ليخ فاليسا، الرئيس السابق لبولندا ، مع الشيخ فهد سالم العلي الصباح ، وويم كوك ، رئيس الوزراء السابق لهولندا في الكويت
Lech Walesa, former president of Poland (center), with Sheikh Fahad Al-Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah (right), and Wim Kok (left), and former prime minister of the Netherlands in Kuwait City
‘Dialogue only solution for Middle East conflicts’ Forum focus on human rights
KUWAIT CITY, May 22: Dialogue is the only solution for conflicts in the Middle East, says Sheikh Fahad Al Salem Al Sabah, Head of The Fahad Al Salem Centre for Dialogue among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty.
Sheikh Fahad was speaking at a conference following the first session of a two-day forum titled Renewing Dialogue for Peace and Advancing Freedom and Human Rights in Today’s World that started Sunday.
The forum engaged world leaders, renowned academics and NGOs to discuss a variety of issues relating to individual freedoms and democratic values including the importance of education and promoting citizen journalism and advancing the role that traditional and social media can play in this process.
Sheikh Fahad added the need for dialogue has increased globally to promote greater human rights and freedom.
‘The main objective of the first session of the forum focused on the establishment of human rights in the modern age.’
Former president of Poland, Lech Walesa and Willem Kok, President of Club de Madrid and Former prime minister of Netherlands, also took part in the press conference. Richard Sambrook, Former Director of BBC World Services, anchored the event.
The Center, Sheikh Fahad added, has recently joined hands with the Club de Madrid, an international NGO with 81 former presidents and prime ministers from around the world as its members.
The Sheikh noted that His Holiness Dalai Lama, ‘though couldn’t join us, has sent his wishes and extended his moral solidarity with this initiative.’
Further he said the debate in the first session of the forum was very fruitful. ‘We discussed the changes taking place in the MENA region currently, and how some of the burning issues can be resolved.’
The Sheikh said that he will be taking part in a forum organized by the Club De Madrid in New York, next month.
Wim Kok touched upon the Madrid Club and its activities. He said the club is an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 countries, constituting the world’s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government. Fifteen members of the club have come to attend the forum.
Kok stressed the importance of dialogue not only between civilizations, but also within societies and between various political actors, civil societies and religious and ethnic groups. ‘There is no silver bullet solution for the conflicts, and dialogue is the only way forward.’
Former Polish President Lech Walesa recalled his own revolution and how it inspired other countries to struggle for human rights and democracy. Walesa praised the efforts of The Fahad Al Salem Center to initiate dialogue and bring about peaceful revolutions. He also emphasized the need for the participation of the media in the efforts for peace.
In the question answer session that followed, to a question on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Sheikh Fahad said he hoped the conflict will be resolved soon. ‘People on both sides are suffering.’
Sheikh Fahad founded The Center to advance individual freedoms and basic human rights issues in Kuwait, throughout the Middle East region and globally. This passion for human rights stems from his experience during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait when he knew he would be captured as a prisoner of war.
The forum brings together more than 40 high-level participants. The discussions on the first day were led by James Hoge, Jr., the chairman of Human Rights Watch and former editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, and Giandomenico Picco, former UN Under Secretary General for the United Nations.
The second day, Monday, will be open to the press and focus on media’s role in advancing peace and individual freedoms. The discussion will be composed of panel participants and moderated by Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalists, who will provide insights into the role media plays - particularly social media and technology in driving education and change.
Over the next 12 months, The Center will host a “dialogue tour” in key countries throughout the developed and developing world to further engage world leaders, academics and NGOs to gain additional perspectives and supporters. In addition, The Center will launch a new satellite network as one of its key initiatives. The network will include content created by citizen journalists.
Some of the important leaders taking part in the forum include, Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister of Canada, Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria, Former President of Colombia, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Former President of Sri Lanka, Luis Alberto Lacalle, Former President of Uruguay and Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of Tanzania among others.
By: Valiya S. Sajjad - Arab Times Staff