Emory Report
October 17, 2005
Volume 58, Number 7


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October 17 , 2005
Former British MP visits as Halle Distinguished Fellow

Lailee Mendelson is manager of public relations for the Office of International Affairs

Oona King, two-term British member of parliament for Labour from 1997–2005, will visit Emory as Distinguished Fellow of the Halle Institute for Global Learning, Oct. 26–Nov. 1. On Oct. 27, King will participate in a “Public Conversation on Key Issues for Britain and Europe,” including the topics of London after the July 7 bombings, the British European Union Presidency, a Marshall Plan for Africa, and reforming the United Nations, World Trade Organization and World Bank.

King and her inner London constituency of Benthal Green and Bow, where Bangladeshi Muslim residents account for more than half the electorate, were the subject of much attention in the press during the 2005 British general election campaign, when King lost her 10,000-vote majority due to the Iraq War issue. The election result was described as one of the biggest backlashes against the Blair government’s decision to enter the war.

King currently is associate fellow of international affairs at Chatham House, one of the world’s leading organizations for the analysis of international issues. She recently reported on the New Orleans flood for the British newspaper The Guardian and writes on the topic of political engagement for The Institute for Public Policy Research, a London think tank.

“I have been looking at the current failings of Western democracies,” King said, “exploring why citizens don’t vote, what happens when a significant number are marginalized or excluded from the democratic process, and how we can renew democracy in the face of other challenges, ranging from international terrorism to global warming.”

King also chairs the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation and Tower Hamlets Advocacy Network and Community Support, which aims to strengthen democracy at a grass-roots level.

Born both Jewish and African-American, with a special link to the Atlanta area as the daughter of Emory and Morehouse Professor Preston King, Oona King’s multicultural heritage, her wide range of international experience as a member of parliament (MP), and her current work on political engagement provide the basis for her talking points at Emory.

During her time as MP, King campaigned on issues such as human rights, housing, electoral reform, fair trade, comprehensive education, social cohesion, gender and race issues, and modernization of the House of Commons.

She served on the select committees for international development and urban affairs before becoming the parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to the minister for e-commerce, and afterwards PPS to Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt at the Department of Trade and Industry. King’s other roles included vice-chair of the London Group of Labour MPs and treasurer of the All-Party Friends of Islam Group.

King is founding chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Genocide Prevention. Before becoming an MP at the age of 29, she worked as a trade union organizer representing low-paid workers in the public sector, and as a researcher for the European Parliament.

King’s schedule is still in development. For the time and location of her public lecture, or to receive an invitation to a private luncheon with King on Oct. 27, call The Halle Institute at 404-727-7504, or visit www.oia.emory.edu/halle.