MOVING FORWARD: CULTURE OF PEACE MANUALS
H.E. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice
H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation
H.E. Marzouq Al-Ghanim, President of the Kuwaiti National Assembly
H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President Emeritus of Malta
H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic
H.E. Abdullah Gül, Former President of Turkey
H.E. Hassan Arfaoui, Representative of H.E the President of Tunisia
H. E. Laurence Konmla Bropleh, Special Envoy of H.E. the President of Liberia
Mr. Ammar al-Hakim, President of the Reform and Reconstruction Alliance of Iraq
H.E. Hisham Al Alawi, Ambassador of Iraq to the Netherlands
Mr. Carel Stolker, President of the University of Leiden
H.E. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf
President of the International Court of Justice
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the International Court of Justice, I would first of all like to extend to the organizers and to all the participants a warm welcome to the Peace Palace where all nations seeking peace and justice come before the world court to have their disputes settled peacefully through the law.
As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the mission of the International Court of Justice is peace and justice as depicted in a large painting on the wall of the Great Hall of Justice by Albert Pinard, a French artist and those of you who may have visited this morning the Great Hall of Justice must have noticed that painting. It is on the left hand side of the wall and it is entitled: Peace and Justice. It is a painting which is worth hundreds of thousands of words. It symbolizes how culture and cultural works contribute to peace through the arts, music, dance, literature and, above all, through education.
The expression: Culture of Peace which is the theme of the conference and of the foundation reminds me, however, of my past association with UNESCO which has done a lot to promote the culture of peace throughout the world in accordance with its constitution.
You will recall that it is stated in the constitution of UNESCO that: “ Peace must be founded, if it is not to fail, upon intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”
Education is the basis of both types of solidarity: intellectual solidarity and moral solidarity. But it is even more so in the case of intellectual solidarity. As we know, ignorance breeds suspicion of the other. Ignorance of how cultures promote shared values and how cultures and civilizations interact, borrow and lend from each other breeds contempt and misunderstanding among peoples and nations. It is ignorance that is the anti-thesis of intellectual solidarity and that is why education is of extreme importance.
Just to give you an example, it was recently reported that an American research firm put the following question to 3000 Americans. The question was: Should Americans, as part of their school curriculum, learn Arabic numerals? 56% of the respondents said No. The pollster did not of course tell them that Arabic numerals are the numbers they use every day to dial their telephones which they carry all over the place. Perhaps the pollster should have also told them that a Persian scholar by the name of Mohamed Ibnou Moussa Al khawarizmi developed what we call today Algebra and that the algorithm used in computer science and artificial intelligence are actually derived from his name Alkhawarismi. It is only through education and interaction among cultures that such prejudices can be overcome.
A word now about moral solidarity. This is a concept which not only evokes but also involves justice, equity and the shared values of a community, be it at the domestic or international level. It is also about the equitable treatment of the other, be they individuals, peoples or nations. It highlights the importance of procedural justice. Equity and fairness in addressing grievances and disputes, whether those grievances and disputes concern individuals or states.
So a system of justice based on moral or legal solidarity and cooperation will be perceived as fair and its authority will inspire confidence in all those who may need to use it.
As such, such a system can play a role conducive to peace and harmony. To give you a recent example which concerns the International Court of Justice, two states in Latin America: Guatimala and Belize that have had a territorial and maritime dispute for over a hundred years decided to put a question to their respective populations in referendums organized in their countries and I hope that more states around the world will put similar questions to their populations instead of going to war or disputes because I have no doubt that the choice of the populations will be peace over war.
The question was as follows: Do you agree that any legal claim of Guatemala against Belize relating to land and insular territories and to any maritime areas pertaining to these territories should be submitted to the international court of justice for final settlement and that the court determines finally the boundaries of the respective territories and areas of the two countries?
The peoples of both countries, Guatemala and Belize overwhelmingly gave a positive answer to the question. This is something that made us extremely proud at the court and which demonstrated, if there was a need for such demonstration, the confidence and trust in which the law and procedures we apply to settle disputes and bring peace among nations are held as symbols of moral solidarity and cooperation among nations.
I will end these brief remarks by going back to the importance of education for the culture of peace and by quoting again from the constitution of UNESCO, a passage with which I am quite sure you are all familiar and it goes as follows: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”
H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés
President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Colleagues and friends
Ladies and gentlemen
I am delighted to send this message to the World Forum for the Culture of Peace.
Let me start by paying tribute to the Abdulaziz Saoud Albabtain, Chairman of the Abdulaziz Saoud Albabtain Cultural Foundation for galvanizing force behind today’s event and a champion of the culture of peace. As we mark the twentieth anniversary the UN declaration and program of action on a culture of peace, we should recall the words of UNESCO’s constitution: ““Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men, and I must add here women, that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”
Peace is so much more than the absence of conflict and violence. It rests on respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons regardless of any distinction. It requires efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations. It means adherence to the principles of justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism and cultural diversity.
Any calls for ongoing dialogue at all levels to achieve these goals, at this challenging time of the world and in particular for Iraq and Yemen, dialogue is needed more than ever.
We are approaching what could be called a dangerous tipping point where violence and conflict are on the rise, where the gains we have made over the decades are reversed and where risk causing irreparable damage to our rules-based international system.
So while it is tempting to moving to fire-fighting mode to address the multiple crises we face, we must ensure we saw the seeds for sustainable peace by investing in conflict prevention, in peace education and in intercultural and inter-faith dialogue. We must ensure we increase our efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals which provide the basis for a culture of peace…and we must act to protect our cultural heritage. Whether in Iraq or Yemen, The Hague or Kyoto, this heritage is integral to how we see ourselves and to the story of humanity.
We are all defined by culture, by the traditions, artifacts, monuments and sites that reflect the history of our societies, their collected wisdom that has shaped our way of thinking as well as our shared history. Indeed, their bear witness to the interconnected nature of our past and to the cultural exchanges that have taken place and that have given so much beauty to the world.
So I look forward to hearing the outcome of your discussions in how to make the culture of peace a reality in Iraq, in Yemen and across the world.
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain
Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation
Peace be upon you
Mr. President of the Republic of Malta
Mr. President of the Central African Republic
HE Mr. Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly
Gentlemen and Madams Presidents, Ministers and Ambassadors
Ladies and Gentlemen
Peace, mercy and blessings of God
In my book “Meditations for Peace” published in Arabic in 2017, I referred to the seventh rule necessary for a just peace: the rule of education.
Since peace must be the culture of people in their daily behavior and thinking, we must ensure the presence and continuation of this culture. Therefore, we must be working to raise a conscious generation and to ensure the formation of this generation through the lessons in the culture of peace from nursery to school and then the university stage.
As you know, I presented to the United Nations General Assembly during two consecutive years in September 2017 and then in September 2018, the project of teaching culture of peace for the future generations, which was adopted, and then the Foundation moved towards a new phase, which I consider it a breakthrough in the history of our Foundation and the history of peace culture.
Today, as the project of preparing curricula for teaching a culture of just peace has been approved, I feel comfortable, reassured and happy that we have accomplished these approaches to the humanity and our happiness will be complete if we truly and diligently teach these generations the culture of just peace rationally.
A just battle is not a battle in war but a battle for just peace. A total of 17 curricula are on display, on the screen against you. These curricula are to be used by students under the supervision and guidance of teachers and we have made it in two parts for the first and second levels of nursery for the ages of 4 to 6 years in one volume. Then for elementary and are in two parts for the first and second levels for the ages of 6-8 years. The curricula are easy to address as far as students understanding and level of awareness and perception. Then we made 4 parts for the rest of the levels for elementary school and 3 parts for middle school, and 3 parts for secondary education. As for university we have allocated 4 parts which have taken the abstract and practical academic nature.
I would like to point out that these curricula are the result of the thinking of the human mind that unites us.
The initiative is a Kuwaiti Arab and contributed to its achievement the best experts from the world under the supervision of an international committee. It is useful to point out that the members of this committee and experts are from more than 20 countries of the world, from multiple cultures, each of whom is proficient in a minimum of two or more languages.
These curricula have been a conclusion of the best of teaching programs available. And adopted the best means of communication of social education, so that each country in the world can apply and add to it what fit its culture.
For your knowledge, the curricula were not formulated in Arabic, but within the framework of the Foundation openness to the world , we considered it more appropriate to be drafted in the language of global dialogue, ie English which is understood by most of the world’s population. We will do our best to have them translated into the other five languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
I would like to emphasize that these curricula, like any human action, may require additions.
I would like to thank the honorable International Supervisory Committee and all the experts who edited these curricula. I would also like to thank the Foundation’s staff, which has followed all the phases of achievement in a record time, as the deadlines have been observed in respect of our commitment to the UN General Assembly.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for your presence and participation. I sincerely say: Thank you all for this achievement and this happiness.
We would like you, and we kindly urge you to work to teach these curricula in your groups and communities and that the observations you will make after my presentation we will take this into account, God willing.
Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you
H.E. Marzouq Al-Ghanim
President of the National Assembly of Kuwait
In the name of Allah the Merciful Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the noble messenger prophet Muhammad, and on his family and his companions.
Mr. Uncle Abdul Aziz Saud Al Babtain President of Abdul Aziz Saud Al Babtain Cultural Foundation Your Highnesses
Ladies and Gentelmen
Peace, mercy and blessings of God
The Almighty says in the tight download: O you who believe enter you all in peace and do not follow the steps of the devil. He is a clear enemy to you.
First , on my personal level, I do not like to talk about peace as an alternative to war, nor do I like the idea of putting peace and war in a reciprocal dichotomy like day and night, or evil and good, or right and left, because I reject the principle of sharing these two options. This refusal is due to my conviction and belief that peace is our only option to live, and because I believe that war is a passing exception, an accidental improvisation and a temporary departure from the text of life. But despite my conviction, I am always concerned about this exception, the exception of war and blood, because I know that working for peace and consolidating it always requires millions of wise, and mature people, while the option of igniting a sever war, sometimes only needs someone Foolish.
The criminal Saddam Hussein on his own sparked a war and then occupied millions of Iraqis and Kuwaitis to establish the peace they deserve as human beings.
Hitler did the same and the Germans were busy working for decades to repair what he had demolished in a moment.
It is this concern that always leads me to warn of the marshy atmosphere in which many call for conflict and war.
This concern is what makes us in Kuwait, headed by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, work hard to avoid wars and armed conflicts.
His Highness the Amir, may God preserve him and patronize him, had never stop warning in the past years, of the scourge of engaging in armed conflicts that could have been avoided if we had given the diplomatic and political efforts another chance.
If we wait a bit, do I need to remind you of what HH the Amir has been saying since 2011 when the conflict in Syria broke out?
His Highness has always called for a political solution and stresses that the option of military resolution is expensive and impossible. His Highness was saying these words at a time when some were looking at the military resolution from either side or that. Today, in 2019, we are calling for a political solution, and my question here is whether we need 8 years of terror, murder, bombing and terrorism to know that the solution there is a political one ?
We in Kuwait do not reveal a secret when we admit that as a small country we decided to invest in peace. This is a strategic choice, not a luxury and theorization.
We in Kuwait want to win the battles of peace, because we have a moral asset to help us, and we want to admit that we are unwilling to engage in political adventures that we do not know their consequences.
We in Kuwait want to see all of you friends, not enemies, because we believe that fighting and conflict are the choice of the politically failing and the protagonists, and we believe that in the atmosphere of war, the human rights and democracies that centuries have struggled to nurture are being wiped out. In war, development opportunities die, cultural communication possibilities fade and construction stops.
War is not a game or entertainment.
We have tried in Kuwait the impact of the military machine and its destructive capacity, and we do not want others to experience the same bitter experience. Under the guidance of HH the Amir, Kuwait hosted three international donors’ conferences in Syria, in addition to chairing the fourth conference held in London. He occupied my country 29 years ago.
For the sake of peace, Kuwait hosted two months of political negotiations between the parties in Yemen, in addition to sponsoring the negotiations later in Stockholm. For the sake of peace and nothing but peace, Kuwait stands a firm and principled position against all Zionist crimes against the defenseless Palestinian people.
We in Kuwait support tirelessly all regional and international efforts in the interest of peace in the various conflict zones. We support peaceful political solutions based on dialogue in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, and others, as well as open and transparent political dialogue to resolve the trans-GCC crisis.
This is our political ideology that HH the Emir has inaugurated over decades, and we are following it and working according to its requirements.
In conclusion, sincere thanks and appreciation to the Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation, headed by the great uncle, Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain, who fate wanted to be the date of 13/6 is the date of his birth as if fate wanted to honor him.
We thank as well all the international attendants for their outstanding and effective contribution to the success of the Global Forum for a Culture of Peace.
H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca
President Emeritus of Malta
Heads of states of Malta and Central African Republic
I would like to start my contribution by thanking the Abdulaziz Saoud Albabtain Cultural Foundation for inviting me to address this World Forum for the Culture of Peace [ but especially to you my dear friend Abdulaziz for dedicating your life to human rights and peace and I speak like this as a citizen of the world but also I would like to thank you as a mother for working and endeavouring for the future, for the security of future generations. Thank you so very much for all you do and for what you will be doing. On this special occasion on your birthday, may God give you a long life.
I will begin my contribution by referring to two inspirational quotes regarding peace. “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”
And my second quote is: “If you want to end the war, then instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.”
The first quote is from Dalai Lama and the second is from Malala Yousafzai. I chose to share these quotes with you as they are most appropriate for today’s discussions. Both quotes feature education as being fundamental to building peace. In my opinion, the underlying message that has been at the heart of our discussions, today, was the need for peace education. Last month, I was invited to give a speech at the National University of Ireland, regarding the need to embrace diversity for a peaceful world. I started that speech by making reference to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Specifically, I made a reference to the very first sentence of its preamble, which sentence underlines that peace in the world is key for everyone to enjoy their fundamental rights and human dignity.
This 70- year-old sentence is all the more important today, as it provides us with guidance, which is so needed in our world which has become so uncertain. This important sentence also makes reference to the ‘human family’ - a concept which is so essential to be kept at the heart of our discussions and our endeavors to build a culture of sustainable peace.
Unfortunately, as a human family we are still struggling to fully understand and embrace our diversity. Understanding, acknowledging and respecting our diversity is a most-essential component to build a culture of sustainable peace. Peace must be the cornerstone on which all of our strategies should rest. All of our strategies should aim to build a culture of positive peace even in the face of adversity.
Building a culture of positive peace will not happen overnight. It will need investment, ownership and a conducive environment that supports it. Education plays a key role in this context. I strongly believe that education curricula at all levels, from children in kindergarten up to the highest levels of learning must be empowered to embrace fundamental core values. More specifically, we must devise the necessary holistic methodology, which celebrates diversity and inclusion, nurtures education and promotes positive peace.
This is in fact very much in line with the commendable initiative in focus today. The education manuals to teach the culture of peace for the security of future generations being launched today, by the Albabtain Cultural Foundation, will surely help to promote a culture of peace that we so desperately need in today’s world. The appreciation and the protection of diverse cultures is also key.
Appreciating our respective cultural heritage, not only gives us our identity, but also reminds us that we all belong to one human family. Appreciating and protecting our respective cultural heritage makes us aware of the common elements underlying our traditions and values, which we know, transcend different cultures.
These common elements also reflect common aspirations, common fears, and common vulnerabilities that are experienced by all of humanity. Global peace has always been difficult to achieve. Conflicts remain a reality in many parts of the world today. Although the United Nations was established following the atrocities of war, seventy years later, war is still a reality. Millions of people are forced to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. As a woman from the Mediterranean region, my country has seen, and is still seeing whole boatloads of people, fleeing from conflict, undertaking most dangerous journeys, to reach Europe.
I personally have witnessed children, separated from their parents; husbands, wives and children, torn with despair, desperately looking for their family members; shock-stricken and emotionally-broken mothers and fathers looking for their children, and traumatized children looking for their siblings.
These tragedies continue to this day in the Mediterranean and across so many other regions in the world. Unfortunately, only the lucky few who manage to survive such traumatic situations, are then welcomed by people of good faith and communities that embrace diversity and celebrate multiculturalism. Yet believing in diversity and multiculturalism is not enough. Diversity and multiculturalism needs to be part of a wider and more comprehensive rights-based approach. Education is a key component of this approach.
We must make sure that migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees are welcomed into established, mainstreamed, and inclusive education systems. Specific needs, like those relating to language or belief, need to be addressed and catered for. It is important that education systems adapt and change, so as our schools will become environments that welcome and celebrate different cultures. Schools should, in essence, provide a safe and respectful environment where children from different cultures can come together in a spirit of mutual acceptance. This will foster an environment where children thrive together and respect each other irrespective of their origin, faith or color. It is only by creating such an environment that can give all of humanity the most needed and most necessary assurance against the threat of radicalization and extremism. This is because inclusion and integration of all of our diverse cultures must be at the core of all of our strategies and plans of action. We must also ensure that we actually understand what we mean by integration.
Integration is not assimilation. Integration is neither segregation. Integration is respecting each other’s cultures, respecting each other as we are. That is why schools must therefore become safe spaces - where respect for diversity can flourish and can be celebrated.
Creating such safe spaces in schools is a priority for my Foundation, the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. Through our flagship outreach activity, which we called ‘The Secret Garden,’ we reach hundreds of schoolchildren annually, with activities – through an informal education methodology - that promote and encourage inclusivity, equality, diversity, tolerance, respect, and above all, peace. Through this invaluable work, we are creating a community of learning and a child participation process to help build the necessary resilience within our communities. This is a way of sowing seeds to reap the benefits of an inclusive, equal, and equitable society. This concept of active child participation for an inclusive equal and equitable society is also at the heart of our work within Eurochild. Eurochild is a Pan European network of nearly 200 organizations from over 34 countries. As president of Eurochild, I look forward to exploring possibilities of potential collaboration to enhance peace education for and with children.
On concluding, I believe that our efforts at embracing diversity need to be accompanied by an overarching strategy for inclusion.
This must prioritise the building of a culture of positive peace, that champions respect and solidarity, with diverse groups, that today make up the social fabric of our diverse communities. In this context, I would like to once again commend the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation, for creating the education manuals to teach the culture of peace for the security of future generations. Definitely, working with children, and for children, through the necessary educational curricula based on peace education, can be a means towards building a sustainable culture of peace. Therefore, let me encourage all of us, to work harder to reach this objective, as States, as communities, as international organisations, as civil society activists, but most importantly, as members of one human family.
Definitely, complacency is not an option towards the building of a culture of positive peace. Let me, therefore, once again, encourage all of us to be champions of peace; but even more than that, let’s be actors for peace. To be actors, we need to go from words to action.
H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadera
President of the Central African Republic
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Heads of State,
Mr. Abdelaziz Saud al Babtain, President and Founder of the Cultural Foundation of the same name, Ladies and Gentlemen
Heads of Delegations and Representatives of International Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, allow me to express my sincere thanks to the Governments and peoples of the Netherlands for the warm welcome and hospitality that has been reserved to me and to all my delegation since my arrival in this city of The Hague.
My thanks also go to Mr. Abdelaziz Saud al-Babtain Foundation for Culture and its partners for inviting the Central African Republic to this meeting and for the excellent preparatory work accomplished which made the success of this forum possible.
The Central African Republic, my country, is honored to meet today with all the other guests at this important event, a theme hat concerns us all,
I would like to point out that peace as creation is always susceptible to erosion in the presence of the expression of diversities or even divergences that derive from human nature. The preservation of peace is then a universal and continuous endeavor. The culture of peace is imperative for all states and is singularly informed by the atrocity of violence, the terror, the canker of war and the historical and cultural legacies of the people.
Therefore, it is legitimate for conflict prevention to be one of the essential objectives of the United Nations, as stated in Article 1 of the Charter. the nature of the wars and threats that are spreading today across continents call us or remind us of more preventive diplomacy and the strengthening of initiatives for the peace and stability of nations. Several countries in Africa and the rest of the world, like the Central African Republic, can grasp the major international, regional and national challenges of this other battle or the reconquest and preservation of peace.
This peace subordinate’s sustainable development, the safeguarding of resources, the protection of the environment and the survival of humanity.
This is the place to once again thank the international community and salute the tireless efforts that bear witness to friendship and historical fraternity between peoples and nations. To reiterate towards the Central African Republic, my country, fragile country, which is built Little by little after a conflict which weakens the forces of the state including means of defense and security, to cause the collapse of the economic and social infrastructures, to retreat the human development index and forced many citizens and expatriates, women and children into exile and danger, precariousness and poverty.
The history that must be written precisely to provide pedagogical references in our schools in order to increase the knowledge here and develop the know-how and know how the present and future generations, are able to highlight, the cruelty and ferocity of wars, including against the world heritage that is of interest to humanity.
As you know, the Central African Republic has gone through a great crisis, including the most violent one recently, and for which a solution to the peaceful crisis has been initiated by the signing of a political peace and reconciliation agreement. My country is therefore particularly sensitive to the theme.
The culture of peace through education and the preservation of the heritage of the Central African Republic as a legacy for future generations, are inevitable levers for the construction of a long-lasting Peace.
In the Central African Republic, the path to peace has been deeply marked since the 6th of February 2019,by the inking of the renewed commitment of international community, who has been a guarantor for the implementation of the political peace agreement and the national reconsideration signed by the central African government and the 14 armed groups.
The scope of this exceptional act, which this agreement has aroused among my compatriots, for this purpose is at the level of our huge expectations, the political Peace and reconciliation agreement contains the fundamental elements to enrich our intangible heritage, strengthen our identity and the fulfillment of our people.
The political Peace and Reconciliation agreement contains the milestones towards the restoration of the values of national unity, social peace, social justice and national solidarity, the revision of the law on political parties, so that it became a vector for promoting the peace value and social coalitions.
The agreement reaffirmed the constitutional principle of the fight against impunity, understood by all, because it is no longer conceivable that peace in RCA is still possible to build on amnesty for crimes.
One of the powerful tools of collective security is the national DDRR program which must help to put an end of violence, as all groups are committed to, especially since they will participate actively in the conduct of this process that we want diligent and animate a solid and efficient and functional device.
As a support to this process, the reform of the security sector will create the optimal conditions for the reform of truly national and republican defense and security forces, some new elements will come from armed groups, who after passing the certification course- the standards were established by the UTM which is a European Union missions of the and MUNISCA a mission of the United Nations.
In this dynamic of global approach to the peace and security issue, the agreement has made significant progress by addressing specific issues such as those linked to transhumance movements that have become sources of security. By appropriately taking charge of this issue, we want to engage partners and neighboring countries to work together to deal with this issue, which has considerable security implications in terms of relations between communities at the national level, but also at the sub-regional level.
Finally, we are proud of a process that reassures us thanks to its constructive systemic vision and which will convey lessons to instruct the dialogues between the people and the nations to prevent the devastating effects that the incapacity of man to create and to maintain peace everywhere in the world.
H.E. Abdullah Gül
Former President of Turkey
Ladies and gentlemen
It’s an honor for me to be here today with you. I see many friends, distinguished people here. I’d like to express my best wishes to all of you and , of course our friend Mr Abdulaziz,I thank you for getting all of you here…and also very much appreciate your efforts in peace and education.
Frankly, when I got this invitation to the forum, at first, I felt a sense of sadness because we were not going to Baghdad or Sanaa; the reason is known. Peace is far away now from there but in this beautiful city, the home convention for the protection of cultural legacy, we hope that the time will come and peace will remain also in those historical cities of our part of the world.
Peace, security and prosperity are not words we would use for the region. In Iraq, not only hundreds of thousands of people were killed, millions of children were orphaned but also some of the world’s richest libraries, museums and historical sites were destroyed and the precious art collections and archeological objects were looted. It is sad that the same sequence of destruction is taking place as we speak in Syria and Yemen
We have been listening to many valuable speeches, ideas and contributions from distinguished participants. I appreciate all of them. Now, I’d like to share my views and experiences with you; accumulated throughout my particular life.
The fundamental requirement for happiness and welfare in a city or country or a region is to establish, peace, security and stability. Human studies are full of wars and struggles.
As a result, much sufferings, pain and destruction was experienced throughout history. Those who got the lesson out of this found the way how to live together in peace and then they were able to build their welfare.The shining example of this is Europe. Remember the political landscape of Europe in the first world war and second world war. Then how the war started, then how the almost 15 million people were killed and the most beautiful cities of the European continent were destroyed. They all paid this cost and then discovered how to live together….and then today’s Europe was created. It was based on the rule of law, human rights and free market economy. Now has the time not come for the Middle East to take the same course and end its dark age after so many bloody wars suffering and pain?
It’s time for the leaders of the region to acknowledge that the current situation in the region is consuming human and natural resources of their countries. This vicious circle should be broken and courageous steps taken to reverse the fate of the region. For this, we need to democratize our work views, cultures and discourses before anyone else’s. I recall my speech delivered in 2003 at the Islamic conference in Teheran when I drew the attention of our fellow countries to the risks lying ahead if we did not put all houses in order. It was one of our people’s legitimate demands. I stressed in that speech that as responsible leaders, we should urgently initiate political reforms to enable people to live in their own countries together in peace. Otherwise, the major conflicts and trouble would be inevitable. It is very unfortunate that we continue to repeat the same mistakes and as a result, unprecedented level of destruction and sufferings has swept across the Middle East and left it in ruins. Even wars and other much larger conflicts is looming at our door step, which has the potential to cause an even worse level of destruction. It is therefore imperative to achieve peace at home and in the region.
Contrary to common wisdom, peace does not come by itself. It is not the original premise of human nature. So in order to live together in peace in a small society or in the region, we must learn to respect and show tolerance to each other’s differences; be it ethnic, religious or cultural. For this we need dialogue. This means to talk, discuss, and eventually reach a compromise. Compromise is the only way to live together. We must acknowledge that in these modern times, regimes based on absolute consolidated power are not sustainable. Specifically because of this, an advancement of principles of democracies such as separation of powers, supremacy of law, accountability, transparency, equality are values …..
Certainly, the standards of our region are far away from these values. To bring peace, the primary responsibility lies with the leaders of the region. Therefore, they should recognize and embrace these values, then adopt and uphold them in their countries. Without their commitment, mere good will of the people will not set us to bring peace to the region. The dire situation we face today should therefore remind us today that democratic sophistication is the only way for us to develop ourselves with respect to the human rights, dignity, equality and accountability.
As far as democracy is concerned, if some of the countries in the region, in the Middle East are not yet ready to adopt democratic mechanisms in their countries, they should at least spend utmost efforts to apply the principles of good governance. Let us not forget that leadership is not just about making decisions or running the countries but it is also about educating the masses through the leaders statements and ideas and their visions. Responsible leaders will be proud in establishing measures and precautions to avoid and prevent probable conflicts and crises. This alone is not enough. We also need a vibrant and active civil society. Any effort at peace without, will be short-lived.
An active civil society along with education is essential for individuals and young generations to learn and digest the idea that peace should be the foot norm
So dear friends
Well..we all know…we’re all following what’s happening. The wars are destructive. They undo the gains of humanity. In the absence of peace, any efforts at cultural advancement or preservation will go in vain. We were not able to establish, unfortunately, a sustainable peace at our parts of the world in our times. So let us not be late for our children to realize it.
Thank you very much for listening.
H.E. Hassan Arfaoui
Representative of H.E the President of Tunisia
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation
Ladies and Gentlemen
At the outset, I am very grateful and thankful to the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation for this invitation and for the good reception and generosity, and to this opportunity to address your honorable gathering.
I also have the honor to convey to you the greetings of His Excellency President Beji Caid Essebsi and his wishes to your distinguished conference for success.
And to convey as well his best wishes to the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation for its sincere commitment to the values of peace and the tremendous work it has undertaken to embody them, especially through the convening of this World Forum for a Culture of Peace.
I would like to mention that the President of the Republic has been consulted since the beginning of the preparation of this initiative and welcomed it and encouraged Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain to proceed with its implementation. This was Tunisia’s position in the United Nations General Assembly when it confirmed through its representative the support of the project and considered it necessary for the international community. Today, the Foundation culminates in its initiative to accomplish the distinguished educational curricula which Mr. Abdul Aziz Saud Al-Babtain presented to us. Our country will inevitably continue to support this vital initiative and the competent authorities in Tunisia will work to include it in our educational institutions.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
The commitment of the leaderships and brotherly countries in Tunisia and Kuwait to a culture of peace in accordance with its values as an approach to resolve internal differences or those that arise in international relations is well known to all.
This trend was reinforced in both our countries and it was adopted and deepened by the civil society. The initiatives of Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation, which we are dealing with, are the best evidence of this.
On 15 March 2015, Tunisia won the Nobel Peace Prize, which, for the first time in its history, honored an entire people through its civil society represented by the Quartet sponsor of dialogue.
This precedence is important in itself, but it becomes even more important when this people is Arab and Muslim after all that has been said and said so far that the Arab-Islamic soil is only suitable for cultivating tyranny, extremism and violence.
Certainly, this prize is important for Tunisia as a nation and a nation, but it is also important for other Arab countries and societies because it proved that the peaceful approach and dialogue is more effective and less costly than weapons.
And that the real courage lies in confronting the dispute with the argument and persuasion to accept the right to disagree, not by fight and violence, which does not lead to the abolition of the causes of conflict and stampede, but to fuel sedition and burning green and crusty and ultimately to the intervention of foreign powers and the loss of national sovereignty.
This prize is also important for the rest of the world because it has restored the concept of civil society and its role in resolving conflicts that are no longer the preserve of official institutions.
But to win the award should not be an end in itself. We must continue to work so that we are always at the level of trust and appreciation of the world, and at the level of ambitions that transcend us to the point of universal civilization action.
The more we invest in human intelligence and the creative interaction with the universal values, the more we advance and rise and we are able to the historical act which includes an addition to the human group.
Therefore, our policies, especially cultural and educational ones, should play a leading role in cultivating and rooting the values of peace and defeating a culture of extremism, extremism and violence.
It should spread the culture of tolerance and consolidate the principles of peace, freedom, pluralism, dialogue and openness.
It must also resist all forms of discrimination and sensitize all components of society to the need to respect these values through concrete programs and curricula such as those that achieved by the Albabtain Cultural Foundation.
If honoring us with the Nobel Peace Prize is an additional title to our full engagement with global civilization and its values, it is no stranger to our history and civilization.
Tunisia fought its war for independence through political action, progressive realization of goals and the use of force was never an end in itself, but a means to force the colonizer to dialogue and recognize our national identity and our right to self-determination.
The results of this philosophy in the management of the national struggle that it have deepened the peaceful orientation and the attributes of moderation and inclination for dialogue and the realization of reason in the Tunisian collective conscience.
In view of all the above, it is natural that the bonds of friendship between the two countries and the Kuwaiti and Tunisian peoples should be strong because of their shared belief in a culture of peace.
It is also natural for Tunisia to be a state and a civil society alongside the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation in its endeavor to consolidate the culture of peace that we need most on the Arab and international levels under the delicate circumstances of our world.
Finally, please accept the most beautiful words of thanks for your attention.
Peace be upon you
H. E. Laurence Konmla Bropleh
Special Envoy of H.E. the President of Liberia
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I bring you warm greetings from his Excellency, President George Weah of the republic of Liberia and all of the people of Liberia. As we gather here in The Hague for this auspicious yet worthy forum, president Weah we have me inform you that he believes in the culture of peace and non violence and looks forward to the outcome of this event and future ones.
Let me take a moment of personal privilege to pay homage to someone I have just met but I’ve heard great deal of; someone who studies the culture of peace, I have learned your great work; I have learned of the many sacrifices you have made and I am convinced that our world is a better place. Mr. Abdulaziz Albabtain because your life’s work, Pontius war and non violence with velvet gloves of peace, I celebrate your work today.
The idea of education as a means for developing the culture of peace and non violence is reinforced by a statement made by Mahatma Ghandi and I quote:” If we are going to bring about peace in the world, we have to begin with the children. Having experienced in Liberia over 14 years of brutal civil conflict, I’m of the opinion that no nation can rebuild until its people rebuild. Rebuilding after people , however, must be the reorientation of the mind in the hope that the added dispositions of those involved will be refashioned and moved towards living out the culture of peace.
Today, the world forum for the culture of peace seeks to etch on the tablets of our hearts and minds, an understanding that would inspire all to reason together that without peace and peaceful coexistence, the advancement of our world cannot be a reality. Not just in Iraq, not just in Yemen, not just in the Central African Republic but everywhere else in the world. When people value their culture and appreciate their heritage, it broadens the path to a true understanding of the preservation of peace.
When peace is advanced through the formal or informal environment, it makes a significant difference. Peace education, as we’re discussing today, seeks to provide young people with the knowledge and skills required to ensure the promotion of a positive social life; skills and attitudes that we hope lead to a culture of nonviolence and foster co-social cohesion.
I believe it is an empowering process that seeks to affect change through the development of personal non violence capacities. It adopts a multi cultural approach to changing both people and the communities.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Increasingly, academics and practitioners in my sub region, West Africa, are becoming aware of the potential, the great role of peace education to address some of the challenging realities relating to violence. The economic community of West African States (ECOAS) has in its ECOAS conflict prevention framework, has given prominence to peace education as a key conflict prevention strategy. And this, I report to you, has contributed to the development of several peace initiatives all across West Africa.
As a man experiments, I want you to know that to a culture of peace, I will take great effort to achieve where we want to go. But I am convinced that these can be achieved through collaborative efforts between families, colleagues, neighbors, classmates, governments and all other people in our world.Everyone can be involved in creating a culture of peace.Even in a minor way,there can be a major impact.
If peace is achieved in all our families, there will be positive consequences of this and it will be seen in our societies and will extend throughout the world. If peace is reached in our schools and classrooms and children can extend a peaceful way of living into society, we will see the leaders of our world develop into individuals who understand how to resolve conflicts, have respect for other people and lifestyles and who work towards the alleviation of poverty while contributing to a peaceful productive society.
In my context Liberia, we have preferred that preventing conflict and promoting a culture of peace must include an understanding of our heritage: Where have we come from? Who are those who ived before us? How did they live? What did they do to peacefully coexist? Where is our cultural heritage? How can we value, appreciate and preserve in order to make our society better and peaceful? In a more sustainable way, we are pushing for a change of mindset and attitudes. Yemen, Iraq, Central African Republic and other parts of our world can not only become better and peaceful, when we intentionally embrace the culture of peace from within and incorporate the peace education in our schools to affect the mental acumen of our children at the impressionable ages.
I believe, as doctor Martin Luther King once said, we are tied together inextricably in a garment of mutuality. When one part of our world finds itself in a conflictual circumstance, every part of the world must be concerned. That is why I celebrate the Albabtain Cultural Foundation because you, irrespective of where you sit in a peaceful environment, are making sure that you are no less content until the rest of the world is in a peaceful environment and I thank you for that.
Finally dear friends, to be able to live a peaceful non violent life, an individual must first have the basics of our needs met: he must have food, shelter, water. Alleviating the poverty of our people in the world is one of the first steps to creating a culture of peace and non violence. For this to ever happen, it has to be a worldwide effort. However, we can start with individuals and on a small scale as we see here today: Albabtain cultural foundation as he set out to do not only in this event but in previous ones and in future endeavors to come.
I’m of the conviction that the simplest step is sharing your own time and resources to help others. This can be done in our own lives, in our homes and other places like classes. If everyone contributes a small amount of their time and resources to the cause of alleviating the poverty of others, there would be a drastic change in the number of impoverished people in our world.
When I think about the work that you do Mr Albabtain, in my other life, I’m a religious leader and on Sundays, we sing a song that says:” If I can help somebody along the way, then my living will not be in vain. We are doing today,we have congregated here, is putting together, appreciating, evaluating and presenting curricula that will help people along the way. So that when their life becomes better, our work will be realized and God of the universe will be pleased. So I say to you as I close:” The curriculum that we behold today will go a long way to transforming our world; for it has become contextualized and for Liberia, we will use it because 14 years of war, 15 years of peace. There is still fragility in the peace process. What we need to do is to embrace the curriculum, get our kids to learn to change the minds and attitudes so that one day, they live peace, eat peace, talk peace, and experience peace. They will be leaders; they will create a peaceful world.
Let me leave you with this one. Doctor Martin Luther King said, you can tell I’m a great fan of Dr King:”True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice. As we push for a sustainable culture of peace and non violence, it cannot become a reality in the absence of justice.
Let us all work to create a just world in Yemen, in Iraq, in the Central African Republic and the rest of our world.
Mr. Ammar al-Hakim,
President of the Reform and Reconstruction Alliance of Iraq
In the name of Allah the Merciful
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds
May Allah bless our Master Muhammad and his pure family and companions as well as all the prophets of God
Uncle Prof. Abdulaziz Al Babtain
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to salute you and thank the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation for this remarkable effort and a remarkable step.
Cultural heritage occupies a prominent and important place in the process of life in general and its history in particular.
It is a form of national identity that brings people together under their common humanitarian umbrella. Moreover it is a form of communication between peoples past and present.
It is a reflection of its historical and civilizational journey and therefore the task of preserving it means preserving the identity, as well as recalling the past and summoning it as a historical document upon which the present is built and formed.
How can the present grow without communication with the past, not only by leaning on it and glorifying it, but also by proceeding from it and making it as cornerstone.
The cultural heritage of human beings in its physical phase , which means monuments, museums, buildings and historical evidence; and in its immaterial phase, we mean by customs, traditions, traditional crafts, folklore festivals and culture has significant importance as it is a universal language, a message of peace, and a way of intercultural dialogue and learning about the way of life of others. And what better to say about it and call it cultural human heritage.
Therefore, we must work hard to preserve it if we are to deliver the messages of peace. And emphasize not to close on ourselves and not to exclude the others and renounce them, especially as we witness repeated attempts to destroy this heritage and erase or obliterate its features.
As the world witnesses wars, conflicts and closed thinking, narrow insight in the way some people look at the cultural heritage and think about harming it, as well as the practices of extremist movements and negative behavior that tends to erase some forms of this cultural heritage, whether it be tangible or intangible.
The destruction of the Buddha statue in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban and thus erased a page and a common human chapter that represents not only Buddhism or Buddhists, but an area of the entire world as a common human heritage above all.
In addition to the bombings that targeted more than 150 sites of the archeology of Mosul in Iraq and its neighborhood by the terrorist ISIS, apart from for the stealing and looting of Iraqi museums when US troops entered Baghdad in 2003. As well as the drying of Ahvaz southern Iraq under the pretext of harboring the opposition In the nineties of the last century and the bombing of the shrine of the Prophet Yunus in Mosul and the shrine of Al-Askary imams in Samarra.
In addition to the killing of worshipers in the Church of Saydat Al najat in Baghdad and dozens of suicide bombings that targeted mosques, Husseiniyas, churches and participants in the rituals of Husseiniya in Karbala and various Iraqi provinces.These are well-known examples, to name but a few, and still many do not give way to count all of them. This is why we are working together to preserve this human cultural heritage.
But this can only be achieved through serious steps to preserve it not only for its importance but also as part of our human identity above all else. I can outline the steps that we hope will serve as a working guide for the preservation of human heritage as follows:
First: Work to reduce the impact of conflicts and wars because of the significant impact this has on the destruction of human cultural heritage and spread awareness of its importance as a true expression of the serious desire to promote a culture of peace.
Second: The systematic work to preserve the human cultural heritage as a universal language and a facet of dialogue among civilizations through which the relationship between peoples and their cultural heritage can be bridged.
Third: Emphasis on cultural heritage as an aspect of rooting national identity, a link that is not of less importance than other links such as language, religion, belief and other, which represents the national identity of peoples.
Fourth: Striving to activate the role that cultural heritage can play in making peace and rapprochement of peoples, such as the establishment of folklore festivals, forms of oral culture, etc., and all that can attract the peoples of the Earth in a friendly and peaceful manner.
Fifth: Include and formulate national awareness and its indicators in school curricula to preserve cultural heritage and promote a culture of peace, as it can not achieve the points mentioned earlier without educational, intellectual and awareness ground on which generations arise, and this can only be done through the provision of appropriate educational curricula And to prepare the generations intellectually and educationally for this approach . We hope that the 17 curriculum will be an important input in this context.
Sixth: Containing the cultural heritage of peoples, accepting the other, rejecting the exclusion and the inferior view of the history of these peoples, their civilizations and their heritage.
Whatever this heritage and whatever we disagree with him or agreed should not be underestimated because it is an image of its identity and the face of representations of its heritage.
Seventh: Empowering young people to consolidate the state of orientation and preservation of cultural heritage and awareness of this, and confronting knowledge poverty in the importance of human participation and making it a means of rapprochement between peoples and employing this in bringing perspectives among them through the use of information systems and social networking sites to inform about the importance of this heritage and how to preserve it and spread the culture of peace.
Eighth: The cooperation of government institutions, civil society organizations and individuals to preserve cultural heritage. It is our joint responsibility.
Ninth: Working to bring together the common cultural heritage of human beings and adopt similar ones such as epics, novels or festivals and other common cultural heritage and make it a universal occasion for celebration, which contributes to the actual rapprochement among the peoples of the world.
Tenth: The cooperation of international and local organizations to establish an institution concerned with the Iraqi national cultural heritage as part of the honorable human cultural history.
This institution not only creates hope for the Iraqi heritage sector, but also acts as a cultural bridge between Iraq, its neighbors, its regional environment and the international community. It facilitates the support of Iraqi universities and researchers.
It encourages the establishment of urban signs adapted from Iraqi archaeological and heritage scenes around the world and provides missions and fellowships related to the protection of Iraqi heritage.
Ladies and gentlemen
If these steps are described as practical steps for young people to preserve heritage and resist erasing, destroying and establishing a culture of awareness of the culture of the universal human in general and the Iraqi in particular, we urgently need to preserve it through systems that can avail it and work on it and call to not compromise it because it represents an identity of particular people; but because at the same time it represents a common human heritage above all.
In 1954, UNESCO adopted the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property during the War and its Protocols I and II. It recommended taking all national and international measures to protect archaeological sites and cultural heritage of States as a cultural heritage of humanity.
. We must strive not only to protect heritage but to sincerely strive to reject all forms of piracy, trafficking and illegal ways to acquire all or part of the cultural heritage of any people or nation.
We must remember that none of these points can be achieved unless there is a sincere and serious desire to work to achieve them and consider them as a guide to action and a map to make it a reality for the preservation of cultural heritage as a form of human commonality above all, a message of peace and a common universal language.
In conclusion, the culture of peace is not limited to a particular religion, belief or ideology, but it is a human rank.
Some or many may die without reaching this rank, and we are working to reach it by preserving our common human cultural heritage as it is a message of peace.
Thanks to Al-Babtain Foundation and thank you
H.E. Hisham Al Alawi,
Ambassador of Iraq to the Netherlands
In the name of Allah the Merciful
Praise be to Allah and peace be upon His righteous worshipers
Your Excellencies , your Highnesses
Dear Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Babtain
Ladies and gentlemen
Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you
I am very honored and delighted to deliver this speech on behalf of the Senior Adviser to President Barham Saleh, who was unable to attend. It gives me great pleasure as well to convey to you the greetings of His Excellency the President and his thanks and appreciation to Albabtain Cultural Foundation and its officials, as well as to thank you for the good efforts you invest in promoting a culture of peace.
In the name of of Allah the Merciful
At the outset, the President expresses his thanks and appreciation for shedding light on the issue that has been and is still a cause of many conflicts.
The heritage of any nation is its record, which archives its historical stages and paves the way for its future. Hence the nations are keen to archive and preserve their heritage and archeological legacy. Therefore, it is certainly and not surprising that this heritage is targeted by others. As it is an element of strength for the nation and a working guide for its future. It is an incentive for present generations to do their utmost to connect the past to the present.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Iraq’s historical legacy has been targeted once by theft, smuggling and sabotage. Is was surprising to be targeted by ISIS .This terrorist organization who has been keen to target the land, stone and human beings. It has emptied its hatred by destroying the nation’s legacy, which Iraq has often boasted and transmitted for generations and which was maintained by the competent authorities.
The targeting of this great legacy was not all ideological, but it was also targeted for the purpose of stealing and smuggling to provide funding for this terrorist organization. Funding is the most important part of the targeting process.
Certainly, not all the blame lies on this organization and its elements as it is a terrorist organization that is expected to commit atrocities and target everything. But the biggest blame lies on those who grabbed this smuggled legacy for the sake of trading and investment even by the lowest e prices.
The presidency and the Iraqi government have been keen to provide all the requirements to restore the smuggled legacy and save what can be saved maintenance and restoration with the help of relevant international and community organizations and bodies concerned and interested in this aspect, but the support provided to Iraq so far does not rise to the level of ambition and we look forward to more From international, community, logistical and technical support.
Ladies and gentlemen
Iraq did not wait for the end of military and security operations and the declaration of the final victory over the Islamic State terrorist organization in order to initiate contact with the competent international bodies to provide technical support and assistance to recover what was smuggled from and looted.
Iraq also exerted its utmost efforts to begin the inclusion of some important archaeological and heritage sites on the World Heritage List as you know 4 of the marshes and three archaeological cities were listed on the World Heritage List in July 2016.
He succeeded in inscribing Ahwaz on the World Heritage List and looks forward to the inclusion of the important monuments of Babylon on the list itself.
Iraq has made extensive contacts for this and we look forward to the out come of your forum, which we hope it supports this effort of the government and the Iraqi people.
We wish the organizers and all participants of this forum every success and pray for God the Almighty to help you and us in preserving our human and cultural heritage which is the heritage of all mankind.
Mr. Carel Stolker,
President of the University of Leiden
Ladies and gentlemen
It’s a great honor to be here and to contribute very briefly to this wonderful conference I much enjoyed all the different speeches I heard today. I would like to say a few words on behalf of my university but if I may also on behalf of universities across the world.
The beating hard of my university, Leiden university, is the academy building hallowed ground. It’s in the center of city of Leiden and it is in this building that key ceremonies are held. One of the most striking things about this building is a large stained glass memorial window you can see behind me and this window was made after the second world war to commemorate all those who put up resistance to the German occupiers between 1940 and 1942.Among them were several, numerous actually Leiden students and lecturers. One of them B.M Telders , was professor of international law. He was indeed one of them and he was depicted in the middle of the window in his Leiden gown, and you can see him here right behind me.
This memorial window, ladies and gentlemen, refers to the two fundamental aspects of peace education. The importance of remembrance and education. Remembrance is imperative because it forces us again and again to reflect on the immense human suffering caused by war.
My country the Netherlands has been living in peace for almost three quarters of a century; almost my age. That may seem a long time particularly for those of you who come from regions in which war has raged more recently or is still raging now.
But although our last war was almost seventy-five years ago, some people still live with its consequences, many even second generation victims. Here in the Netherlands, we remember and that’s on the fourth or on the fifth of May every year and we celebrate our liberation on the fifth of May. Remembrance is essential indeed and helps us to stay motivated and to do our utmost to prevent war.
However, motivation is not enough. This is much more than the desire to prevent war; it’s about learning how to prevent war…and that brings me to this crucial question: What can universities, universities around the world, what can they do, what can they teach the students about this? What knowledge do we want, do we have to instill in our students?
Well, the obvious answer, of course, is knowledge and understanding of various disciplines that are relevant to the culture of peace; which means academic subjects such as international law and international relations. But this is not all,of course. We also need to teach our students subjects in the social sciences and in the humanities such as the languages and cultures around the world and history. Without this knowledge, international relations are nothing. Academic skills, such as critical thinking, argumentation, reasoning and interpretation also contribute to the culture of peace. But the most important academic skill of all is delayed judgment. It is such an important part of the DNA of the academic and our students that it is more an attitude than a skill.
Delayed judgment, reserving judgment, not jumping to conclusions. A university should be a place where you take a moment to think before you speak, before you judge. A place where you consider the other person’s opinions, motivations and convictions and even rather particularly if these ideas differ from yours. The motor of Leiden university’s praesidium libertatus, bastion of freedom. In our university, I would say every university must be a place where all opinions can be freely expressed, even the controversial ones. B.M Telders , the man behind me, the lecturer in the memorial window of the academy building of my university; he fell victim to the regime that did not tolerate dissent and he died in a concentration camp.
Our world needs people who are critical, who have learned to look with an open eye, people who can think of themselves and people who can verify their sources, who want to base their opinions and their views on fact, people who are always prepared to doubt the veracity of what seem self-evident.
Then and only then we can create strong and resilient citizens, strong and resilient students, citizens and students of the world who have learned to fight one another with words rather than weapons…and it is this what universities I think all around the globe should teach their students.
Thank you very much.
The youth should embrace the culture of peace, said a Kuwaiti official
on Thursday during the World Forum for the Culture of Peace, which kicked off earlier today at the Peace Palace. “Curricula has a major role in instilling such value in students; an inevitable outcome of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s endeavor of deep-seating peace on a global scale,” said Dr. Hamid Al-Azmi, minister of education and higher education. The UN-bestowed title for His Highness as ‘Leader of Humanitarian Action’ is seen as an ongoing motivation for the youth in walking the path of peace and humanity, noted Al-Azmi, and added that developing curricula, as well as feeding them with values of peace and humanity, is a process done on a regular basis.