Mon, 09 Dec 2013 03:30:00 GMT

5th Annual Global Peace Convention 2013 marks first Malaysian appearance

To combat the divisive impact of religious extremism.

Over 400 youths turned up (© Rantau PR)

The Global Peace Foundation’s 5th annual Global Peace Convention (GPC) launched last week, co-hosted by Global Peace Festival (GPF) Malaysia and the Department of National Unity and Integration in the Prime Minister’s Department, marking the first time this annual event is being hosted in Malaysia. The convention was held at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur from 5th to 8th December 2013.

Themed “Unity in Diversity – Building Social Cohesion for Sustainable Peace through Universal Aspirations, Principles and Values”, the GPC addresses an issue that is timely for the world, where peace and development are increasingly threatened by religious and ethnic conflicts, and also for Malaysia. Just last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak set up a National Unity Consultative Council to focus on the foundations for social cohesion and unity in the country.

­­­­The GPC highlights the central role of universal principles and shared values for achieving unity in diversity and resolving identity-based conflicts. These principles and values are then given practical expression through initiatives and projects that: seek to encourage interfaith partnerships; strengthen families and communities; and foster a culture of service, particularly among youth. The convention provides a dynamic and compelling platform both for ideas and for the sharing of practical experiences that can help promote peace and development. That platform is shared by leaders from the government, faith-based organisations, business, universities, and civil society, working in cooperative partnership.

Throughout the four days, speakers from various nations and from different areas of expertise share their experiences, ideas and valuable insights in several convention tracks, including: Partnerships among Faiths; Family Strengthening; Youth and Service; Education; Community Development; Women in Leadership; Business as a Force for Peace; and Northeast Asian Peace.

Among the major projects featured at the GPC are the Alllights Village Project, a comprehensive approach to rural development built upon solar lighting, the Character and Creativity Initiative, a programme spreading through schools in Africa and Asia to help young people develop as responsible citizens and budding entrepreneurs. In total, over 500 delegates from over 40 nations were in attendance at the convention, which is co-chaired by Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail, Chairperson of GPF Malaysia.

Tan Sri Joseph, commenting on Malaysia’s commitment towards upholding “Unity in Diversity”, praised the vision of Malaysia’s leaders over the years. “Their commitment to ensuring national prosperity is enjoyed by all without sidelining any ethnic group or community is a principle that proved over time that diverse races and ethnic groups within a single nation is not a hindrance to living in peace and achieving progress under one roof. The social complexity than influences intercultural relationships between the people should not hinder progress, but can instead offer a greater variety of ideas to help leaders find ways to strengthen nation-building”, he said. 

The Founder and Chair of the Global Peace Foundation Dr Hyun Jin Preston Moon in his opening address at the Opening Plenary called for an international movement of cooperation among the faith traditions to combat the divisive impact of religious extremism.  He called for the establishment of a faith-based Peace Council as part of the UN structure to deal with radicalized religion that operates beyond the boundaries of nation-states.

He has been at the forefront of efforts to promote an inclusive vision, the vision that we are all members of One Family under God, which focuses on our common human heritage and shared responsibility for the betterment of all humanity, calling everyone to respect the intrinsic value and dignity of all people. He is a firm advocate of efforts to promote and practice the universal principles and values recognised by all the great faith traditions and people of good conscience.

Amongst the speakers that shared their insight on the first day of the convention were His Excellency Marco Vinizio Cerezo, ex-President of Guatemala, Dr Jun Sook Moon, Co-Founder of Global Peace Foundation and Chairwoman of Global Peace Women, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation and Camilla Schippa, Director of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Also present at the convention are representatives of the convention’s strategic partners and sponsors - University Malaya, Westport Holdings, SP Setia Berhad and Malaysia Airlines.

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