Freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. They are enshrined in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Interreligious Dialogue supports Human Rights and its Responsibilities by respecting the dignity of all human beings regardless of their religious, ethnical and cultural background, by creating safe spaces for individuals and communities to practice their right to express their own views, as well as committing to the responsibility to listen to other perspectives. By using the Interreligious Dialogue, one mutually from one another as well as to retrieve the common values across religions. Interreligious Dialogue allows us to address together and with all human beings of goodwill the many challenges of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief the world is facing today.
The world today is witnessing continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, including against persons belonging to religious communities and religious minorities around the world, and the number and intensity of such incidents, which are often of a criminal nature and may have international characteristics, are increasing. It is for that reason that in 2019, the General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/73/296, titled “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” strongly condemning continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.
Hosting renown religious and community actors at the panel, the audience will engage in interactive discussion the connection between Dialogue and Freedom of Religion and Belief, the primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights, including the human rights of persons belonging to religious minorities, including their right to exercise their religion or belief freely.
Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski
Professor Emeritus, Catholic Theological Union
Board Member, Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions
Former President, International Council of Christians and Jews
Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski has studied the Nazi Holocaust extensively. His scholarly interests include the theological and ethical aspects of the Christian-Jewish relationship and public ethics. A leading figure in the Christian-Jewish dialogue, he is the former president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and author of Christ in the Light of the Christian Jewish Dialogue and co-editor of Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust.
Dr. Sayyed Jawad Mohammed Taqi Al-Khoei
Secretary-General of the Al-Khoei Institute in Najaf, Iraq
Dr. Sayyed Jawad Mohammed Taqi Al-Khoei is the Secretary-General of the Al-Khoei Institute in Najaf, Iraq, a pioneering centre that combines a traditional Islamic seminary with a contemporary interfaith academy. He was born in December 1980, in Najaf into the family of the spiritual leader for Shia Muslims, Ayatollah Imam Sayyed Abul-Qasim Al-Khoei. Shortly after the murder of his father in 1994, He migrated to Iran in 1994 where he undertook Islamic studies at the Hawza (religious seminary) of Qom, before returning to his hometown of Najaf in 2003 to continue his studies at the Hawza.
He graduated in 2008, with a Bachelor degree from the University for Islamic Studies in London and obtained his Masters degree in Islamic theology from the University of Islamic Studies in Amman in 2010. He completed his PhD in 2017, from the University of Islamic Studies in Amman with a focus on the theological roots of religious violence in Islam.
Sayyed Jawad is a member of a number of theological and religious organisations, which focus on interfaith dialogue and the establishment of closer relationships between faith groups. He is a regular contributor at local and international conferences on interfaith and intrafaith dialogue.
He is also a signatory to the “Common Word” initiative between Muslims and Christians. In 2012, he received the prestigious Peace Prize from the Foundation of Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, presented by Lord Carey and Canon Andrew White at the House of Lords, England. He is also UNESCO Chair for the Development of Interreligious Dialogue Studies at the University of Kufa.
In 2013, Sayyed Jawad along with the Christian and Mandaien communities launched the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue, which is a Baghdad-based national interfaith body in Iraq. He is one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.
Elder Justina Mike Ngwobia
Executive Director, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Movement
Founder Women Peace Builders Network in Nigeria
Co-chair, Women Peace Mentors and Mediators Forum, Nigeria
Elder Justina Mike Ngwobia is a peacebuiding practitioner who has been working in the field of interfaith relations for over 15 years. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in social work and administration. Her passion for Christian-Muslim harmony and dialogue grew when she moved to the northern part of Nigeria and discovered that the incessant crisis in that part of the world was the result of political manipulation: people were using the different religious groups for their own selfish gain, leading to violent conflicts. Her motivation grew when she visited people living in rural communities and saw how people were suffering and struggling to survive. Her major interest is focused on empowering communities through interfaith joint projects, adult education, peace clubs, Christian Muslim harmony, and the empowerment of women, which are all aimed at interfaith dialogue and sustainable development. She has travelled to different parts of the world sharing her experiences in interreligious dialogue. At present, she is the ecumenical coordinator of the Presbyterian church of Nigeria, Jos presbytery. She is also interested in promoting the participation of women in governance issues, peace and security. She considers her greatest milestone to be the establishment of the “Women Peace Builders Network” in Nigeria, which gives women the opportunity to add their voices to events in society through dialogue. Justina strongly believes that our world can only be better and more peaceful if people of diverse religions learn how to interact positively for mutual cooperation.
Kyfork Aghobjian is the Programme Manager for the KAICIID International Fellows Programme and has been working with the Fellows Team since 2016. Aghobjian is a PhD candidate in International law at the University of Vienna, focusing on human and minority rights. After graduating from the Law School at Aleppo State University, Aghobjian continued his post graduate studies in the United Kingdom and received an LL.M. in International Law from the University of London/SOAS. He is a Fellow with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and has work experience with UNDP, law firms and social foundations. He also has more than 15 years of experience as a member of several youth, cultural, voluntary and Scout associations. Aghobjian is actively involved in legal research, community service, youth and social activities, human rights advocacy, minority rights protection, intercultural and interreligious dialogue.