The proposal to hold a similar event at the UN was announced by the Head of State in his speech at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, as well as at a meeting with Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General during a working visit to Paris in November 2015.
The idea of President of Kazakhstan was supported by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN member-states, leaders of religious confessions and international NGOs.
Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented the position of Kazakhstan at the event.
Opening the discussion, Mogens Lyukketoft, President of the UN General Assembly stressed the high relevance of the theme initiated by Kazakhstan. According to him, a constructive exchange of views of reputed leaders in this area is designed to help ensuring that all world religions have made a substantial contribution to combating terrorism and the ideology of violent extremism.
Nassir Al-Nasser, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations thanked Kazakhstan delegation for taking the initiative and representatives of all religions that have confirmed their commitment to peaceful dialogue and categorical rejection of violent extremism by participating in the debate. According to the diplomat, the most important task today is to “teach young people to accept our differences and see them as an asset, not a source of problems.”
Kazakhstan’s initiative was highly appreciated in the speeches by the president of the international public organization Asia Society; Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia; Abdulhafiz Daud, Minister for Religious Affairs of Jordan; Frank Le Roy, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Abdul Moiz Bokhari, Advisor to the Secretary General of the OIC; the heads of delegations of the UN member-states. Speakers noted that the dialogue between religions must be supported by specific plans and actions involving States.
In turn, Kazakh Foreign Minister in his address to the forum participants stressed that the High-level Dialogue has witnessed “the unanimous response of the UN member-states and religious leaders to call of the President Nursultan Nazarbayev to refute the imaginary link between terrorism and religions.”
“Our goal is that the great religions, sharing common values, could play a key role in bringing together the people and the strengthening of peace in the world” said Idrissov.
According to him, one of the most effective ways to facilitate this process is creating platforms for regular meetings between religious leaders.
“Initiative of Kazakhstan President on convocation of Astana Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, aims to encourage intellectual exchange and personal contacts between representatives of different religions” said the Minister in this connection.
In this regard, Idrissov reminded about the international forum Religions Against Terrorism to be held on May 31, 2016 in Astana. The upcoming event will bring together reputed socio-political and spiritual leaders of the world to develop practical recommendations on mobilizing efforts to counteract criminal ideologies that sow hatred and violence under the guise of religious slogans.
As one of the main directions of strengthening global security, Ye. Idrissov highlighted the fight against the threat of nuclear weapons and the virus war. In this context, the Minister presented the President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Manifesto Peace. XXI Century to the forum participants. He stressed that “a world free of nuclear weapons, which is presented in the Manifesto, it is certainly ambitious, but achievable goal.”
“I appeal to the world religious leaders to support the initiative of President Nazarbayev and take an active part in approaching such a future” said Idrissov.
The high-level debate on Religions for Peace was attended by more than a hundred national delegations, 40 speakers and panelists. Implementation of this initiative of the President of Kazakhstan was another contribution to the promotion of our country in the global platform of the culture of peace and tolerance, countering extremism and terrorism.
In addition, within the Forum, Foreign Minister held a number of working meetings with delegations of the UN regional groups, under which brought to their attention the main ideas of the President Nazarbayev’s anti-war Manifesto, as well as the priorities of Kazakhstan’s bid for non-permanent UN Security Council members on 2017-2018 years.