top of page

Day 2: March 4, 2022
Session III
The Role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society Organizations


HE. Anġlu Farrugia, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta.


HE. Mohamed Nasheed, Speaker of the Parliament of the Maldives.

HE. Hanno Pevkur, First Vice-President of the Parliament of Estonia

HE. Behgjet Pacolli, Member of the Parliament of Kosovo (Former President)

Mr. Abdesselam Lebbar, Head of the “Isteqlal” (Independence) Parliamentary Group in the House of Councilors of Morocco

Mr. Struan Stevenson, Former Member of the European Parliament

Mr. Jesmond Saliba, Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations, Malta

Mr. Jean -Christophe Bas, CEO of Connectors for Peace


HE Anġlu Farrugia

Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta

Your Excellency George Vella, President of the Republic of Malta,

Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation,

Honorable Members of Parliaments,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          I am truly honored to be present in this World Forum for the Culture of Peace, and it is indeed, I would say, and additional privilege for me to open this session, in which we will examine the role of parliamentarians as being leaders for peace.

          We are currently living in what I call «Insta-World»; we want everything to happen instantly and immediately, instant coffee, instant photographs, instant noodles, or porridge. Through Instagram, which by the way is a portmanteau of instant camera and telegram, we have found ourselves in a new world of influencers, sensationalism, following people and people being followed. Instagram is a window into many stories, and since the telegram days, of course I remember those days most certainly, before one can say that parliamentarians have been always at the forefront of such personal stories through first-hand experience and their respective constituencies being leaders in their own, I would say, respects; people listen and of course people follow.

          Our leadership in our respective community may influence our way of formulating our thinking process while also of course legislating and militating towards just peace.

          We, and I say we in the Maltese political setting, build relationship with constituents in a very personal approach and manner, we experience moments of sincerity, vulnerability, sometimes sorrow, sympathy and also tears, especially in the light of the military invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. I personally fear that this attack may have further foraging consequences, which may affect world peace and security. I have already expressed my solidarity with the people of Ukraine in such a difficult moment, and an hour ago, I was addressing the European Parliament online in the presence of other members from all over Europe and Ukrainian Parliament, and I hereby reiterate my appeal for restraint and for the resumption of diplomatic dialogue to reach a peaceful settlement of this conflict.

          Well, today, we can see the rampage of the consequences of the war in real time through social media, thus rather than self-promotion or promoting what have been now become petty political agendas, we must come together, we must join forces, but we must produce solutions for the greater good now more than ever.

          Additionally, of course, we cannot not mention the COVID-19 pandemic that has put us all into overdrive to manage all the crises it posted, and it is very easy to become jaded by the horrors of what is happening and becoming pessimistic, pessimism that may lead to an action, and an action that eventually gives way to inattention. Auschwitz victim and saint (Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps in Poland), whom I have to refer to, Maximilian Kolbe, said and I quote, “The deadliest poison of our times is indifference”, and that is what we should fight, we should fight together indifference.

          And yes, the essential role that we, namely the parliamentarians and NGOs and the journalist, who are here today, must together all play is to stop ourselves from ever simply turning away, but we must also continually confront stakeholders, including the governments and the United Nations Security Council with individual faces and stories of injustice, civilians who are undergoing political turmoil and take action immediately, so it is very apt that today’s forum is being held here in Malta; it’s a long standing vocation for dialogue and peace in this region, and this, I would say was evidence also during 1975. I have to recall that the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe at that time (CSE), whereby it was upon Malta’s insistence that European leaders realized the validity of dialogue and the imperative need to include all the Mediterranean countries, so it was included in the Mediterranean Chapter in the final act as you know. At that time, Malta argued that there could not be peace in Europe without having peace in the Mediterranean. Today, Malta continues to hold dearly to this vocation and through various institutions and organizations on endeavors to promote dialogue and peace as a means towards attaining more security, stability and of course complementing with prosperity.

          Allow me to touch also upon the establishment of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, which was established also in parliament recently in 2017, and it actively contributed to raise awareness on the importance of promoting tolerance and peace whilst facilitating dialogue between various stakeholders and parliamentarians.

          It is interesting to mention that the scope and function of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace is complemented also, as I said, with the work of the International Parliament for Peace, bringing together numerous members of parliaments and directly contributing to this global movement for peace and acceptance.

          Let us thus be, and I quote the word that I use in my original speech today “Let us be influencers for peace, for political justice and security everywhere”. I am confident that the distinguished speakers that we have in this session and the discussion that will follow will certainly diverse perspectives of how best to promote and sustain peace.

          Peace education should become an essential part of our curriculum, it is only through education that the necessary mentalities, the necessary attitudes, and preparedness can be achieved to provide further and proper fertile grounds for peace and to thrive.

Thank you very much.




Speech of HE Mohamed Nasheed

Speaker of the Parliament of the Maldives

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful,

All praise due to Allah, the Cherisher of the world, and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, on his family and all his companions,

Excellency President of Malta,

Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

Excellency President of Albania,

Excellency Former President of Croatia,

Excellency Former Prime Minister of Jordan,

Members of Parliaments,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          I understand that this conference is about peace, and how best we may be able to achieve that, but before I start, I have to mention the poem «Intimations of the Desert», written by our founder, which is his first book, and then his «Songs of the Desert» again by the founder of the Foundation; Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation. Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain has written amazing amount of poetry and I must mention that they are excellent, and we should all have a look at them.

          I am, as mentioned, from the Maldives; we sit in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1000 miles from north to south, 600 miles from east to west, we occupy the navigable parts of the Indian Ocean.

          Al-Mas’oudi and Al-Bairouni, and all the historians from the 10th and 11th centuries, had all written about the Maldives and how the country was governed in the 10th century. Arab travelers, when they discovered the trade winds, started visiting the Maldives and route to further east. Trade winds were such they had to spend another five, six months in the Maldives before they proceeded further east because the winds would change. In the Maldives, of course, they got married and had children. Traders started settling down in the Maldives. The Vedic Maldives Kings thought that this was a brilliant idea that we should ask certain sections, some islands, to convert to Islam so that there will be more trade. Ibn Battuta, he was a Chief Judge for four years, had written extensively about the Maldives. Poems of Al-Sofia (Sufism), these are navigational poets, they mentioned a navigational instrument called the «Kamal». Now this  man «Kamal» apparently was a Maldivian navigator who found a more effective way of looking at the stars and how to travel.

          This is Islam; the Islam that came to the Maldives through very, very peaceful means. With the traders came the Sufi Poets and Imams, and they taught us about the Arabic culture and the Islamic Religion. The Islam that you find in much of South Asia is a synthesis of Vedic beliefs and Islamic ideals, and I am afraid it is that culture that is now being challenged by a very narrow-minded version of Islam. This is why this Foundation, which is again so important, that we must spread tolerance and acceptance.

          As I moved to my speech, although this conference is about peace, it is difficult not to start by mentioning war, namely, the war raging not too far from here, in Ukraine. Watching from afar in the Maldives, it has been impossible not to be impressed by the bravery and heroism of the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine.

          In spite of the overwhelming and unprovoked aggression, he rose to the moment, leading his country and urging his people to defend their homeland, which they have so bravely been doing so.

          I think we have to go back to Winston Churchill to find a national leader who has so brilliantly understood what it means to be a war president. If you need any more evidence why we must strive forward of democracies, surely it is this appalling war in Ukraine. This is the cold hard truth of politics; dictators start wars, fight against their own people and then against their neighbors.

          This brings me onto the main point I wanted to make today, and that is the imperative need for organized peaceful and comparative politics. By organized politics, I mean political parties, freely able to operate and complete in free and fair elections. To my mind, free and organized politics is the only way to bring peace within a country and for that matter for the peaceful coexistence of countries internationally.

          From my own experience in the Maldives, the development of political parties was fundamental to the development of democracy and peace. Political parties are the key institutions of democracy and are paramount in the struggle for democracy. They provide a vehicle for which we can organize politics. It is from the political party that you can organize peaceful street protests, develop manifestos, and contest elections, and ensuring a strong political party with its own internal elections and rules means, you have a robust political vehicle, which can last a lifetime.

          The Maldives was run by an authoritarian for 30 years before we managed to bring about a multi-party system with free elections. My party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, was established while the Maldives was still a dictatorship and parties were officially banned, and of course, we paid for it; I spent a good half of my life in prison, but now the Maldivian Democratic Party is a formidable election-fighting machine. We had our first multi-party elections in 2008, and since then, the Maldives has changed its government three times all through multi-party elections.

          Much of this success in peacefully transferring power is because we have managed to develop institutions of democracy, political parties being one of the most important, also fundamental is that there is room for dissent, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. These are the basic tenants of any well-run society.

          As well as being the head of my party, I am also, now, the Speaker of the Parliament as pointed out, and the role of parliaments is also central to good governance and well- functioning democracies. Parliament is where members of successful political party end up sitting as elected representatives of the people. The Speaker of the Parliament of Malta pointed out that he has personal interactions with his constituents; we have the luxury of doing it because we are a very small population, but even in big populations and countries, I believe that it is possible to have personal interactions with your constituents.

          Members of Parliament have two crucial roles; to hold the government accountable and to make laws. Making laws, in a sense, is the end of a political process that starts with parties; a party contests and elections, put forward a manifesto for the people to vote on, and it is elected to government, can then convert these promises into laws that hopefully bring out the desired change. So, when we think about a just peace, we need to think about the conditions necessary to bring that just peace.

          To my mind that is fundamental political freedoms, a democratic system, in which politics can be contested peacefully and with strong political parties.

Thank you.



Speech of HE Behgjet Pacolli

Member of the Parliament of Kosovo (Former President)

(Written Message)

Your Excellency President Vella,

Your Excellency Mr. Albabtain,


Dear Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          Today, we are meeting in a different landscape in Europe. Much more different than some days ago. I had thought to deliver a different speech, but the event unfolding in Ukraine, have made me to change.

          Whilst Ukraine is far away from us, we are following the crisis with grave concern. Its economic effects can already be felt here, for example, in rising electricity and petrol prices. But these are not the principal reason the situation in Ukraine is important to us.

          A world order based on “might is right”, or where “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”, such a world order would be profoundly inimical to the security and survival of small states. We cannot accept one country attacking another without justification, arguing that its independence was the result of “historical errors and crazy decisions”. Such a rationale would go against the internationally recognized legitimacy and the territorial integrity of many countries, including Kosovo.

          That is why we are a staunch supporter of international law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. The sovereignty, the political independence, and the territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected. Kosovo must take any violation of these core principles seriously, whenever and wherever they occur. This is why Kosovo and all of us have strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

          It is heartbreaking to see the heavy casualties and the loss of many innocent lives, resulting from this unjustified attack and act of war. I strongly urge Russia to cease this offensive military action immediately, and to work for a peaceful settlement in accordance with the UN Charter and international law. We also call for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and all those in need.

There are important lessons for us to draw from this current Ukrainian crisis:

First, whilst international law and diplomatic principles are essential, they are not sufficient. But agreements are only meaningful if the parties respect them, and if they can be enforced. This is the acute reality for all small countries, and Kosovo is no exception.

          You cannot depend on others to protect your country. Thus, we must never lose the ability to defend and look after ourselves.

Second, it is all too easy for a small country to be caught up in the geopolitical games of big powers. Small countries must avoid becoming sacrificial pawns, vassal states or “cat’s paws” to be used by one side against the other. Julius Nyerere, the late-President of Tanzania, had said, “When elephants fight, the grass suffers”. This is why we work hard to maintain good relations with all our neighbours and with the big powers. When situations arise, our assessments and our actions are based on clearly enunciated and consistently held principles, that are in our own long term national interests.

Third, as a young nation, it is vital for us to maintain domestic unity and cohesion, bearing in mind how easily internal divisions can be exploited by adversaries, especially in this internet age and the advent of hybrid warfare. Dividing and weakening an opponent internally, overtly, and covertly, has become the standard complement to conventional warfare. Therefore, our domestic politics must stop at our shores.

Fourth, safeguarding one’s sovereignty and national interests often requires some sacrifice and pain. The Ukrainians are paying the ultimate price for freedom with their lives and livelihoods. The rest of the international community that is taking a stand against naked aggression through sanctions will also have to bear some pain and pay a price. We must be prepared to deal with the consequences, to bear the pain, to help one another, and to stand up together.

          Let me point out that in the past two decades we are witnesses of the transformation of relations between countries and peoples in the Western Balkans. This transformation of relations is measurable and visible. We can see a clear transformation from hostile relations to peaceful relations, from an instable to a stable region. The interaction between governments, people, and commerce has increased. There is more connectivity than before. All these changes are signs of stability and of a promising future.

          These changes have been possible thanks to the remarkable support that the EU has provided to the region through the enlargement process, technical assistance, development and financial aid, and other political support. The EU deserves credit for making the region a more peaceful area, improving regional cooperation, and facilitating the peacefully resolution of many outstanding bilateral issues. But we see the enlargement has stalled. It is time for the EU to set a clear date for Western Balkans when to join the European Union.

          There is no doubt that the EU-facilitated Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for the normalization of relations can be considered a distinct achievement in our region. The First Agreement reached in April 2013 was truly a historic agreement, but this is only the beginning of a historical process rather than the end. The full normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is far from being a done deal. The First Agreement was a game-changer with regard to easing of political relations, but we should take it with sufficient dose of optimism, because many challenges remain.

          From our perspective, we think there should be immediate implementation of all agreements reached so far. We are ambitious with regard to the topics and the future of dialogue. We consider this Dialogue as a win-win, and not a zero-sum process. Based on this understanding, we have been ready to move forward.

          To be more precise, we are ready that during the next four years to resolve all outstanding issues between Kosovo and Serbia, and this will be the time when there will be no domestic elections in Serbia, Kosovo, or in the EU to delay and complicate this important process. But what it is important is that the Dialogue should not be conducted endless and without clear end goal. For Kosovo, reaching a legally binding agreement in the end of this process is something possible, which leads to mutual recognition and unblocking Kosovo’s path to EU, NATO, and other international organizations.

          As I have said in the past, the most sustainable way for building durable peace between Kosovo and Serbia is to sign a peace treaty, which should include the recognition of Kosovo sovereignty, encouragement of Kosovo’s membership of international and regional organizations, including the UN, and the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.

          Indeed, merging the EU integration process with the full normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is the best way to ensure that the process has credibility and produces results. So, we count on EU’s support in the future in facilitating this important Dialogue between our two States.

          And I think the situation in Ukraine has shown, there is no time to waste, we need a Peace Treaty between Kosovo and Serbia.

          This is a time for us to come together and to stand up for principles, uphold principles which are core to our survival, our existence as an independent sovereign nation.

Thank you!


Speech of Mr. Abdesselam Lebbar

Head of the Isteqlal (Independence) Parliamentary Group at the House of Councilors of Morocco

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful,

All praise due to Allah, the Cherisher of the world, and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, on his family and all his companions,

Excellency President of the Republic of Malta,


Dear brothers the Parliamentarians,

Distinguished attendees; each in his name and honorable capacity,

          Also the due respect and consideration go to His Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation, that always fosters the Just Peace, so I believe we should congratulate ourselves on that loud voice coming from afar; the voice coming from a hermitage, calling for a return to the path of righteousness, to peace and to just peace, we need such rare voices in our time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          I have received with much passion, love, and appreciation the invitation from Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation to attend this forum, and I was so eager to have the honor of being here among you as a parliamentarian coming from Morocco of North Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          Our meeting today is a successful on, in both form and content. It is successful because we were able to speak out the truth and return our world to the righteous path. That is why it has succeeded by all standards. Therefore, we should thank Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation for its great efforts to raise the voices of peace, justice, and truth, which is one of the names of our God «The Truth».

          Peace will continue to prevail as long as there are voices calling for peace and a return to the path of righteousness. Therefore, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of this meeting; the people behind the scenes who do their utmost efforts concerning organizing, directing, and guiding in this forum. I also extend my appreciation and gratitude to the Republic of Malta, His Excellency the President, the Parliament, and the people of Malta for their warm hospitality and reception, as well as for creating a conducive environment for meaningful and serious discussions.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

          We gather today, as we witness a globe rife with conflicts, to ask ourselves; has the dialogue solution ended in failure? Do we need a new way of thinking? or as our God says in the Qur’an, “Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” Hereby, I find it necessary to draw the attention to the outcomes of this forum when its organizers decided to form a committee that facilitates and encourages dialogue between the currently conflicting parties, whose dispute has seized the attention of the entire world and people of all ages. The thing that has made our world follow everything that is taking place during this war; the killing and destruction, the very same war where there will be no winners, so whoever thinks he will be a winner, he will not be. On the other hand, whoever believes he will lose this war, he will not be the only loser, but the whole world will lose this war or any other war that may come as well.

          In this world, which could not overcome these disputes between the conflicting parties, everyone’s heart beats with fear whenever we remember wars wherever they exist, whenever we remember their worries and consequences, whenever we remember how many homeless people, refugees, children, women and elders are out there and are compromised to be lost in such a world and feel sorry and even regret for being here in such a horrible life.

          Man is created to live a life of dignity, and our God stated in the Holy Qur’an, “Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion, and He is over all things competent, [He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving”. That is why the world of today should be good in deeds; its deeds should be aimed towards peace, because our world, if I may say, is a small piece of land, a small village, a small city and even a small house, and our life is too short to be fighting, so why should we? Why should there be any bloodshed? What legacy will this war leave? Do you know what the answer is? Well, it will leave a lot behind; orphans, victims, and even more than that; it will leave behind the destruction of humanity, destruction of what had been successfully achieved by humanity, of the social exploits and, of course, of our culture.

          Today we live in the shadows of what our ancestors left for us, but consider what we will leave for those who will come after us; what legacies we will be leaving for them; fighting and wars? Destruction? All causes of conflict, whether they were about water, land or any natural resources are nothing compared to man’s life and existence, for man should live today and not otherwise. Here, I would like to thank all the peoples who have opened their boundaries and made the whole world gathered in a small cup. We all seek happiness and joy, and none of us seeks destruction or the killing of innocent people.

          We are sorry; who among us does not feel this way today, when the eyes desire what the hands cannot reach? So all we can do today is intensify our efforts; as parliamentarians, governments, and civil society, because when war breaks out, it means we have failed; we have failed to agree, failed to spread love and brotherhood, which is why I see Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation at the forefront of those calling for a return to the path of righteousness and away from the path of injustice, hatred, and aggression. Therefore, let us all work for our peoples; encouraging non-discrimination between men and women, and opposing oppression, contempt, arrogance, bullying, and excessive selfishness, all of which contribute to this destruction. Long live the happy and active nations.

          Who among us now would want to die before his time? None of us, even if a straight person attempts to kill himself, he will be unable to do so since an inner power in our bodies prevents us from dying, but what about those people who devise lethal weapons? Let us all work together to put an end to all forms of the armaments trade.

          Malevolence and hatred only generate enmity, which leads to fighting, war, and destruction. Today, as parliamentarians, we must endeavor to shape or frame our peoples and our institutions with projects that spread love and appreciation. I conclude with the verse that God Almighty stated in the Qur’an, “I only desire reform as much as I am able, and my success is only by God, upon Him I rely, and to Him I repent”.

Peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.


Speech of Mr. Struan Stevenson

Former Member of the European Parliament

Your Excellency President Vella,

Your Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

Your Excellences Presidents, Ministers, Law Makers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

          It is my great honor to have been invited to address this outstanding forum.

          Against the tragic background of a new war, we need your leadership for just peace and this remarkable effort to promote the Culture of Peace, so this is the perfect stage to tell you about a new global initiative to introduce an international treaty to ban the political use of religion.

          The mission captures the spirit of this forum; it is a natural part of the incredible effort of President Vella, Mr. Albabtain and all those who aspire for just peace. Everyone knows that one of the main messages of all religions is to be kind to one another, but unfortunately, religion has often been used as a weapon. When we look at the world today and in the last few decades, we see that the abusive mixing of religion and politics has been the main root cause of the worst conflicts; there have been thousands of attempts to solve this problem, but very often, they end up doing more damage than good by giving ammunition to the extremists.

          I believe that we now have the ultimate solution to set global rules to disarm religious extremism. An initiative led by, the London-based NGO, BPUR International ban the political use of religion. Unlike all previous attempts, this historic mission comes from the utmost respect for all religions with a unique understanding of all sensitivities surrounding this minefield, and how to build a global and respectful consensus.

          The proposed treaty represents a new approach to introduce clear, simple, and indisputable international rules to ban all political uses of religion that undermine human equality, all religious discrimination in rights and duties, all religious exclusion, and all restrictions to freedom of religion and belief. These simple terms will apply to all violations without any clashes with religious beliefs.

          One of the central points of this initiative is the fact that we cannot single out any specific religion or any specific country. There is no solution for this problem on any national stage. We need fair global rules for a global problem.

          Now this is not separating religion and politics. On the contrary, we believe such a separation is, not only irrelevant, but it is also impossible, even in most of the Western nations, let alone other parts of the world. We only need to stop the political abuse of religion and all religious discrimination.

          This initiative is building phenomenal support worldwide because it is indisputable; no responsible government or person can refuse such fundamental fair rules, no one can say, «No, I want to use religion to discriminate between people.» We believe that this non-confrontational approach is the only way to build global consensus to help the international community eliminate the root causes of religious extremism, and deal with most of the current and future conflicts.

          The evidence is here, the support for this initiative is accelerating rapidly among distinguished leaders, officials, lawmakers, philanthropists, influential people, royalty, UN officials, religious leaders from all over the world and international organizations. The roadmap of this historic mission is to secure governmental adoption to table the proposed treaty at the UN General Assembly, and we are very close to achieving that objective.

          Malta, Kuwait and all your countries can certainly make history by leading this mission to eliminate the political abuse of religion. We have advanced agreements and engagements with many governments; large groups of parliamentarians have already asked their governments to adopt this initiative, especially in Morocco, in Bangladesh, Italy, Austria, Pakistan and most recently the United Kingdom, where 27 cross-party parliamentarians have asked the Prime Minister to adopt the initiative, how and why could he say no? and that is only the tip of the iceberg as we have different levels of support in more than 60 other countries, including many of your countries.

          In May, we are organizing an international conference in Morocco with seven Moroccan NGOs and the National Human Rights Council, more than a hundred lawmakers, officials and religious leaders will meet to coordinate the international efforts to enact this significant UN treaty.

Your Excellences,

          We are getting very close to a new era, where all mankind agrees to stop all political abuses of religion, and I believe it is a great opportunity for your countries to take leading positions in this historic mission.

          It is very easy for any government to say, «Yes to adopting this initiative,» because it is unthinkable to say no, it would be very rewarding for any government to lead the world to a better future. The proposed treaty would certainly make a massive difference to the lives of billions and serve all international humanitarian objectives by eliminating the root causes of many intractable conflicts and a long list of violations of human rights. It would subsequently enhance stability and open the door for sustainable development.

          Many of the conflicts bin the world today could be solved if we all speak with one voice, every corner of the world will benefit from this treaty, not only the countries which are imprisoned in the cycle of religious violence. You could ask, «Why did we miss a simple solution like this for so long?» If we have had this treaty 70, 50, or even 20 years ago, we could have prevented the destruction of so many countries, we could have saved millions of lives and livelihoods. This treaty would also reflect on every aspect of life by creating functioning and responsible societies worldwide.

Your Excellency President Vella,

Your Excellency Mr. Albabtain,

Your Excellences Presidents, Ministers, Law Makers,

          This initiative is an interpretation of your admiral effort and a natural part of your remarkable leadership for just peace, this is your initiative because your leadership would make a crucial difference to this effort to enact a significant UN treaty that would certainly make the world more tolerant, more fair, and more peaceful.

Thank you very much.


Speech of Mr. Jesmond Saliba

Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations in Malta

Thank you honorable Farrugia,

Your Excellency President Vella,

Your Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,

Your Excellences,

Distinguished Guests,

          Thanks for the privilege to address this forum. It was said many times and I repeat; we are living in really dramatic times. I come from a generation, who in their teens, witnessed and welcomed with a certain euphoria the historic fall of a wall and lived the process of unification of a continent on the ideals of peace. I remember it was a time to dream and hope.

          My children’s maternal Polish grandparents, in their teens, however witnessed the horror and destruction of war. This morning, like other mornings since last week, I had once again to explain to my twelve-year-old girls what is going on at the doorstep of their homelands when just only a few months ago, we were speaking about the process which led their both homelands, Malta, and Poland, be part of a project which was born from the ashes of war.

          Explaining what is going on to children is a difficult and daunting task for any parent, let alone how tragic it is to flee from war when you are a child whose children need safety, they need to feel in a safe world, and they do not always understand why this safety is hindered by greed.

          Children to me are the essence and personification of common good; an ocean which we often mention, but hardly see, put at the center of our activities, because if we really believe in the common good, if we strive for the common good, we would all do things more different.

       The famous Schumann’s Declaration, which inspired the creation of what today is the European Union, states that world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it, and here we are.

          What we are witnessing in Ukraine shows like what we witnessed in the previous years and decades in the Balkans, Middle East, and the Gulf that peace is threatened and endangered, and the danger is real when we ignore the common good and greed takes over and the safety and freedom of people is threatened. How shall we respond to this? and as Commissioner of Voluntary Organizations and Civil Society Organizations, what role Civil Society has in all this ask? We have to dare to dream of a world where peace prevails, but we have a responsibility to act too to make the dream a reality and we all have a role in this.

          Civil Society Organizations has the power to be an enabler of social cohesion, promoters of active citizenship and safeguards of the common and greater good in society through their special characteristics and values, yet recently researchers internationally have shown that globally many voluntary-based organizations, cooperatives, associations, mutual funds, philanthropic organizations, transnational advocacy group and the more recently social entrepreneurs have purposes closely related to their particular interest and, as such, are not necessarily directed towards a common good, so we all have a responsibility.

          This reality comes from the fact that also Civil Society Organizations have also to deal with an array of stakeholders with that have expressed different and even sometimes divergent claims in their recent times. Donors, funders, beneficiaries, workers, regulators and most importantly the volunteers, which are the hearts of any Civil Society Organization, have different interests in and representations of the performance and the identity of an organization, so being accountable to all of them, which is one strategy among others to regionalize an organization’s being and doings, might just be an impossible task, but also a source of opportunities as there is no clear-cut hierarchy among them and no obvious common ground.

          The concept of just peace has several defining elements; it rests, however, on specific understanding of the word «peace». One of the definitions of Just Peace says that “it is a social condition of harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility, it is a state of social and societal well-being in which all relationships and which the basic needs of people are met”. This can easily be seen as the common good; embodied as defined earlier in children and future generations.

          The well-being of society of the future needs active citizens; this is fundamental, as politics in Liberalized Market Economy increasingly become an exercise in creating institutional structures for the pursuit of sectional self-interest, so we need to make every commitment together to living for the common good.

          At this very particular period in the history of humanity; in this very sad chapter of world history, we have a call, which we need to answer together; political leaders, civil society, and active citizens. Yes, together we all have an obligation to make every commitment to living and strive for the common good. Each sector should not view itself independent from other sectors. Together with all our ideas, values, and diversity, we can make a difference; we put the common good as our goal to attain just peace.

Thank you.


Speech of Mr. Jean-Christophe Bas

CEO of "Connectors for Peace"

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your gracious words of introduction,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

          It is a great pleasure to be here. Also I am well aware that being the last speaker in the last session on the last day of this forum, and on top of that, right before lunch, that my task is certainly impossible to expect to be heard, but nevertheless, I would like to say a few words of gratitude and to thank Albabtain Foundation and the Republic of Malta for their hospitality and organizing this very timely forum.

          I would like to express my gratitude to Chairman Albabtain, President of Malta, and Dr. Touhami Abdouli also for putting together this event, and also to all speakers, this morning and yesterday. I say I learned a great deal these were very inspiring words, and it is good to and also reassuring to see that today and yesterday we were all together as champions for peace.

           In a way, I would also like to stress how much I was inspired last night to read this book (Contemplations for Just Peace) of the Chairman Albabtain  and I think this book should be almost mandatory in schools around the world and probably the world would be a better place if everyone would read this book, and Mr. Chairman as you have been using this beautiful image of just peace being a candle; be assured that we are certainly all committed here to maintain this flame alive and vibrant, and even so we are in very difficult circumstances. There are still people committed to peace and that peace will prevail.

          Let me be very briefly because I know time is very short. May be that is my privilege being the last speaker of this session, to introduce a perspective based actually on research and academic evidence, and even so, since last week, we are living in a very different world; the reality of the Post-Cold War, as shown by research, by UNESCO, but also by the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflicts, shows that most conflicts in the world today are not conflicts between member states, but they are within countries, and what we are witnessing again, based on those researches, is that two-thirds or even more of the conflicts today are rooted in culture, in cultural divide, in ethnic divide, and in a way identity. In a way, it is quite striking to see that most conflicts today are domestic conflicts and opposing different people from different cultures and identities.

          In a way, we see more and more countries in different parts of the world that are coming closer to a sort of civil war. There is a situation that we have never been witnessing in the recent time; we see increasingly societies that are fractured, that are divided; the dividing line, which used to be during the Cold War and until a recent time, the ideology is now between identities, so we have moved from dividing lines that were based on ideology to identity, and you know of course we can take multiple examples.

          At the «Connectors for Peace,» we have developed this sort of theory or observation of two major dividing lines; one that we call the vertical dividing line, which is between the globalist and the localist; two groups of people who are having very different perspectives, those are having exclusively the global perspective who are very agile, speaking languages, navigating the global world and who are losing the sense of their roots and culture. At the other side of the spectrum, you have the people; the localist, who are profoundly and deeply entrenched in their culture and tradition.

          Those two groups are increasingly moving in opposite directions, dismissing each other and hating each other. Then you have the horizontal divide that is between the secular and the religious; those who consider that religion has nothing to do with society or public policy and it is purely a private thing, and then you have, at the other side of the spectrum, those who consider that we, as individuals, are nothing but the emanation of a transcendental spirit and religion and that religion should take over public policies and also the public space. These, again, are two tribes or two groups who are going increasingly in opposite directions. Then you have multiple of those dividing lines between the LGBT and the family-oriented group, between the abortions and pro-life, between the climate activists and those who refuse or ignore, between the vegetarians and the carnivore. These are multiple topics that are fracturing our societies and that are leading, as we see again in many parts of the world countries that are converged to collapse or where societies are so divided, that there is almost nothing left in terms of a common denominator, also with social media, also sometimes with the decline of the role and the power and the influence of politicians.

          Hate speech and fake news are giving even more voice to those who are at the extreme, and we are seeing societies that are increasingly polarized, but in a way, the reality of our societies is not at those extremes. Those extremes are very much heard because of social media that are, in a way, de-multiplying their voice, but the reality of our society is in between those groups of people, who oscillate between those extremes, and that is what we call the silent majority of the moderates, and one, if not the major imperative for political leaders, for the civil society, for media and for everyone, is to strengthen the voice of the moderates, because in a way, and that is the topic today, is that governments can play a tremendous role through public policy and regulation to prevent or to mitigate the risk of tensions, but the reality is that you do not touch the mind and the heart of people with public policy and this where comes into place the «Connectors». «The Connectors» are a whole range of groups and activities whose core business is to connect people.

          I know my time is short, but I would just like to make my point in one minute if you allow me. If you take sports, if you take music, if you take entertainment, if you take the arts, if you take a whole range of sectors, they are convening and connecting people, regardless of their belief, regardless of their identity. If you and I are going to stadium or a music arena or wherever, we do not ask our neighbor what is his or her political, sexual, food or religious orientation. We are in the stadium because we are willing to share our passion for sport, and this is a way of building common societies. Therefore, what we are doing at «Connectors for Peace», working very closely with the UNESCO and a wide range of partners around the world, is really to make those connectors; sport federations, art, entertainment and film industry aware of their role, of their role and their capacity because they are touching the mind and the heart of people that they can be peace changers and they can be the peace advocates, so this is what we are doing. Unfortunately, the time is too short to go into details, but I just would like to say that our goal is really to create a world coalition of like-minded organizations, to give voice and to support again the politicians and governments, whose role is indispensable, but not sufficient to promote peace and cohesion of society, so we need really to create this coalition and to engage all those economic, arts and cultural sectors to become the peace advocates, and in that respect, we are certainly very keen to work with Albabtain Foundation and to join forces, because I think the task is so huge that if we really want to have an impact, we need to work together and we need to join forces.

Thank you very much.

bottom of page