Conference on peace draws hundreds at university

14 October 2015

COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND, United States — Leading international experts gathered at a conference in the U.S. to address issues related to global peace.

Some 300 people attended the 'Global Transformations: Context and Analytics for a Durable Peace' conference at the University of Maryland on 7 to 9 October, organized by the Baha'i Chair for World Peace and the Baha'i International Community.

"We really wanted to learn about obstacles preventing peace from becoming a reality in our world today," said Dr. Hoda Mahmoudi, holder of the Baha'i Chair and one of the conference speakers.

Top academics and practitioners shared research and insights on themes relevant to peace during the conference.

In her presentation, Dr. Prudence Carter, a sociologist at Stanford University, looked at the nexus of race, education and inequality, and spoke about the need for a movement to cultivate empathy and understanding as part of efforts to address inequality in society.

Education is one of the major conduits for improving the effects of gender, race and class inequality, she explained.

In another session on women in peace-building efforts, Dr Anne-Marie Goetz, a professor at New York University, said peace talks have been more successful in countries where women are included as major actors in the process. She stressed the critical need to include women in peace-building efforts.

"Peace talks remain stubbornly male-dominated," said Dr Goetz.

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In 1985, Madam Ruhiyyih Rabbani, the widow of Shoghi Effendi and a Hand of the Cause of God, presented The Promise of World Peace to United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Presentations also addressed a range of other themes, including human rights and global governance, architecture for social inclusion, and resource conflict.

The conference marked the 30 year anniversary of the release by the Universal House of Justice of a document entitled The Promise of World Peace. It was that same groundbreaking document—outlining the prerequisites for and challenges to peace—which inspired the founding of the Baha'i Chair for World Peace in 1993.

In commenting on the timeliness of the event, Dr. Mahmoudi explained that "there is an urgent need to explore alternative possibilities to address the current threats that are responsible for destabilizing the international order and inflicting violence and harm on millions of people throughout the world".

The Baha'i Chair for World Peace is a forum for research and discourses on world peace, drawing on "insights from religion" while aiming "to develop a sound scientific basis for knowledge and strategies that lead to the creation of a better world".