TAT - Wednesday, October 15, 2003

As a major contribution to 'The Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence' initiated and promoted by the United Nations' General Assembly in the year 2000, Thailand has been chosen as the host country for the event series "Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" which the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation hosts in partnership with various national and international organisations, institutions and enterprises in Thailand between November 2003 and April 2004. His Excellency Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister, is Chairman of the Thai Advisory Board for "Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace".

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Peace Foundation, Mr. Uwe Morawetz, elaborated on the decision to select Thailand as the host country of 'The Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace'.

"The Thai nation and its people with their self-confidence, open-mindedness and tolerance provide a creative pathway towards peace which could serve as an inspiring role model for the prevention, mediation and solution of conflicts.

"Under the wisdom and spiritual leadership of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the shining example for inner and outer peace a democratic Thailand has the ability to promote peace and the potential to stabilise the region. It has a rich diversified network of national and international organisations including business, diplomatic corps, media and NGOs, which provide the ground for an enhanced intercultural dialogue.

"Dialogue, a culture of peace and non-violence are deeply rooted in Thai society, not only as concepts, but as a common practice in the form of and the process towards the Middle Way. Based on this knowledge and wisdom Thailand could become an international platform from which the spiral of violence and racism which dominates the world of today could turn into a deeper understanding towards aspects of peace and pluralism which have been neglected far too long."

"Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" will be inaugurated by a public keynote speech by Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., on November 6, 2003 at 14:00 hours at the Thammasat University Auditorium. Reverend Jackson is one of America's foremost political figures who began his career as assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a highly respected world leader, he has acted as a conflict mediator and international diplomat in sensitive situations. A member of the Democratic Party, Reverend Jackson has been a presidential candidate twice and a Senator for Washington, D.C.

Within a period of six months and 80 actual event days, more than 100 lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and major public events will be held with Nobel Laureates for Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Literature and other personages in the fields of international politics, economy, science, culture and the media joining hands with distinguished Thai leaders to promote the Kingdom of Thailand as a centre for dialogue and international understanding.

With a Nobel Laureate or other dignitary coming to Thailand about every week, a deep and ongoing dialogue process towards a culture of peace is guaranteed. In addition well known performing artists lend their voices for the promotion of peace and non-violence to inspire a general audience and the young generation.

On January 14, 2004, Professor Marcia Haydee, long-term directress of the Stuttgart Ballet and the Ballet of Santiago de Chile, and Ismael Ivo, one of the most well-known contemporary African-Brazilian dancers, will stage their Thailand Premier Dance Performance with 25 Thai dancers at the Main Hall of the Thailand Cultural Center. At the same venue, Jessye Norman, one of the most distinguished opera and concert singers of our time, will make her first appearance in Thailand with a recital on April 24.

Co-organised by the Asian Institute of Technology, the Bangkok Opera Foundation, Chiang Mai University, Chulalongkorn University, the Dance Centre School of Performing Arts, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Forum Asia, the Goethe Institute Bangkok, King Prajadhipok's Institute, Khon Kaen University, the National Defense Studies Institute, Prince of Songkhla University, the Social Venture Network Asia, Thammasat University and UNESCO, the series of more than 200 lectures and dialogues, seminars, workshops, and artistic performances will be continued in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Songkhla from November 2003 till April 2004 and from November 2004 to April 2005.

The "Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" aim at facilitating and strengthening dialogue and communication of people and organisations in Thailand with people and organisations in other parts of the world; achieving a better co-operation for the promotion of peace, freedom and security; developing ethical action plans and multidisciplinary programmes for creative conflict prevention, mediation and resolution from a politically and religiously independent point of view; establishing creative solutions for the growing threats of war and international terrorism; promoting Thailand as a pioneering centre for peace, diplomacy and non-violent conflict resolution on an international level; raising funds and donating all proceeds of the events to peace, education and development programmes of already existing organisations and institutions in Thailand (all presenters and artists waive their request for an honorarium and fee for the benefit of the events; working with volunteers who serve in an honorary capacity will further secure proceeds.)