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Interreligious dialogue and multilateral diplomacy

By Ioan Voicu - posted Monday, 30 December 2019

The current world population is 7.8 billion as of December 2019, according to the most recent United Nations estimates.84% are religious adherants.Christianity represents 2.4 billion,Islam 1.9 billion,Hinduism 1.15 billion,Buddhism 521 million,Chinese traditional religions 394 million.To these figures it is necessary to add Secular, Nonreligious, Agnostic/Atheist population representing 1.2 billion.

According to Pew estimates, more than a quarter of the world's countries experienced in recent years a high incidence of conflicts or hostilities motivated by religious intolerance, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of people for violating religious codes.

Under such circumstances it is regrettable that mass-media ignored the adoption by consensus by the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), on December 12, 2019 of a significant resolution entitled Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace initiated by Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation and Thailand.


The content of the resolution was so well negotiated by its initiators that 56 other countries decided to become cosponsors, including Austria, Bangladesh, China, Ecuador, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Peru, Poland, Senegal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.

It is not the purpose of these lines to analyse in detail the substance of this comprehensive document containing a long preamble and 20 operative paragraphs, but mostly to draw attention to some remarkable findings and appeals whose actuality is obvious during the current local, national and global vulnerabilities.We will do that by respecting the terminology and style of the document itself,while focusing mostly on interreligious dialogue as viewed by diplomats in the largest forum of multilateral diplomacy.

Strong calls for action

On behalf of its 193 members, the UNGA recalled in the preamble its earlier resolution of 25 November 1981, by which it proclaimed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,and its resolution of 25 July 2019 on promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech.

The UNGA noted also the growing importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue in the context of the global phenomenon of migration, which increases interaction among persons and communities from various traditions, cultures and religions.

Another relevant resolution of 28 May 2019 is also reminded , in which the UNGA decided to designate 22 August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief,as well as a resolution of 25 July 2019, in which it declared 5 April the International Day of Conscience.


After quoting many eloquent examples on the matter, the UNGA recognized the commitment of all religions to peace and the contribution that interreligious and intercultural dialogue among religions, groups and individuals, in particular religious leaders, can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.

The UNGA noted in the same context two important documents: the Appeal for Peace, signed by religious leaders during the World Day of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi, Italy, on 20 September 2016,and the document entitled "Human fraternity for world peace and living together", which was signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi.

In the operative part of the resolution under consideration the UNGA reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious and intercultural dialogue constitute important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace and calls upon Member States to consider, as appropriate and where applicable, interreligious and intercultural dialogue as an important tool in efforts aimed at achieving peace and social stability and the full realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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