The pivotal question of whether great crimes against humanity should be forgiven is to be addressed at a special State of the World Forum conference in Vienna next March.
SWF says the conference has been called because events in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Burundi have shown that despite World War II and the unique horror of the holocaust, which the world vowed never to forget, the specter of ethnic cleansing continues to haunt the human community.
"There is no greater challenge before us than to establish the moral certitude and political institutions necessary to prevent future genocide," the Forum said in a conference preview.
The conference will focus principally on the Holocaust, in the light of recent archival information now available in former communist states; the Vatican statement on the Holocaust; the controversy surrounding Swiss banks and assets deposited by Jews for safekeeping; the banks' role in transactions with the Nazis involving looted gold and other looted assets; and other restitution issues pertaining to slave labor and Jewish property.
The conference, to be held from March 21-24, will also consider other experiences where genocide, massive criminality, justice, reconciliation and forgiveness have been experienced through different cultural and historical filters.
The March meeting will be followed by a full Forum meeting in Belfast and Dublin from May 4-9, 1999.
That conference, with a theme of 'Diversity and Community in a Global Context: Learning from Europe', is designed to "take full advantage of the knowledge and experience Europeans can provide on the challenges and pitfalls they have encountered in their quest to unite diverse peoples in peace, dignity and prosperity," the preview said.
In addition to one day of the conference taking place in Dublin, participants will have the opportunity to visit reconciliation projects throughout Northern Ireland and see first hand the support provided by the European Union and the International Fund for Ireland.
Speakers and participants will be drawn from around the world, but especially from western, central and eastern Europe.
A third State of the World Forum conference, organized by and for youth, will be held January 28-30, 1999 at Monterrey, Mexico.
The conference is being held in conjunction with the Instituto Technologico Y De Estudios Superiores De Monterrey student government. Under the theme of `Civic Participation: Building the New Millennium.' www.worldforum-mty.org, the conference aims to produce a document with a series of resolutions and propositions concerning the issues raised at the meeting.