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Albabtain delivers a welcoming speech at the IPI during a seminar titled "Education, COVID-19, and the Culture of Peace."

September 12, 2020

Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain participated with a welcoming address at the virtual seminar organized and hosted by the International Peace Institute (IPI) in collaboration with the President of the United Nations General Assembly. This seminar was part of a series of events that the IPI traditionally holds in partnership with Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation. The seminar took place on Thursday, September 10, 2020, and was titled "Education, COVID-19, and the Culture of Peace." The invitation was extended by the President of the Institute, Terry Rod Larsen, and the event was attended by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad Bande, as well as representatives from various countries, international organizations, and civil society.

In his welcoming address, Tijjani Muhammad Bande, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, emphasized that the COVID-19 virus represents an unparalleled catastrophe in terms of its devastating impact. No region of the world has been spared from its effects, ranging from the way we interact in our workplaces and elevators, to our interactions in markets and public spaces. Additionally, the education sector has been profoundly affected by this pandemic as it rapidly spread across different parts of the world.

The second welcoming address was delivered by Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, the Chairman of the Albabtain Cultural Foundation, who made two essential observations:

"The first observation is our consensus on the principle of universal benefit. Here, I do not wish to speak about agreement, as it might be biased, self-interested, and circumstantial. What I mean is the universalization of education and genuine knowledge in all countries of the world, whether rich or poor, on the basis of equality, embracing all social classes, whether affluent or deprived within societies, encompassing all educational and cultural backgrounds, whether highly educated, moderately educated, or less educated. Education and acculturation are daily acts that need to be enriched and directed for the benefit of humanity.

Therefore, the first lesson we learn from this crisis is that some of us need each other. COVID-19 has revealed our mutual need and the necessity to work together, to share knowledge, sciences, and research. This is not merely about individualistic aims, like accumulating wealth; that is a valid pursuit. However, it's also about harnessing the shared intellectual knowledge among us to find solutions for humanity.

Societies become richer through their shared knowledge, which acts as the common thread among them. The noble and magnificent outcome is that the universalization of education, knowledge, and the culture of just peace ultimately leads us to the universalization of benefit. It's an interconnected path, a reciprocal mutual need that necessitates the universalization of education and knowledge. This leads us to the universalization of benefit for all, and this is the essence of a just peace culture.

The second observation is our unanimous recognition of what we collectively refer to as 'interdependence' – a multilateral mechanism as an alternative to classical cooperation. This mechanism helps us transcend the unilateral polarity and conflicts among economic groups. Therefore, the second lesson we learn from this pandemic is the strengthening of global interdependence among nations and states, making it more effective, with mutual benefit as its foundation. Indeed, there is a struggle for positions due to competition and rivalry, but let it be in a way that enhances our interconnectedness at various levels: in terms of our diverse strengths, varying degrees of progress, and our wealth, whether rich or poor.

Therefore, we must reorganize the world according to a collective global economy. The responsibility lies upon the major economies of the world to redirect humanity towards productive work and the development of the capacity of diverse societies to participate."

After that, Mrs. Rabab Fatima, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, pointed out that the transition to a culture of peace and non-violence has not only become stronger but has also spread. She mentioned, "We are currently going through a serious crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, all educational institutions have been closed, which has significantly helped in controlling the spread of the virus. However, many economic sectors have started to operate again. The safe reopening of schools has been a priority, and plans for continuing education have been put in place. We have introduced various methods of learning through television channels and distance learning programs."

Stefania Giannini, representing the UNESCO, stated, "UNESCO was founded on the belief that the defenses of peace must be built in the minds of people, and that education is the fundamental tool for human dignity. The COVID-19 crisis has shown our interconnectedness and has also revealed that schools are not only places of learning but much more. Additionally, this pandemic has unleashed a wave of misinformation in the press and on social media about the virus and its effects."

Robert Jenkins, representing the UNICEF, discussed the challenges faced by students and their non-return to schools, which numbers in the tens of millions. He highlighted that there is a significant opportunity now to reopen schools and to reconsider the crucial role they play. He emphasized the importance of supporting schools and the education system in the ongoing transformation of education.

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