Unofficial translation of the text of the speech delivered by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the opening of the 140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Doha on Saturday.
In the Name of God the Most Merciful,
the Most Compassionate
HE Ms Gabriela Cuevas Barron,
President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
HE Mr Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
HE Representative of the United Nations Secretary General,
HE Speaker of the Shura Council Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud
Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
At the outset, I would like to welcome you and express our happiness at the convening of the 140th Session of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and its related meetings here in Doha, and to wish you a pleasant stay in Qatar.
On this occasion, I am pleased to congratulate your Union on the successful completion of its 130th anniversary, and on the significant role it has played in strengthening parliamentary institutions throughout the world.
What raises the interest of the public opinion in your meetings is that their agenda is full of important topics that are directly related to the worries of the human beings and peoples’ lives. We commend your choice of the theme: "Parliaments as platforms for promoting education for peace, security and the rule of law" to be the focal point of discussions in your general debates at this session. The principles and objectives included in this focal point are the goals pursued by all mankind.
Education in our time has become a social right that has turned into an integral part of human rights, and has been included in the goal 4 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Investing in quality education is one of the most important elements of building the economy, advancing societies, and achieving growth and prosperity. But ignorance is one of the most important obstacles to peoples’ growth and renaissance. It also stokes intolerance and racism, and facilitates the dissemination of preconceived notions against the different other.
If we are talking about the challenges emanating from sustainable development, peace or the rule of law, we would find that education is at the forefront of the tried-and-trusted solutions to these challenges. Because of our conviction that quality education is important in the building and development of our societies, our attention here in our country has been steered towards the citizen for being both the objective and the means of development simultaneously. Our circle of interest has expanded to include our regional and global surroundings, because we believe that our security, stability and prosperity are linked to the stability, security and prosperity of other nations.
In this context, Qatar has paid special attention to international co-operation in the field of education and provided development support to some developing countries in various regions of the world, as well as international organisations operating in this field. Our country has also launched numerous initiatives in the field of supporting and promoting education in collaboration with national and global partners such as the initiatives: "Educate a Child ", the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), and other initiatives.
In Arab countries, educated youth led popular movements in demand for dignity, justice and freedom, which they summed up in the saying "decent living". They proved that they were cultured and civilised in their demands and movements, when they were allowed the opportunity for peaceful activity in some Arab countries. These experiences prove that the regimes which had denied them the freedom of expression and opportunities for peaceful activity bear a basic responsibility for the deterioration of the situation into violence.
People generally prefer gradual reform to risking major revolutionary shocks, but peaceful change depends on the existence of ruling elites who understand peoples’ demands, without facing them with the theories of conspiracy and forcible suppression, and lead the reform and change process.
The spread of education and the rise of its level contribute to the enhancement of the rational view of such matters.
On the other hand, we must note that if education is not based on a tolerant human vision that embraces universal and national open values, it may turn up into a tool for spreading ignorance. And if it is not integrated into a comprehensive development plan, it may also produce hordes of unemployed people who create a breeding ground for desperation and extremism, especially when the prospect of change and reform is deadlocked.
You will also discuss the rule of law. It is difficult to find a state or a contemporary organisation that publicly rejects the idea of the rule of law within the state. Without it, there will be no justice of any kind, and the two antitheses of the rule of law are chaos, on the one hand, and tyranny on the other. They are actually two sides of the same coin. Tyranny means the prevalence of arbitrariness as in the case of chaos.
We all know that there is no justice without the supremacy of law, but, regrettably, many believe in the rule of law without justice. This is one of the most important sources of policies that subject the law to only serve the regime or the interests of a particular group in the society, and constitute a source of a feeling of injustice and consequently troubles and instability.
At the regional and global levels, the danger of the receding role of international law in the relations between the states is on the rise as there is a tendency towards giving priority to the supremacy of power over it, with the relegation of international law and international legality to a weapon of the weak only. It does not help them much vis-a-vis the veto of the powerful members at the Security Council, or in granting an international cover to those who perpetrate aggression against others, human rights violators and those who annex the territories of others by force. An example of this is the recognition by the major superpower in this world of the de facto annexation of Jerusalem and the official annexation of the Golan by Israel.
Everyone knows that these procedures go against the international law and legitimacy and the principles of justice. But who does compel states to abide by the international law? There is no legal jurisprudential answer to this question. The superpowers must understand particularly that their power is not only the privilege of their own, but it also imposes duties on them, the foremost of which is assistance in the implementation of international law. Their leaders should not get dragged into politics of force. The leaders of other countries must realize that there is no alternative to dialogue and understanding among them on the basis of respect for international law. The alternative is enduring disputes and permanent conflicts, and continuing struggle of the oppressed which is rife with sacrifices for justice where injustice and occupation prevail.
There are hot issues in our region where local factors are no longer crucial, as in cases like Syria, Libya and Yemen, although I cannot exonerate regimes and local forces of the underlying responsibility for their outbreak, yet, the international or even the regional intervention under international cover is outweighing the role of these regimes and local factors at this stage.
If regional countries and major powers had acted responsibly and pushed towards peaceful change and political solutions, they would have saved much of the pain and suffering incurred by these peoples.
Each of us has his views and opinions, but there are many common challenges that face all of us, including environment, climate, poverty, armed conflicts, extremism, terrorism, and recently the problem of cybersecurity and individual privacy intrusion. To counter them, we assume a minimum level of commitment to the human values that we share.
The nature of regimes is diverse, but in today's world we all belong to one humanity, and the difference of our regimes does not exempt us from being committed to issues such as human rights. Their respect should not be confined to one regime over the other. All religions reject the practice of torture, arbitrary detention and disrespect of human dignity. These values have become enshrined in the international covenants, and it is not admissible for any regime to evade them under the pretext of difference.
God has created us in this world different to get acquainted and not to quarrel, to integrate not to clash, and concerning this God Almighty says: (O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you). This integration explains to us that a human being cannot live isolated from society, because that is completely contrary to the norms of life. This also applies to societies in our contemporary world, where isolationism is not an option.
Just as we co-operate in trade, industry, export and import of technology, we must also co-operate in combating environmental pollution and taking precautions against technology risks and the culture of consumerism. Meanwhile, it is better for the economies of the developed countries to co-operate in promoting peace and resolving crises rather than benefiting from conflicts through arms sales. Just as we co-operate in fighting terrorism, we must co-operate in combating the causes of extremism and addressing its causes. Experience proves over and over again that extremism is not confined to one civilisation than the other, nor to the adherents of a specific religion than the other, and that every generalisation of this kind is nothing but an utter racism.
And the war on terrorism should not mean fighting armed extremism of only one colour, while we see that there are extremist terrorist forces and movements that are not on the agendas of this war in which we all partake in.
The problem is not in the principle of differences but choosing a path of antagonism and hostility instead of healthy difference. Difference is indicative of health and wellness if it leads to dialogue.
Parliamentary diplomacy is of greater importance in promoting dialogue for peaceful settlement of disputes, even for conflicts that are thought by some to be insoluble. I therefore invite you to take the subject of parliamentary diplomacy very seriously.
The State of Qatar - by grace of God and with the presence of the State’s developmental vision and combined efforts of its citizens and residents - witnesses a development boom in various fields and not just in education. Early this year Qatar has ranked first in the index of countries achieving economic growth in the region, and accomplished a number of mega projects in the industry, transport, infrastructure and construction sector, especially those underway to host the 2022 World Cup, which we hope will be an occasion for brotherhood and rapprochement among peoples. I hope that your schedule will allow you to take a break to see some of these projects and achievements.
Thank you and I wish your meetings are successful.
Wa, Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
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