Universal Peace Federation Peace Talk Webinar Series
04 February 2021
Theme: Covid-19: Pathways Forward – Working together for National Prosperity and Happiness
Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, Chairman of Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Asia Pacific
Mr Sudesh G. Balasubramaniam, President of UPF Malaysia
It is indeed a privilege to celebrate with all of you the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2021, which is an annual event observed during the first week of February.
And for 2021, the UN Secretary General, based on his meetings with religious leaders will launch the inaugural International Day of Human Fraternity tomorrow on February 4.
This Day calls on us to promote a culture of peace and non-violence based on education, dialogue and cooperation.
2020 was a global annus horribilis – a horrible year of death, disaster and despair.
In 2021, we hopefully see the light through vaccines. However, the pandemic has left a legacy with deepened inequality, but also with disrupted social cohesion riddled with hate speech, xenophobia, discrimination and racism.
I commend UPF for organising this important event during this time. All religious institutions play an important role both with and within each other as an agent of change.
That time of change has come.
As we rebuild from the havoc created by COVID-19, we must build back better for global and national prosperity and solidarity.
We now have the opportunity to secure the well-being of people, economies, societies and our planet.
This is why the Sustainable Development Goals are more important than ever.
And we can do this, together.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Religion has played an important role throughout our history. It creates common ground for peace and love to flourish – if we focus on what is noble and right.
Harnessing religion and its institutions for the greater good, for peace, and for development is the reason we commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week.
For there can be no development, where there is no peace. We have seen many nations once prosperous and peaceful now ravaged by conflict that have regressed or halted development for years.
And peace can never be taken for granted. There is always a need to make concerted efforts towards strengthening social cohesion, mutual respect and understanding in the communities and countries that we live in. It is a bit like a marriage where there must be understanding and tolerance.
This is especially true in a country such as Malaysia – where a diverse social fabric with peoples from various ethnicities, religions and cultures is a unique feature. This is what makes this nation so special and beautiful and it should be celebrated and cherished.
And importantly, all religions recognize dignity as the core of humanity.
And this is a common denominator with the universal values of the UN, which always put human dignity at the centre. Our most important document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights starts by saying, that – I quote - the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. Unquote
We have indeed seen a link between the upholding of human rights and the absence of conflicts in societies, or reversely the link between mass human rights violations and conflict.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I end, I would like to congratulate UPF on the launching of the Interreligious Association for Peace & Development (or IAPD) Malaysia later in this event.
I believe that IAPD will have a critical role to play in social cohesion and interfaith harmony in this wonderful country through public awareness and working for the common good – and supporting the SDGs to build a peaceful and inclusive future for all.