Speakers called for the promotion of culture and dialogue for global peace and security through education during the World Forum for the Culture of Peace on Thursday. George Vella, President of Malta, in his keynote address in the opening session stressed on the education for peace.
Pointing to the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Palestine and tensions between US and Iran, he said, “we have to rediscover the maintenance of sustainable peace in the world. “Sustainable peace means identifying and eliminating the root causes of conflicts and physical violence,” he said. “We need to create communities and societies based on the culture of justice where every human being lives in peace and dignity,” said the Maltese President.
He called for the promotion of education which is inclusive and recognizes the value of understanding and dialogue. Vella offered to host the Second such forum in Malta next year and which was gladly accepted by Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain President of the Foundation. Mrs. Joke Brandt, Representative of the Dutch government and Secretary General of the Dutch foreign ministry, welcomed the state leaders, decision makers, scholars and cultural personalities from around the world who are taking part in the one-day international event. She underlined the importance of the venue of the Peace Palace in the Hague saying it is a Palace of historical significance in the city of peace.
“We are justified in calling the Hague not only the city of peace and justice but also the city that stands for the protection of cultural heritage,” she stressed. Brandt noted that UNESCO plays an important role in the protection of world cultural heritage and warned that cultural heritage continues to be threatened by conflicts. International cooperation is key to protect the cultural heritages and hence this conference here today is so important, she said.
Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in his speech said that the central question is if there is a relation between culture and education and between peace and cultural heritage. He noted that Europe after centuries of war has found ways to cooperate peacefully. Dealing with emergencies require dealing with cultural heritage in conflicts, he said and called for the protection of cultural heritage in times of conflict. He said, “Protection of museums and cultural heritages in Yemen and Iraq is of great importance and stressed that the Islamic faith sets high standards for the protection of cultural heritage.”
“But how to convince groups such as ISIS to uphold the values of cultural heritage in times of conflicts,” he asked and said, “the answer is not easy and I have no immediate solution.”
Erik de Baedts, Director General of the Peace palace/Carnegie Foundation, said, “Religion is a source of inspiration.We work here on peace every day. Here peace is in action every day”. He also gave an overview of the history of the Peace Palace.
The opening session was followed by the first session titled ‘Education and the Protection of Cultural heritage’, chaired by former Bosnian president, Haris Siljadzic who called for more conferences of this kind. “We want peace on one side and we have nuclear weapons on the other side. How to harmonize these paradoxes. And we have less and respect for each other. Education and correct upbringing are the solutions,” he said.
‘That is why conferences like this play a big role to spread understanding and peace,’ he said. Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Yousef Al-Othaimeen said, “Islam respects all places of worship and called for cooperation with all international cultural organizations for the protection of cultural heritage.”
Leoluca Orlanda, Mayor of Palermo, said, “We should not have fear of the other. This is the message.” “Palermo was a city of the mafia but we promoted the culture of peace and today it is the fifth largest tourist destination in Italy,” he pointed out.
Taieb Baccouche, Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union and ex Tunisian foreign minister culture, said that heritage is part of human rights of an individual. Peter Maurer, president of the international committee of the Red Crescent called on countries to respect cultural heritages during times of conflicts.
The one-day international event has been organized by Kuwait’s Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation in partnership with the World Peace Foundation, New York, Leiden University in the Netherlands, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Carnegie Foundation Peace Palace.