CONFERENCE | Objectives

Building on the experience and outcomes of the High Level Dialogue of the UN General Assembly in 2007, the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) plans to organize a conference in order to foster the mobilization of civil society for building peace, which will offer alternative ways of discussing this topic. UN is still the milieu where debates on this topic are to be organized. Therefore, the conference that the JWF plans to organize should be considered as a continuation of the crucial work that was done under the auspices of the UN.

However, there are some innovations that the Journalists and Writers Foundation thought should be added to the debate in order to make it richer and more relevant. This conference will engage people from various backgrounds who have the potential to contribute in different ways to the process of mutual understanding among various religions and cultures. In other words, the aim is to engage state officials and diplomats with representative members from various religious organizations, educational workers, media representatives, academicians and scientists, members of NGOs, and other civil society organizations to create a discussion in which many different opinions and ideas coming from various perspectives and points of view will emerge. Therefore, this conference will encompass the complexity of the question of peaceful coexistence, thus directly contributing to the universal understanding of the essence in peace building in the 21st century.

JWF, in coalition with several other NGOs, expects to bring around 400 participants from the different spheres mentioned above. The crucial belief that creates enthusiasm for this conference is that by so doing, a new ground will be created to serve as a base for innovative work on the topic of peaceful coexistence in the future. More specifically, we strongly believe that by engaging state officials, media representatives, educators, religious leaders, and civil society members, we will be able to widen the spectrum for debate concerning peaceful coexistence. We are convinced that widening this spectrum is crucial for a more productive discussion, which is directly related to creating better prospects and chances for peace.

For the purpose of stimulating discussion during the Conference on mobilizing civil society for building peace and to achieve the objectives listed above, the following guiding questions are offered for consideration:

1st Session: Education & Building and Sustaining Peace

• What may be the contribution of education to the realization of the goal of mutual understanding among different cultural groups?

• What are some examples of schools that successfully manage to add the importance of peaceful coexistence as a crucial element of the educational curricula?

• Can it be argued that the schools, which promote cohesion among various cultures, actually create “ambassadors of peace” whose main weapon is the lack of stereotypes in their mindsets?

2nd Session: Peace and Journalism

• What is the role that media can play in the process of peaceful coexistence among various groups? Does its almost exclusive power in depicting other religions constitute a crucial factor in the process of mutual understanding between various religious groups?

• Is balance possible to be maintained between freedom of expression and responsibility for tolerance of the media?

• Can the freedom of expression develop in a parallel way with the need for tolerance? What are the possible outcomes of the discrepancy between these two values?

• What is the possibility that media can also support tolerance instead of only trying to prevent intolerance?

• Does media have a moral responsibility to promote peace?

• Does media have a moral responsibility to contribute to a peace-minded society?

3rd Session: Freedom of Religion & Building and Sustaining Peace

• What may be the reasons behind the increasing intolerance towards religions and their sacred values?

• What is the role of the globalization in it? Does it diminish or foster the tendency to defame religious sacredness?

• What is the role of religion in identity formation in the globalized world? Do the identities have to be always constructed by comparison to the “other”?

• How can religious intolerance contribute to deteriorating the conditions for peace? How to prevent it?

• How to prevent these intolerant acts using means other than human rights?

Geneva Peace Conference © 2014