Building bridges not walls!

Manila Bulletin, June 8, 2007

"If all nations would treat each other with sincere mutual respect and esteem as well as with prompt readiness to be of mutual support and assistance, then it could be confidently expected that there will be created a general atmosphere of truly mutual good understanding with firm and friendly co-operation all around. It will then follow that peace, happiness, freedom and stability on equal and permanent bases will reign throughout the world, fulfilling the avowedly earnest desire of everyone."
~ H.M. King Bhumibol Adulayadej

Under the wisdom and spiritual leadership of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulayadej as the shining example of inner and outer peace, a democratic Thailand has the ­ability to promote peace - and the Thai nation and its people, with their self-confidence, open-mindedness and tolerance, provided a creative pathway towards peace which could serve as an inpiring role model for the preservation, mediation and solution of conflicts. In the next couple of months the Philippines is about to become a part of these ideals.

Following the success of "Bridges", an independent contribution to the United Nations' Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence held in Thailand last November 2003 to April 2005, the International Peace Foundation (IPF), under the common patronage of 21 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and in cooperation with various national and international partners, will host the first ASEAN wide event series of "Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" starting in November 2007 in the Philippines.

"To build further bridges towards peace and international understanding, the foundation has now been invited by the governments of all ASEAN countries (with the exception of Myanmar, as for now) to expand the "Bridges" program beyond Thailand. In 2007 up to 2008, the Philippines will be the first ASEAN country to host the events together with Thailand to stimulate the intellectual, scientific and cultural exchange in the ASEAN region and to enhance its further development," enthuses Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Peace Foundation.

The politically and religiously independent International Peace Foundation with headquarters in Vienna and its Asian office in Bangkok has previously organized more than 700 events with 600 keynote speakers in Europe. Its Advisory Board, which is chaired by HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein who recently visited the country, include various Nobel laureates and other members like Franz Beckenbauer, Dr. Hans Blix, Sir Gareth Evans, Peter Gabriel, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gernot Langes-Swarovski, Vanessa-Mae, Edzard Reuter and Wim Wenders, among others.

Bridges will continuously take place in the Philippines from November 2007 until April 2008, comprising a series of up to 50 events with Nobel Laureates. Each Nobel Laureate who will visit the Philippines separately will stay for at least four to six days.

“During their visits they will conduct various lectures, seminars, workshop and dialogues in partnership with local Philippine institutions to strengthen international understanding and to build relationships with these Philippine institutions which may lead to common research projects and other long lasting forms of cooperation," says Mr. Morawetz.

He continues, "This is why 'Bridges' is not designed as a one-time event, but as a continuing process of synergies to make the series of events a sustainable success for the Philippines."

Among the confirmed Nobel Laureate keynote speakers are: Prof. Finn E. Kydland, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Economics at the Department of Economics of the University of California in Santa Barbara and at the Tepper School of Business of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg (who will discuss “Peace and Development in the Age of Globalization”); Prof. Robert A. Mundell, 1999 Nobel Laureate for Economics at the Department of Economics of Columbia University in New York; Prof. David Gross, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California in Santa Barbara “The Coming Revolutions in Fundamental Physics”; Prof. Aaron Ciechanovor, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa “Why Our Proteins Have to Die so We Shall Live”; and Prof. David Baltimore, 1975 Nobel Laureate for Medicine and President Emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena “The Role of Science Fostering Global Health and Development” and “Gene Therapy as a Mode of Treating Cancer and AIDS”.

Bridges has also partnered with local educational institutions, namely, Angeles University Foundation; Asian Institute of Management, Ateneo de
Davao University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Department of Science and Technology, Mapua Institute of Technology, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas, and the University of the Philippines.

Apart from being the chair to the Advisory Board of the IPF, HSH Prince Alfred is chairman, CEO and Board Member of different companies in the fields of engineering, investment, trading, banking and consulting. He is also actively involved in various not-for­-profit organizations, among others as president and co-founder of the Vienna Academy for the Study of the Future, member of the Honorary Board of the UN Global Youth Forum and Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Science. He published various books including "Management by Evolution" and received the International Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award.

"The foundation has been established exclusively for not-for-­profit purposes, in particular to support peace universities as well as scientific projects and institutions dealing with research into conflict prevention and strategies for the solution of conflicts as well as with promoting peace activities, understanding and social exchange between peoples, their cultures and traditions," HSH Prince Alfred states during his visit to Philippines last March.

While in Manila, HSH Prince Alfred met with Filipino decision makers and community leaders to discuss their involvement in the "Bridges” event series, among others with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita, Senate President Manny Villar, Speaker of House of Representatives Dr. Jose C. De Venecia, Jr., Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, former Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez, former President Fidel V. Ramos and Bangko Sentral Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.. He also met with business leaders, including Ramon R. Del Rosario, Jr., Washington SyCip, Ambassador Jesus P Tambunting, Ambassador Alfonso T. Yuchengco and Jaime Augusto Zobel De Ayala.

The foundation supports existing national and international institutions by providing funds and contacts. It also acts as a facilitator and as such, to establish new networks between existing private and public institutions, associations and enterprises in an effort to streamline forces and resources peacefully and purposefully, to enable synergies and to develop new forms of co-operation. Furthermore, it aims raise people's awareness for the activities of existing institutions and thus gain access to new target groups for these institutions.

The foundation likewise strives to follow up the initiatives of the Vienna Peace Summit 1999, in particular through advanced courses and research at schools and universities; incentives for enterprises, development of innovative forms of work for a changing market; promotion of international relations as a contribution to understanding and peaceful exchange of peoples, their cultures and traditions; promotion of civil societies, social responsibility, ethnic conduct and codetermination of social processes, integration of the media and development of programs for media ethics, documentation in all current and future forms of media (especially print, Internet, etc); development of concrete action plans and proposals to be submitted to governments, the European Commission and the United Nations; and implementation of further peace dialogues in other countries.