“Barriers Only Exist in The Mind”

Alice, British by birth, is a true European, having lived, studied and worked across the continent. She has a deep love of Latin America and has spent extensive periods in Argentina. Since finishing her studies, Alice has spent the past two years researching and writing a book on the political dynamics of international criminal justice. She is concerned with accountability for authors of heinous crimes and the inequalities which exist within the current system of global criminal justice. With her global outlook, Alice hopes that she can use her next step to bring meaningful change, whether in policy, academia or advocacy. Alice Pease's mentor is Peter Rosen.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story! 

A: I have a strong European identity given that I was brought up in France and have lived in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Belgium. With its rich history, languages and traditions, I love the immense cultural diversity which characterises the relatively small continent of Europe. After my schooling in France and England, I did my first degree at the University of Edinburgh in History and Spanish.

I then moved to Buenos Aires where I embarked on a master’s in Latin American-European relations at the University of Bologna. My first few years of professional experience have been interesting and varied; I immersed myself in Latin American politics while working in a think tank in Buenos Aires, co-authored a book on international criminal justice in Rome and learnt about cultural policy while working in Brussels at the European Commission, DG Education and Culture. My biggest challenge to date has been writing a book on the prosecution of heads of state in the international criminal justice system (to be published early 2018 with Polity).

During the past five years, I have volunteered for several NGOs and social enterprises in the UK, Argentina, Belgium, Guatemala and India. From teaching English and French to migrants to building latrines in Kerala, these experiences have definitely broadened my view of the world and been a lesson in dignity and humility. I have recently moved back to London and am now looking for my next challenge.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: The world is a very uncertain and fragile place at the moment. With no end in sight to the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and in areas of Africa and the rise of nationalistic and populist politics in Europe and the United States, 2017 has so far been a very bleak year. The refugee crisis has highlighted a strong lack of empathy and the inability of European leaders to find common solutions to transborder issues. As governments increasingly turn inward and authoritarian regimes are left to their own devices, I fear that human right abuses will multiply in many parts of the world. A better world is one of democracy, justice and tolerance. Let’s hope these values are not abandoned in the current political climate.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: The UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2017 has highlighted deep fractures in society; on the one hand, there are those who have failed to benefit from the fruits of globalisation and have seen their local economies crumble, and on the other hand, cosmopolitan elites. In the face of these inequalities, migrants have become easy scapegoats, which has led to a surge

in anti-immigration rhetoric and manifestations of racist and xenophobic attitudes. Talking more widely about Europe, integration is a key challenge. How do we successfully integrate the millions of refugees that are flooding into Europe? Integration requires a whole set of both short-term and long-term responses at an EU level, from creating strategies on employment and health to legal reform. But with rising support for the far right and domestic political pressures, European leaders have failed to work together to find a shared solution to the crisis.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: Having spent the last two years studying grave human rights abuses, I can definitely put personal hurdles into perspective.

My greatest challenge at present is returning to a country which is turning its back on the very source of my identity: Europe. The European Union’s fundamental values – respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law – are ones that I fundamentally believe in and have shaped my upbringing and education. I am greatly privileged to be part of a generation of young Europeans for whom borders have presented no obstacle but I fear that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union threatens to bring this freedom of movement to a crashing end. 

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: A mentor is a neutral voice that questions and challenges you on your past, present and future. The mentoring relationship provides a space for honest reflection, which in my case has been invaluable.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: The generosity of those who have the least to share.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: As I have been out of the United Kingdom for a while, I am going to cheat with this answer and name Mitraniketan (www.mitraniketan.org), a non-profit project in Kerala, South India. The organisation focuses on education for rural communities and has a truly holistic vision to human development.

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.  

A: Barriers to what you can achieve only exist in the mind.