Excellencies, distinguished colleagues and friends,
At the outset, I would like to thank the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the United Religions Initiative, the Partnership for Global Justice, and the Department of Public Information for organizing this special event, very relevant in today’s times of increasing hubs of civil wars and internal violence.
In a highly globalized world with fast developing social media, these centres of tension and extremism do not remain isolated. They rapidly multiply, drawing into the vortex not just countries but entire continents marked by unrest and civil strife. With heightened emotions, even a simple political or democratic discontent assumes enormous proportions with religious connotations that are incendiary, setting ablaze city squares and stirring populations across a country or region. Before long, militancy and fanaticism take over heightened by myths, stereotypes and falsely justified religious and cultural symbols.
As the expanding process of globalization opens societies to each other and diversifies them internally, the new threats to peace are becoming political, social, economic, cultural, and environmental - manifesting not singly but in complex configurations.
There are examples of peace built on political agreements and mediation by high level religious leaders, parliamentarians and eminent individuals which must continue. Allow me to give you one of such examples. Twenty two years ago, when my country gained independence, the political, legislative, judicial, economic and social policy measures were in close synergy with efforts to build interreligious and interethnic harmony, based on the principles of human dignity and human rights, in a population composed of around 40 world religions and over 100 ethnic communities. Modern day Kazakhstan is proud to have sustained peace and harmony among the representatives of this great number of nationalities living on its territory. Adding to that, according to the recent re-registration of all religious communities in 2011 (under the law “On Religious Activities and Religious Associations”) there were 3,088 religious associations representing 17 denominations. To promote interethnic accord, inclusiveness, equal rights and freedoms of all people of Kazakhstan, comprehensive development of national cultures, languages and traditions of all ethnicities, to form Kazakhstan identity through the consolidation of all ethnic groups living in the country the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan was established.
The Assembly plays crucial role in reflecting interests of all people in the political, social and economic life of Kazakhstan. Assembly nominates a number of representatives of different ethnic minorities to be members of Kazakhstan Parliament and to take part in the lawmaking process.
To learn and to share experience of interfaith and interethnic harmony, in 2003 Kazakhstan organized and convened a Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Since then, country on a triennial basis hosted four Congresses, a forum widely recognized by the international community which has become a true trademark of Kazakhstan and evidence of our efforts in promoting the ideals of peace, harmony, humanism, and religious tolerance - issues that are extremely important and urgent in any country in the World.
At the fourth Congress in 2012, another big step forward was made when the Council of Religious Leaders was established as a multi-format mechanism to support the work of the United Nations, with the task of encouraging a direct dialogue between religious and world leaders.
Kazakhstan, as the first Eurasian Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, and as Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011-12, actively promoted interfaith dialogue on a prominent regional and global stage. The Government has enacted new legislation, revised text books, and instituted government agencies to provide freedom of religious worship and expression. We fully support the programmes of the UN and UNESCO for achieving and promoting tolerance, and the Culture of Peace. Kazakhstan was among first members of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations. At the initiative of Kazakhstan, the General Assembly designated 2010 as the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures, and in 2012 instituted the Decade of the Rapprochement of Cultures which commenced last year.
Dear friends, my country is committed to work with the multilateral platform of the United Nations to bring forward interfaith-based initiatives between different countries and cultures. We will continue to mobilize the already-demonstrated great potential of religious leaders, faith-based organizations and movements to conduct training in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding and reconstruction, as well as for effective delivery of humanitarian relief.
Kazakhstan stands ready to join the multilateral effort to strengthen dialogue which is based on mutual respect and on the recognition of the diversity of the world as a universal value of humankind.