This is an alert to three upcoming events in Belgrade conducted by the European Center for Peace and development (ECPD) University for Peace established by the United Nations. They will happen within the framework of its International Annual Conference, 2017, transacted in City Hall and on ECPD premises on the Terazje. The first will focus on Peace and Democratic Multilateralism (27 October 2017). Federico Mayor, Spain, Former DG UNESCO, and Roberto Savio, Italy & Argentina will be in the Chair facilitated by Manuela Mesa Peinado, Director, Institute DEMOS-PAZ, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), Jonathan Bradley, England, and Arthur Dahl, University of Geneva. This event has received an impressive response with a great mix of participants and has the potential to produce inspiring discussion and meaningful recommendations. Executive Director, Negoslav Ostojić, underscores that the ECPD is of vital importance for regional stability. It consistently provides insights into regional and global challenges andhas examined human security in the Balkans, reconciliation processes, religious tolerance, failed states and the space between globalization and regionalization.

This writer is on record of proposing that the Security Council of the UN be mandated to promote human development directly, a lofty ideal, saying it would send out clearer messages in all directions to reinforce the universal notions set out in the concepts of a peace culture, a society for all ages, health for all strategy and principles of human security as well as reinforce health as a fundamental human right.

Special addresses will be given by Peace Nobelist, Ouided Bouchamaoui, namely, Si vis pacem, para verbum - from force to word and by H.S.H. Duke Karel Schwarzenberg, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, Czech Republic. Speakers of distinction include, Johan Galtung, Norway, Erhard Busek, Austria, Boris Shmelev, Russia, Yoji Koyama, Japan, Jeffrey Levett, Greece and Tauno Kekäle, Rector, VAMK University who will examine education as a source of prosperity using the example of Finland.

Market size and financial bottom lines are powerful influencers. This makes possible for example, for BIG PHARM to have a big say in health and for the tobacco industry to be considered a stakeholder in the health sector. Richer corporations influence disproportionately the population health agenda. Similarly, wealthier nations influence the international agenda more than poorer nations. More powerful states exert greater influence on international governance pushing usually in line with their own interests. This can reinforce a lack of transparency and accountability and bring about disparity and imbalance. Knock on effects include lack of progress on climate change, statements elicited such as, words are all that the international community can offer the people of Syria and double standards get in the way of human rights.

Consequently, the legitimacy of the international community is questioned. Indeed the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) are often seen as acting as forums lacking substance. However, we should neither abandon the notion that international institutions can solve problems that individual states cannot nor undermine merits of the UN. We have little else. For the international system to work effectively, states need to set aside some aspects of their national interests. This is a way that powerful drug companies can ensure orphan drugs for children with rare diseases. After expenditures, profit made by the pharmaceutical industry is about the most profitable, everywhere. Greenwashing is one term to indicate protection of profit from toxic chemicals with serious health effects.

One proposed antidote to the inability to reduce vulnerabilities resulting from deficiencies in democracy is multilateralism defined as governance by the many based on the tenet that any situation where arrangements in place give advantage to the powerful must be opposed. Such arrangements encourage international conflict and may in the future be the cause of water wars and again cause famine. The G20 Hamburg Summit this year asked how can globalization be governed to the benefit all of humanity at a time of economic uncertainty, higher levels of inequality, climate change, refugees problems and migration?

One example of democratic multilateralism belongs to Morocco, which with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convened a special meeting in New York whose purpose is to move South-South cooperation forward by embracing actions that counter the effects of climate change in Africa. Renewable energy is becoming increasingly more important for all parts of the world but necessitates infrastructures that limit greenhouse gas emissions with additional instruments to reduce local and regional vulnerabilities. Water scarcity, policy and water resources management are targeted by Morocco in the knowledge that wiser water management and loosely regulated ecosystems are basic for development and future prosperity.

The Round Table is organised into 4 panels: Global Institutions to Face Global Threats; Peace and Development; UN Priorities in the New Era of Scarcity; Action Agenda to Promote Cultures of Peace. There will be a Closing Session for concrete solutions.

Panel I will discuss the kind of institutions that are needed to face the many global threats, how international organizations can be improved to serve this purpose and it will revisit the UN Charter. It will examine how the upsurge of nationalism and populism can be faced and opposed, what is seen as an act of global sidelining, by the US Republican Party and highlight non-effective changes and substitutions in the making, supported and proposed by plutocratic groups (G7, G8, G20). It will consider the role of neo-liberal globalization on social in-solidarity. Panel II will cover peace and development and examine integral, endogenous and sustainable human development that can secure a dignified life. In parallel it will examine the immense investment in military expenditures and armaments. Panel III will focus on UN priorities in the new era of scarcity with practical applications through the SDG, reinforcement of the Paris Agreement on the Environment and it will call for greater support of the UN System. Panel IV takes us to an Agenda for Peace. It will revisit the Declaration and the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace (1999) and contrast it with the most recent (2016) GA Resolution A/71L/47, Follow-Up to the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace.

Orphan papers will be spread around the Table Round on various subjects such as the path to social inclusion for immigrants, consular relations for peace, mimetic forgiveness in peace building, global awareness and consciousness, digital technology for information, the military-industrial complex, and disarmament for development (an initiative of the International Peace Bureau). Papers will cover crisis and rebirth of the European Union, individuality, autonomy and a search for the pluralism in civilizations, the ecological determinants of development and implications in President Trump's economic policies for the global economy. Two Chairs of note, include Simona-Mirela Miculescu, Representative of UN SG, Belgrade and John Maresca, Former Ambassador of US to OSCE and Rector of UPEACE, Costa Rica. Andras Balogh, University of Budapest is a chair bridging overlap in ECPD’s three activities.

In the Closing Session concrete solutions may touch upon worldwide peace and non-violence, reformulations of the UN System, contemporary concepts for security, the knowledge-based economy and global sustainable development on a human and humanitarian scale.

Two additional and significant activities that will run concurrently (28 October 2017), are 1] an international Round Table Roma people as an intercultural bridge in the Balkans chaired by Rajko Đurić, President, Romani of Serbia Union and 2] the 5th Youth Forum chaired by Jeffrey Levett. Sessions will look at today’s influence of the Holocaust on Roma culture and pose the question: extinction or development of Roma cultural identity in Serbia? One of the facilitators is Dragoljub Ackovic, Deputy Director, Office for Human and Minority Rights. Sessions in the Youth Forum will cover knowledge for all, existential ways to recovery, capacity building and Youth spiritual empowerment and connecting cultures through music. Facilitators also come from the Balkan region, England, America and Australia.

If language and music are resonating throughout the three activities they are also connecting elements, music being provided by Danny Briottet, Soho Radio and a PeaceBeat coming with Ayşe Görür, Association for the Development of Social and Cultural Life, Turkey to set the overall tempo of ECPD’s International Annual Conference, 2017. Up beat for peace, peacebeat for culture.

A compilation of all presentations during the three activities will be published by the ECPD.

Two different problem spaces needing further examination by the international community are the rise of the so called Islamic State and better governance of the Internet. With respect to the so called Islamic State, Negoslav Ostojic has written that the Middle East is gripped with an assertive, radical, and ruthless movement calling itself the Islamic State, but in reality it is an extreme and violent interpretation of Islamic teaching. With respect to the INTERNET, ECPD has been recognized for its stand for justice in the Net.

The ECPD is of considerable importance to the region deserving of much broader support in a still fragile Balkans, one gateway to the Moslem world and with a so called Balkan corridor that impedes the movement of migrants towards northern Europe. The Balkans should remain both weather-cock and almanac: crowing, like the leper’s bell tells us what might lie ahead, and messages emanating like escaping faxes as he USSR collapsed are intelligence that helps our understanding of unfolding events. To forestall crises is a good thing and the best we can do.

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