World Scouting urges cooperation on peace-building
Vienna - Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), invited religious leaders to join Scouting's peace building efforts at a forum organised this week by the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna.
"Young people are not trouble makers or victims," Alhendawi said during the discussion involving more than 300 people, including religious leaders. "We should promote dialogue as a goal and not only as a means (to an end). We should find new ways to bring young people into peace building."
World Scouting, the world's largest educational youth Movement, is working with KAICIID on the Dialogue for Peace Programme, which is designed to nurture and strengthen dialogue among young people. A handbook on how to approach such discussions - BUILDING BRIDGES: Guidelines for Dialogue Ambassadors - is being developed to assist National Scouting Organisations on implementing the programme.
At the meeting in Austria, Merete Bilde, an adviser to the European Union, also emphasised the need to focus on conflict prevention and identify people who can act as a bridge between communities to facilitate successful discussion. Khaled Abdelshafi, Director of the Amman Regional Hub at UNDP-Bureau for Arab States, agreed, adding that people should not wait until a crisis to come together.
In his closing remarks KAICIID Board Member and Secretary-General of the National Committee for Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Mohammad Sammak, called for the kind of dialogue to build, "a culture of respecting and accepting differences, freedom of belief and inclusion. These values form the bridge of conviviality."
Scouts throughout the world will be engaging in discussions related to peace and understanding over the coming months. This week, the European Scout Region will hold a study session on spiritual development with different religious networks and organisations, which work on the continent. The Dialogue for Peace Programme will also provide training to Scout Leaders and community members in the Asia Pacific to strengthen our network and promote mutual understanding.