The 9th Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs took place on 24 January 2023 at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York and online; it was the first time the event was held in a hybrid format. SGI, together with seven faith-based partners and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), organized the event under the theme, “Securing People’s Well-Being and Planetary Sustainability,” which addressed the topic of human security.
After a High-Level Opening, Azza Karam, Secretary General for Religions for Peace, moderated a panel titled “Framing Human Security as Shared Security for People and the Planet.” Speakers included Sophia Farion, Senior Program Officer for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders; Anwar Khan, President of Islamic Relief USA; Samuel Rizk, Head of the Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Responsive Institutions (CPPRI) Team within the UNDP Crisis Bureau; Garry Jacobs, President and CEO of the World Academy of Art and Science and Chairman and CEO of the World University Consortium; and Anne Mette Fisker-Nielsen, Soka University Associate Professor.
Fisker-Nielsen, speaking in her capacity as a social anthropologist, mentioned, “To foster substantial human security, Soka Gakkai proposes the need to cultivate simultaneously an inner transformation in attitude and cultural outlook. This approach can be seen, for example, in its focus on eliminating nuclear weapons that began in the 1950s: ‘[The] enemy is not nuclear weapons per se, nor is it the states that possess or develop them. The real enemy that we must confront is the ways of thinking that justify nuclear weapons—the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.”
Other program sessions at the symposium included “Seeing and Doing Human Security,” “Key Learnings,” and a concluding session. In his concluding words, Ganoune Diop, Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, proposed that the planning committee add an action item that would consider creating a task force on a culture of human security, which would address all the themes the symposia have covered since 2015. Human security, he said, is a cross-cutting theme that needs critical attention, as we live in an age of insecurity.
For further details of the event, review the program and concept note.