On the 20th of November 2015, Geneva Peace Week finished with great and important events that gathered together individuals from different organisations. Amongst them can be found the event organised by Asociación Miraismo Internacional and the Freedom of Religion International Centre, the “Religion and Peacebuilding Forum” carried out at the United Nations, Geneva.
The event began with a welcome speech from Mr. Enrique Montes, President of the Asociación Miraísmo Internacional, who said “religious beliefs constitute a driving force of social development, taking into account the individual and collective contribution of religious confessions in everyday life”. After welcoming the panel, he gave way to Professor Clements, Chair and Director of The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin NZ. Visiting professor in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, University of Kent, Canterbury, U.K. Professor Clements delved into the importance of compassion and conditions of equality, opposing "power over others" vs. "power among us."
Next, Mr. Carlos Alberto Baena, former senator of the Republic of Colombia, general pastor of the Church of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International, member of the Freedom of Religion International Centre and great promoter of human rights, explained the post-conflict characteristics of the country and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation in order to achieve true peace. He emphasized the relevant role that religious denominations have in this process and the need to promote equality between faiths as a complement to freedom of religion and worship. (More information: http://frice.org/religion-and-peacebuilding-un-encuentro-por-la-paz/)
Then, Professor Domle, expert in minorities and peacebuilding, and Yazidi activist, gave a brief presentation on the situation of religious minorities in Iraq, explaining the situation of the victims of the conflict who have not only have been attacked but also displaced because of the violence afflicting the country.
Mr. Paolo L. Gamba, a former adviser to the European Commission and former adviser to the Italian government, provided important nuances to the table as the current adviser of religious organizations. His speech invited actors to not just be spectators of the current economic, political and social crisis in Europe today, mentioning that "churches are the soul of Europe," called to build bridges of dialogue to improve the current context.
Being aware of this reality, Mr. Ricardo Espinosa continued with the event’s program. In his speech, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, highlighted the role of religious denominations in promoting harmonious societies, and emphasized dignity and respect for others as basic points for building peace and coexistence.
In charge of closing the event was Mr. Michael Mutzner, WEA Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, who highlighted the important role of religious leaders in building peace, being examples for believers.
The event attracted a large audience of different nationalities. At the end of the interventions of the speakers, members of other organizations, such as the Iuventum Bay International Community, raised questions that deepened discussions on the relationship of peace and religion in the present context.
To conclude the meeting, the Asociación Miraismo Internacional said that the true meaning of religion is peace, and peacebuilding needs presence and interreligious dialogue.