WLCU Holds 17th World Congress, Evaluates Bi-annual Performance, Elects New Officers and Adopts Resolutions
Mexico City — Delegates representing over 150 World Lebanese Cultural Union chapters from around the globe, gathered in Mexico City in late March to hold 17th World Congress of WLCU.
Representatives from United States and Canada, Latin America, Brazil, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia and New Zealand, converged in Mexico’s capital at the “Centro Libanes” to evaluate past two years’ performance; to review and update the by-laws of this unique Lebanese global structure; and to chart the course for the following two years and beyond by adopting resolutions on future educational and cultural activities.
The 17th World Congress elected WLCU World Council and Mr. Michel Doueihi as World President for a single term of two years; and six deputies were designated: Antonio Arida (Latin America), Antonio Shahin (Brazil), Elias Kassab (North America), Saiid Yazbeck (Europe), Najib Khoury (Africa) and Joe Arida (Australia and New Zealand).
George Abi Raad was elected as Head of the trustees’ board, Edward Nahas as vice Head, Dimas Shantiri as Head of the world council for youth, and Toni Kaddissi appointed as WLCU Secretary General, and Joseph Hage as Deputy World Secretary General.
During the conference, WLCU personnel briefed the attendees on the expatriation policy adopted in the past two years, the general secretariat’s achievements and the financial report
The World Secretary General Dr Nick Kahwaji presented his report that highlighted the achievement of WLCU secretariat in unifying the logo and the email address; issuing a new ID CARD; in making the four regional bylaws in multiples languages; in forming successful association with Notre Dame University (Beirut); signing the Memorandum of Understanding between the WLCU and the Lebanese Emigration research centre; establishing a relationship with the Simon Fraser University (British Columbia, Canada) for joint cultural activities with WLCU. The WLCU Delegates learned first-hand the important role of the Secretariat General in promoting the WLCU role on the international level as an NGO associated with the DPI of the UN and the initiation of the work action, and the accomplishment of the accreditation with the ECOSOC council of the UN.
The Delegates were also informed on the role of the Phoenician International Research Centre, and the celebration of the 2,600 years of the circumnavigation of Phoenician navy around Africa and other continents.
He concluded his report with a Chinese proverb: “if you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you are planning for 20 years, grow trees. If you are planning for centuries, grow men.”… This is why we chose a title to the 17th world congress: “Building the Leaders…Building the Union”.
A cultural report was presented by Mr. Antoine Ghanem on the achievement of the cultural committee, and the celebration of the Lebanese emigrant heritage through the erection of the landmark statue of the Lebanese emigrant around the world and in many Lebanese cities. The cultural report also focused on the performance of the President of the Board of Trustees Mr. Chakib Rammal, (as an advisor of the President of Ghana). Mr. Rammal was instrumental in the erection of the statue of the Lebanese-Ghanaian friendship ,and recently the placement of the statue picture at the Presidential palace in Accra.
Mr Farid Makarem presented a proposals to give more power to the Board of Trustees, as a juristic board of the WLCU.
Dr Antoine Bou Abboud, Past President Anuar Kuri ,and Past Secretary General Mr Joseph Younes insisted on following the constitution and the importance of understanding the spirit of the union, and the right and the duties of every region.
Attorney Steven Stanton presented a lecture about the constitution : Government by the People for the People or Anarchy by the Few over the Many
The Congress thanked the outgoing World President Mr. Eid Chedrawi (2009-2012), and Dr. Nick Kahwaji, who served as World Secretary General from 2009-2012.
A proposal for a new constitution in line with the UN was approved, and a legal committee was formed, headed by international law expert, Barrister-At-Law Steven Stanton from Australia.
The Congress featured performance reports, and dynamic speakers with insightful proposals designed to gear up this Lebanese Diasporan structure for ground-breaking achievements perpetuating the Lebanese culture and heritage; nurturing the young generation with a strong sense of identity as a unique and autonomous people vying to carry out a universal mission. (More details to follow on the web)
The three-day conference tackled expatriation affairs and resulted in various decisions among which:
– Supporting President Michel Sleiman and his wise policy for guaranteeing stability, in light of the region’s changes.
– Renewing support for the decisions of the Security Council pertaining to Lebanon.
– Re-calling for extending state authority on all Lebanese territories.
– Urging the Lebanese state to set an electoral mechanism for Lebanese expatriates spread around the globe, in preparation for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
– Calling on the Lebanese resident abroad to register their names in the Lebanese embassies and consulates, to facilitate such electoral mechanisms.
– Calling for settling the diplomatic appointments issue to fill the vacancies in different embassies so as to resume their proper work.
– Organizing visits for youth of Lebanese origins to Lebanon in order to maintain their contact with their mother country.
– Encouraging expats to invest in Lebanon and create job opportunities so as to stop intellectuals’ and labor force’s migration.
– Warning expatriates of brokers who attempt to sell Lebanese territories to foreigners.
– Urging expats to register their marriages and births in Lebanese embassies to prevent losing their Lebanese citizenship. Calling on those who have already lost their ID cards to present all documents required so as to recuperate them.
Among the key resolutions adopted by the 17th World Congress was a resolution calling for the “Revival of Worldwide Commemoration of May 6, 1916 Martyrs Day of Lebanon.”
The proposal was greeted with strong applauds of approval and several delegates moved to second the motion to adopt the proposed resolution on “Revival of Worldwide Commemoration of May 6, 1916 Martyrs Day of Lebanon.” The resolution was approved by unanimous vote.
After electing the Union’s new board, Doueihi thanked all WLCU members for trusting him with this responsibility, pledging to follow the steps of those who have paved before him a path of persistence, commitment and loyalty.
He called for working hand in hand with those who believe in Lebanon’s sovereignty, in expatriates’ right to vote, and in Lebanon’s conviviality and democracy.
“We as Union ought to preserve our identity and history,” he announced, calling for “building to our children and grandchildren an independent country of which they feel utterly proud.”