VIENNA, 17 April 2015: Meeting in Vienna, Austria on 17 April 2015, the Council of Parties of the International Dialogue Centre based in Vienna (KAICIID), comprising the governments of Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain, and the Founding Observer, the Holy See, unanimously expressed their full commitment for the Centre’s mandate to facilitate interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
The Council reaffirmed the purposes and principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and further agreed that interreligious dialogue is, in itself, an act of respect for other religions and human rights.
The Council of Parties further agreed that in times of growing polarization, the Centre’s mission of fostering respect between religions and cultures through dialogue is urgently needed. Dialogue is one of the most effective means to build trust among different peoples, and help communities counter extremism and the growing violence carried out in the name of religion. Dialogue is a tool that the Centre uses to foster peace, to prevent and combat radicalization, and to bring religious leaders together in condemning any form of violence in the name of religion.
The Council of Parties adopted today a comprehensive action plan entitled “On the Future Strategy of the Dialogue Centre” presented by an Expert Working Group tasked by the Council to develop recommendations for the Centre’s work.
The Expert Working Group
In the context of an ongoing discussion about future strategy of the Centre, the Expert Working Group was established in February 2015 by the Council of Parties. The Expert Working Group comprises all nine members of the multi-religious Board of Directors, as well as designated experts from each of the Council of Parties’ governments (Austria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the Holy See as a Founding Observer).
Key points of the Action Plan:
- The Centre’s Board of Directors, comprising representatives from five major world religions ‑Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism ‑ will advise at the request of the Council of Parties on the Centre’s policy on universal human rights and ensuring inclusive dialogue.
- Facilitate increased understanding of the relationship between fostering inclusive interreligious dialogue and human rights. In this context the Board of Directors could issue principle pronouncements on matters related to human rights and freedom of religion, and their links to interreligious dialogue in the framework of the mandate of the Centre.
- Elaborate specific activities on the relation of interreligious dialogue to human rights and freedom of religion. An expert in these fields should be part of the Centre’s staff.
- Encourage continued engagement with civil society, the media, the United Nations, the European Union, European institutions among others, as well as with international organizations/agencies with specific mandates in the field of human rights. The Centre could seek to be granted observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.
- Increase the number of members of the Council of Parties, placing the highest priority on ensuring appropriate diversity.
- Undertake further public outreach in Council of Party states.
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