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The First World Forum for the Culture of Peace

1- Introduction to the Forum:

          The year, 2019, marked the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace. The Culture of Peace and Non-violence as advanced by UNESCO includes a commitment to promote conflict prevention; peace education and education for non-violence; tolerance, acceptance, and mutual respect; and intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation, among other principles.

          Education and the protection of cultural heritage are critical to the promotion of the Culture of Peace. Properly structured, peace education can influence behaviors and attitudes from the earliest stages of human development, promoting a culture of inclusivity as the basis for interactions. Geographic sites and objects of cultural heritage, such as ancient landmarks, art, or other antiquities, are symbols of unity over time. Their protection represents a recognition of cultural diversity and a commitment to strive for peaceful coexistence.

          Including peace education as a core principle of national curricula centered on teaching practical skills related to nonviolence, conflict resolution, human rights, and civic participation can form a critical part of building a sustainable peace.

          The year 2019 is a critical year for conflict settings in many parts of the world. Will Iraq at last turn the page on a generation of conflict to make significant progress on the difficult task of post-conflict reconstruction and recovery? Will the parties to the conflict in Yemen implement the Stockholm Agreement and work further to produce an enduring peace? Will the February peace agreement signed in the Central African Republican be successfully brought to the whole people throughout the country? And how can the international community contribute to the establishment of a sustainable peace in Iraq, Yemen, CAR, and beyond?

          In societies such as the Central African Republic, Iraq, or Yemen that have been struck by deep divisions, a critical part of post-conflict recovery will entail training in how to manage internal conflict without resorting to violence. How can international actors best support this effort at the national and local levels?

          Every society is defined in large measure by its collective heritage – the culture, traditions, and artifacts passed on from previous generations. We define ourselves by our history and the stories we tell ourselves about that history, which is often represented in cultural and physical artifacts, like art and architecture.

          The long-term recovery of Iraq, Yemen, and the Central African Republic will require a commitment to safeguard cultural heritage. It will require physical protection and investment in post-conflict reconstruction and recovery where possible. In addition, it will require educating the young on the value of their cultural heritage and the benefits of preservation as part of a curriculum of peace education. 

          The World Forum for the Culture of Peace, organized by Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation, did bring together high-level officials from government and international organizations, academics, and members of civil society to discuss the Culture of Peace, Education, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

          What is the role of the international community in protecting cultural heritage? What concrete projects can be established to move forward with building a sustainable peace in the Middle East and Central African regions?

          How can peace education best be incorporated into the post-conflict plans for sustaining peace? How can investment in post-conflict reconstruction and recovery best assist the Iraqi, Yemeni, and Central African people with the long-term protection of their cultural heritage? And how will this help build an inclusive, sustainable peace?

          Participants discussed these issues and more. Discussions provided analysis on how to make the culture of peace a practical and tangible reality, suggested concrete projects, and identified real solutions to current challenges.


Session One

          Post-conflict reconstruction and recovery requires the protection of cultural heritage and peace education as a part of the process of national reconciliation. Broad international support is required for success. How can the international community best provide that support? Session I of the World Forum for the Culture of Peace featured High-level interventions from national and international representatives.

Session Two

          Historians have long known Iraq as a “Cradle of Civilization,” and Yemen is home to a unique architectural beauty and historical significance. Iraq is home to more than 10,000 cultural heritage sites, ranging from the 5,500-year-old cities of Sumer to archaeological remains of the Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Parthian cultures.

          People have inhabited the area of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, for over 2,500 years. By one count, there are 103 mosques and over 6,000 houses in Sana’a built before the 11th century. War and violent extremism have put this all at risk. Six of the fifty-four World Heritage sites listed by UNESCO as “endangered” are in Iraq and Yemen. Catastrophic losses have already been sustained. How can these sites be best protected and where necessary rebuilt? How will the protection of cultural heritage factor into plans to be build a sustainable peace in Iraq and Yemen? How can international actors best support this nationally-led process?


Session Three

          Educational institutions hold a fundamental role in building a culture of peace. “Through education,” said Ban Ki Moon, “we teach children not to hate. Through education, we raise leaders who act with wisdom and compassion. Through education, we establish a true, lasting culture of peace.” This session addressed the challenge of promoting the culture of peace through education with a special focus on the Central African Republic.


Closing Ceremony

          The closing ceremony identified concrete projects for promoting the Culture of Peace through education and the Protection of Cultural Heritage. At the beginning of this ceremony Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain presented a series of education manuals to teach the Culture of Peace for the Security of Future Generations as part of a broad curricula on peace for diverse education levels.


2- Programme of the Forum:

9:30 - 10:25 OPENING SESSION

H.E. Mrs. Joke Brandt, Representative of the Dutch Government and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Erik de Baedts, Director General of the Peace Palace /Carnegie Foundation

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

HRH Prince Turki Alfaisal Alsaud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia   

Keynote address

H.E. George Vella, President of Malta


10:25 - 11:15 SESSION I

Education and the Protection of Cultural Heritage


H.E. Haris Silajdžiž, Former President of Bosnia and Herzegovina


H.E. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

H.E. Taieb Baccouche, Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia

H.E. Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to Netherlands

H.E. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross

H.E. Hilal Al Sayer, President of the Red Crescent Society, Kuwait

H.E. Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo



11:30 - 12:30 SESSION II

Protecting Cultural Heritage (Iraq and Yemen)


H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait


H.E. Ms. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities of Kingdom of Bahrain

H.E. Abdullah Lamlas, Minister of Education Research of Yemen

H.E . Serbesdt Nabi , Representative of Government of Kurdistan Region, Iraq


2:00 - 3:00 PM SESSION III

Promoting the Culture of Peace through Education

(Central African Republic)


H.E. Terje Rød-Larsen, President of the International Peace Institute, New York


H.E. Michael Frendo, Speaker Emeritus of the Parliament of Malta and former Minister of Foreign Affairs

H.E. Hamed Al-Azemi, Minister of Education of Kuwait

H.E. Madame Sylvie Baipo Temon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic

H.E. Tokia Saïfi, Member of the European Parliament

H.E. Moukadas Noure, Minister of Education of the Central African Republic

Mr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Advisor to UNESCO for Cultural Heritage





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 (Video Message)

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

Closing Speech

Mr. Carel Stolker, President of the University of Leiden   







3- Recommendations of the Forum:

          The participants in the First World Forum on the Culture of Peace: Presidents, Ministers, Representatives of International Organizations and Experts, have endorsed, through their interventions, the following recommendations:

- The international community should foster the teaching of the culture of peace at all school stages from kindergarten to university.

- The right to education is a basic human right for all without discrimination of any kind.

- Teachers should be urged to teach the values and principles of peace and be equipped with the necessary curricula while providing all available means to them in order to achieve this noble goal.

- There must be a focus on the importance of protecting culture while engineering curricula, designing educational programs and writing school textbooks in order for young people to fully assimilate them at an early age, which will help successive generations, contribute to the succession of development and interaction with other human beings in terms of culture and cultural exchange.

- School curricula ought to be rewritten in light of culture, peace and a non-hatred background.

- The teaching of human rights is one of the helping factors in spreading the culture of peace, so that one can realize that others have rights that they should enjoy, and that those rights are not denied.

- Ucation will remain a driving force for sustainable peace. Therefore, nations worldwide must meet this challenge by ensuring that a quality education is within reach for everyone.

- We must work on raising a conscious generation by training and preparing it through lessons in the culture of peace from kindergarten to primary school then secondary education and university.

- Schools must be safe environments where peace and respect prevail.

- The more we invest in human cleverness and in creative interaction with the noble universal values, the more progress we make, and the more able we are to engage in historical action.

- National awareness and its indicators should be included in school curricula to preserve cultural heritage and spread the culture of peace.

- It is necessary to address the shortage of knowledge regarding the importance of human heritage by using information systems and social media to emphasize the importance of heritage and how to preserve it and spread the culture of peace.

- Achieving sustainable peace requires the creation of communities, societies and a justice-based international system.

- A diverse historical and symbolic heritage enhances the cultural richness and identities of the regions and reinforces the values of tolerance and communication between their components on the basis of equality and difference.

- The international community must set up action plans and realize that through the process of integration, civilizations and cultures of others are respected as they are, others are accepted, exclusion is rejected and there is no disdain of people’s history.

- The role that cultural heritage plays in peacemaking and bringing people together, must be strengthened. This can be done through folklore festivals, oral culture and all that can attract all the peoples of the world, in peace and harmony.

- We must work hard and sincerely to reject all forms of piracy, trafficking and illegal methods of confiscating all or part of the cultural heritage of any people or nation.

- The importance of cultural heritage must be emphasized as one constituent of an original national identity and a bridge which is no less important than other ties such as language, religion, belief, etc, which represent people's national identity.

- The international community must show a commitment to protect cultural heritage and readiness for present and future collective action.

- We call upon world leaders to be aware of their solemn humanitarian mission to rebuild and protect the land and not destroy it with lethal weapons.

- We must set up strategies to prevent armed conflict and focus on the protection of cultural heritage in a way that it is kept in its natural places in museums and heritage monuments.

- We affirm that peace is not an amusement process nor a game for entertaining people or a moral issue. As a matter of fact, the only alternative to peace is war, and war today means mass destruction, and therefore we have no alternative to peace.

- The preservation of cultural heritage and identity is, as always, our only means of resistance. Culture is the real act of resistance whereby we preserve identity.

- Whoever created war has to create peace.

- All armed parties at war must agree on one thing which is to allow children to go to school.

- The essence of a culture of peace is that if we can make people accept one another and live together, then they must be aware of the importance of cultural heritage.

- A call for peace on the ground in the Arab world, Central Africa and the world.

- We must teach the next generation that diversity, racial and ethnic difference are signs of social strength and cohesion, not one of the causes of war.

- We must provide-to those whom we help-a hope that in the future, they will get what they need, including education and redevelopment in order to grow up and live a decent life and be self-reliant.

- There is no peace without justice, and no peace without reconciliation, tolerance or respect.

- Peace requires an equitable social order that ends poverty.

- Whoever is not at peace with himself cannot be at peace with others.

- The international community must resort to popular referenda to settle major conflicts by asking people to choose between war and peace. Undoubtedly, peace will be the only option.

- The international community must make more efforts to achieve sustainable peace which forms the basis of a culture of peace, and strive to protect cultural heritage that belongs to all.

- We must work together to create a platform for global peace based on respect and acceptance of the other and build societies that believe in pluralism.

- The primary responsibility for achieving peace rests with the leaders. They must first recognize and foster the noble values and commit themselves to achieving them in their own countries. Otherwise, peace will never take place in the regions.

- The important monuments of Babylon must be registered on the World Heritage List.

- The international community must instill the values of compassion and human dignity among children and young people.

- We have to focus on the essence of culture of peace. The illusions that boys or girls have in mind must be replaced.

- All conflicting parties must be committed to respect cultural heritage and not expose it to destruction and harm. The military authorities must be as committed to avoid inflicting damage to cultural and civilizational institutions.

- The international community must protect cultural heritage in times of peace and in times of war as well. This can be done by taking preventive measures which include training of military personnel to respect laws and treaties during wars and emergencies.

- Soft power is the ability to seduce through culture, values and ideas, contrary to the coarse force that tends to use military might.

- People who are in charge of the occupied territories must do their job to protect human and cultural heritage. This obligation must apply to all international treaties and covenants that promote the protection of human heritage and conform to the provisions of the 1954 Geneva Convention ratified by all States to protect cultural and civilizational centers in armed conflicts.

- We should grasp a firm awareness of peace being our only option to live. As war is an ephemeral exception and a temporary exit from the law of life.

- We must work on preventive diplomacy which promotes initiatives in favor of peace and the stability of nations, in light of wars and threats spreading across continents.

- The international community must consolidate democracy in theory and practice.

- It must be believed that wars and conflicts are the choice of failed politicians and the work of eccentric and excited people. In the atmosphere of war, democratic and human rights gain that man has struggled for centuries to acquire are buried. In wars, development opportunities die, the possibilities of cultural communication vanish, and construction comes to a stop.

- Brave and courageous steps must be taken to change the fate of conflict zones.

- Pure and refined Islam is not incompatible with heritage, culture, science, literature and heritage protection.

- These recommendations should be regarded as a work guide and a road map to a reality that preserves cultural heritage as, above all, a human common denominator, a message for peace and a common universal language.

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