Kosovo Commission Comes to New Paltz
NEW PALTZ -- SUNY New Paltz will convene a seminar by the Independent International Commission on Kosovo Dec. 7-8 to review the Commission's investigation of the Kosovo conflict and examine recommendations for future peace keeping or peace making operations.
The Commission was the initiative of the Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, who was concerned by the absence of independent analysis of the conflict in Kosovo and any real attempt to research the lessons learned from the conflict. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan endorsed the project and will receive the Commission's final report Oct. 23 in New York.
"This is the report that will provide an independent historical account of the Kosovo conflict," said Roger Bowen, SUNY New Paltz' president. "Gathering the Commission, diplomats, scholars and human rights activists gives us the first opportunity in the United States to use the report to guide our actions in the future."
The two-day seminar will include five of the 11 members of the Commission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone and Carl Tham, the Commission's chair and co-chair, respectively. Goldstone is the chair of South Africa's Commission of Inquiry regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, and later Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Tham is secretary general of the Olof Palme International Center, a joint organization of the Swedish labor movement for international work.
Among the additional invited participants are UN representatives from Europe, reporters actively involved in covering the conflict, leading academics in the field of conflict resolution and representatives from non-government organizations active in the Kosovo region.
The seminar is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Mohonk Consultations. It will be held at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. It is being coordinated by SUNY New Paltz' Institute for International Business.
Bowen says the university intends to leverage the seminar to reestablish the Mohonk Conferences, which were annual meetings at the resort involving dedicated peace advocates representing the business, law, religious, publishing and philanthropy communities. The conferences met from 1895 to 1916.
"During those 21 years, the Mohonk Conferences served as the impetus for several international treaties and arbitration agreements," says Bowen. "This is a perfect forum for addressing the complex realities of international responsibility for intranational issues. Justice Goldstone and the Commission represent the first step by the global community to consider the ramifications of the growing political challenges in our world."
On the first day of the seminar, the Commission will report on its findings and conclusions. Participants will have the opportunity to debate the findings and offer feedback to the Commission, as well as evaluate how the report's recommendations can be implemented.
The second day will be devoted to discussing the lessons from Kosovo as they apply to future intranational conflicts.
While the 100 invited participants engage in debate and discussion, 17 SUNY New Paltz political science students will be in attendance to observe the sessions and participate in the small group discussions in the program.
"They seem very excited about the ability to link their work and research in the classroom to a real world event," said Assistant Professor Kathleen Dowley. Their participation parallels a class research project in which each student is assigned a European country and must draft a position paper detailing that country's views on the Kosovo conflict.
The Commission's final report will be available to the public beginning Oct. 23 on line at http://www.kosovocommission.org.
NOTE TO EDITORS: All sessions of the seminar are open for media coverage. However, participation in this seminar is by invitation only. To arrange coverage, contact Ken Ross at (845) 257-3243.
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