Can Rotary help bring peace to the Middle East?
The leader of the world’s oldest service organization will visit Istanbul on 1 September for the humanitarian organization’s Peace Forum
Hitay Güner, Conference Chair, + 90 212 2313181
(Istanbul, Turkey — 29 August 2007) — The leader of the world’s oldest service organization will visit Istanbul on 1 September for the humanitarian organization’s Peace Forum. This one-day conference is focused on Rotary’s efforts to contribute to the peace process in the Middle East through its myriad humanitarian programs and scholarships.
“Rotary has a long history of bringing together countries, nations and individuals who have historically differed to the point that peace was interrupted by war,” says RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, a chartered accountant from Canada, who took office on 1 July. “This conference has the objective of bringing together men and women who know how their ancestors have suffered as a result of being on one side of a dispute or the other, or perhaps being on neither side and just caught in the middle.”
At the forum, Rotarians from near and far will explore how they can contribute to peace by building understanding between different communities. The rationale, says Wilkinson, is to build friendships so that past reasons for conflict can be better understood, while creating a genuine spirit of cooperation for the future.
Keynote speakers include Wilkinson, HE Süleyman Demirel, the former president of Turkey; Dr. Abdul Salam Majali, the former prime minister of Jordan; Örsçelik Balkan, RI director and convener of the forum, and other Rotary leaders, government officials, and educators.
“We are expecting around 400 participants from the Mediterranean region, mainly from Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, including Israel. We shall have Rotarians from Eastern Europe and Pakistan as well,” says Istanbul Rotarian and conference chair Hitay Güner.
Participants will discuss ways to approach the issue from a humanitarian perspective, develop relevant projects in workshop sessions, and learn about the Rotary Foundation’s newest fellowship program, the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. Launched in 2002, this two-year program is aimed at helping the next generation of government officials, diplomats and humanitarian leaders develop the skills needed to reduce the threat of war and violence worldwide.
Up to 60 Rotary World Peace Fellows are selected each year in a globally competitive selection process to earn a master’s degree at one of six Rotary Centers located at leading universities in the UK, the U.S., Japan, Argentina and Australia.
Former peace fellow Miho Kishitani, who received her master’s degree from the University of Bradford in England in 2005, will discuss this innovative study program at the Peace Forum.
“It’s easy to talk about peace in New York or Tokyo, where there is no conflict,” says Kishitani, who now works as a country representative for Peace Winds Japan in Northern Iraq. Managing reconstruction programs focusing on education, social care, health, water and sanitation, she believes that to achieve peace, NGO workers and world leaders must spend time “where people struggle to survive because of a lack of peace.”
For more information, please visit http://istanbul.rotarypeaceforum.org/ or www.rotary.org
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace. Paul P. Harris founded the world’s first service club 1905 in Chicago. Today, 1.2 million men and women belong to nearly 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical regions. In Turkey, 6,987 Rotary volunteers from 233 clubs work on programs to combat issues ranging from illiteracy and poverty to health care and vocational training.