"Bridges" in Cambodia and Thailand starting in November 2009


Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen

Prime Minister of Cambodia and Cambodian Chairman of “Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace”


As Cambodian Chairman of “Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” I would like to welcome you to “Bridges” in Cambodia. This program has been conducted twice. This series in Cambodia is to continue “The Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence,” initiated and promoted by the United Nations General Assembly and facilitated by the International Peace Foundation.

The Cambodian “Bridges” program follows the series of 350 “Bridges” events that the International Peace Foundation has already hosted in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia since 2003. 35 Nobel Laureates as well as 13 other keynote speakers and artists participated in these events.

Peace cannot be achieved instantly. It is a process which needs time. For centuries Cambodia has been striving to achieve peace for the nation. The recent past is marred by genocide, civil war and social instability. An out of touch malicious regime completely destroyed Cambodia. Starting over from year zero Cambodia faced many complex difficulties in peacefully rebuilding the nation. These are, of course, major tests for the Cambodian people to face, struggle through and overcome for the sake of the nation.

Since 1999 the Royal Government’s “win-win” policy has positively contributed to Cambodia’s development by helping maintain peace, stability and social order; reflecting collective solidarity of Khmer nation without external intervention. Additional favorable policies and economic conditions further provided opportunities for timely integration into the regional and global communities.

The Cambodian people should be proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time. We have ended a dark history, prevented the return of the Khmer Rouge regime by uprooting its military and political structures, integrated autonomous zone and began a new history driven by the people, for the people, based on peace. The people aspire a path of happiness, peace and prosperity. The government has responded by maintaining social order, which has encouraged high economic growth and opportunities that have helped rehabilitate economic and social infrastructures and helped alleviate poverty. Cambodian people throughout the country are enjoying the outcomes of peace which have enhanced their livelihoods and living standards.

Indeed, peace and political stability have been the key factors encouraging national reconciliation. Peace has helped Cambodia carry out reform on all levels and sectors. Cambodia has developed human resources, improved institutional capacity, strengthened socio-economic infrastructures and created a favorable investment atmosphere for sustained long-term economic growth and development.

Currently Cambodia is playing an active role in advocating equal membership with an equal voice for every organization that is a part of ASEAN and WTO. Cambodia promotes and encourages regional cooperation and integration for all countries as it provides great opportunities for investment reforms and international trade through which countries have the opportunity to attract foreign direct investment for the development of a country. In other words, these works are strong foundations for regional peace building.

In this spirit “Bridges” has been organized as an ongoing series of events in which intellectual Nobel Laureates, distinguished speakers and the general public participate in dialogues that seek to better promote regional cooperation through peaceful discussion.

In this sense “Bridges” challenges us to cross borders and build bridges by listening and opening up to other viewpoints, by generating new thoughts, developing innovative forms of cooperation and by fulfilling the desire of everyone to get to know and to learn from each other. This can lead us to a world in which we will be able to understand each other and the complexities we face today in a new light. A globalized world needs broad strategies for change to secure a sustainable future for us and the next generations.

In order to promote education for peace and cooperation the International Peace Foundation hasn’t realized “Bridges” alone, but has carried out its previous programs together with UNESCO and 102 other national and international institutions including 42 major universities and schools such as the University of Cambodia.

The diverse topics for “Bridges” reflect that peace involves many different aspects of society. It involves awareness and social responsibility of politicians, the business community, scientists, artists and the media. And since peace – within ourselves, our families and our environment – starts in our minds and hearts, it involves every one of us.

I’m strongly convinced that “Bridges” will engage in cultivating ideas, knowledge and wisdom and will also provide good opportunities to organize common vision and to closely cooperate between us as human beings through dialogues towards a culture of peace.

Dr. Haruhisa Handa

Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Chairman and Founder of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture; Chancellor of the University of Cambodia; Sponsor for “Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” in Cambodia

As I sit down to write this foreword about the importance of peace, it never ceases to amaze me to see the partnership build between the University of Cambodia (UC) and the International Peace Foundation (IPF) working together to promote a culture of peace. I must commend both organizations for their commitment, understanding and cooperation in promoting the 3rd ASEAN “Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” event series held in Cambodia, from November 2009 through April 2010. The involvement of Noble Laureates for Economics, Peace, Physics, Chemistry and Medicine as well as other distinguished speakers and artists will act as a catalyst for successfully promoting peace and cooperation around the world for years to come.

“Bridges” in Cambodia is special to me. Cambodia has a special place in my heart. I feel a deep personal connection to those who suffered during years of civil war and genocide and to those loved ones who are still suffering. While great progress has been made in the realms of peace, security, stability and national reconciliation, I have a deep desire to see the country remain peaceful and stable as well as to move towards greater prosperity. At the same time, I wish to see the Cambodian people heal from psychological and physical wounds caused by decades of war, conflict and genocide.

Cambodia has a complex history of economic, social and political challenges that have caused conflict. Because of these historical factors building peace in Cambodia needs to involve various stakeholders. It is time for us, as a group of individuals, to do our part to continue to help rebuild Cambodia in all dimensions.

Since 1993 the Royal Government of Cambodia has consistently demonstrated commitment to working for greater peace, security, stability and economic development. The Royal Government’s efforts have removed enormous social deficits by vigorously pursuing social initiatives such as protection of human rights, access to education and training, provision of health services, poverty reduction and the promotion of sustainable economic development.

The challenge now for the Royal Government is to facilitate a culture of peace that is sustainable and beneficial to all and engages development more effectively. In looking back at the last fifteen years there is great satisfaction, because Cambodia has made significant strides in the march towards a peaceful and democratic society. We must continue to create new positive scenarios through the promotion of a culture of peace and cooperation.

The success of this work can only be achieved through collaboration, cooperation and open dialogue. The reasons I am sponsoring the “Bridges” program are:
1. To promote constructive dialogue on peace and development in Cambodia through intellectual discussions with leading peace advocates, personalities and organizations as well as to promote Cambodia in the international community

2. To help support and bring leading and high-profile personalities to Cambodia through IPF and raise awareness for a culture of peace that engages diverse fields

3. To support the spread of great ideas and the exchange of experiences and insights by connecting advocates for and institutions promoting a culture of peace and cooperation around the world

The world still needs to address pressing issues of poverty, disease, inequality, illiteracy, conflict and global warming. Nonetheless, we need to search for human self-worth and love in the quest for peace. We need to focus on transcending our differences through the power of dialogue and the development of greater tolerance and understanding. I was filled with hope by what the International Peace Foundation has done and continues to do through “Bridges” in promoting a culture of peace and the spirit of cooperation here in Cambodia. I know that by becoming a sponsor of “Bridges” I will have done my share in achieving the “true peace” that I have always been looking for.

While oceans separate us, “Bridges” connects us to our humanity and our shared destiny of building a better world for all of us. As we celebrate “Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” I wonder what it will take to truly live in a Culture of Peace. We all must recognize our connection to one another and the beauty of our shared humanity.

Our commitment to peace, cooperation, harmony and reconciliation is often reflected in the way we are able to bring people together to share in dialogue. I hope the “Bridges Dialogues” will spark discussions and stimulate diverse thoughts on how to enhance a culture of peace and build a spirit of true international cooperation. Dialogue towards a culture of peace is part of the solution to the challenges we face today. At the same time I trust the program will enable self-reflection on the critical role each of us can play in contributing to a better world.

What we think, what we say, what we do and what we do not do, all matters. Our actions and our failure to act in the face of growing conflict shape the world and determine our future. So I ask, why not support a culture of peace in a life-long journey of self-discovery and peace making?

HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the International Peace Foundation, launched the “Bridges” program in Cambodia during his visit to Phnom Penh in April 2009

His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia graciously grants an audience to HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein and Uwe Morawetz at the Royal Palace
His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni with HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia and Cambodian Chairman of "Bridges", receives HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein and Uwe Morawetz
His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni with Uwe Morawetz
Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen with Uwe Morawetz
Coordinating Meeting with representatives of the Cambodian partner institutions of "Bridges" at Hotel Cambodiana
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Uwe Morawetz arrive a the reception in honor of HSH Prince Alfrred of Liechtenstein at Hotel Cambodiana
HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein with His Royal Highness Prince Samdech Norodom Sirivudh and other guests at Hotel Cambodiana
Launch of the Cambodian "Bridges" program at Hotel Cambodiana
Launch of the Cambodian "Bridges" program at Hotel Cambodiana
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An with HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein
His Holiness The Great Supreme Patriach Samdech Tep Vong receives HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein

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