World Reglious Leaders Confront Violence, Advance Peace
World religious leaders concluded their meeting in Japan on August 29th with 800 delegates from more than 100 countries and all major religious traditions endorsing the The Kyoto Declaration on Confronting Violence and Advancing Shared Security.
The declaration calls on people of religious conviction to assume responsibility for confronting violence in their own communities through "shared security."
"At a time when religion is being hijacked by extremists, the religious leaders gathered in Kyoto demonstrate for all the world the power of religious communities to illuminate the path to peace when they work together," said William F. Vendley, secretary general of WCRP. "The Kyoto Declaration offers a new vision of shared security that properly places religious communities at the centre of efforts to confront violence in all its forms."
"As people of religious conviction, we hold the responsibility to confront violence within our own communities whenever religion is misused as a justification or excuse for violence. Religious communities need to express their opposition whenever religion and its sacred principles are distorted in the service of violence," reads the declaration.
Assembly delegates adopted 20 recommendations for religious leaders, governments, international organizations and businesses to address violence and advance "shared security" through advocacy, education and partnerships with religious communities.
Religious leaders from Iraq, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Sudan illustrated the Assembly’s unique capacity to bring together delegates from zones of conflict. "Today, religious leaders from those nations presented statements to the assembly, invoking the positive and necessary role religious communities must play in transforming conflicts and building peace," the declaration noted. "Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish religious leaders from Iraq chose to meet during the assembly after having bypassed UN-sponsored and other established forums for negotiation."
It went on: "Speaking in a single voice through its chosen representative, Sheikh Seyed Saleh Mohammed Saleh Al-Haidari, Imam of the Al-Khelani Mosque in Baghdad and the Iraqi Government's Minister of Shi'ite Religious Affairs, the 13 members of the Iraqi delegation stated: 'We have talked not behind curtains and not behind walls but we have talked like normal people. We have talked with boldness and with courage and with confidence. We are going on this path, God willing, and will reach a green line of good for all of Iraq'."
Delegates at the Kyoto meeting included Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Zoroastrian and Indigenous leaders at the site where the first World Assembly of Religions for Peace took place in 1970. The WCRP is the largest coalition of the world's religious communities.