International Conference:  Which Values Unite Us Today, March 10-12, 2016, Grand Hotel Balkan. Sofia, Bulgaria

Published by Public Policy Institute on

На 11 и 12 март 2016 година в София, българската фондация Институт за Публична Политика и швейцарската асоциация Женевски Духовен Апел организираха и проведоха международна конференция под патронажа на ЮНЕСКО „Кои ценности ни обединяват днес?“. Конференцията събра духовни лидери, интелектуалци, политици, общественици, дипломати от Европа, Азия, Африка, Америка, представители на различни култури, обществени системи, религии, идеологии, исторически традиции. Целта на конференцията беше да предостави на участниците възможността в един откровен разговор да се осмислят и дискутират въпросите и темите за ценностите в съвременния свят: кои ценности ни обединяват и кои ни разделят; ценности или само материални интереси определят човешкото поведение днес; могат ли споделените ценности да разрешат кризите на настоящия живот – икономически, финансови, екологични, политически, военни, хуманитарни; допринасят ли за разбирането, защитата и разпространението на ценностите институциите на образованието, културата и медиите; каква е ролята на религиите за утвърждаване на мира и развитието.

Конференцията очерта своеобразен дневен ред и харта на ценностите в 21 век, а организаторите и участниците се консолидираха около идеята за превръщането й в постоянен и редовен форум за обсъждане на ценностите в глобалния свят.

Opening session


Thursday, March 10, 2016

12:00 – 22:00 Arrival 

  • Arrival of participants
  • Bilateral meetings
  • Interviews with media

Friday, March 11, 2016

09:00 – 09:30


09:30 – 10:45  

Opening and Official Addresses

  • Dr. Zdravko Popov, President, Public Policy Institute. Sofia, Bulgaria
  • HE Dr Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO, Patron of the Conference. Paris France  
  • HE Dr  Anies Baswedan, Minister of Education and Culture, Republic of Indonesia
  • Prof. Dr Anastas Gerdjikov, Rector of Sofia University “St Kliment of Ohrid”, Bulgaria
  • Hon. Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize 1996, Former President & Prime-Minister of Timor Leste.  Dili, Timor Leste (recorded address)
  • Hon.Dr Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize 2001, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006), President of the Kofi Annan Foundation. Geneva, Switzerland (recorded address)
  • Rev. Dr William McComish, Hon. President, Geneva Spiritual Appeal. Geneva, Switzerland
  • Congratulatory letters from:  the President of the Republic, The Chair of the Parliament, the Prime-Minister, Bulgarian Red Cross, the National Ombudsman

Moderated by the Co-Chairs of the Conference:

Zdravko Popov, President, Public Policy Institute. Sofia, Bulgaria

Ventzeslav Sabev, Vice-President, Geneva Spiritual Appeal. Geneva, Switzerland

10:45 – 11:00

Values With Music

11:00 – 13:00

Panel 1:  Values and Crises

  • Prof. Dr Mohammed Shahrour, Scientist, Writer and Philosopher. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • His Imperial Highness Georg von Habsburg, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Hungary. Budapest, Hungary
  • Dr Olga Zinovieva, Head of International Alexandre Zinoviev Research Centre, Lomonosov, Moscow State University, Co-Chair of Zinoviev Club IIA “Rossia Segodnya.”  Moscow, Russia. “The Values we are losing”.
  • Dr.rer.pol.,Dr.h.c Horst Mahr, Chairman, Gesellschaft für Aussenpolitik. Munich, Germany, “European Values Endangered”
  • Rumiana Decheva – President of European Association for Defence of Human Rights-Bulgaria – “Each Conflict in Its Own Right – People and Values at Stake”

Moderator: Dr Zdravko Popov, President, Public Policy Institute. Sofia, Bulgaria

14:30 – 16:00

Panel 2:  Values and Society

Developing and Integrating Values in Society Today: the role of education, media, business, civil society, arts, culture, and other vehicles

Prof. Michel Veuthey, Vice-President, International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Deputy Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the United Nations. Geneva, Switzerland

Hermien Kleden, Chief-Editor, Tempo English. Jakarta, Indonesia

Alain Dick, Board Member, Operation Smile Foundation, Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation. Geneva, Switzerland

Prof. Antony Todorov, Professor of Political Sciences, New Bulgarian University. Sofia Bulgaria. “Universal and Particular Values”

Moderator: Ventzeslav Sabev, Vice-President, Geneva Spiritual Appeal. Geneva, Switzerland

16:00 – 16:30

Coffee break

16:30 – 18:00

Panel 3:  Freedom and Security

Ensuring Human Security and Prosperity Through Values: Recommendations for effective implementation of sustainable value-based programs  

Dr Hafid Abbas, Vice-Chairman, Commission on Human Rights. Jakarta, Indonesia

Prof. Nicolas Offenstadt, University Paris I La Sorbonne. Paris, France

Prof. Arpad von Lazar, Chair of Council, the Perlmutter Institute, Brandeis Business

School, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the Fletcher School of Law and

Diplomacy at Tufts University. Medford, Massachusetts

Dr Theodora Dimova, Writer and playwright. Sofia, Bulgaria

Dr Elena Mustakova-Possard, Lecturer, Educational & Organizational Leader. Virginia, USA

Moderator: Dr Elena Mustakova-Possard

20:00 to 23:00

Gala Dinner:  Special Addresses  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Military Club. Sofia, Bulgaria

Panel 4:  Values, Religion and Human Security

09:00 – 09:30


09:30 – 10:00

Welcome addresses

  • Prof. Ivan Jelev, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Dr Birali Birali, Deputy Grand-Mufti, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Dr Rupen Krikorian, President, National Council of Religious Communities in Bulgaria. Sofia. Bulgaria

10:00 – 11:30

Keynote Presentations:

  • Prof. Dr Mohammed Shahrour, Scientist, Writer and Philosopher. Abu Dhabi, UAE

“Values Against Violence and Radicalization”

  • Prof. Dr Nicolas Offenstadt, University Paris I La Sorbonne. Paris, France

“Values, Narratives, and Power through history”

11:30 – 12:00

Coffee Break

12:00 – 13:30

Panel Discussion:

  • Rev. Dr William McComish, Hon. President, Geneva Spiritual Appeal. Switzerland
  • Father Dr Ioan Sauca, Associate General-Secretary, World Council of Churches, Director, Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Dr Birali Birali, Deputy Grand-Mufti, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Dr. Jeffrey Newman, Rabbi of London, England
  • Prof. Dr Alexander Omarchevski, Dean, Faculty of Theology, Sofia University. Bulgaria
  • Prof. Dr Ivan Jelev. Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Pastor Hristo Kulichev, Evangelical Church. Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Final Statement and Conclusions

ModeratorsVentzeslav Sabev, Vice-President, Geneva Spiritual Appeal. Geneva, Switzerland and Dr Dimiter Gancev, Journalist, Radio Vatican. Rome, Italy

First Panel

Second Panel

Round Table

Uniting Values Conference Declaration

The Uniting Values International Conference affirms and carries forward the vision of The Earth Charter, as the largest global values consensus, that a sustainable global society can only be achieved on a sound foundation of shared values.

The Conference explores values that can unite people across religious and political boundaries, as well as in education, business, art and culture, and in civil society.

The Conference raises the principle of justice as a central value which encompasses a wide range of important values, essential to the resolution of our current global crises. Justice is central to the freedom and security of societies, and of global humanity.

Justice, as a central value of governance across the six social domains listed above, ensures the social, psychological, economic, and environmental survival of the global community. It protects the courage of dialogue, collaboration, and empathic solidarity.

The principle of justice, when applied to religious and spiritual frameworks, implies that the purpose of these worldviews is to bind hearts to the Creative Force of all Life, and therefore to also bind hearts together (the Latin word religare means “to tie, to bind”).

The ultimate purpose of spiritual worldviews is to uplift the human soul and to connect the souls of humanity into a just and harmonious human family. Hence, spiritual leaders are responsible not to allow their interpretations to contradict the true purpose of spirituality and religion – to bring life and light to hearts, to encourage people to study wisdom perspectives, and to cultivate nobility and fellowship. The founders of every religion appeared in the human world as physicians; they gave prescriptions for the healing of humankind; thus, any remedy that causes the disease of disunity does not come from the Supreme Physician.

Similarly, political leaders are responsible not to exploit human fears, but to model a mindful and genuine commitment to justice in human affairs; to discourage prejudice, and to resolve disputes to through genuine and mutually respectful dialogue.

All peoples have a fundamental need for truth. Truth is one and cannot be divided – rather, it has to be discovered through dialogue and consultation.

When differences appear to exist among the nations, they are the result of particularities of attachment. Bringing a spirit of justice and discernment in collectively exploring such attachments, can overcome prejudice and create common ground.

When people search out truth, they find themselves united.

On behalf of the Uniting Values International Conference,

Sofia Bulgaria, March 11-12, 2016