Astana, October 11, 2023 – Astana hosted the 21st Session of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Religious leaders and their representatives from 23 countries discussed the progress in implementing the Declaration of the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The Session also approved the Development Concept of the Congress for 2023-2033, prepared on the instructions of the Head of State. This round table at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation gathered representatives of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism and other religions, as well as international organizations.
Opening the Session, Maulen Ashimbayev, Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, read out the address of the President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to the Session participants. The Head of State noted that over the two decades, the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions has gas significantly facilitated the interfaith peace and harmony, promoted ideas of tolerance and mutual support, and helped to address major global challenges.
“The platform voices isdeas and proposals aimed at peace-keeping, fostering dialogue and culture of mutual respect and cooperation. In lights of the current difficult international situation, the importance of values such as morality, kindness, and humanism is growing. To overcome the fundamental challenges facing humanity, it is important to develop a new international security system. To that end, we need to join global efforts advocating peace and stability. In contemporary conditions, spiritual leaders can play a major role. I am confident that the world’s religious leaders will work together to contribute to the resolution of global issues facing humanity. These and other important issues will be discussed at today’s Session of the Secretariat. I am confident that the Session will be meaningful and fruitful,” the welcoming address states.
In his remarks, Maulen Ashimbayev, Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Congress, also emphasized the uniqueness of this dialogue platform. He noted that the format of the Congress, as an open and honest interfaith dialogue with the participation of reputable political and public figures, and heads of international organizations, allows us to comprehensively consider pressing issues of global development and to call for the resolution of conflicts and disputes based on mutual respect and understanding. The Speaker also noted the Congress contribution to mitigating a “clash of civilizations” and conflicts on religious grounds. Maulen Ashimbayev emphasized that spiritual and moral values, and culture of tolerance and dialogue, should be the unshakable pillars of the contemporary society. They should underpin the new world order and are reflected in the outcome Declaration of the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
“President of our country Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly that Kazakhstan promotes interreligious and interfaith dialogue as an integral element of a culture of peace and harmony. We are concerned by the actions of provocateurs, who are trying to manipulate the religious beliefs for self-serving purposes. Burning sacred scriptures and insulting religious symbols is vandalism that incites hostility between peoples and religions. Such inadmissible and barbaric actions, as the Head of State noted, have nothing to do with freedom of speech. These values can provide peace and a solid foundation for a new world order. The role of leaders of world and traditional religions in this process is very important,” the Speaker of the Senate stressed.
During the Session, the participants approved the Development Concept of the Congress for 2023-2033, prepared on instructions of the President. The document is aimed at deepening the cooperation of the Congress with UN agencies and other credible international entities to expand the circle of partners and the geography of the forum’s activities.
“The Concept offers an updated vision of the development of our forum for the coming years. The key novelty in the draft Concept is the expansion of the mission of our Congress. World religious leaders, united, could make a significant contribution to overcoming the global problems of the modern world – poverty, inequality, and disintegration. The can contribute to the cessation of wars and conflicts, and spread a culture of dialogue and mutual respect. The Concept outlines the mechanisms for promoting the Congress’ mission at a new stage. It is proposed to introduce the institute of Goodwill Ambassadors of the Congress. It is planned to hold a Forum of Young Religious Leaders. The Concept should lay a clear vector for the dynamic development of our forum for the coming years,” said Maulen Ashimbayev, as he dwelled on the key areas of development of the Congress outlined in the Concept.
Religious leaders noted the special importance of the work of the Kazakhstan Congress during their speeches. The importance of combining the efforts of religious and political leaders to achieve mutual understanding and harmony between religions and cultures was emphasized. The spiritual leaders also focused on the scale of the issues raised within the framework of the Congress aimed at fulfilling the common mission of all participants of the Congress – maintaining peace and interfaith harmony.
In addition, during the meeting, the ceremony of awarding the participants of the Secretariat meeting with state awards of the Republic of Kazakhstan and commemorative medals of the Congress took place. Thus, for his contribution to the formation and development of this dialogue platform, the Order of Dostyk II degree was awarded to the Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus, Sheikh-Ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, and a number of participants were also awarded Shapagat medals and Honorary Medals of the Congress.
Following the meeting, its participants adopted a communique in which its participants noted the successful 20-year activity and the important creative role of the Congress, and also supported the idea of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on the need to create a new global movement for peace in order to build a solid system of international security and overcome acute challenges and problems. In particular, it was noted that a significant step in the practical implementation of this idea is the Initiative on World Unity for Just Peace and Harmony, put forward by Kazakhstan as Chairman of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The meeting participants also decided to hold the next XXII meeting of the Congress Secretariat in autumn 2024 in Astana.
On the same day, a solemn ceremony was held to extinguish the anniversary postage stamp, specially issued on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Issued in a circulation of 10 thousand pieces, it will be added to the philatelic catalogs of the world.