The Nation - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
With the daily killing in the deep South, any event using Thailand as the setting for speeches on peace runs the risk of being an embarrassment. Undaunted, the man behind “Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace”, which brought ten Nobel Laureates to Thailand and drew audiences of 30,000 a year ago, has set his sights on hosting an even more ambitious second series of talks beginning in December.
“Maybe it’s even more justified to do something,” said the German-born Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the board of the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation. “Peace is not something that can be achieved in a day or two. . . . But the situation in the South is an embarrassment, of course.”
Eighteen Nobel laureates and scores of other prominent personalities will speak on topics of peace during the December series. They include 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi; East Timor’s Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996; former United Nations weapon inspector Hans Blix; 2003 Nobel Laureaute for Economic Sciences Prof Clive W Granger; former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and more.
Morawetz stressed that the first step towards peace is dialogue, which allows people to work together as equals. “We need to find a more comprehensive approach towards peace,” he added.
The remaining series in the project, including the one next month and another in April, will see 150 events in Bangkok and beyond. All speakers will travel to Thailand and speak pro bono, and events are free.
Morawetz said he hoped to build contacts that could be maintained without the foundation’s involvement and that some of the Nobel laureates would return to Thailand for dialogue and exchanges “on a regular basis”.
He said all speakers had been briefed about the ongoing violence in the deep South and would be able to offer an “informed perspective”.
The programme of the event will be published by The Nation and is also available on the organisation’s website at www.peace-foundation.net.