A Discussion with Mohamed Sahnoun, Chairman of the Caux Forum on Human Security – The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs

And the Caux Forum? What is your assessment of what has been achieved and what should come next?

The Forum has done excellent work. It is approaching a profound analysis of the diversity and complex dimensions of human insecurity. The establishment of the five categories of human security issues is an important accomplishment. We see them clearly in the five pillars around which this year’s forum is organized: Healing Memory, thus overcoming the mistrust created by the wounds of history, Just Governance, to work for integrity, transparency and justice worldwide; Living Sustainably, which calls us to move towards greener economies and lifestyles; Inclusive Economics, to create a global economy that benefits everyone, and Intercultural Dialogue, that works for peace and physical security. We also see, powerfully, the need to work on them jointly, both as the different issues, and the different communities which tend to give priority to one or another. That joint intellectual and practical effort is above all what has been missing.

Why did you see Caux as the place where this dialogue should take place? How did you come to know Caux and Initiatives of Change?[Note: Initiatives of Change after World War II acquired the large Beaux-Arts Hotel in Caux, a village perched high above Lake Geneva.]

Caux is a place where interreligious dialogue is well and deeply established. I had heard about Caux from friends over many years, Algerians and others. I had also heard about Moral Rearmament (as the organization used to be called, before it became Initiatives of Change). Caux was a place, I had heard, where Muslims, Christians, Jews, and people of other religions could come together and negotiate, a safe place where people could build trust in one another. It has played a useful role in many settings, and I hope with this Human Security forum that we can continue the tradition.

But still more, organizing this Human Security Forum here, and now, gives us a chance and offers a way to make people understand what we really mean by human security. So often the understanding of security has been purely focused on physical security – that is what comes to mind. That is especially true for your people [Americans], and perhaps most of all the US military. But human security includes far more. It is about the very fundamentals of our existence. So first we must press to understand: what are the root causes? That is where the five categories on which the Forum has focused have emerged.

I place a special emphasis on healing wounded memories, because that is something that has played such an important role in conflicts in many places: Algeria and Northern Ireland for example. The feelings there, the product of long conflicts and pain and violence, run so deep that a special effort is called for to heal. That is also true in the Balkans, Japan, Korea, Africa, and many other places. We need more ideas on what we should do to heal.


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