Address  by  Alan  Baker  to  a  conference  in  Istanbul  on  

“Conflict  Mediation  through  Cultural  Diplomacy  in   Current  Areas  of  Conflict”  

Peace  cannot  emanate  only  from  documents  signed  by  leaders  alone,   but  from  mutual  good  faith  and  credibility  among  the  peoples  for   whom  the  agreements  are  signed.   The  UN  resolutions  adopted  with  a  view  to  elaborating  a  culture  of   peace  are  most  important  and  constitute  the  genuine   implementation  of  the  aims  and  purposes  of  the  UN  Charter.  These   resolutions  need  to  be  given  greater  attention.   Regrettably,  other  resolutions  emanating  from  the  UN  General   Assembly  and  other  bodies  are  partisan  and  politically-­‐loaded,  and   are  perceived  to  be  the  face  of  the  UN.  These  resolutions  serve  to   undermine  any  positive,  credible,  and  serious  role  for  the  UN  in  the   Middle  East  peace  process,  and  in  fact  damage  the  capability  of  the   organization  to  play  such  a  role.   In  order  for  cultural  diplomacy  to  succeed,  practically,  it  needs  to   include,  first  and  foremost,  an  acknowledgment  by  political  and   religious  leaders  that  peace,  justice,  and  mutual  respect  are  basic   values  in  all  religions,  as  well  as  central  assumptions  in  international   law  and  diplomacy.   There  must  also  be  an  end  to  negative  public  propaganda.  Media  and   social  networking  should  be  used  to  advocate  mutual  respect,  rather   than  the  opposite.  Furthermore,  there  should  be  acknowledgment  of   the  rights  of  all  indigenous  peoples  to  their  indigenous  lands,   resources,  and  properties.  

  On  May  9,  2013,  Ambassador  Alan  Baker  (Israel)  (at  right)  addressed  a   conference  in  Istanbul,  Turkey,  on  “Conflict  Mediation  through  Cultural   Diplomacy  in  Current  Areas  of  Conflict.”   Over  the  past  30  years  I  have  been  a  participant  in  virtually  all  Track  I   peace  negotiations  with  Egypt,  Jordan,  Lebanon,  Syria  and  the   Palestinians,  involved  in  negotiating  and  drafting  peace-­‐process   documents  –  peace  treaties,  interim  agreements,  and  the  rest.   Peace  cannot  emanate  only  from  documents  signed  by  leaders  alone,   but  from  mutual  good  faith  and  credibility  among  the  peoples  for  whom   the  agreements  are  signed.   All  the  Middle  East  peace  negotiations  have,  from  the  start,  always   aimed  at  neighborly,  mutually  respectful,  “people-­‐to-­‐people”   relationships,  and  each  agreement  includes  appropriate  provisions  on   mutual  respect  of  religious  beliefs  that  can  serve  as  guidance  to  others.   Our  agreements  include  provisions  for  free  access  and  respect  for  holy   sites,  respect  for  and  upkeep  of  graves  and  memorials  for  fallen  soldiers,   and  respect  for  religious  beliefs  and  practices.  

The  UN  Role  
The  aims  of  this  conference  were  set  out  in  the  preliminary   documentation,  including  the  “Mideast  Peace  Process  Berlin  Initiative.”   The  UN  resolutions  adopted  with  a  view  to  elaborating  a  culture  of   peace,  as  listed  in  the  Berlin  Initiative  document,  are  most  important  

and  constitute  the  genuine  implementation  of  the  aims  and  purposes  of   the  UN  Charter  as  set  out  in  its  first  two  articles.  These  resolutions  need   to  be  given  greater  attention,  visibility,  ongoing  review,  and   accentuation.   These  resolutions  include,  inter  alia:    Promoting  Religious  and  Cultural  Understanding,  Harmony  and   Cooperation  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution  58/128)    Elimination  of  All  Forms  of  Religious  Intolerance  (UN  General   Assembly  resolution  59/199)    UN  Millennium  Declaration:  Principles  of  the  UN  Year  of  Dialogue   among  Civilizations  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution  53/22)    Culture  of  Peace  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution  53/243)    Dialogue  among  Civilizations  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution  56/6)    Madrid  Declaration  (December  2000)    Decade  for  a  Culture  of  Peace  and  Non-­‐Violence  for  the  Children  of   the  World  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution  53/25)    Protection  of  Religious  Sites  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution   55/254)    Interreligious  Dialogue  and  Cooperation  for  Peace  (UN  General   Assembly  resolution  60/L.4)    Promotion  of  Interreligious  Dialogue  (UN  General  Assembly   resolution  59/23)    Rights  of  Indigenous  People  (UN  General  Assembly  resolution   61/295)   Regrettably,  other  resolutions  emanating  from  the  UN  General  Assembly   and  other  bodies  are  partisan  and  politically-­‐loaded  resolutions  that   constitute  the  brunt  of  its  work  and  attract  the  public  attention,  and  are   perceived  to  be  the  face  of  the  UN.  These  resolutions,  in  addition  to   overshadowing  the  above  important  resolutions,  also  serve  to   undermine  any  positive,  credible,  and  serious  role  for  the  UN  in  the   Middle  East  peace  process,  and  in  fact  damage  the  capability  of  the   organization  to  play  such  a  role.  

Such  General  Assembly  activity  in  fact  is  unrelated  to  much  of  the   positive  activity  on  the  culture  of  peace.  Examples  of  this  are  numerous   resolutions  calling  for  total  removal  of  Israel’s  presence  in  the  West   Bank  areas  of  Judea  and  Samaria,  in  total  denial  of  the  indigenous  rights   of  the  Jewish  people  to  their  lands  and  properties.  

The  “Arab  Spring”  
Any  of  the  hoped-­‐for  new  developments  in  the  Arab  world  that  could   have  benefited  from  cultural  diplomacy  have  regrettably  given  way  to   an  increased  lack  of  stability  across  the  region  as  well  as  in  the   individual  countries.  How  could  any  agreement  involving  transfer  of   territory  be  seriously  contemplated,  when  faced  with  the  lack  of   stability  and  the  likelihood  that  an  Arab  government  or  leadership  could   fall  or  be  removed  within  months  or  even  days?  

The  Conflict  in  the  Middle  East  
The  Israel-­‐Palestinian  issue  is  but  one  item  in  a  wave  of  instability   throughout  the  entire  region,  and  not,  as  widely  held  and  described  in   the  Berlin  Initiative  document,  the  major  cause  of  regional  instability.   The  crisis  in  Syria,  and  the  situation  in  Egypt,  Yemen,  Libya  and  other   flashpoints  have  absolutely  no  linkage  to  the  Israel-­‐Palestinian  issue,   and  any  attempt  to  attribute  to  Israel  responsibility  for  other  conflicts  is   misguided.   The  potential  for  a  peaceful  diplomatic  and  cultural  solution  between   Israel  and  the  Palestinians  already  exists  in  the  various  agreements   already  reached  between  the  two  sides  that  are  still  valid,  and  can  serve   as  an  example  to  others.  This  is  not  the  case  with  the  other  points  of   conflict.  

Cultural  Diplomacy  and  the  Aims  of  This   Conference  
The  goal  of  this  conference,  as  set  out  in  the  Berlin  Initiative  document,   is  to  “define  Track  III  Cultural  Diplomacy  and  its  relevance  to  the  Middle   East  peace  process  and  its  importance  as  a  model  for  conflicts  around  

the  globe,”  and  the  “search  for  common  values  and  principles  in  the   arenas  of  religion,  law  and  education  among  the  conflicting  parties  to   the  dispute”  –  this  is  indeed  the  crux  of  what  cultural  diplomacy  must   do.   In  order  for  it  to  succeed,  practically,  it  needs  to  include  a  compilation  of   those  elements  covered  in  the  various  UN  resolutions  listed  above  on   aspects  of  cultural  diplomacy,  including:   1. First  and  foremost,  and  as  an  appropriate  sign  to  the  general  public,   an  acknowledgment  by  political  and  religious  leaders  that  peace,   justice,  and  mutual  respect  are  basic  values  in  all  religions,  as  well  as   central  assumptions  in  international  law  and  diplomacy.  Negative   public  pronouncements  against  other  peoples  and  religions  by   religious  and  lay  personalities  and  leaders  must  end.   2. Mutual,  reciprocal  acceptance  and  respect  by  each  religion  of  the   others,  whether  Christian,  Muslim,  Jewish,  Bahai  or  any  other.   3. Ongoing  spiritual  and  practical  dialogue  among  religious  leaders,   clergy,  and  lay  leaders  to  establish  common  principles  and  interests   among  their  communities.   4. Ending  religious  incitement  and  hatred  through  appropriate   guidelines  for  religious  leaders,  clergy  and  other  religious  staff,  such   that  all  places  of  worship  of  all  religions  become  centers  for  positive   and  constructive  religious  interaction  and  tolerance,  rather  than   centers  for  hatred  and  incitement  of  the  masses.   5. Educational  programs  geared  to  home,  kindergarten,  school  and   college,  towards  mutual  respect  and  acceptance.   6. Ending  negative  public  propaganda.  Use  of  media  and  social   networking  to  advocate  mutual  respect,  rather  than  the  opposite.   7. Acknowledgment  of  the  rights  of  all  indigenous  peoples  to  their   indigenous  lands,  resources,  and  properties.   8. Enabling  unfettered  religious  and  cultural  tourism  and  visiting  holy   sites.   Conclusion  

These  must  be  the  components  of  any  practical  and  viable  road  map  for   cultural  diplomacy  and  peace.  They  all  emanate  from  UN  General   Assembly  resolutions  on  the  culture  of  peace.  This  compilation  needs  to   be  expanded  at  future  meetings  with  practical  measures  to  attain   positive  results.  As  a  Track  I  negotiator  I’ll  be  happy  to  lend  my  hand   and  assist  in  this  endeavor.