Details of the First Day of the Second World Forum for the Culture of Just Peace, Malta, March 3-4, 2022
March 3, 2022
This morning marked the commencement of the Second World Forum for the Culture of Just Peace, organized by the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation. The forum is being held in the Republic of Malta and is graced by the presence of His Excellency Dr. George Vella, the President of Malta, and His Excellency Marzouq Al-Ghanim, the Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, in addition to political, academic, and cultural figures from various parts of the world.
The Forum aims to take a step forward in exploring and establishing institutional mechanisms, educational programs, tools, and action plans dedicated to the development of leadership competencies. This endeavor is aimed at achieving the comprehensive and ultimate goal of "just peace" and sustainable stability for nations.
In his address to the audience, President George Vella expressed deep gratitude to the Albabtain Cultural Foundation for choosing Malta as the host for this forum at a crucial moment when the world is facing threats to democracy, attacks on it, and disregard for international institutions. He expressed hope that what he referred to as the "parties" would return to the table of dialogue and negotiations.
President Vella rejected what he termed as the humanitarian tragedy, pointing out that Europe is witnessing a threat to its security and stability. He emphasized that wars have grave consequences, bringing poverty, destruction to nations, and violating human rights. He added that their commitment is to achieve and promote peace and stability, underscoring that peace is built upon justice.
He stated, "It is our ethical duty to establish sustainable peace and justice, eliminate violence, and ensure the welfare of the people. We must collaborate with international institutions to promote a culture of peace."
On his part, Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim, stated that the pursuit of peace and reconciliation should be a strategic goal, purpose, way of life, and culture, rather than a tactical objective or a result of incapability or a means of buying time. He emphasized that investing in a culture of peace is not a luxury, frivolity, or pastime; rather, it is a solitary strategic choice.
Al-Ghanim affirmed that parliaments and parliamentarians play a pivotal and critical role in spreading and solidifying a culture of peace. He stressed the importance of responsible parliamentary practices that steer towards domestic peace and societal security, even at the expense of personal losses.
Addressing Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Al-Ghanim stated, "I must begin by conveying a message of love, sincerity, and gratitude to the great uncle, Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain. Your noble cultural activities and global intellectual forums are of great importance. Please trust that we are deeply grateful for what you are accomplishing."
He continued, addressing Albabtain, "Gathering such esteemed political and intellectual figures from various parts of the world and linking these intellectual elites to vital cross-continental, cross-religious, and cross-ethnic issues is not an easy task. I understand that it requires dedication, effort, and energy, qualities that you possess and we admire. You have our heartfelt thanks and appreciation."
Al-Ghanim stated, "I pray that God guides and aids you in your endeavors and directs your path as you move forward. May the Albabtain Cultural Foundation remain a beacon, a flame, and an example."
Speaking to President of Malta, George Vella, Al-Ghanim said, "We extend our gratitude to friendly Malta, to its president and its people. Your sponsorship and hosting of this significant forum, Your Excellency, reflects Malta's keenness to embrace everything that strengthens cultural ties between nations and solidifies a culture of peace and coexistence."
Al-Ghanim highlighted that Malta, situated at the heart of the Mediterranean, has historically served as a stage for nations and civilizations, despite its size. It has witnessed Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and numerous other civilizations and cultures, making it a true representation of human cultural diversity.
Al-Ghanim mentioned, "As I read the term 'culture of peace,' which the forum has been named since The Hague 2019, a question comes to my mind: Does peace require a culture? And is there a culture of war and conflict as opposing forces to peace?" He added, "For myself, I will answer in the affirmative."
Al-Ghanim emphasized that racism, sectarianism, discrimination, narrow-minded partisanship, the desire for expansion, and colonial tendencies—all of these are cultural themes, raw materials that feed from an orchestrated cultural framework. Their consequences consistently lead to division, conflict, and mutual phobias.
He stated, "In my opinion, peace is primarily a cultural concept before being a political one. The inclination towards peace and reconciliation should not be a tactical goal or a consequence of an inability to engage in war or a time-gaining strategy. Peace should be a strategic goal, an ultimate purpose, a way of life, and a culture."
Al-Ghanim further stated, "In order for this to be achieved, we are constantly obliged to reinforce a culture of human unity founded on respecting diversity, a culture of integration and collaboration, rather than a culture of exploitation, manipulation, and racial or religious superiority."
Al-Ghanim added, "Because, as I stand here in this forum as a parliamentarian, alongside a distinguished group of parliamentarians from various regions of the world, I emphasize the fact that the role of parliaments and parliamentarians in disseminating and solidifying a culture of peace is pivotal and crucial."
Al-Ghanim continued, "Because the parliament is the voice of the people, people inherently lean towards peace. The concerns of nations revolve around livelihood, dignified housing, security, education, and quality public services, among other natural human demands."
Al-Ghanim elaborated further, saying, "As for the elites, those in power, and those obsessed with expansion, profit, and control, they are the ones who benefit from conflicts. People become the fuel for these conflicts, sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of the nation, and sometimes in the name of ethnicity, and so on."
He noted, "The true role of parliaments is an enlightening role, or so it should be. The real danger arises when parliaments transform into forums that perpetuate populism, sensationalism, and the arousal of emotions and primal instincts, leading to various forms of political barbarism."
Al-Ghanim clarified, "I am saying this because peace, by its very nature, is about investing in the future, not just the present moment. Peace is an eternal way of life, not an urgent matter. Building peace – as I mentioned in The Hague Forum three years ago – requires many wise minds, whereas war sometimes requires just one foolish person. This is where the significance of prudent parliamentary practice emerges, pushing towards civil peace and societal security, even if it comes at the cost of personal losses."
Al-Ghanim remarked, "On a personal level, and after a parliamentary experience of 16 years, I regret to say that many parliamentarians worldwide work for the upcoming elections rather than for future generations, even if the path to the next elections requires a fiery and divisive rhetoric, emotional and impassioned rather than rational and calm."
He emphasized that peace requires tranquility, wisdom, maturity, rationality, thorough consideration, and examining matters from multiple perspectives. He emphasized the need for a discourse of understanding rather than skepticism, a discourse of promise rather than threat, and a discourse of the future that encompasses foresight, responsibility, and integrity.
Al-Ghanim highlighted that the challenge for every parliamentarian around the world is to prioritize wisdom over emotional manipulation, transparency over procrastination, and working for the future rather than depleting the present with its transient and ephemeral nature. He added, "I am now facing many parliamentary figures, and I am well aware that they understand what I mean by my words."
He affirmed that investing in a culture of peace is not a luxury, amusement, or trivial matter; it is a unique and solitary strategic choice. He stated that all alternatives to peace are distressing, destructive, and forebode disasters, whether in the immediate or distant future. He emphasized that history teaches us that all wars are losers, and all conflicts carry destructive effects, both immediate and long-lasting. Peace, he declared, is an essential and singular prerequisite for any development and progress.
In concluding his speech, Al-Ghanim expressed his gratitude once again to the Abdulaziz Albabtain Cultural Foundation for providing this opportunity to bring together prominent political and intellectual figures. He also thanked Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain for his significant and pivotal efforts in addressing urgent human issues at a time when the world is plagued by costly humanitarian conflicts, most of which could have been avoided and mitigated if reason had a chance and wisdom had space.
The Forum witnessed a high-level presence of global political and intellectual leaders, including presidents from Malta, Albania, Kosovo, and the former President of Croatia, along with several parliamentary heads from around the world. Also in attendance were the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as officials from various international and regional organizations. The forum also featured a special address by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, delivered on his behalf by Michael Frendo, the former Speaker of the Maltese Parliament.
President of the Board of Trustees of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation, Mr. Abdulaziz Albabtain, has called for the formation of a committee consisting of politicians and intellectuals to salvage what he referred to as the global cultural heritage being destroyed due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. He suggested that this committee could play a mediating role between the two countries to bring an end to the conflict between them.
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain delivered a speech in front of the attendees, expressing his gratitude for the collaboration between the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation and the presidency of Malta. He thanked President Dr. George Vella for hosting the Second World Forum for the Culture of Just Peace and for his commitment to peace.
He also conveyed his appreciation to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his supportive message to the forum's participants, and to the former President of the Maltese Parliament, Michael Frendo, who represented Antonio Guterres at the event.
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain added, "I am pleased to welcome all of you and express my gratitude for your presence and participation, which will undoubtedly be of significant qualitative value. I also apologize to the esteemed presidents who had agreed to attend but were unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health conditions related to travel. These esteemed leaders include the President of Montenegro, Milud Dukanovic; the President of the South Sudan, Salva Kiir; the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who had to apologize at the last moment due to compelling reasons; as well as the Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, and the King of the Kingdom of Toro, Oyo Nyimba. They are absent in person but present in spirit. We extend our sincere appreciation to them."
He said, "Our efforts are ongoing to implement our initiative regarding 'Culture of Just Peace for the Security of Future Generations.' I would like to remind you that we presented this initiative in two consecutive sessions to the United Nations General Assembly on the 7th of September 2017 and then on the 5th of September 2018. The aim of this initiative is to teach the principles of a culture of just peace to students from nursery to university level. It received approval and endorsement from the office of the President of the General Assembly."
He added, "The first forum took place at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, as an initial step towards teaching the culture of peace and safeguarding cultural heritage. During that forum, the focus was on Iraq and Yemen in order to protect the cultural heritage in these two countries. Additionally, attention was given to the Central African Republic for achieving peace within its borders."
He continued, "Our meeting today, taking place in Malta's capital, Valletta, as part of the Second World Forum on 'Leadership for Just Peace,' holds two special symbolic meanings. The first symbolism is that of the location itself. The island of Malta symbolizes coexistence among peoples, forming a beautiful mosaic of cultures and civilizations: Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, French, and English, where all religions coexist. It has a unique, unified, and distinct national identity. Therefore, it serves as an example to be followed."
He added, "As for the second symbolism, it is the consensus on one common goal and a noble and elevated purpose: 'Just Peace.' This gathering of goodwill from around thirty countries and five continents, with participation from leading global institutions in the three sessions, including presidential offices, governments, parliaments, international and civil institutions, signifies a high-level participation that indicates an unparalleled consensus on what we are doing and what we aim to achieve. This aligns with what I have outlined in my book Contemplations for a Just Peace' as the fifth means, called 'Collaborative Interactive Action.'"
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain called upon political leaders, institutional representatives, high-level experts within international governmental bodies, civil society organizations, and intellectuals to engage in sincere dialogue on how the international community can collaboratively advance within a path of cooperation to formulate the initiative of 'Leadership for Just Peace' and establish a global platform dedicated to this purpose.
On behalf of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Maltese Foreign Minister delivered the written message sent by Mr. Guterres. In the message, Guterres affirmed that the world is experiencing a state of turmoil that has begun to spiral out of control. He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread devastation everywhere, in addition to the climate crisis.
In his recorded video message, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdullah Shahid, affirmed that the world is experiencing instability. He emphasized the necessity of maintaining global stability and highlighted the United Nations' responsibility to work with all relevant parties in identifying challenges, especially in comprehensively addressing the 2030 Agenda.
In the first session titled "The Role of World Leaders," moderated by Maltese President George Vella, the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, affirmed that the world is going through a painful period. He emphasized that everyone must work for tolerance and the protection of the world, as true leaders are those who work to safeguard the world. He stressed the importance of responding to efforts aimed at protecting the world, while also pointing out that the world witnesses many leaders who seek to revive racial divisions, with the situation in Ukraine being an example of that.
On her part, the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, stated that Europe is in danger and the Ukrainian people are facing terror and human rights violations. She emphasized that Europe is trembling, and dictators are engaged in their actions. She highlighted the necessity of considering a fundamental reality: if peace is not achieved in Ukraine, it will not prevail in any country worldwide. She mentioned that there is a war between values, but we must strive for the values of peace and democracy.
Meanwhile, former President of Croatia, Stjepan Mesić, stated: "A just peace cannot be achieved through an equal agreement among the parties concerned while respecting the needs and interests of everyone. Private interests and needs must always be subjected to one common interest, which is peace."
In a separate context and after the conclusion of the first session titled "The Role of World Leaders," the Mediterranean University in Albania awarded an honorary doctorate to the poet Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain. This recognition was bestowed upon him for his outstanding contribution in supporting and promoting a culture of peace in the international community, as well as for establishing mechanisms of cooperation through the dissemination of culture, education, and dialogue for the security of future generations.
Furthermore, the forum will continue its proceedings tomorrow, Friday, with two sessions titled "The Role of International Governmental Organizations" and "The Role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society Organizations."