Jacinda Ardern has urged ‘everyone to remember our shared common humanity’ in regards to the conflicts in Israel and Palestine.
The former New Zealand Prime Minister was asked at a Harvard Institute of Politics forum on Monday how she would address the conflict if she was still in power.
Ms Ardern was the youngest female head of government in the world when she took office in 2017 at age 37.
She held the position for five years before resigning in 2023, but continues to be involved in discussions about global matters, speaking at forums around the world.
Ms Ardern has addressed topics like climate change and most recently gave her thoughts on the Israel-Hamas conflict during her visit to the United States.
‘How would I have reacted as a leader? I simply would have reminded everyone to remember our shared common humanity,’ Ms Ardern said, The Harvard Crimson reported.
‘The only way to find long-term peaceful resolution to difficult and complex conflicts is if you find a way to end the violence and grief in order to give yourself the space to then have those conversations.
‘It’s very hard to find peaceful resolution at the midst of violence and grief.’
Former New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern has urged world leaders to take a step back and ‘remember our common humanity’ when approaching the conflict in the Middle East
Israel has launched retaliation against Hamas following terror attacks in October (pictured: the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza after an Israeli bombing)
Ms Ardern holds two fellowships at Harvard: one with the Harvard Kennedy School and the other with Harvard Law school.
She resigned in January this year saying she ‘no longer had enough in the tank’ to contest for re-election in October, where her party, Labour, was ousted in favour of the centre-right National party.
At the Harvard forum she also spoke about her government’s often controversial response to the Covid pandemic.
Between early 2020 and late 2021 Ardern’s popularity as preferred PM plunged from 65 per cent to as low as 34 per cent, according to one poll.
She told the crowd she now considered herself ‘youth adjacent’ so understood the frustrations and sacrifices of younger New Zealanders and that the ‘human experience’ was at the forefront of her decisions.
‘I felt like I was at least young enough to remember pubs and clubs, even if I hadn’t been to one in a decade,’ Ms Ardern said.
‘I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure Covid doesn’t knock off at 10pm.’
Ms Ardern quickly gained respect on the world stage early on in her term in 2019 for her sensitive and stoic handling of mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques.
Her government moved to ban AR-15s just 10 days later before widening the ban to include military-type semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles entirely.
The US has struggled with the gun control debate for decades.
Ardern pictured with her partner Clarke Gayford. She gave birth to her first child while in office as New Zealand PM
She told the forum there was pushback from the farming industry, which she understood growing up on an orchard, but she felt the law must change.
Struggling with the question of differentiating guns used as tools for farming and those designed to be weapons she recalled meeting with local police officers before deciding weapons that can hold five rounds would be allowed.
‘They (the officers) conferred amongst themselves and had a brief conversation and then said five is enough — so that was it, I walked away and set a limit at five.’
Ms Ardern said she was excited and humbled to ‘share her experience with others’ through the Harvard fellowships and conceded she struggled with imposter syndrome while in office.
She urged students to believe they are capable of great things and not hold themselves back by assuming they do not have the capability to take on a role.
Pointing to her own experience she said: ‘Many people are cynical about politics, and I can see why.’
‘I was in politics for 15 years, and I came out with a strong belief that politics is a place for positive change.’