Closing of the LDI Forum 2016
Representatives from Serbia and Kosovo Stress
the Importance of Lebanon, as a Global Center for Dialogue
The Lebanon Dialogue Initiative (LDI), in partnership with Notre Dame University–Louaize (NDU), recently organized an international forum titled, "Dialogue and Best Practice: Peace, Stability, Prosperity 2016," held at Issam Fares Hall, NDU main campus, Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon.

The opening ceremony began with the screening of a short documentary that focused on the major stages of Lebanon's history and highlighted the major contributions made by various notable figures in Lebanon toward building peace and encouraging coexistence and social justice. Following the screening, NDU Vice-President for Public Affairs and Communications Souhail Matar welcomed participants and underlined the importance of the LDI and praised the awareness of NDU in identifying the significance of such an initiative on both a local and global scale.

LDI President Amin Nehme delivered a speech, praising the efforts of Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom to Lebanon and President of LDI's Supervisory Board William Zard Abou Jaoudeh for reviving both the dream and the LDI project, which was originally launched with the late Ambassador Fouad al-Turk.

Nehme also announced the creation of two separate scholarships and a prize. The first scholarship will carry the name of NDU President Fr. Walid Moussa and will go to NDU master's students who submit the best thesis on the subjects of dialogue, peace-building, and conflict resolution. The second scholarship will be named after Ambassador Al-Turk and is intended to be granted to master's students who achieve excellence in their academic pursuits in other universities in Lebanon. As for the prize, it will be named after William Zard Abou Jaoudeh and will be awarded through an international competition for the best creative, non-academic work.

Member of LDI's Advisory Board Former Minister Dr. Bahige Tabbara underscored the role of the forthcoming government in finalizing the administrative, legal, and diplomatic process of the LDI project to prepare if for official submission to the United Nations.

For his part, Abou Jaoudeh stressed the importance of Lebanese expatriates in supporting the LDI by encouraging the governments of the respective countries in which they reside to vote for Lebanon to become a center for global dialogue.

Fr. Moussa pledged University commitment to the LDI, particularly since this initiative corresponds with the educational, humanistic, and national values stressed in the University mission.

The Mufti of Tripoli and North Lebanon Sheikh Dr. Malek al-Chaar discussed the importance of dialogue, as a means to solve conflicts and reach solutions that benefit both parties.

Keynote Speaker Professor John Bond, representing Initiatives of Change International (IofC), noted in his speech, "The importance of taking time every day to seek from God the wisdom that only introspection can bring, as we search for solutions to difficult situations." Bond added that we should admit our wrongdoings to create the conditions that would make change possible. He concluded with a story from Australia, which ended with the white Australian community apologizing for the atrocities committed against the Aboriginal Australians.
Former Ambassador William Habib moderated the second session, which was in the form of roundtable discussions. Minister for Dialogue in Kosovo Edita Tahiri, and Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Head of the Negotiations Team in Serbia Marko Đurić presented the historical roots and development of the conflict as well as the path for resolution and the current negotiation process held under the auspices of the European Union and the with the support of the United States of America. Tahiri and Đurić highlighted the important role that Lebanon can play as a "global center for dialogue," given the country's pluralistic communities and geopolitical location. Both parties pledged to support the LDI in international instances in order to garner UN recognition of Lebanon, as a land of dialogue among civilizations and cultures.
National Project Coordinator of the Networks of Mediterranean Youth (Net-Med Youth) project at UNESCO-Beirut Office Dr. Mona el-Zoghbi moderated the third and last session. Participants included Zooni Dash and Penuo Hiekha representing the IofC, India; Sevilya Muradova, GIZ, Uzbekistan/Turkey; Michelle Ter Meer, from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and Arbora Aliaj, from the University of Tirana, Albania. Speakers discussed their understanding of dialogue and their role as youth in the organizations they represent.
Participating guests were invited to a dinner at the Le Royal Hotel and Resorts, Dbayeh. The dinner witnessed the honoring of Fr. Moussa, Abou Jaoudeh, Matar, Dr. Edward Alam, and Dr. Guita Hourani (LDI Petition Campaign Coordinator) for their dedicated support of the LDI.
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