Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal with Thomas Greminger

The Second Caux Forum for Human Security, which was opened last Friday by his Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at the Initiatives of Change conference centre above Montreux, closed today.

The Caux Forum aimed to promote ‘an honest conversation among those working for peace and human security at all levels’. There were plenaries and ‘strategy workshops’ on the four inter-related themes of the global economic challenge, the challenge of global climate change, the fundamental conditions of good international and national governance, and cultural dialogue and understanding. Regional workshops gathered people from a number of conflict situations. ‘Human security comprises a wide range of interconnected issues, and cooperation is vital. Yet the narrow focus of many conferences means those with overlapping concerns rarely meet,’ the invitation said, noting that this was a five-year project. The Caux Forum brings together diplomats and UN officials, business and cultural leaders, those doing effective grass-roots work, media professionals active in human security concerns, experts in climate change, and leaders of civil society organizations.

There was an important group from South Asia, notably Pakistan and India. Muhammad Sattar, Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and a Member of the Pakistan National Assembly, talked at the closing meeting of the need to create ‘a global coalition of conscience’. The Pakistani politician quoted Mahatma Gandhi, saying that ‘non-violence is the greatest force available to mankind,’ to combat the scourge of violence. This was the biggest threat to Human Security everywhere including in South Asia, he said. Non-violence is a ‘real weapon of mass destruction against the enemies of Human Security’. He also quoted the founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, on the importance of pluralism and diversity. Sattar shared the founder’s vision of a moderate, secular state, where Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims are all equal Pakistanis when they come out of their places of worship. He concluded, ‘We need a new global compact, a new way of thinking. Plurality preserves us and diversity defines us.’

Rajmohan Gandhi

Jemma Nunu Kunda, Governor of Western Equatoria State in Southern Sudan, the first woman governor in her country, reflected that the Caux Forum had been for her ‘A time for renewal, a time to reflect, to learn and to share, a time for thinking.’ She went on, ‘The topics for this forum were so relevant for the issues that I deal with daily.’ She wished that she could attend everything, but she had followed a workshop on ‘Strengthening the fundamentals of good governance’. This was fundamental for Human Security, she stressed. She left Caux with ‘a new thinking, a new mind, new experiences, and the level of my trauma has been reduced; because I have met friends who listened to my story. That gave me encouragement. The techniques and strategies that I’ve learned from elsewhere will help me reconcile my divided community.’ She hailed the comprehensive peace agreement in her country as ‘a good agreement’, but warned, ‘We need a watchdog eye from the international community so that Sudan does not go back to war. We must remain committed to the full implementation of the agreement.’

William Deng Deng, Chairperson of the Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Commission, talked of the problems and conflicts ‘that you don’t see on Television, but that doesn’t mean that they are not there’. He talked of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, and the efforts there ‘to bring healing’. Peace comes before justice, he suggested. He went on, ‘If we don’t have peace, we cannot have justice’ pleading in favour local initiatives drawing on traditional methods.

There was an informal meeting looking to peace negotiations in the Middle East, bringing together Palestinians and Israelis. They discussed the different problems of their region, and in particular actions that could lead the Palestinian and Israeli populations towards peace. The group decided to create a mixed follow-up group, to organize a wider gathering bringing together opinion leaders and formers. The meetings took place under the chairmanship of Mohamed Sahnoun, the Founder-President of the Caux Forum for Human Security and Gabriel Banon, a former advisor to President Arafat as moderator.

Rajmohan Gandhi President of Initiatives of Change International drew inspiration from the story of Irène Laure, a pioneer of Franco-German reconciliation, who in Caux had had the experience of laying down her hatred of the Germans, and then taking up the task of working to heal history. He invited participants to leave behind ‘the things that divide us from others’ and to ‘never, never lay down the task’ of working for a better future. Mohamed Sahnoun, the founder-President of the Caux Forum for Human Security, pilloried the tragic imbalance between arms budgets and development aid. He called for ‘more ethics for more security’.

Click here for more information about the Forum and the other  International Caux Conferences 2009


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