, which seeks to get men involved around issues of gender equality and he served as President of the civil society alliance 'Global Campaign for Climate Action' (GCCA) from 2009 to 2012, of which Greenpeace is a founding member. Kumi Naidoo became Executive Director of Greenpeace International on November 15, 2009.

Oxford Martin School,
University of Oxford
www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk

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