The 10th World Congress of the World Lebanese Cultural Union (Sao Paolo, Monte Libano Club, 17-18 September 1994)

The 10th World Congress of the World Lebanese Cultural Union

Concluded its agenda.

Antoun, President of the Union, Francis, Secretary General, and Al-Khoury, Assistant Secretary General.

The 10th World Congress of the World Lebanese Cultural Union, which was held between the 17th and 18th of September 1994 at the “Monte Libano” club in Sao Paolo, concluded its agenda after ending its extraordinary conference  on the 16th of September 1994, in which it amended its basic law and internal structure.

                The last day of the congress, Sunday the 18th of September 1994, was an epic day, one that the Union had never witnessed in all its history of international conferences.

                The session started at 10 am and continued uninterrupted till 11 pm. What had begun in the early stages as a stressed atmosphere soon transformed into a session of calm dialogue and multifaceted meetings. The discussions were led by the president and members of the Accord Committee which derived from the Paris conference. The Accord Committee’s president Mr Charles Lutfi played a pivotal role in formulating a fixed solution that united all opposing point of views, especially for the North American and Australian continents, which promised a rebirth for the Union after a long and arduous labour. The following were the main points of the concluding conference:

                Based on an invitation from the Accord Committee derived from the Paris conference, the World Lebanese Cultural Union held its extraordinary world conference on the 16th of September 1994 and its 10th international conference on the 17th and 18th of September 1994 at the “Monte Libano” club in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The conference concluded with the following decisions:

1)      Mr Georges Antoun was elected as the world president to the World Lebanese Cultural Union, Mr Elie Hakmeh alternate representative,

2)       Mr Joseph Francis secretary general,

3)       Dr Khalil Khoury assistant secretary general in Lebanon,

4)      Mr Norman El-Hajj global financial affairs secretary.

5)      The main council was formed as follows:

  1. Brazil – Mr Georges Antoun, alternate representative  Mr Elie Hakmeh.
  2. Africa – Mr Najib Zahr, alternate representative Mr Hasan Hjeij.
  3. North America & Canada – Mr Naji Naim, alternate representative  Mr Ibrahim Saad.
  4. Latin America & the Caribbean – Mr Carlos Ibrahim, alternate representative Mr Iskandar Adm.
  5. Australia and Oceania – Dr Louis Mousa & Attorney Anthony Tarabay.
  6. Europe – Dr Kamil Tawil.

6)      Mr Sami Baghdadi was elected president to the board of trustees,

7)      Mr Ali Saadeh president to the consultative council, and

8)       Mr Antoine Georges Maalouf president to the arbitration committee.

9)      The attendees confirmed the independence of the World Lebanese Cultural Union as stated in the basic law, as well as working on consolidating its unity and transforming it into an active institution.

10)   The aim to provide the necessary dialogue between the expatriates and their institutions with the Lebanese state to achieve Lebanon’s supreme interest as well as that of the Lebanese Diaspora in the world.

11)   The revival of the role of the expatriates in the consolidation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and its democratic system, political and media freedoms as well as the preservation of the independence of justice and equality within the framework of the rights provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

12)   The refusal of the housing and resettlement of the Palestinians in Lebanon.

13)   The request to return the Lebanese citizenship to descendants of Lebanese origin, which is to be done in their country of residence through embassies and consulates.

14)   The request that Lebanese expatriates participate in parliamentary elections from their country of residence.

15)   Revival of the expatriates’ role in Lebanon’s economic life through the encouragement of projects and investments that aim to rebuild Lebanon, and work on bringing Lebanese and expatriated investors to Lebanon where they can efficiently contribute in the country’s economic and productive cycle in a safe and secure manner.

16)   The World Congress agreed only as an exception that Brazil’s presidency duration be for two consecutive years to help the Union’s new program get underway.

17)   The attendees thank the preparatory Accord Committee presided by Mr Charles Lutfi for their efforts to achieve the Union’s unity and make the conference a success.

It is worth noting that the elections for the presidents of the continental committees were also completed with the election of Mr Joseph Hayek as president of the USA’s continental committee with Mr Michel Shmateh as his vice president for the duration of one year, to be succeeded for also a period of one year by Dr Alfred Saad and Mr Edward Nahas as president and vice president respectively. Mr Louis Sukkar was also elected as president to the geographical region of Australia and New Zealand with Dr Ibrahim Costantine as secretary general.

The new president of the World Lebanese Cultural Union Mr George Antoun made a statement in which he said: “I pray that God helps me succeed in this important mission to keep the unity of the Union, its independence and dignity, and the sovereignty, independence and freedom of Lebanon.”

Mr Antoun added: “We turn to everyone asking for their collaboration, for the interest of the Lebanese expatriates around the world and for Lebanon’s ultimate interest. We also hope that we would be able to have complete cooperation with the Ministry of Expatriates, headed by the Minister Rida Wahid, based on the respect of the emigrants’ institutions and their independence.”

Commenting on the results that seem to have pleased all parties and the fact that people are willing to help and serve the Union and the Lebanese Diaspora, the former president Mr Anwar Kuri said: “It is now 45 years that I have been serving the Lebanese Diaspora and 32 years that I am a member of the Union, and I strongly believe that the new organization will improve the Union and give it a new motivation to help it improve in both its image and content.”

He then added: “From today onwards, the Union will have serious conferences that will concentrate on its work instead of such distractions as elections and posts, and those who will come to the conference will know beforehand that there will be a clear program with which they have to abide and work. I have drawn to the beginning of the creation of a Lebanese lobby, through an executive program. Mr Sami Baghdadi who owns many qualifications that allow him to fulfill such a role was elected as president.”

He ended by saying: “The emigrants are Lebanon’s last voices and if we are not up to the challenge and work seriously, with sacrifice without selfishness, then the future of Lebanon is to cease to exist. From here, we should strongly help in the economical battle to transfer part of the Lebanese emigrants’ wealth back into Lebanon on condition that permanent internal stability is ensured, which is one of the main insurances.”

                                                                                        AlSamir, October 1994

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