World Peace Forum 2008 and Interfaith Dailaogue for Peace, Justice and Integrity
INTERFAITH DIALOGUE FOR PEACE, JUSTICE AND INTEGRITY : FUTURE AGENDA FOR COOPERATION
Drs. Habib Chirzin
I- The Interfaith Dialogue New Agenda and Challenge.
In the age of globalized human community and shrinking world, interfaith dialogue and action is no longer just commendable endeavor but a historical necessity. Dialogue is not mere communication of words, but a new way of understanding, thinking and reflecting on the religious belief of others and their meaning. The faith community now have to move further the agenda from inter-religious tolerance to understanding, acceptance, respect , celebration and action. Developing a new initiatives and agenda for cooperation are essential in our age of history.
The interfaith community have been striving for just, peace and sustainable and humane society. The Interreligious Peace Colloquium (IRPC), in their conference held at Lisbon, Portugal, 7-11 November 1977 with the theme “The Changing World Order : Challenge to Our Faith” brought together adherents of the major world faiths who determine policy and make decisions at transnational levels, in the politics and economics, communication and education. Two years ealier in their initial conference in Bellagio, Italy on “The Food-Energy Crisis : Challenge to the World Faiths” in 1975. The Interreligious Peace Colloquium stated five crisis areas :
a- the Energy Crisis,
b- the Food Crisis,
c- The Environmental Interdependence
d- The Use of Resources
e- Technological Interdependence
The same crisis is still accouring after 30 years, in the different scale. The voice of misery across the globe are signs of the world’s leaders and faith community’s failure to address problems and provide alternative solutions to the plight of humanity and to the continuing destruction of the environment. The faith community have a responsibility to the world, to fellow human beings, to fellow creatures to make our earthly common residence a decent, dignified and peaceful one (Darussalam/abode of peace).
II- The Interfaith Dialogue for Life and Humanization
Issues relating interfaith, the dialogue among civilizations , ethnicity and cultural issues will complete in a world where food and energy crisis, ecological insecurity and global absolute poverty will add pressure to the need for development and change. From my personal engagement in the interfaith dialogue and action since 1976 initiated by 1- CCA-URM in Colombo, February 1976 on “the Consultation on Land”; 2- AFSC-SEAQIAR in Bali Sansi Sena Ashram on “The Impact of Development to the Rural Community” in July 1976; 3- ACFOD (Asian Cultural and Religious Forum on Development) : namely with a- INEB ( International Network of Engaged Buddhism – ASulak Sivaraksa), b- YMCA Chiengmai (DR. Vorakit- DR. Bunruem); c- OHD (Office of Human Development of National Bishop Conference of the Philippines – Bishop J X Labayen); d- Sarvodaya (Langka Jatika Sarvodaya Sangamaya – DR AT Aryaratne – DR. LG Hewage); e- Pesantren , KH Hammam Dja’far of Pabelan, Central Java; e- YBAM (Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia – Ng Book Hok, Taiping, Malaysia); f- BRAC (Bangadesh Rural Advancement Committee – Abed) and BAM (Brothers to all Man), Dhaka; NDS (National Development Service – Prasad Regmi) Kathmandu; the dialogue concerned about the responsibility and people of faith’s responses to the development. 4- National Bishop Conference of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro and Recife in 1979 (Arch Bishop Dom Helder Camara and DR. Francisco “Chico” Whitaker ), that by sharing peace culture, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing capacity among faith communities some are helped to move forward in their lives towards the creation of a more peaceful, just and humane society. Each faith community shared a genuine and unique experience in nurturing peace culture and development in their respectives countries and worth to listen and learn.
III- Interfaith Dialogue for Peace : Global Ethic and Peace as Human Rights
Dialogue will call for some basic parameters, ethics and common standards to be achieved. There is a need for a global ethic that transcends and governs interfaith relationships, dialogue and action. In the same time the interfaith community should also promote a human rights standards and mechanism for a common standard of achievement in peace, justice and integrity in the more globalized world. Human rights are conducive to peace, and there is no peace without human rights protection and promotion. Human rights are an indispensable condition for peace, which means that the separate value of peace can not be attained without securing the basic value of human rights. There is a right to peace means that this right is already included in the catalogue of human rights or that it must be immediately included in it. In the national, regional and international protection mechanism as wel as in the standards of interfaith dialogue, communication and action. This right to peace was solemnly proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace on 12 November 1984:
The General Assembly,
Recognizing that the maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each State,
1. Solemnly proclaims that the people of our planet have a sacred right to peace;
2. Solemnly declares that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a funda¬mental obligation of each State.
Ac¬cording to Article 55 of the UN Charter, ‘universal respect for, and the observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms ‘ is in¬strumental in ‘ the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations’.
In its Preamble, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists, in the first place and before reasons related to justice, dignity and worth of the human being, the conviction of the General Assem¬bly that ‘recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the founda¬tion of freedom, justice and peace in the world’. Similar wording appears in the identical first paragraphs of the Preamble of the two International Covenants on Human Rights.
The General Conference of UNESCO has been very fond of language indicating that ‘peace cannot consist solely in the absence of armed conflict but implies principally a process,”, of progress justice and mutual respect among the peoples I …I A peace founded on injustice and violation of human rights cannot last and leads inevitably to violence.
Dialogue and action should be a platform which enables the interfaith community to find ways to work together for the good of the respective religions and their communities, even for the nations, for humanity, and the universe as a whole. The way we conduct and develop the dialogue should stimulate a sense of mutual concern and a spirit of togetherness, a sensitiveness to the need of fellow human being and all creatures (rahmatan lil ‘alamien).
The basic principles of international humanitarian law are formulated in various international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Civil and Political Rights Covenant, which bind all signatory (member) states.
We should be aware of the various documents within which international humanitarian law is enshrined, particularly in countries where laws are not adequate to guarantee the rights and security of its citizens. The following is a list of some of those laws that may be applicable in the protection and promotion of the rights to peace by interfaith community :
a- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
b- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
c- The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
d- The Convention on the Rights of the Child
e- The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women
f- Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or One’s Convictions
g- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
h- Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
i- The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
IV- Strengthening Peace Generation in the Interfaith Community
To each age of history human kind, and faith community, have to give answer to life’s mysteries and challenges; yet they can never consider their answer as absolute and final. They must go beyond boundary of their possibilities in order to find them selves. This is their openness to the future which characterizes their innermost existence on the threshold between the vanishing to day and the newly appearing future. Human kind are creature of hope, peace and justice. And there for we have to develop more deeper, sincerer interfaith dialogue and action for human fulfillment, peace, justice and integrity (Mukhlishina lahuddin, hunafaa).
Young people of different faiths and traditions involved in NGOs and PVOs in different parts of the world, have been able to accomplish an enormous amount of good work because of the advantages they bring to conflict situations in promoting peace culture and development. PSAP (the Center for Religion and Civilization Studies) of Muhammadiyah, have initiated a promising programe of Peace Generation and has launched a Manual Book with 12 Learning Books on Peace Education for the young genartion. This Peace Generation and other NGOs have been actively involving in the peace and conflict resolution training as well as social action. Through humanitarian assistance in food, health and shelter, countless lives have been saved by this kind of activities. Human rights advocacy has prevented repression, torture, detentions and deaths in many countries by the committede youth groups. Communities in post-conflict situations have been assisted towards rehabilitation and economic viability through reconstruction programmes. Many local agencies have acquired conflict resolution skills because of training interventions.
In achieving the peaceful world sustainability the Dialogue among Civilizations being undertaken by the United Nations and related activities among religious and civil societies. With the United Nations declaring year 2001 as the “Year of Dialogue among Civilizations” there have been growing acknowledgement for such noble endeavors. The IYF2008 (International Youth Forum 2008) which is going on in Bandung, Indonesia, from June 23 t0 30, 2008, co-organized by PSAP and IofC (Initiative of Change) Indonesia, is also a great forum for such promotion of the Interfaith Dialogue and Action and also Dialogue among Civilizations, especially among the young generation for their common future.
In Asian countries many local NGOs and PVOs work with internally displaced people (IDPs) during a conflict. Most of the work done at this stage focuses on various aspects of humanitarian assistance and normally includes the provision of shelter (camps), food, medicine, clothing, water and sanitation. Psychosocial response services may be needed as well as the development of coping mechanisms for war-affected people.
In many cases, conflicts are not static and can change in nature very quickly; so the NGOs activities need to be flexible enough to adapt to these changes. Relief work must continue and some pre-emptive reconciliation work can be done in refugee/IDP camps which have a reasonably stable population. Peace Generation together with the different stake holders and it’s networks have been initiating some peace education and development activities. This work include preparation for peace, conflict prevention and sustainable development such as :
1- peace education for the youth and women groups ;
2- the formation of peace groups in the local community ;
3- working with local and traditional leaders (ulama and Pesantrens);
4- building an indigenous capacity for coping with conflict prevention ;
5- strengthening local institutions for conflict resolution and prevention;
6- exploring traditional and culturally appropriate reconciliation mechanisms;
7- collaboration in peace and development programmes of other NGOs and PVOs;
8- developing an effective network of interfaith action for peace and development.
V – Strengthening the Peace Initiatives of World Peace Communities
In conjuction with UN Millennium Summit, On August 28th through 31st of the year 2000, two thousand of the world’s prominent religious and spiritual leaders representing the many faith traditions, gathered at the United Nations for a Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. The summit than established “The World Council of Religious Leaders, as an independent body, works to bring religious resources to support the work of the United Nations in our common quest for peace. WCRL is not an official part of the United Nations, nor does it have any status with the United Nations.”
The establishment of the World Council of Religious Leaders was one of the stated goals of the Millennium World Peace Summit. The objective of this Council is to serve as a resource to the United Nations and its agencies around the world, nation states and other international organizations, offering the collective wisdom and resources of the faith traditions toward the resolution of critical global problems.
Two years later, the launching of the World Council took place in Bangkok on June 12th-14th, 2002, at Buddhamonthon and at UNESCAP. Participants adopted a Charter that outlines key areas in which religious leaders can play an active role in reducing conflict and addressing the critical needs of humankind.
Since than the World Council of Religious Leaders undertake initiatives that will assist the United Nations and its agencies by providing the spiritual resources of the world’s religious traditions in the prevention, resolution and healing of conflicts, and in addressing global social and environmental problems. By promoting the universal human values shared by all religious traditions and by uniting the human community for the creation of a more peaceful, just and sustainable world society. (World Council of Religious Leaders, 2008).
The World Council of Religious Leaders, together with Parliament of the World Religions, WCRP (World Conference on Religion and Peace), Forum on Global Ethics and Religions and other global initiatives, including World Peace Forum (WPF) of the interfaith community for peace should develop a creative and new vision of collaboration to address the global crisis faced the world community to day.
VI- Some Proposed Future Agenda for Cooperation
The interfaith community now need more than ever a Global Forum for Interfaith Action for Peace. We need a forum which can nurture continuing discussion of ideas, beliefs, and visions of the future. An effort must be made to combine action with discussion and we have also to consider joint project and action. Some proposed future agenda for cooperation to be considered by the 2nd World Peace Forum :
1- Interfaith dialogue in more the globalized world faith community should be issue and action-oriented
2- The Interfaith Community should seek major involvement of women and young people in this dialogue for life and humanization
3- The World Peace Forum should strengthen the Peace Generation as it has been initiated by PSAP (Center for Religion and Civilization) of Muhammadiyah.
4- Interfaith dialogue must lead to specific proposals for interfaith cooperation.
5- The World Peace Forum plan a viable 3 (three years) programme : the organizations co-sponsoring this forum might plan and oversee a 3 years program of interfaith dialogue, action, study, action and meet biannually with focus on specific issues and area of concerns.
Jakarta, June 24, 2008
1- Arquiza, Mucha-shim and M Abdus Sabur (ed), “Interfaith Conference on the Culture of Peace”, Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), Bangkok, 2001
2- Chia, Edmud, “Towards a Theology of Dialogue, Schillebecekx’s Method as Bridge between Vatican’s Dominus Iesus and Asia’s FABC Theology”, Doctoral Thesis, the University of Nijmegen, 2003
3- Chirzin, M. Habib, “Social Communication in an Islamic Perspective”, dalam Eilers, Franz Josef (ed) , “Social Communication in Religious Traditions of Asia”, FABC – OSC Books, Vol 7, Manila, 2006
4- Dimitrijevic, Vojin, “Human Rights and Peace”, in Janusz Symonides, “Human Rights : New Dimensions and Challenges”, UNESCO Publishing, Ashgate and Dartmouth, Brookfield, 1998
5- Eilers, Franz Josef, Svd (ed), “Interreligious Dialogue as Communication”, FABC-OSC Books, Volume 6, Logos (Divine Word) Publications, Inc, Manila, 2005
6- Engineer, Asghar Ali, “On Developing Theology of Peace in Islam”, dalam M. Abdus Sabur et al (ed), School of Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation, Asian Resource Foundation (ARF) and Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), Bangkok, 2005
7- Gremillion, Joseph and William Ryan (ed), “World Faith and the New World Order”, Interreligious Peace Colloquium, Washington DC, 1978
8- Internationalis, Caritas, “Working for Reconciliation”, Caritas Internationalis, Vatican City, 1999
9- Kamaruzzaman, Kamar Oniah, “Inter-Faith Dialogue : Moving Forward; Setting Premises and Paradigm”, in Camilleri, Joseph A (ed), “Religion and Culture in Asia Pacific : Violence or Healing”, Pax Christi Australia, Melbourne, 2001
10- Vadassery, Sebastian, “ Religious Dialogue : A Journey of Hope”, in Prajna Vihara, Journal of Philosophy and Religion, Assumption University of Thailand, Vol 5, No 2, Bangkok, July – December, 2004