On February 11, 2015, the Journalists and Writers Foundation, Albert Schweitzer Institute, and Peace Islands Institute held a panel discussion, titled “Peaceful and Cohesive Societies for Social Development,” during the UN DESA 53rd Commission for Social Development at UN Headquarters in New York.
It is important to build a strong society around universal values and achieve tolerance, reconciliation, and social cohesion.
The discussion was moderated by H.E. Carlos Garcia, Former Ambassador of El Salvador to the United Nations, and featured three panelists: Professor Martha Ann Kirk of the University of the Incarnate Word, Professor David Ives of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, and Mr. Huseyin Hurmali of the Journalists and Writers Foundation.
Panelists shared project experiences and anecdotes that offered insights on key elements seen to foster peaceful and cohesive societies. Common themes included education and its empowerment of vulnerable populations as well as the emphasis on the importance of local engagement and dialogue and the potential of forgiveness.
Professor Martha Ann Kirk, Th.D.
Graduate Theological Union
University of the Incarnate Word
Professor Kirk provided an overview of her project, “Iraq Women of 3 Generations: Challenges, Education, Hopes for Peace,” which shed light on the Turkish schools established in the Kurdish region of Iraq and how these academic institutions have revitalized hope and fostered peace among the conflict-stricken population. The anecdotes she shared of students and families that have rediscovered conviction and pursued opportunities otherwise unknown to them because of education lend insights to the potency of knowledge and the transformative power of education.
Professor David Ives
Albert Schweitzer Institute
Professor Ives spoke of the life of Albert Schweitzer and how his legacy is being carried on through the work of the Albert Schweitzer Institute. He offered insights on what he saw as building blocks to a cohesive society and discussed the shared emphasis of forgiveness by renowned champions of peace that include world leaders among the likes of President Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Ives also laid out his argument for the concept of human rights as an important underpinning to the creation and sustainability of peaceful and cohesive societies.
Journalists and Writers Foundation
Mr. Hurmali introduced the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) and spoke of the organization’s Honorary Chairman, Mr. Fethullah Gulen, and his contribution to girls’ education and women’s empowerment in Turkey. To provide perspective to JWF’s work, Mr. Hurmali played a video about the Foundation’s “Peace Projects” initiative, which seeks to maintain peace and security within and among nations. Mr. Hurmali concluded his discussion by emphasizing the potential of intellectual capital for peace that JWF promotes through its Peace Projects grants.