Religious Leaders Can Help Bring about World Peace

PRESIDENT KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV: ‘In this atmosphere of tension and increasing geopolitical turbulences, it is vitally important to develop new approaches to strengthening inter-civilizational dialogue and trust.’ Credit: Office of the President
  • Opinion by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (new york)
  • Inter Press Service

In this atmosphere of tension and increasing geopolitical turbulences, it is vitally important to develop new approaches to strengthening inter-civilizational dialogue and trust.

Diplomacy is, undoubtedly, key to facilitating cooperation. Kazakhstan has always supported settling disputes at the UN Charter’s negotiating table. Our country has consistently promoted principles aimed at achieving lasting peace, security, and sustainable progress across the world.

Despite best efforts, conflicts remain ubiquitous in many regions of the world.

To build a new system of international security, the world requires a new global movement for peace. I think the role of religious leadership will be essential here. Around 85% of people in the world identify with a particular religion. This makes it an important factor in our daily lives. Religious leaders have therefore a major influence on world affairs. I am convinced that these principles can form the basis of a new world system. As a result, I am convinced that these principles can form the basis of a new world system.

Pope Francis delivering his inaugural keynote speech at the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Kazakh capital on September 14. Credit: Katsuhiro Asagiri, INPS Japan President

How can this work in practice?

Firstly, religious leaders can contribute to healing the wounds of hatred following an enduring conflict. Syria is an example. Kazakhstan is pleased that the hostilities in Syria have almost ended. We are happy to have played a role in this by participating in the Astana Process, which has since 2017 enabled negotiations between representatives of the Syrian Government, the Opposition, Turkey, Iran and Russia. Spiritual leaders can play an important role in healing Syrian society through the power of religion.

Secondly, human nature is contradictory. Provocations and hatred will always exist. In recent years, there have been several incidents of burning the holy Quran, which is a negative trend that undermines the culture of peace, tolerance and mutual respect. In this regard, the targeted communication of religious leaders in preventing such situations and trends is crucial.

Thirdly, new technologies are radically changing all spheres of human life. Most of these changes are positive, such as improved healthcare, access to unlimited information online and the ease of travel and communication. At the same time, we observe how societies are being fragmented and polarized under the influence of digital technology.

In the new digital reality, it is also necessary to cultivate spiritual values and moral guidelines. Religion has a key role to play here, too, as all faiths are based on humanistic ideals, recognition of the supreme value of human life, and the aspiration for peace and creation.

These fundamental principles should be embodied not only in the spiritual sphere, but also in the socioeconomic development of countries and international politics.

Without reliance on humanistic ideals and ethics, the rapid scientific-technological revolution can lead humanity astray. We are already witnessing such debates with the advent of general artificial intelligence.

Ultimately, moral authority and the word of spiritual leaders is crucial today.

That is why I am proud that for 20 years, Kazakhstan has been hosting the triennial Congress of Religious Leaders. Established in 2003 in direct response to the rise in interfaith disagreements and extremism following the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States, the Congress has strengthened interfaith dialogue by bringing together religious leaders.

It has enabled meaningful dialogue on ways to combine efforts to promote better understanding between representatives of different cultures and religious communities.

Prior to becoming the president of Kazakhstan in 2019, I had the honor to serve as head of the Secretariat of the Congress.

I observed how the Congress promoted tolerance and mutual respect in contrast to hatred and extremism.

Last year, our country held the Seventh Congress of Religious Leaders. The Seventh Congress of Religious Leaders was held in Kazakhstan last year. It brought together delegations from more than 50 countries. They included representatives of Islam and Christianity as well as Judaism. Shintoism. Buddhism, Zoroastrianism. Hinduism. It was an honor to welcome Pope Francis. This is the second visit of the head the Catholic Church in Kazakhstan after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Kazakhstan in 2000. I believe it made a significant contribution to Kazakhstan’s success in forging a stable and harmonious society from a population made up of more than 100 ethnic groups and 18 confessions that live in peace in our country today.

Through its commitment to religious tolerance and human rights, Kazakhstan sets an example for the world, showcasing the importance of interfaith dialogue in creating a more peaceful and harmonious global society.

As the world continues to be embroiled in political uncertainty, a bridge of rapprochement between cultures and civilizations is required more than ever. I am determined to ensure that Kazakhstan facilitates global dialogue between religions and nations, including through the work of the Congress of Religious Leaders, thus contributing to mutual understanding and respect in societies.

The writer is the president of Kazakhstan.

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Original source: Inter Press Service

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