09 February 2018, GENEVA – During a panel intervention at the 3rd annual dialogue in commemoration of the 2018 World Interfaith Harmony Week - organized by UNITAR and the Permanent Mission of Jordan to UN Geneva on 9 February at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) – the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (hereinafter “the Geneva Centre”) Ambassador Idriss Jazairy appealed to decision-makers and religious leaders to “find appropriate ways to denounce and bring an end to practices that hinder equal citizenship rights in their societies.”
The Geneva Centre’s Executive Director said the proliferation of political crises and conflicts in the Arab region and the West alike affect all religious groups through deepening animosities which could “beget intolerance or even hatred.” He warned against the instrumentalisation of violence and the unscrupulous misuse of religion as a pretext for exclusion, discrimination and violence.
“The conclusion we can draw is that violent extremism targets people indiscriminately regardless of religious affiliation or beliefs. No one is immune from the vicious and heinous ideologies of violent extremist groups regardless of geographical location. Populism itself can metastasise into exclusion and violence. It is for these reasons that joint action is needed – more than ever – to address the root-causes of intolerance,” stated Ambassador Jazairy in his intervention.
The best way to achieve peace and address intolerance – he said – is to “harness the power of all religions, creeds and value-systems to promote and enhance equal citizenship rights. In other words, equal citizenship rights is another name for peace.”
In his intervention, Ambassador Jazairy likewise praised the initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan to spread messages of interfaith harmony through UN General Assembly Resolution No. 65.5 to celebrate an Interfaith Harmony Week at the beginning of February every year.
Taking great inspiration from this initiative, Ambassador Jazairy informed the audience that the Geneva Centre will organize a World Conference on the theme of “Religions, Creeds and/or Other Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights” at UNOG in June 2018. The Geneva Centre’s Executive Director said the World Conference and the World Interfaith Harmony Week are key building blocks to “lay the foundation for social cohesion and the promotion of inclusive societies.”
These initiatives – he said – will give greater substance and “prominence to identifying an all-encompassing model of citizenship rights that responds to citizens’ aspiration to a sense of belonging which will foster their unity in diversity.”
“Let us join our forces to counter discrimination and address the root-causes of intolerance worldwide. Where there is a will, there is a way,” concluded Ambassador Jazairy in his intervention.
The debate gathered numerous high-level speakers from around the world including the Permanent Representatives to UN Geneva from Jordan (H. E. Ambassador Saja Majali), Sri Lanka (H .E. Ambassador Ravinatha P. Aryasinha), Singapore (H. E. Ambassador Kok Jwee Foo), Azerbaijan (H. E. Ambassador Vaqif Sadiqov), the Deputy Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (H. E. Aissata Kane) and the Permanent Observers of the Holy See (H. E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic) and the Sovereign Order of Malta (H. E. Ambassador Marie-Thérèse Pictet-Althann).
The President of the American University Institute for Public Policy and former Ambassador of Ecuador to UN Geneva (H. E. Ambassador Luis Gallegos) delivered the closing remarks, whereas the Director of the United Nations Library at Geneva (Mr. Francesco Pisano) gave the welcoming remarks. The Programme Director of UNITAR moderated the panel debate (Mr. Alex Mejia).
In addition to the joint co-sponsorship of UNITAR and the Permanent Mission of Jordan, the debate was supported by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the United Nations Christian Association and the Permanent Observer Missions of the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta.
About the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue:
The Geneva Centre, an organization with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is a think tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights through cross-cultural, religious and civilizational dialogue between the Global North and Global South, and through training of the upcoming generations of stakeholders in the Arab region. The Centre works towards a value-driven human rights system, steering clear of politicization and building bridges between different narratives thereon of the Global North and of the Global South. Its aim is to act as a platform for dialogue between a variety of stakeholders involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.
For more information, please visit http://www.gchragd.org/
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