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Organization: Bahá’í International Community, Office of Public Information, Paris
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

Yes, we have witnessed a process of progressive elimination of barriers between the peoples, territories and nations. The European Union institutions and other types of regional cooperation mechanisms are perfect illustrations of this gradual process.
We can also testify to the fact that great progress has been achieved in the general mentality and acceptance of principles such as democracy, invalidity of racial superiority, equality of men and women, universal human rights, and the rejection of war between nations as a means of solving conflicts.
After each project and periodically, the BIC Bureau in Paris evaluates the outcome of the activities it coordinates. For instance for the project in the Balkans, the number of participants (trainees) and the ensuing activities were measured and analysed. As to the European Parliament exhibitions, the number of visitors, the number of contacts and the follow-up activities were metrics used to measure the results of this activity.
With regard to measuring progress of our activities, the number of trainees and participants in the different activities described below, the number of children educated in the principles reflecting a culture of peace, the involvement of women in activities, the inter-ethnic and inter-religious activities and cooperation, the progress in upholding human rights and the practice of tolerance and solidarity within and without the community are tangible and measurable indications of progress in this area.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

We consider the major obstacles for the promotion of a culture of peace to be:
- Unbridled nationalism
- Fanaticism
- Individual and national interest taking priority over the collective interest
- Materialistic ideology with its different facets of egotism, loss of values, consumerism, corruption etc.
Given the diversity of activities we engage in, the difficulties that we encounter are equally diverse.  Nevertheless, from an internal point of view, despite the dedication and goodwill of the members of our community, one of the major difficulties we face is the lack of many qualified and capable human resources.  From an external point of view, the greatest difficulty is a modest level of interest by the general public, media and at times by the authorities regarding the activities related to a culture of peace.  Our challenge is to find interested audiences and to enlarge the circle in order to sensitise more people to this vital subject.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

As a whole, the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) has developed, all over the world, a range of activities aimed at overcoming prejudices, upholding human rights, fostering equality between men and women, empowering future generations through education, promoting social, cultural and economic development and thereby promoting a culture of peace.
Despite significant activities at international, national and local levels, only very few of our affiliates have reported their activities in the framework of the Decade. Among those, certain projects of our local branches in Hungary and Russia are described separately in direct response to the questionnaire.  
One of the two activities reported by the BIC-OPI Paris aimed at fostering good neighbourly relations between the warring nations of the Balkans and promoting peace and understanding in the region.
The other activity, an exhibition at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg had the objective of familiarising the MEPs and the staff of this institution with the concrete contributions of the Bahá’í communities in Europe over the last 100 years towards the high ideal of Unity in Diversity, the motto shared between the thousands of Bahá’í communities and the European Union.  
1) The first project entitled ‘Promoting Positive Messages Through the Media’ was implemented within the framework of the Royaumont Process - a process towards stability and good neighbourliness in South-Eastern Europe. The Royaumont Process was launched by the European Union in 1996 and is currently integrated within the Stability Pact for Eastern Europe.  Through this process, the BIC in collaboration with its affiliates conducted the project ‘Promoting Positive Messages through the Media’, which consisted of training a significant number of representatives of the mass-media and non-governmental organisations, as well as educators and actors in the implementation of the ‘The Happy-Hippo Show’.  This concept uses theatrical art and participative methods to transmit positive values.  The project was successfully implemented in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia (FYROM), Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, and particularly developed in Romania.
2) The second project consisted in displaying an exhibition at the European Parliament in Brussels in June 2003 and in Strasbourg in February 2004, mainly addressed to the Members of the European Parliament.  The exhibition which continues to tour other European cities is entitled:  ‘Promoting Unity in Diversity throughout Europe’.  The exhibition is composed of 17 panels and highlights through photographs and texts the contribution of Bahá’í communities and organisations in Europe to social harmony and understanding. In particular, their concrete implication in promoting peace, integration and upholding ethical values and behaviour is shared through concrete examples of programmes and activities.  Titles of the panels include:  ‘An Emerging World Identity’, ‘Collaboration with the United Nations’, ‘The Advancement of Women’ ‘Youth in Action’, ‘Peace and Understanding’, ‘ Inter-Religious Dialogue’, ‘Multicultural Integration’, ‘Education’, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’, ‘Environment and Development’.  Furthermore, two cylindrical displays feature very large photographs of children engaged in artistic activities in celebration of the Decade for a Culture of Peace.  The exhibition was inaugurated in Brussels with an address on "The Ethics of Globalisation" by Professor Suheil Bushrui, who holds the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland, United States.

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

The culture of peace, or its opposite, is transmitted and learnt in the very early stages of our lives. The childhood years are the most crucial ones during which our future attitude and behavior is shaped. If we were to make one suggestion, we would recommend to concentrate the greater part of our efforts during the second half of the Decade on children and youth.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

We believe that partnerships are extremely important in the creation of a culture of peace. These partnerships depend on the nature of our activities. We have in the past developed and will in the future continue to develop ties with international, national and local organizations, of inter-religious, inter-governmental and non-governmental nature. We look forward to intensifying these relationships in the second half of the Decade for a Culture of Peace.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

We shall continue and intensify our activites through education, collaborative projects and concrete projects. We will continue to work in sensitizing our local and national branches, which are involved with projects fostering peace, towards the goals and objectives of the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.
Given that our organisation is decentralised, it is difficult for us to list the new projects planned in the next five years.  Nevertheless, we can underline the 4 main areas upon which we will continue to focus:
- Human Rights
- The Status of Women
- Global Prosperity
- Moral Development

Postal address of organization

45 rue Pergolèse, Paris 75116 FRANCE

E-mail address of organization

opiparis@club-internet.fr

Website address of organization

http://www.bahai.org

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Fostering a culture of peace through education
Promoting respect for all human rights
Ensuring equality between women and men
We feel that these domains are the foundations upon which other domains can be built.

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace


Highest priority country of action (or international)

INTERNATIONAL

Second priority country of action (or international)

INTERNATIONAL
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Organization: Bahá’í International Community, Office of Public Information, Paris

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