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J. Shrestha: Address to the International Leadership Conference

Address to the International Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea, February 6-10, 2011
Session VII: Interfaith Cooperation for Peace: Religious and Academic Perspectives

Prof. Jiwan Shrestha is Former President of the Nepal Family Party. Dr. Shrestha is a recently retired professor of zoology from Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. She obtained her doctorate in zoology and Ph.D. and published papers in national and international journals about the fish of Nepal. Dr.  Shrestha has served in many capacities assisting the women and children of Nepal, including being president of the Women's Federation for World Peace in Nepal. She was the founding President of the Nepal Family Party.

Nepal is an inspiring nation! It is the land of mighty people and towering mountains. If we are to achieve a world of lasting peace, then we must go beyond the pursuit of power. While the path of power, military might, political or economic dominance may appear to be an effective shortcut; in reality it is a detour that does not really lead us to our destination. We must return to the original path of love, compassion and reciprocal cooperation taught by all the great world religions.

We are living in the global age. The rapid development of science and technology has been making our world smaller and smaller. Barrier of race, religion and nationality are being brought down daily. The world is truly heading towards one universal human family.

The world is in need for a new model of global governance. In this age of globalization we must go beyond national boundaries, and even beyond religious boundaries. I believe that there is a necessity for a model partnership between governments and faith-based NGOs which can be an essential component of any new model of global governance. It is important that in building our civilizations, we enhance interfaith cooperation among governments, civil society, and the United Nations system.

The basic tenets of all faiths and cultures are fundamentally similar, prescribing indivisible peace, dignity, honesty, equality, harmony, tolerance, cooperation, patience, and fortitude.

We cannot simply look to large institutions or superpowers to bring peace. Let us start the peace process right here. The key to interfaith harmony and cooperation is to focus on the essential oneness of all religions.

Growing numbers of people are already coming to realize that the truth underlying all religions is, in its essence, one. This recognition arises not through a resolution of theological disputes but through an awareness of the reality that there is only one human family and that the Divine Essence, from which all life has sprung, has also been the impulse behind the principles and laws of the great religions of the world.

Here I would like to code that when Reverend Hyung Jin Moon, International Chairman of UPF visited Nepal on 2010, he also paid visit to Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha. There he conducted significant dialogue among the Buddhists and Hindu religious leaders. He found that religious leaders understood that lasting solutions to our global problems and comprehensive peace cannot be realized without a spiritual awaking and the full participation of those who affirm and practice spiritual principles.

The UN should increase its collaboration with faith-based organizations, NGOs, and academic institutions. There is a need to shorten the distance among people. Dialogue is an important step to start.

Interfaith cooperation should be promoted from individual level to the family, society, national, and global levels.  Institutions working for peace, governments, and the United Nations should provide priority focus, programs, and recourse strategies in this area. Intellectuals from various faiths have the primary responsibility to guide their communities properly.

Let us get involved in developing a new model of global governance and in promoting the renewal of the United Nations, including the development of an interreligious council. Let us work actively and take a leading role in forging an alliance of wisdom for peace.

Talking about my own nation, the people of Nepal truly expect that the promulgation of the new constitution will permanently end the conflict and address the widespread grievances afflicting the population. Thus, the drafting process has to address the twin objectives of peacebuilding and long-term political, social and economic reforms. The broad objectives of our home-driven peace process include, among others, the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoists into mainstream democratic politics and resolution of long-standing ethnic, regional, and caste fissures in our society. What we need is unity in diversity. Nepal has over 92 languages, 103 ethnic groups and multi religious. We truly need interfaith and intercultural cooperation to bring peace in such variety.