ECPD Conference, Belgrade

The European Center for Peace and Development of the University for Peace Established by the United Nations held its 11th International Conference in Belgrade, Serbia, on 24-25 October 2015 on the theme "Future of the World Between Globalization and Regionalization". I have been collaborating with the ECPD for a number of years in its work on reconciliation, religious tolerance and human security in the Balkans (see previous years' travel). The conference took place in the Belgrade City Hall, and began with a welcoming address from Sir James Mancham, founding President of the Republic of Seychelles, and a keynote from Prof. Dr. Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria.

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Opening Plenary with Sir James Mancham speaking; part of the conference attendance

Over 30 papers were presented by distinguished academics, diplomats and political leaders from across Europe, Asia and North America, and will eventually be published by ECPD. I presented a paper on "The Sustainable Development Goals and their implications for the Western Balkans". The concluding plenary was addressed by Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former Director-General of UNESCO.

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Federico Mayor addressing the conference; part of the audience; the head table

Among the conclusions of the conference were the need to reduce the gap between rich and poor through a better distribution of world resources, to establish a new global governance and institutions able to prevent the disorders resulting in mass migrations that are threatening the European Union, and to close the gap between the Balkans and the rest of Europe, especially through the accession of all Balkan countries to the European Union. The ECPD plans to intensify its institutional activities for the promotion of peace, development and national reconciliation in the region.

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Book launch of Sir James Mancham's book on the Seychelles; Federico Mayor (center) and Dr. Busek (right)

The conference was immediately followed by the Third ECPD Youth Forum on "Culture of Peace: Youth as Peacebuilders" on 25-26 October 2015, with over 90 participants, including many youth from around the region, and more than 20 presentations. The keynote speaker was again Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO and President of the Culture of Peace Foundation. I moderated the second and third plenary sessions on "peacebuilding knowledge, attitudes and skills", and "youth - actors of today, peace leaders of tomorrow", where a number of youth presented their actions for peace on the ground in the Balkans, with Syrian refugees in Jordan, and with asylum-seekers, among others. I also contributed to the final discussions and conclusions, with reference to my paper at the previous youth forum on "Hope for Balkan Youth in the Contemporary World Reality" recently published by EPCD.

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Youth Forum; Federico Mayor addressing the Youth Forum

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Last updated 4 November 2015

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2015