It is time for humanity to embrace universally shared values, going beyond differences of ideology, race, nationality, and religion, and pursue a path of mutual cooperation and mutual prosperity. In this way it is possible to build a world of lasting and sustainable peace that can be bequeathed to future generations. To fulfill this task, religious leaders have a primary responsibility to cooperate beyond denominations and work in harmony with leaders in all fields of society. In this session, religious leaders and leaders of faith-based organizations will propose the formation of a world-level interfaith association through which to work together for peace and development.

As a historical crossroads of empires and cultures, the Balkan Peninsula is the center of political, cultural and religious influences that make it a significant field for interreligious and intercultural peacebuilding in Europe in the 21st century. In this session, panelists will offer their perspectives on peacebuilding initiatives undertaken in the Balkans and recommend action steps toward a peaceful and democratic future in the region. This session also will feature a presentation of the Balkan Peace Road project promoted by UPF.

After the end of the socialist system in Europe, following the dissolution of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, new sovereign states with new borders appeared on the map of Europe. In the context of the current geopolitical realities, participating nations of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) need to come to the negotiating table to revise the Helsinki Accords to reach a mutually acceptable understanding of the previous frameworks and discuss their possible modification. Panelists in this session will offer their perspectives on the role that may be played by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly – and by the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) – in this undertaking.

Peacebuilding necessarily involves cooperation between all sectors of society. While the world looks in anguish at the horrors of multiple conflicts in the home of the Abrahamic faiths, the evidence on the ground suggests that such conflicts are stoked by an array of other factors, not least a dearth of civic values and near-absence of the rule of law. In what way has—and in what way can—religion play a positive role in bringing peace to the peoples of the Middle East?

Throughout the world, religion continues to play a very significant role in guiding the development of individuals as well as the wider society.

Lasting solutions to the critical challenges of our time call for both the skills and experience of politicians and the global vision provided by religious leaders. How can parliamentarians and leaders of faith-based organizations, transcending national, religious and political affiliations, cooperate to develop comprehensive strategies for peace and development? Panelists will offer their perspectives on the complementary roles of political and religious leaders and propose policies and action steps to address specific challenges affecting Europe and the Middle East.

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