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‘Richness and challenges of interreligious dialogue for multicultural societies’ – The role of NGOs and UNESCO Member States

On Tuesday 4th July 2023, Baraza led a roundtable meeting with experienced NGO partners of UNESCO and other invited guests in Paris, France. The discussion enabled participants to identify their respective areas of work and to commit themselves to exploring areas of collaboration. Georg Popp, President of Baraza opened the meeting by highlighting the history and remit of Baraza. Riaz Ravat, Secretary General of Baraza then delivered a presentation about the UNITY life skills programme for children and young people which has been run in Germany, India and the UK.

NGOs in attendance at the meeting were New Humanity, Pax Christi International, International Council of Jewish Women, the International Fellowship for Reconciliation and the World Fellowship of Buddhists. Other individual guests were in attendance including Jan Figel – former European Commission Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion outside the European Union, Monsignor Guillaume Bruté de Rémur – Rector at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Lebanon, Beirut and Prof. Dr Anke Weber - Head of Studies for Intercultural Business Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences, Hamm-Lippstadt in Germany.

The engagement heard that dialogue between people of different religious traditions and those of no religious convictions must bring out universal values for the good of all humanity. These values, which form the basis of many of our societies, must be passed on to younger generations. There was unanimous acceptance that societies need education for global citizenship, through education for international understanding, cooperation and peace.

One of the outcomes of the meeting was that participants agreed to remain in touch with one another bi-laterally and multi-laterally. In addition, there was a commitment to have further in-person meetings to establish concrete ways of furthering partnerships through actual programmes and events by working to UNESCO’s stated aims in this area of work.

The roundtable meeting took place in a week which also witnessed Baraza’s participation in the ‘Tolerance, Understanding, Coexistence: Oman's Message of Islam’ exhibition at UNESCO.