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Queen Rania calls for new model of global leadership on refugee and migrant crises

Jordan Daily – Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah called for a new model of leadership that aims to cultivate common ground and inject humanity into decision-making on Tuesday, highlighting the need to come together on shared challenges, such as the migrant, refugee, and climate crises.

Speaking in London at the CogX Global Leadership Summit, part of the 7th edition of the global CogX Festival, Her Majesty recalled the sinking of a crowded migrant boat in the Mediterranean Sea last June, leaving more than 600 people dead as they attempted to reach Europe.

She noted how each side of the migration debate saw the shipwreck as proof of their version of the truth, with some blaming Europe’s tough migration policies for the disaster, while others charged that Europe’s leniency had led the migrants to risk their lives in the first place.

“When we can’t tolerate ideas that challenge our own, we hold their proponents in contempt,” Her Majesty said.

Rather than “retreating into bunkers of ‘us vs. them,’ she called for an openness to doubt, explaining that unchecked certainty can lead us to “fight each other instead of fighting our problems.”

“You may think certainty is a mark of moral integrity – but is it?” Queen Rania asked. “Certainty can lead to moral fracture – a code of ethics that registers a sinking ship first as evidence of being right, and only second as tragedy.”

Her Majesty also called for increased global support to refugee host nations such as Jordan, where one in eight people is a Syrian refugee.

She also drew attention to the growing needs of African nations receiving refugees from Sudan, where more than 4 million people have been displaced since April.

“Getting things right means doing the right thing. And for that, we must think with our hearts,” she said, citing the example of His Majesty King Abdullah II, who, following the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, made the decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to Jordan.

“His Majesty knew what mattered most. His heart led his actions. As he put it, ‘There is a hungry child and a desperate mother at our border. How could we not let them in?’” Queen Rania said.

Her Majesty commended the generosity of the people of Jordan, as well as that of host nations currently welcoming refugees fleeing violence in Sudan.

However, she stressed that countries that are neighbors to conflict cannot shoulder the burden of refugee hosting alone.

“Since July, the World Food Program has been cutting support for Syrian refugees in Jordan not because the need has passed, but because new emergencies are breaking out, while donor support has lagged,” she said, adding that 74 percent of the world’s displaced are hosted by low- and middle-income countries.

The Queen also highlighted the unequal global approach to refugee crises, stating that, four months into the war in Sudan, less than 30 percent of donor appeals had been met, while the Ukraine emergency appeal was 70 percent funded within its first month.

“I don’t think we need a supercomputer to explain such discrimination,” Her Majesty said.

“When we demonize people for seeking a better life for their families, we normalize their suffering. We normalize 11 children on average drowning each week in dangerous Mediterranean crossings,” she said. “We normalize people going hungry in a world of plenty not because we cannot help them, but because we’ve chosen not to.”

During her speech, Queen Rania explained that, in an age where “where AI churns out content and code, and where we’re connected to everything, everywhere, all at once,” it is easy to be distracted and lose focus.

However, she stressed that, “progress is not inevitable. It is not automatic. We are the ones who chart the course and hold the wheel.” “What good is artificial intelligence if we cannot summon authentic empathy with it?” Queen Rania asked.

Drawing on her almost 25 years of experience as Queen of Jordan, Her Majesty shared that, after spending time with some of the world’s most influential leaders as well as some of its most vulnerable communities, her view of leadership has not just shifted, but inverted. “In refugee camps from Jordan to Greece to Bangladesh, I’ve met people with nothing who still manage to share everything. People brutalized by a selfish world, who still put others’ lives before their own,” she said. “If the world’s most powerless can act with such strength, what does that say about the rest of us?”

Queen Rania also highlighted the role that “learning how to follow” plays in leadership and how it can fuel progress in areas such as climate change, which she described as “an existential challenge that demands a global movement.”

The CogX Global Leadership Summit launched in 2020 under the banner of the CogX Festival, and has since hosted over 3,500 expert speakers from business, government, academia, philanthropy, and other fields.

Launched in 2014, the CogX Festival convenes global leaders, the tech industry, and the public for wide-ranging discussions on the implications of Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies.

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