On 20th November 2015, within the context of the Geneva Peace Week, the Freedom of Religion International Center (FRICE) and Association Miraisme International organized a Forum on Religion and Peacebuilding. The Geneva Centre, represented by Mr. Ricardo Espinosa, Executive Director a. i., was invited to join the discussion.  Among the other panellists were: Mr. Enrique Montes, President of Association Miraisme International; Prof. Kevin Clements, Chair and Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago; Mr. Carlos A. Baena, Former Senator in Colombia and founder of FRICE); Prof. Khinder Domle, Media Director of University of Duhok; Dr. Paolo Lorenzo Gamba, Former Counsellor EU Commission on faith-based organizations; and Dr. Michael Mutzner, Permanent Representative of the World Evangelical Alliance.

The Forum focused on two main themes: 1) religion in peace processes; and 2) religion and respect for the identity of others. Mr. Espinosa took the floor on behalf of the Geneva Centre on the latter, speaking about the role played by religion in forging identities, as well as on the manipulation of beliefs leading to violence and discrimination. He then stated the importance of Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 (2011), entitled Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence against Persons Based on Religion or Belief.

Mr. Espinosa also conveyed to the audience a message on behalf of H. E. Dr. Hanif Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre. “When the idea of religion is exploited for political purposes, faith has to be called into question. It is now time for us to clarify our ideas of faith, and reclaim the position of worship and religion in society, promoting the idea that a believer is someone who holds man and God in his spirit, who suffers equally from the harm inflicted to others, and whose greatest virtue is compassion.” – He stated. “The need for dialogue and for the construction of harmonious societies, founded on a culture of coexistence and respect for the identity of others, is essential today. We, at the Geneva Centre, endeavour to guide our youth, through dialogue and training, towards the ideals of compassion and sympathy, in order to be able to lead harmonious and peaceful communities”.

The Geneva Centre would like to thank the organizers for convening this forum and inviting the Geneva Centre to raise its voice on the matter. Intercultural and interreligious dialogue being at the heart of our work, the Geneva Centre aims to contribute to a culture of peace, respect and non-discrimination.

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