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Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Lebanon, a universal space for the dialogue between civilizations, cultures, religions and ethnic groups
15 May 2007
Lebanon can uniquely contribute to the United Nations "Alliance of Civilizations". Inversely, this Alliance can help Lebanon recovering sustainable peace. For this reason, I have elaborated an initiative called: "Lebanon, a universal space for the dialogue between civilizations, cultures, religions and ethnic groups".
The United Nations High Level Group on "Alliance of Civilizations" requests in its 13 November 2006 report from each regional grouping of the World to draw an Action Plan that takes the necessary measures to implement its guidelines. Through dialogue between countries of the same area, the cultural gap will be bridged by pioneer projects and networks waving. It is assumed that regional conflicts would then be better prevented. It should lead at the later stage to region to region dialogue, transforming then any divide into an encounter between big civilizations.
ln phase with this report spirit and principles, the Mediterranean area has witnessed at least two dialogue forums: the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures and the French Euro-Mediterranean Initiative for the dialogue between Cultures (next meeting in Sevilla-Spain in May 2007). The implementation of the measures adopted in these meetings will definitely help structure a new world order based on dialogue and the culture of peace.
My view is that such a dialogue that is essentially intergovernmental needs to be complemented by a bottom-up approach. Important civil society and grass-roots actors from the different economic and social sectors should be associated to the process. Otherwise, this dialogue risks become restricted to the very few impeding by so doing the necessary appropriation of its results.
Therefore, emerges the need to create a permanent world forum for the dialogue between cultures at the civil society level, under the auspices of the United Nations. The long suffering it faced since its existence has sharpened Lebanon's character and predestined it to seat such a forum. All religious and political! Lebanese leaders unanimously agree about the unique role of their country. Many world leaders have advocated the view that Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message. With this absence of a major domestic obstacle and the enthusiasm from the international friends of Lebanon, such endeavor could achieve a sustainable peace in the area. I am confident that this concept is feasible, has its own universal merits, and serves the cause of peace in the Middle East.
Concretely, the whole Lebanese territory becomes a World Cultural Heritage, with a special protected status. Then it will be transformed into a global village for the world cultures. All ethnic, racial, religious or Iinguistic groups will be permanently represented by a Non Governmental Organization, a university, a research center or a delegation. Programs for intercultural research and training as well as conflict transformation will be relayed with regular publications, satellite T.V., global classrooms, a world museum, a permanent exhibition, a monthly symposium, and many other projects.
As I am prepared to get a Lebanese consensus on this concept which will determine the role of Lebanon on the arab and international levels, I submit this idea for a global reflexion.
President of Lebanon 1982-1988