The Russian Federation hosted the ASEM High-Level Conference on Intercultural and Inter-Religious Dialogue from 3-4 July 2014 in St Petersburg. The final declaration addressed the need for inter-religious contacts at all levels, reaffirming the Vientiane message of ASEM partners in 2012.
The High-Level meet went on to express significant concern at all forms of religious intolerance and violence. Terrorist and extremists acts committed under religious slogans were not part of the acts of any established religion, the meet noted. The assembled delegates went on to affirm that the UN Declaration on Human Rights should be observed by all nations, and that the religious values underpinning this declaration lead to building a fair world order.
The delegates went on to say that tolerance in regard to religion, belief, culture, ethnicity and language are critical for social cohesion and sustainable development, and is critical in this time of globalisation and the advance of social networking. The meet called upon the world community to further promote joint efforts in order to achieve the goal of building a world where individuals in their diversity of faiths, religions, beliefs, languages and cultures would co-exist in harmony and enjoy equal rights and mutual respect.
World Interfaith Harmony Week, instituted by the UN in its declaration of October 2010 will become an important element in the development of intercultural dialogue.
Acknowledge that overcoming disunity, strengthening harmony between civilizations, and unlocking the positive potential of the world’s cultural and religious diversity is one of the immediate priorities;
Build upon the support expressed by the leaders of the ASEM partners in Vientiane in November 2012 for the efforts to establish inter-religious contacts at all levels;
Emphasize the significant contribution of the successive ASEM Interfaith Dialogue conferences held in previous years in Bali, Larnaca, Nanjing, Amsterdam, Seoul, Madrid and Manila;
Express our deep concern at the acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief towards individuals, members of religious communities, religious or ethnic minorities, including significant rise of manifestations of xenophobia, race and religious intolerance, as well as contemporary forms of racism;
Strongly condemn terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations, including terrorist and extremist acts committed under religious slogans, reaffirming that all terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and that terrorism cannot and shall not be associated with any religion, nationality or ethnic group;
Reaffirm that the dialogue between civilizations and cultures is facilitated by the norms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other respective international instruments underpinned inter alia by values embraced by religions and beliefs, presenting a universal heritage and a foundation for building fair world order based on equal dialogue and constructive partnership;
Note that globalization brings greater interrelatedness among peoples and increased interaction among cultures and civilizations, underscoring that globalization is an economic, financial and technical process, which offers great benefit but also presents the challenge of preserving and celebrating the rich intellectual and cultural diversity of humankind and of civilizations. In this context strengthening mutual understanding between Asian and European communities and establishing constructive interaction between different cultures and religions gain specific importance;
Underline that mutual understanding and tolerance in regard to religion, belief, culture, ethnicity and language are critical for social cohesion and sustainable development. Direct intercultural and interfaith dialogue can also help to create synergy for achieving these goals;
Call upon the world community to further promote joint efforts in order to achieve the goal of building a world where individuals in their diversity of faiths, religions, beliefs, languages and cultures would co-exist in harmony and enjoy equal rights and mutual respect;
Acknowledge the significant contribution to the cause of developing inter-religious dialogue of the United Nations General Assembly’s 65/5 Resolution adopted in October, 2010, which proclaimed the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs;
Welcome the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the annual Resolution “Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace”, which is to become an important element in the development of intercultural dialogue;
Welcome the successive consensual UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council resolutions on freedom of religion or belief and on combating religious intolerance;
Support initiatives aimed at developing dialogue and partnership between civilizations, including the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations;
Also support the central role played by UNESCO in fostering dialogue and partnership notably through its relevant conventions;
Reaffirm that mutual respect when it comes to cultural and civilizational differences, respect for the principles of universal human rights and rule of law underpinned by core values shared in essence by cultures, religions and beliefs, are a strong foundation for and contribute to international cooperation;
Emphasize that the task of creating favorable climate for constructive interaction between various religions, beliefs and cultures requires joint efforts and dialogue of the State and civil society aimed at strengthening socio-cultural foundation for such cooperation at the level of both States and regions. Moreover, responses to the most acute and dangerous threats and challenges can be found collectively building upon shared values which create a basis for human solidarity;
Highly appreciate the peacemaking potential of the world’s religions and beliefs, and their role in consolidating the basis of social cohesion and sustainable development;
Recognize the role of mass media, including electronic media, in maintaining and developing equal, free, responsible, constructive and respectful intercultural and inter-religious dialogue;
Acknowledge that religious and cultural diversity is an integral element and a cornerstone of a democratic life, underscoring the necessity to protect and promote this diversity;
Stress the importance of developing further genuine partner dialogue on intercultural and inter-religious interaction in various formats within the ASEM framework with a view to creating and maintaining a common platform for ensuring constructive interaction between various cultures, religions and beliefs.
ASEM High-Level Conference on Intercultural and Inter-Religious Dialogue