Analysis by J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) - Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed. This argument remains pertinent 70 years after the UNESCO Constitution came into force. Because “the virus of war is still prevalent in the minds of people”, said Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov, quoting President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Representing Kazakhstan at the high-level forum titled Religions for Peace at the UN General Assembly on May 6, Idrissov said: “In the 21st Century, which is considered to be the most advanced century, with the most advanced achievements of human kind in its entire existence we still face the danger of global annihilation. . . As my president has formulated it, it is unfortunate that this virus of war is prevalent among many political elites.”
Kazakh President proposed such a forum at the 70th session of the General Assembly in September 2015, and at a meeting with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova in Paris in November 2015. In doing so, he wanted to boost UN efforts to combat violent extremism and promote peace and security.
The proposal was backed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the UN member states and leaders of religious congregations and international NGOs, official Kazakh sources said.
Idrissov, in his address, stressed that the forum testified to the joint response from UN member states and faith leaders to President Nazarbayev’s initiative to break the alleged links between terrorism and religions.
“The attendance of so many distinguished figures at this high level conversation clearly reflects the importance and urgency of the crisis we face. The task is clear. Our great faiths, with their common values, should be a major asset in bringing people together and promoting peace,” he said.
Underlining the importance of the Forum’s theme, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said: “Terrorist attacks all over the world demonstrate very clearly that achieving harmony and strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue is a great challenge and perhaps more important today than at any time in our recent past. Violent extremism is of a particularly serious concern.”
High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Nasser Abdulaziz Al-Nasser thanked the Kazakh delegation for the initiative and representatives of all religions for voicing their concerns and putting forward their practical recommendations at the Forum.
“The engagement of religious leaders is essential to counteract the messages of the leaders of terrorist groups who distort the core of religious beliefs for self-serving purposes. We need religious leaders to assert their rejection of violent doctrines and emphasize the peaceful and tolerant values inherent in their theologies. We need religious leaders to condemn the destruction by extremists of ancient sites that are the testimony of the history of the ancient cultures and symbols of pluralism and tolerance,” Al-Nasser said.
As one of the essential means of strengthening global security, Idrissov highlighted the fight against the threat of nuclear weapons and the “virus of war”. In this context, he presented the participants with President Nazarbayev’s recently announced Manifest: The World. The 21st Century.
“We call upon religious leaders to endorse the concept of a world free of nuclear danger and actively participate in a global drive to make this dream a reality. We must also admit that durable peace is not achievable without measures to restore mutual trust between states,” he added.
Kazakhstan strongly believes that peace and development must be the central pillars of a strategic plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the UN in 2045 and deliver the vision of a nuclear-weapons-free world by the date, said Idrissov.
“I can promise our country, if we are successful in our bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-18, will spare no effort to work with the international community to drive progress towards these important goals,” the Kazakh Foreign Minister announced.
Idrissov said that Kazakh capital Astana will host an international conference on May 31. Titled Religions Against Terrorism, it will bring together faith leaders, politicians, and academicians to elaborate working recommendations on tackling the harmful ideologies of violent extremism.
During his stay in New York, Idrissov also participated in another High-Level Thematic Debate at the UN General Assembly on May 10: In a World of Risks: a New Commitment for Peace.
Participants discussed security issues, such as peacekeeping, peace building, gender aspects in armed conflicts and in times of peace, as well as the interrelationship of security with sustainable development and environmental protection. Foreign ministers and deputy ministers from 25 UN member states attended the high-level debate.
They included: Lykketoft, UNGA President; Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former President of Indonesia; Leymah Gbowee, the renowned Liberian peace activist and the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and Amr Moussa, the sixth Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
“The world will benefit from both the end goal and the process of disarmament: moving towards a nuclear-weapons-free world will equip humankind with a cooperative mechanism to sustain and support security at the lowest levels of armaments,” said Idrissov.
“Such a process will release funds to be transferred to social and economic development in line with Kazakhstan’s initiative to allocate annually 1 percent of national defence budgets to sustainable development,” he said stressing one of the landmark initiatives of Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh delegation also urged implementation of the anti-terrorist initiatives offered by President Nazarbayev in September 2015 at the UN. These comprise the establishment of a unified list of extremist and terrorist organizations as well as the elaboration of a commonly agreed terminology in the fight against international terrorism.
These efforts are expected to culminate in the adoption of the UN Comprehensive Instrument to Combat Terrorism as an outcome of establishing a unified global network, or coalition, to counter international terrorism and extremism.
“We call on member states to endorse Kazakhstan’s proposal to establish a global anti-terrorist coalition (network) under the UN, as well as universal mechanisms to bring perpetrators to justice,” Idrisov urged.
He also discussed related issues in meetings with Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee and Jehangir Khan, Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).
Idrissov in availed of his stay in New York to participate in a ministerial-level working lunch on the theme, ‘The Next Secretary-General in a World of Risks: Expectations vs. Realities’, organized by UNGA President Lykketoft.
During the event, the Kazakh Foreign Minister moderated a discussion group focusing on challenges to global peace and security. The group reviewed ways to adapt the global architecture of collective security to modern threats and challenges at a time when the UN needs to remain a publicly accepted and credible structure.
The participants also discussed the role of the next Secretary-General of the UN in implementing these processes. The group noted that Ban Ki-moon’s successor should be proactive in utilizing Article 99 of the UN Charter, which envisages that the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter that in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 May 2016]
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Photo: Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov participated in the High-Level Thematic Debate of the United Nations General Assembly on Global Peace and Securityon May 10, 2016. Credit: The Astana Times