Ninth ECPD International Conference
Belgrade, Serbia, 11-12 October 2013
The European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD), affiliated with the University for Peace established by the United Nations, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its creation by the UN General Assembly in 1983 at its Ninth ECPD International Conference in the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, on 11-12 October 2013. The IEF has been a partner of ECPD for a number of years and IEF President Arthur Dahl sits on its Academic Council. The 190 participants included many diplomats and professors from across the Western Balkans and around the world.
ECPD Conference - Belgrade City Hall
The conference for national and inter-ethnic reconciliation, religious tolerance and human security in the Balkans had as its theme this year "New Balkans and Europe: Peace, Development, Integration". It was opened with a message from former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In the keynote speeches, Prof. Johan Galtung, Founder of the Peace Research Institute, Norway, suggested the Balkans could play a bridging role between EurAsia and the Euro-Atlantic partnership. Prof. Erhard Busek, Former Vice-Chancellor of Austria and Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, discussed religious challenges in the region and the tension between secular and fundamentalist movements. While western Europe had lost its spirit of solidarity, with everyone looking out for themselves, the young generation had a desire for values. He warned that peace was not yet guaranteed in the region, and that academic and civic movements should address this without waiting for politicians. Ambassador Prof. Darko Tanaskovic of the University of Belgrade noted the importance of sustainable development, but that politicians wanted to hide this from the people. Young people were running away from the region because they could not find happiness there. Arthur Dahl gave a paper on "New Balkans Sustainability and the Post-2015 Development Agenda" which is available at http://iefworld.org/ddahl13e pending publication in the proceedings of the conference.
Among the sensitive issues discussed were the moral and political weakness in the European Union, the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, the persecution of the Roma peoples, the tension between Serbia and Kosovo, the radicalization of relations within religious communities and the interference of politics in religion, all in the context of the need to strengthen reconciliation and solidarity.
The main conference was followed by two round tables, one a youth forum and one on "Whither the Global South in the 21st Century".
Last updated 30 October 2013