Under the patronage of the Lebanese Minister of Information Melhem Riachy, represented by Maroun Salhani, the Lebanon Dialogue Initiative (LDI) launched its program for the year 2017 on March 24 from the main campus of Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU).
In attendance were NDU President Fr. Walid Moussa; NDU Vice-President for Public Relations and Communications Suheil Matar; Fr. Abdo Abou Kasem, representing His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai; LDI Administrative Body members presided over by Honorable Consul of the United Kingdom in Lebanon William Zard Abou Jaoudeh; LDI Advisory Body members MP Ali Ossairan and former Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL) Meguerditch Bouldoukian; and a host of notable political, social, academic, and media figures.
NDU Director of Public Relations and Cultural Affairs Dr. Nada Saad Saber was the Master of Ceremony. The event began with the screening of a special documentary focused on the historical roots and prospects of the LDI. The documentary also expounded on its mission and main objectives, the main one being to receive United Nations recognition for Lebanon as a land for dialogue among civilizations and cultures, in addition to establishing a permanent international center for dialogue on its territories.
Matar in his speech underlined the future role of universities and highlighted the strategic choice made by NDU to serve as a center for research, dialogue, development of the spirit of citizenship and acceptance of the other. He also praised the pivotal role played by Minister Riachy, concerning the minister’s project which aims at transforming the Ministry of Information into a Ministry of Dialogue and Communication. Matar also stressed on NDU’s continuous support of the LDI through adherence to a set of principles so that Lebanon remains the land of peace, freedom, and cooperation.
For his part, LDI Vice-President and Executive Director Amine Nehme discussed LDI’s first international forum, which was held last year and hosted Dr. Edita Tahiri, Minister for Dialogue of the State of Kosovo and her counterpart Marko Đurić, adviser to the Serbian president. Both representatives reviewed their countries’ experience in resolving conflicts through an EU-brokered dialogue.
Nehme announced the international activities program for 2017 in which the LDI will participate in international conferences in Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Nations. He then announced the launch of two grants and one award dealing with the topics of peace, dialogue, conflict resolution, or social justice. A grant in the name of Fr. Walid Moussa for the best M.A. thesis at NDU, and a national one in the name of the late Ambassador Fouad el-Turk for the best work in music. As for the Honorary William Zard International Award it will be for the best short documentary film. Nehme indicated that special committees would be formed to oversee the selection of the best work for each category and the prizes would be presented to their respective winners in November 2017, during the next LDI forum.
Nehme concluded by thanking all LDI partners for their continued support, especially NDU, as well as other institutions that believed in and supported the LDI message, namely: First National Bank (FNB), Hiwar Al-Abjadiyyat (Dialogue of Alphabets), the Hommes D’Affaires Libanais De France (HALFA), and the United Nations Association of Lebanon. He also noted the advanced course relating to the development of a new partnership with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue located in Vienna, Austria.
Regarding the international campaign, LDI Secretary-General Dr. Guita Hourani expounded on the details of all meetings held in several capitals around the world. These meeting were held with key representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs, members of chambers of deputies, and senates in the countries concerned. The Lebanese diaspora and its organizations and friends of Lebanon abroad helped to organize these meetings so that Dr. Hourain could explain the objectives of the LDI and mobilize the required support.
Dr. Hourani also addressed the e-petition and endorsement letters that LDI is collecting to include in a complete dossier, which will be presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in due time.
For his part, LDI Founder and President Honorary Abou Jaoudeh noted the importance of last year’s LDI forum, which constituted a living testimony of the momentous role that Lebanon can play in this sphere.
Honorary Abou Jaoudeh called on the Lebanese authorities to stay abreast of the LDI’s mission and action by including its objectives on the government’s agenda and by submitting an official request to the United Nations to adopt Lebanon as a land for dialogue among civilizations and cultures and to establish a permanent international center on its territories.
He concluded by calling on everyone to work by spreading this message as far and wide as possible, noting the effectiveness and influence of the Lebanese diaspora elevating Lebanon to a prestigious level on a global scale.
Fr. Moussa recognized everyone working toward putting Lebanon on the cultural and intellectual map. He reminded the audience of the words spoken by St. Pope John Paul II, who said that “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message.” The reason Lebanon is a “message” is that it is a land of convergence, diversity, and pluralism.
Fr. Moussa concluded by stressing NDU’s determination to move forward in this march, calling on the countries of the world to support this cause, because of Lebanon’s unique characteristics in the service of humanity.
Speaking on behalf of Minister Riachy, Salhani praised the mission of the LDI as well as the sincere and supporting role played by NDU. He also highlighted the importance of the partnership between NDU, as an academic institution, and the ministry, as a governmental institution, given that this partnership constitutes the main factor behind the success of this collaboration. He also underlined the importance of exchanging experiences between the LDI and the ministry to launch the dialogue and communication pact that is currently being prepared.
Afterward, Salhani addressed the need to direct dialogue toward the Lebanese interior to cleanse hurtful rhetoric, to heal the disconsolate collective memory, and to confront intellectual terrorism to reveal the liberating truth.
Finally, Salhani underlined Minister Riachy’s commitment to put all potentials in the service of this leading national project.
Dr Amin Nehme During the Press Conference at NDU (Notre Dame University) 2017 Program Preparing LDI Lebanese Dialogue Initiative, in Which HALFA is Part Of this Wonderful and Vital Initiative
Press Conference at NDU Preparing LDI Lebanese Dialogue Initiative Congress in Which HALFA is Part Of this Wonderful Project
Posted by Antoine Menassa on Friday, March 24, 2017