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Peace Education

International Seminar on Peace and Leadership in Benin

Cotonou, Benin - Dignitaries from all walks of life and Ambassadors for Peace from West Africa converged in the capital of Benin for an international seminar on peace and leadership May 29-31, 2009.

The event was organized by the Universal Peace Federation of West Africa under the high patronage of the Constitutional Court of Benin, the Ministry of Family and National Solidarity, and the Ministry in Charge of Relations with Institutions. Participants also attended the commemoration of the 7th International Day of the Peace Keeping Forces of the United Nations and the Artisans of Peace 2009.

The three-day seminar on the theme “Towards a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for Peace in the 21st Century” aimed at strengthening the operational, ethical, and intellectual capacities of leaders of the various sectors of society in West Africa and promoted a new paradigm of leadership, good governance, and a culture of peace in this time of global crisis.

First Day

The event, which was held at the Centre International des Conferences, began on May 29, at 10:00 am with a general orientation given by the host, Rev. Paterne Zinsou, chairman of UPF-West Africa Sub Region 1. Given the current world problems, economic meltdown, family breakdown and divorce, conflict within and among nations, poverty, and global climate change, the world needs a new perspective and a new approach to solving these many problems facing humanity. "I hope that through this seminar we can arm ourselves with tools to confront these common challenges,” he declared.

In addition to 32 participants from Benin, people came from Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo for the event.

The event was opened by H.E. Chief Ambassador Segun Olusola, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Universal Peace Federation of Nigeria. He was representing the former President of Nigeria Republic, H.E. Chief Ernest Shonekan, at the event. The message of the President of the Constitutional Court of Benin was read by the Former Minister H.E. Pascal Chabi Kao, the Special Adviser of UPF-Benin. The Minister of Family and National Solidarity, H.E. Mamatou Meba Bio Djossou, gave the Keynote Remarks.

The opening ceremony was honored by the presence of the Great Chancellor of Order of Benin, who encouraged all participants to take the opportunity provided by this conference to make a difference in their areas of professionalism in order to build a world of peace desired by all. Then the Minister of Family and National Solidarity spoke about the core role of the family in the establishment of peace.

The first session, titled “The Necessity of a New Paradigm of Leadership,” was presented by Rev. Adama Doumbia, Chairman of UPF-West Africa Sub Region 2. The moderator of this session was His Majesty William Hope Azombakin, King of Come City in Benin, who allowed time for discussion and questions from the participants.

The second session, presented also by Rev. Doumbia and entitled “The Vision of Peace: One Family under God,” caught the interest of the participants, who listened attentively throughout the presentation. The presenter took the audience through the scriptures of the world’s major religions pointing out the importance of the family to world peace, stating that if world peace is to be achieved it will begin from the family.

The last session of the first day was presented by Rev. George Ogurie, the International Relief Friendship Foundation Coordinator for West Africa, under the title “The Culture of Service and Benevolence.” He enumerated how his organization, which is affiliated with the UPF, is reuniting communities and families that were ravaged and divided by communal and religious conflict in Jos, Northern Nigeria, as well as providing character and moral education for youth from the Niger Delta Region of the country. He concluded his presentation by saying that "whether in regards to leadership, work, money, or the environment, the governing ethical principles of building a society of peace are to (1) live for the benefit of others, (2) serve the greater good, and (3) care for others with a parental heart. True love is the motive for service and giving to others.”

At 8:30 pm all participants converged at the Vivo Room of the Benin Marina Hotel Cotonou for a dinner to commemorate the 7th International Day of Peace Keeping Forces of the United Nations in recognition of the peace keeping efforts of many individuals and institutions. This event was followed by awards to such institutions.

Second Day

The second day began with a presentation by Rev. Zinsou entitled “Leaders and Good Governance for Peace in a World in Crisis." In his presentation, he stressed the need for inner maturity as a criterion for leadership rather than intellectual ability alone. He challenged Ambassadors for Peace to strive to be true leaders, true teachers, and true parents in their respective positions in society. He urged the audience to think of God when making decisions regarding their life and their family and when making policies for their organizations and nations.

The second session, which was moderated by Professor Noel Dossou–Yovo, was entitled “The Cause and the Origin of Conflicts.” It focused on human relationships, ethics, morality, and the origins of the difficulties people face. At the end of the session, all the participants agreed that the content challenged their previous understanding.

The last presentation of the second day was given by the Secretary General of UPF-Togo, Rev. Sedofia Dieudonne Kagni. In his presentation he focused on the path to raising a good family that can contribute to the realization of world peace, since good families are the building blocks of a peaceful nation.

Time for questions and answers followed the hour-long discussions and showed that the content of the presentations was important to everyone present.

The second day ended with a video about the life the UPF Founder.

Third Day

A presentation was given by Rev. Doumbia entitled, “The Family as the School of Love for World Peace.” He defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and not between a man and a man or a woman and a woman and that a family is comprised of a father, a mother, and children. He further reminded the audience of the four kinds of love (love of children, brothers and sisters, husband and wife, and parents) that we all must strive to embrace as a tool for realizing a peaceful family and society.

The last presentation, given by Rev. Zinsou, described the UPF Agenda for 2009 to 2013 and was entitled "Global Perspectives for Peace."

The three days came to a close in a colorful ceremony that include cutting a cake and a group photograph. Participants were grateful for the content of the conference and expressed hope that more leaders and government representatives can attend future events. From this seminar, they gained a clearer understanding of the mission of Ambassadors for Peace and insights into their responsibilities to society.

International Day of UN Peace Keeping Forces

UPF organized a Commemoration of the 7th International Day of the Peace Keeping Forces of the United Nations and the Artisans of Peace 2009 that took place on May 29 at the Army Headquarters in Benin. It brought together various Heads of the Army and top leaders of the Army, who were all appointed Ambassador for Peace. About 300 military personnel  participated in the event that opened with an interreligious prayer. Rev. Paterne Zinsou presided over this conference, which took place while the International Seminar for Peace Leadership was taking place.

The evening event featured presentations of songs and music that delighted the audience. All participants converged at the Vivo Room of the Benin Marina Hotel Cotonou for a dinner to commemorate the peace keeping efforts of many people and institutions. This event was followed by awards to such institutions. Music was presented by the Army Musical Group. The atmosphere was friendly with Ambassadors for Peace joining in dancing. 

The organizations honored with awards from UPF included the African Refugee Foundation, the National Lottery of Benin, Orifan (an NGO), and the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Benin. Among the newly appointed Ambassadors for Peace was the Ambassador to Benin from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who expressed the full commitment of his country's leaders to work to restore peace to their country.

During the dinner, Colonel Issa Raimi Lawani, the Israeli Consul in Benin and initiator of the Mediation Group for Reconciliation and Peace in the Middle East and the World, spoke in his capacity as Ambassador for Peace. He asked Christians, Muslims, and people of all religions to contribute financially and morally to the efforts for peace in the Middle East, particularly in Israel and Palestine.

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