The ECPD Eighth International Conference on "Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans - New Balkans in a Changing World with a Changing Europe" was held at the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, on 20 October 2012. It was chaired by Ambassador Takehiro Togo, Chairman of the ECPD Academic Council, and opened with a special message from Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali who is President of the ECPD Honorary Council.
Over 30 presentations were made on the main conference topics of “Globalization and its Impact on the World and the European Union”, “New Balkans in a Changing World: Directions, Causes, Consequences” and “Human Security in the Balkans”.
Among the principal conclusions was the recognition that the world and European economic crisis has aggravated the poorly planned economic transition in the region after the collapse of communist industries. A sluggish and unskilful process of transition was accompanied by organized crime and corruption, as well as increased unemployment, with consequences that are only being overcome slowly and with difficulty.
While there are still several sensitive areas in the Balkans, there has been progress in political and social transformation, but further advances are needed in the fields of democracy, legal order, human rights and the development of other values of democratic societies.
The conference concluded that a stable and durable peace should be built on mutual understanding and respect among all Balkan peoples and states, and by inclusion of all the Balkan countries into European integration and the Euro-Atlantic alliance. While many obstacles hamper the strengthening of peace and stability in the Balkans, growth opportunities can outweigh them provided there is a speeding up of the development of free democratic societies, improved regional cooperation and full international integration, as well as secure support from the international community in general and the European Union in particular.
The European Center for Peace and Development of the University for Peace established by the United Nations has been working for nearly thirty years to increase understanding and overcome differences in the western Balkans through academic and research programs and high-level conferences of political, religious and academic leaders from across the region.
The International Environment Forum has been collaborating with the ECPD for the last 5 years, and IEF President Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl has just been named to the Academic Council of ECPD. His paper for the 8th conference on "Right of Each Human Being to Enjoy Peace, Security and Welfare" is on line at http://iefworld.org/ddahl12l.