With Love from Indonesia to the World

The Spirit of Bali

We the participants of the Global Forum, Power of Peace – Building Peace through Communication and Information, Bali January 21-23, 2007 declare our commitment to continue to build mechanisms through which media and information technology can contribute to enhance mutual understanding, further dialogue among peoples and cultures and build peace.

Today’s world holds many challenges to peace: In several quarters of the globe in the last decade, there have been wars, civil wars and increasing domestic ethnic and religious tensions. More than ever we are aware that conflict, whether internal or between nations, is linked directly to poverty, despair, and disenfranchisement and that peace cannot be built without addressing these issues.

Ignorance, prejudices and stereotypes are obstacles to mutual understanding and peaceful dialogue. We recall the text from UNESCO’s Executive Board in April 2006, which formally resolved respect for freedom of expression, sacred beliefs and values, and religious symbols, saying “Dialogue, founded on mutual respect and understanding…constitutes the best way to overcome ignorance and promote peace, tolerance, and the dialogue among civilizations, cultures, peoples and religions”.

Mutual understanding can only be achieved through a continuous exchange of information and knowledge – through the “free flow of ideas by word and image”, as UNESCO’s Constitution puts it. Indeed, this free flow of information is the basis of mutual understanding, which in turn is a sine qua non for eradicating misconceptions about the “other” – one of the root causes of conflict and wars.

If the defenses of peace are to be constructed in the minds of men and women, we do well to recognize that our minds and hearts are increasingly influenced by mass media and new and emerging information tools. And so, in an age of information and communication technologies, we have new opportunity to find the practical ways of using these tools of expression for sharing our diverse lives with an eye to building peace. We have known for a long time the importance of dialogue and the exploitation of communication tools for these purposes, and now we find ourselves in the fortunate position of being able to carry on that dialogue on a global basis more efficiently than ever before. We have the means, motive and opportunity to be everywhere at once.

The Power of Peace Network will contribute to enhance cultural self expression and interaction, inter-faith dialogue, and to bridge the information gap between people in line with the UNESCO convention on Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, which says “Respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue, and cooperation in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are among the best guarantees of international peace and security… Freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.”

We the participants have in the past three days discussed these pertinent issues in an environment that has been open, constructive and respectful – in what we will call the Spirit of Bali and we call on UNESCO to explore the ways forward to create an innovative mechanism to promote peace through media and ICTs. Such a mechanism has to be open, inclusive, participatory and collaborative. It should involve the children and the youth of the world, leave no one out, and help us know better who we are in the world. It should involve the internet as well as film, radio, and television and should utilize all possible delivery systems broadcasting, online, wireless, and by satellite.

by Anand Krishna

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