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A. Lahoud: Charting a Peace Course

Excerpts of Address to World Summit on Peace, Seoul, Korea, February 9-13, 2008

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I come to you from a country that has mourned the loss of many repetitious wars and conflicts. You must remember that my country is often covered by the media as a land of fire, steel and blood, a country that suffered the aggressions and greed of others, prompting many to feel that it was Lebanon’s destiny to carry the burdens of the world ruled by one hegemon. And if I stand before you today and convey to you the light of my country, it is to confirm to you that Lebanon’s sufferings are current and to question the inevitability of war as we refuse to accept that “Might makes right.”

Lebanon embraced its destiny very early in antiquity, as a bridge and a message of “dialogue” between civilizations and cultures, as they mutually complemented and enriched each others. As such, my country was never known for the expansionist and aggressive streak of its people; it was never known to build its vestiges on the suffering and destruction of others. And as violence takes a steep turn to the worst worldwide, the people of Lebanon continue to believe in their destiny as bearers of this “message.” I stand before you in testimony of this.

Lebanon conveys, through me, that its message remains that of peace based on justice, equality, freedom and development. In one word, a peace based on “right.” Let our meeting today be a cry in the face of evil and destruction, in the face of all those who evolve and use evil to subjugate and aggress others. Let us seek and protect an “industry of peace,” as we strive to make the language of peace prevalent in the twenty-first century. We are called upon, today and all for our children’s sake, to commit to the principles of openness, tolerance and justice, to brush aside demagoguery and hatred. Let our commitment be to deed and not just to word.

From my small country, immersed in history and heritage and seeking a healthy rise at the dawn of a new age, I look to our host, the Republic of Korea, and I see in its civilization, deeply rooted in history, a clear and firm commitment to peace. And as I look across to all here present esteemed representatives, I see and sense the same resolve: Peace!

As I shout these words, the images of a “resisting” Palestine and those of a torn Iraq haunt and pain me! It is not solely to lament our region, but to cry out loud: Enough wars and suffering! Time has come for peace based on “right” to triumph over domination and hegemony. Our message of peace, coupled with the seeds of peace, will undoubtedly generate a “culture of peace,” where the terms “conqueror and conquered” do not exist.

Can the world even fathom the true extent of death, pain and humiliation suffered by millions? Can one accept the death of a child, hit by a bullet or bomb shrapnel, just because his parents could not access a hospital, and if they did, the hospital lacked the medicine necessary to save him? Can the world imagine the agony of a family as they lose all their youth to despair and death? Peace is life’s triumph over death and despair.

In a “Poet’s Voice,” Lebanon’s great poet-philosopher, Gibran Khalil Gibran, wrote:

“You are my brother, but why are you quarreling with me? Why do you invade my country and try to subjugate me for the sake of pleasing those who are seeking glory and authority?...You are my brother, and I love you; and love is justice with its full intensity and dignity.”

Esteemed gathering:

From the cedar covered peaks of Lebanon, to the astounding “Peace Palace” in South Korea, I salute your faith in peace as the chart of world relations. Our children are the leaders of tomorrow. Our responsibility is to assist them in becoming the leaders of a peaceful and just world. Let us help them implement this chart, for their very existence might depend on it.

Thank you.

Read the Report of the 2008 World Summit on Peace.