On the 22nd of February, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS) hosted His Excellency Mr. Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al-Nasr, President of the United Nations General Assembly at its sixty-sixth session and former United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, in a lecture entitled, "A Year at the Head of the United Nations in Mediation and Peacebuilding". The lecture, moderated by Professor Sultan Barakat, Founding Director of CHS, comes at a time of continued regional involvement in conflict and a broader need for peaceful conflict resolution – and new ways to conceptualize pathways for peace.
The lecture contributes to CHS' goals to bridge the worlds of theory and practice in order to develop effective policies to resolving conflicts and crises, and also advances CHS' commitment to collaboration by engaging the expertise of a diverse range of individuals.
The event witnessed the attendance of notable former and serving diplomats and civil servants – including H.E. Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani, the former Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar; H.E. Abdullah bin Eid Al-Sulaiti, Director of the Office of His Highness the Deputy Amir; and Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham, the President of Qatar University – along with eager students, acclaimed scholars, journalists, and other interested individuals.
Following Professor Barakat's introductory remarks, H.E. Mr. Al-Nasr began his address by congratulating CHS for its ability to keep abreast with other international think tanks of reputable and international status. He then provided a background on the conditions that led to the emergence of the U.N. following the first World War and the U.N.'s role in boosting international security and promoting international cooperation to resolve political, economic, environmental, and cultural issues around the world today. H.E. noted that Qatar's non-permanent membership of the U.N. General Assembly's sixty-sixth session marks the country's highest achievements in international diplomacy. He shed light onto the session's central preoccupations from 2011-2012, which included the Arab Spring. He outlined the four pillars that undergirded his presidency of the sixty-sixth U.N. General Assembly from 2011 to 2012 to promote mediation, being: the peaceful settlement of disputes; reforming and reviving the U.N. institution to adapt better to emerging challenges of the 21st century; conflict and disaster prevention, particularly in light of growing instability and worsening environmental challenges; and promoting sustainable development and global prosperity. He then delved deeper into some of his unique experiences and accomplishments as President of the United Nations General Assembly between 2011-2012, including his leadership in conferring the Libya seat to a new administration, denouncing the grave human rights violations of the Syrian government, and in preserving the importance of the Somalia file on the U.N. Security Council's agenda.
After the public address, Professor Barakat engaged H.E. in an extended discussion on reasons behind the U.N.'s inability to reform itself, H.E.'s retrospective views on the U.N. Security Council's 2011 decisions in Libya, and the Arab world's responsibility towards refugees. H.E. Mr. Al-Nasr spoke of his vision to secure the stability of the region through enhanced cooperation in regional bodies, such as the G.C.C. or the Arab League. He discussed the importance of interfaith dialogue between different nations, citing his experience during the height of 9/11, where he witnessed the unprecedented support that the Emir of Qatar showed to the victims of the tragedy. He placed particular importance on the role of religious leaders and community actors to shape their societies and promote collaboration and acceptance.
H.E. Mr. Al-Nasr then entertained questions from the audience on a variety of issues, including his experience as the U.N. High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and his views on the U.N.'s inability to prevent bloodshed in Syria and other contexts, including Georgia, since 2011. In response to the rise of military conflicts, H.E. expressed his fear of rising hate and bigotry in the region, which he argues inevitably leads to war. He noted the challenge of social media inciting such inflammatory sentiments that exacerbate divisions and conflict.
Overall, the lecture highlighted the importance of engaging actively with the U.N. to enhance its abilities to promote peace and uphold human rights around the world to suit our changing contexts, in order to realize the visions that inspired its very establishment.
The conversation will be made available to watch on our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel.