KUWAIT CITY, May 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today His Highness Sheikh Fahad Al Salem Al Ali Al Sabah launched the first of its kind two-day forum, Renewing Dialogue for Peace and Advancing Freedom and Human Rights in Today's World, sponsored by The Fahad Al Salem Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty (The Center). The forum intends to engage and introduce world leaders, renowned academics and NGOs to 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.
The Club de Madrid, an international NGO gathering more than 80 former presidents and prime ministers from around the world, has partnered with The Center-an NGO based in the Middle East-to host the Forum. Fifteen members are participating.
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.
"I know firsthand what it feels like to have your have basic human rights and freedom taken from you. It is for this reason that I have created The Center, to help facilitate the international debate around the need to advance individual freedoms and basic human rights," says Sheikh Fahad. "We will focus on education to combat ignorance, which we believe is the major threat to peace. The Center will facilitate the distribution of data, academic studies and news reports designed to spur democratic discussions, influence governments and civil society and inform policies that affect us all."
The forum brings together more than 40 high-level participants including the former President of Poland Lech Walesa, along with other former heads of state and prominent members of the media. These assembled world leaders, academics, NGOs and socially-engaged citizens will debate and discuss issues in three key focus areas:
- Current political developments in Middle East and North Africa: an attempt to explain the roots of conflicts - Optimal strategies to prevent and overcome conflicts through dialogue - The role of media in advancing human rights
"I am confident this forum will place us one step closer toward advancing human rights and will serve as a dialogue for international peace and understanding," says the former President of Poland Lech Walesa. "I know that programs such as these have the ability to unlock human potential and create change."
"It is important that this forum further empowers people to understand the past, reconstruct the present and develop the future of today's global community," says Former PM of the Netherlands and President of the Club de Madrid Wim Kok. "Through this important dialogue, I am confident this forum will help improve and educate a larger audience about individual freedoms and human rights."
The forum engages luminaries from the spheres of foreign policy, human rights and media to help create the necessary governance and oversight for the Center. 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 of the forum 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.
Sheikh Fahad firmly believes that enhanced dialogue at the local, national and global levels is the number one driver in resolving conflict, building recovery and path forward toward advancing democratic values, liberty and human rights in the Middle East and the larger world.
Forum participants include:
- Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister of Canada (1993)* - Wolfgang Clement, Former Minister of Economy and Labor of Germany (2002 - 2005) - Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico (2000 - 2006)* - Cesar Gaviria, Former President of Colombia (1990 - 1994)* - Alfred Gusenbauer, former Chancellor of the Austrian Federation (January 2007 - December 2008)* - Bianca Jagger (Nicaragua), Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, and Trustee of the Amazon Charitable Trust - Wim Kok, Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands (1994 - 2002), President of the Club of Madrid* - Chandrika Kumaratunga, Former President of Sri Lanka (1994 - 2005)* - Luis Alberto Lacalle, Former President of Uruguay* - Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of Tanzania (1995 - 2005)* - Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of Nigeria (1976 - 1979 and 1999 - 2007)* - Andres Pastrana, Former President of Colombia (1998 - 2002)* - Pavel Palazhchenko, head of the international department of the New Policy Forum (Gorbatchev Foundation) - Giandomenico Picco, Former UN Under Secretary General for the United Nations - Petre Roman, Former Prime Minister of Romania (1989 - 1991)* - Swami Sadyojathah, Director-International Affairs of the Art of Living, Founder/Director of Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic Science and Research - Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal (1996-2001 and 2001-2006)* - Jennifer Mary Shipley, Former PM of New Zealand (1997 - 1999) and Vice President of the Club of Madrid* - Cassam Uteem, Former President of Mauritius (1992 - 2002)* - Lech Walesa, Former President of Poland (1990 - 1995) - Betty Williams (IR), Nobel Peace Prize (1976) - founder World Center for Compassion for Children
* Members of the Club de Madrid
About The Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty
The Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty (the Center) (www.fahadcenter.org) was founded by His Highness Sheikh Fahad Al Salem Al Ali Al Sabah. The Center is a Middle Eastern based NGO focused on facilitating international discussion and debate around the need to advance individual freedoms and basic human rights. Follow The Center on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/Fahad_Center ) @Fahad_Center and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fahad-Al-Salem-Center/155832411150715 ).
Media Contacts: Claire Parker | +971-0508009212 email@example.com Libby Fiedler |+1-773-852-6625 firstname.lastname@example.org Dareen Awwad | +965-99981224 email@example.com
SOURCE Fahad Al Salem Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Defense of Liberty