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Peace and Security

Conference on Social Epidemics and Effective Responses Held in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russia - The Ambassador Hotel in St. Petersburg was the venue for an international conference on "Social Epidemics: Policies and Effective Responses" Nov. 21-22, 2013. The goal of the conference was to discuss the social, economic, clinical, and psychological problems related to destructive social epidemics as well as effective responses including international cooperation.

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UPF co-organized the conference along with the International Institute for Social Psychotherapy, Russian Psychotherapeutic Association, Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS), International Information Group "Interfax," the St. Petersburg Psychological Society, and other organizations.

In his speech, Dr. Thomas Walsh, President of UPF International, stressed the role of mediating institutions between individuals and the state, especially the role of the family, the social environment, volunteer associations and churches or religious affiliation. These institutions are often taken for granted, but they perform the basic auxiliary function in the development of a healthy society. He also stressed the importance of interreligious cooperation, because religious beliefs provide meaning and value, helping people overcome the sense of alienation.

The special guest of the conference was the famous journalist and broadcaster, the first president of the Russian Television Academy, Vladimir Pozner. He emphasized the role of the media in presenting news to the people and said that the media and society are inseparable. The main responsibility of the media is broadcasting news and presenting objective information to the audience. He also shared his thoughts on the expansion of destructive social epidemics. He emphasized that when people find meaning and fulfillment in life, they will not be influenced by destructive social epidemics.

Among the guests of the conference were Lyudmila Fomicheva, President of the International Information Group "Interfax -Northwest" and Chair of the Association of Journalists in the St. Petersburg region; Michael Platzer, Director of the Vienna office of the Academic Council of the United Nations System; Carolyn Handschin, President of the Women's Federation for World Peace-Europe; Professor A.L. Katkov, Rector of the International Institute for Social Psychotherapy in St. Petersburg and senior regional expert in social epidemics at   the International Union of Psychological Science in Kazakhstan; Peter Haider, Secretary General of UPF-Austria; Alistair Edgar, Executive Director of the Academic Council of the United Nations System and director of the Laurier Center for Disarmament; and Professor A.I. Yurev, member of the Coordinating Council for Social Strategy under the Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly and head of the Political Consulting Laboratory at the State University Faculty of Political Science in St. Petersburg.

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