October 21, 2014
Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, the Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the United Nations, spoke at Wilkes University on “Conventional and Emerging Peace and Security Challenges in Africa, Middle East and South-East Asia”. Prior to the lecture, Ambassador Gokcen spoke with a group of international students at a round-table discussion of the current state of affairs in the Middle East and the impact of ISIL on the foreign affairs of countries such as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and United Arab Emirates.
Speaking to the audience of about 140 students and the public later, Ambassador Gokcen discussed security challenges facing Africa, Middle East and South-East Asia posed by Islamist extremist groups such as al-Qeada and ISIL. He also discussed the role of religious tolerance and ethnic co-existence as means of promoting and ensuring peace. Ambassador Gokcen was introduced by Wilkes University Provost and Senior Vice-President Anne Skleder who remarked that these types of lectures and discussions fulfill the exact purpose of a university, that of dialogue between different viewpoints. Additionally, Ambassador Gokcen touched on the importance of women in governance, development, science and technology. He also highlighted a new OIC Initiative on Reconciliation and Coexistence support. In closing, Ambassador Gokcen discussed how the challenges of security and peace are covered in the media, and urged the audience to digest information presented to them from multiple sources and not just one outlet that may be telling a story instead of reporting it.
Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen has been at the OIC’s Mission to the UN since 2010 and at the OIC Secretariat in Riyadh from 2005 until his appointment at the UN. Prior to that, he was posted at the Turkish Embassies in Riyadh, Muscat and Damascus and at the European and Middle East Departments of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara.