28 June 2018, GENEVA - The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, in collaboration with the International Catholic Migration Commission, the World Council of Churches, the Arab Thought Forum, the World Council of Religious Leaders, Bridges to Common Ground and the European Centre for Peace and Development organised a World Conference entitled "Religions, Creeds and Value System: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights" that was held on the 25 June 2018 at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Conference was held under the Patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and welcomed more than 35 world-renowned religious, political and lay leaders from the major regions of the world.
In his opening address, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, expressed his support for the valuable work that distinguishes this initiative by the UAE, which is consistent with the UAE's approach based on solid foundations, including the respect for religions and beliefs, the development of growing relations with different cultures, and its continuous pursuit of communication, friendship and love among people.
Sheikh Nahyan added that this initiative is a pioneering step to combat all forms of extremism and at the same time seeks to enhance national cohesion and accept diversity among cultures and nationalities.
He also shed lights on the UAE's efforts to spread and promote a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence principles as the country is home of more than 200 nationalities.
The Minister indicated that the UAE seeks to do so in the whole world given its support for the initiative of the centre.
Sheikh Nahyan said that the international community should adopt this initiative as a common basis for promoting these noble human values at the global level, especially within the framework of the United Nations, based on its lofty goals of promoting and maintaining world peace.
Chairman of the Board of Management of the Centre, and conference host, Dr. Hanif Al Qassim, underlined the topical character of the theme of the Conference to bring out the common space of world religions within which equal citizenship rights could be made to prosper free from discrimination whether based on gender, ethnicity, disability, creed or any other God-given specificity. He denounced the misuse of such specificity for purposes of exclusion which undermines national unity and stand in the way of the recognition of global citizenship.
Moderating the opening session, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Centre, referred to the « magic of Karakorum » an ancient city of present Mongolia where, 9 centuries ago, run jointly by monthly meetings of Buddhists, Christians and Saracens, the latter taken to mean Jews as well as Muslims so close and inter-related were the traditions of these two Semitic people that they were confused as one. None of these groups attempted to impose its rules on the others.
All deliberated on the same basis, the "Yasa", the Mongol Code of Dignity. Dignity for all, he emphasised, is the very objective of the conference on religions and equal citizenship rights. Jazairy suggested International Geneva could become the standard-bearer for the "Karakorum magic."
Ali bin Al Sayed Abdulrahman Al Hashimi, Advisor on Judicial and Religious Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs, was among the high-level distinguished panel speakers at the World Conference.
In his statement, Al Hashimi noted that constructive dialogue between religions, creeds and value systems formed the basis for the protection of human rights, and constituted a perquisite for maintaining requirements needed for furthering common interests in today’s world.
He remarked that this contributed to the entrenching of mutual respect and shared values between religions, so as to address distorted interpretations of religions that give rise to misinterpretations.
The speaker underlined that "differences and diversity are a cultural reality, while being a sign of God’s creation of mankind and humanity", as Islam grants considerable importance to constructive dialogue between different parties based on values of mutual respect, logical argumentation and forgiveness. This has been the case since the early call to Islam.
The speaker added that the contemporary approach derived from Islamic values is embodied in the UAE since its establishment, led under the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who passed down this legacy to his successors.
Furthermore, the speaker noted that "our collective participation in this World Conference has an amplified impact on the international community in various ways with regard to the respect of freedom of belief". He also referred to the Islamic Constitution of Medina, also known as the ‘Charter of Medina’, which stood as a platform for freedom, justice, and cooperation ultimately leading to mutual acquaintance.
Al Hashim concluded his statement by emphasising the Islamic message expressed by the Prophet’s Hadeeth: "Those who are merciful, will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the Earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you."
About the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue
The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, 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. Its aim is to act as a platform for dialogue between a variety of stakeholders involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The World Conference outcome declaration can be downloaded below:
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