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LDI Secretary General at the UPF International Conference

At the invitation of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), LDI Secretary General and Director of its International Campaign Dr. Guita Hourani presented her paper on “Establishing a United Nations Center for Dialogue and Conflict Resolution (UNCDCR) in Lebanon” at the international conference titled “The Role of Lebanon in Promoting Democracy, Peace, and Prosperity in the Middle Eastern Context,” held at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut on December 14, 2017.

Speaking in the third session, “Lebanon as an International Center for Dialogue and Peace,” and following remarks offered by Ambassador Elie Turk, Dr. Hourani opened by highlighting the UN General Assembly’s decision of April 2016 which adopted the groundbreaking resolution on improving the UN’s peacebuilding architecture. She then talked briefly about the establishment of the Lebanon Dialogue Initiative (LDI) by the Honorable William Zard Abou Jaoude, Honorary Consul of Great Britain in Lebanon, and the cooperation that is taking place between LDI and Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), the host institution of LDI.

Dr. Hourani stated that “Our world needs the center that LDI is proposing, to provide a platform for dialogue, conflict resolution, and conflict identification and prevention. [At this center, t]he latter will take place through identification and monitoring mechanisms to allow interventions before conflicts escalate into violence. The center will also be the go-to entity for nations to raise grievances and to seek justice.” Dr. Hourani stressed that “the proposed center in Lebanon is not only a need but rather a necessity.”

When a conference participant asked, “why Lebanon?” Dr. Hourani responded by highlighting the importance of Lebanon’s experience with freedom, pluralism, and conviviality, quoting religious and civic leaders and their views about Lebanon’s unique “formula.” She added that President Michel Aoun proposed the idea of the center to the UN General Assembly in September of 2017, and pledged full cooperation between Lebanon and the UN to realize it.

Dr. Hourani concluded her presentation by saying that “This project is geographically Lebanese, dimensionally universal, and valuably humanistic.”

The two presentations by Turk and Hourani received comments from Eng. Marwan Al Faouri, Secretary General of the International Moderation Forum in Jordan, and from Dr. Michael Balcomb, Regional Group Chairman of Europe and the Middle East with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Al Faouri commended the effort being discussed, and said that centers of this sort will further push the peace agenda. Dr. Balcomb stressed the role of youth, particularly Lebanese youth, whom he invited to share their experience in coexistence with others, particularly their European counterparts.

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