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Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Congress, Bilbao-2005

@Tomokazu Hatakeyama
Different strategies concerning multiculurality

My name is Tomokazu Hatakeyama. I am from Japan and belong to the WCRP Japanese Committee as Acting Secretary General. First of all, let me thank you for inviting me to participate in the International Congress on Intercultural and Inter-religious Dialogue “New Challenges in a World Longing for Peace”.

When I think about the main theme of this congress, I would like to respond to the big subject through introducing our effort to approach to the peace as one example:
Some of you may know the name of WCRP which is World Conference of Religions for Peace. It is a little bit too long to memorize the name, recently New York office started to use the shorten name such as Religions for Peace. It was founded in 1970, as an international multi-religious organization, now the largest coalition of the world’s religious communities, 57 Inter-religious councils which are called IRCs on four continents. Of the world’s six billon people, five billon people identify themselves as members of religious communities. These communities are the largest and best-organized civil instruction in the world, each with its own unique message and meaning. These communities share a commitment to the pursuit of peace and justice and to the well-being of humankind. Religions for Peace harnesses these commitments in concrete action. Our approach is simple, creative and powerful. First, Religions for Peace builds local, national and regional Inter-Religious Councils which are called IRCs to combat some of the most critical problems that confront our world.

Second, we use a method that disclosed large, often hidden or underutilized capacities for action that lie within the reach of religious communities. This method helps religious communities discover for themselves that they have powerful and largely untapped resources and that they are uniquely positioned to resolve conflicts and advance development. By strengthening their capacities, Religions for Peace equips IRCs to mobilize these resources to build peaceful and just societies. When religions unite out of shared moral commitment, divisions once believed insur-mountable can be bridged. Moreover, religions working together can accomplish more than all of them working alone. Religions communities were not originally formed to serve as mediators of conflict, to care for millions of orphans and vulnerable children, or to fill the void of leadership in failed or ineffective states, but when coalitions of tolerant and committed religious leaders come together or take on these challenges, the results are extraordinary. Our powerful network included affiliated IRCs, built on local, national, regional and international levels. The Religions for Peace family included 57 national and 4 regional which are Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America IRCs. Every five years representatives of these IRCs are convened in a World Assembly and elect a senior 40 person inter-national IRC that serves as our International Governing Boards. The Governing Board, International Secretariat and Regional IRCs act the highest levels on urgent issues that transcend national borders. National IRCs work on the front lines of national issues, building lasting connections between religious communities in pursuit of peace, development and equality. Through these efforts, local religious leaders and communities gain powerful allies in rebuilding damaged communities, developing safe environmental and political conditions and protecting children from war and diseases. Moreover, only religious communities provide their members with sacred language from which to draw strength to bear the unbearable and to provide hope when all seems hopeless.

To conclude my presentation, I would like to emphasize the mission of Religions for Peace. It is as followers Religions for Peace harnesses the power of cooperation among religious communities to transform conflict, promote peace and advance sustainable development. Next year, 2006 we will have the 8th World Assembly in Kyoto, Japan under the theme, “Confronting Violence and Advancing Shared Security. Conflict, religious extremism, nuclear proliferation, systematic poverty, gender inequity and environmental degradation and disaster- these are just a few forms of modern violence’s. No group is immune to violence or its consequences and everyone must contribute to the building of shared security. Today, across the globe, Religious leaders and their communities are cooperating on the front lines to resist violence and promote common security. Convening more than 500 senior religious leaders from 80 countries in Kyoto, Japan where the first Assembly was held in 1970, the same place.

Japanese committee will host this Assembly in cooperation with the International Secretariat.

I thank you very much.

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