Statement by H.E. Erlan Idrissov, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, at the UN High-Level Conversation “Religions for Peace”

(6 May, 2016, Trusteeship Council Chamber, UN HQ, New York)

Mr. President,


Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honor for my country to be co-organizing this High-Level Conversation designed to build upon the efforts of the United Nations to combat violent extremism and promote peace and security.

Can I start by thanking the UN Secretary-General and H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, for their crucial support.

May I also thank H.E Mr. Iyad Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, for his wholehearted and valuable contribution at every stage of the preparatory process.

I would like as well to extend my sincere gratitude to all the stakeholders and partners: H.E. Mr. Nasser Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations; Mme/Mr. France Le Roi of UNESCO (to be confirmed, one of the Deputy-Directors), H.E. Mr. the Minister of Religious Affairs and Expatriate Affairs and Deputy Prime-Minister of the Kingdom of Jordan, and the UN Member States for co-sponsoring and supporting this meeting.

Mr. President,

As we can see from today’s meeting, the united response of UN member nations and faith leaders to President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiative to smash the alleged links between terrorism and religions is truly remarkable 

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.

Instead these beliefs have been abused to divide our world

Putting this right requires us to be fearless in tackling those who use violent extremist ideology and barbaric terrorist acts to drive our world apart and to counter those who distort religions and their values for their own ends.

We need as well to step up our collective efforts to tackle violent conflicts, restore trust and address the root causes of inequality and injustice on which such perverted radicalism feeds.

But unfortunately, so far the international community has failed to respond effectively to these challenges. We must put this right.

The distortion of religion needs to be fought in a variety of ways.

We have to bring together faith leaders to discuss how religious teachings can help promote tolerance and celebrate our diversity.

This was the goal of the President of Kazakhstan in 2003 by convening the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

His aim was to stimulate an intellectual debate and personal exchanges between representatives of main faiths.

Since its first meeting the Congress has grown with the number of delegations attending rising from 17 in 2003 to 80 last year.

As its scale has grown so has its stature and scope.  

Its agenda has been expanded from discussions between the leaders of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other religions to a wider dialogue today with political elites on how faith can foster peaceful and inclusive societies.

The messages of peace, development and human rights from the Congress strongly complement the aims and efforts of the UN itself 

Building on the work of the Congress, we are this month hosting an international forum on “Religions against Terrorism” in Astana to step up the fight against extremism. 

Kazakhstan, of course, stands as and is taken by many as an example of how faith can help build stable and tolerant societies. 

We are a successful multicultural society of more than 100 ethnic communities and 18 religious denominations living in harmony together.

This track record allows us to appeal with authority for dialogue and co-operation both within, and between, cultures.

A recent Declaration by the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Turkey at the recent OIC Summit on Islamic rapprochement, was a call for Muslim nations to demonstrate good will in addressing tough bilateral issues through introduction of public diplomacy in traditional political framework. 

We have strongly supported the Comprehensive Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism and the Global counter-terrorism strategy.

We were the first regional state to endorse UN Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) and host a Ministerial meeting for Central Asia and Caucasus to counter violent extremism.

As a practical contribution we are working with the UN to agree a uniform definition of terrorism and violent extremism and draw common, consensus lists of terrorist organizations.

We believe adoption of a comprehensive Convention on international terrorism is long overdue and Kazakhstan stands ready to contribute to a multilateral campaign to push this issue forward.

Finally we call on member states to endorse proposal tabled by President Nursultan Nazarbayev last September to establish a global anti-terrorist coalition (network) under the UN, as well as universal mechanisms to bring perpetrators to justice.

Mr. President,

Building peaceful and inclusive societies also requires determined collective actions in the area of economic, social and human development.

Many view inequality as the main cause of insurgencies, although it may be too simplistic to blame poverty for every problem in the developing nations.

Yet it is certainly true that prosperity is a cornerstone of stability.

Agenda 2030, as well as the Addis Ababa Action Plan, are key instruments to address inequalities, including gender inequality at global, regional and domestic levels.

Kazakhstan has become a regional success story in achieving MDGs, and as such, my country is keen to share its experiences across the region.

A practical contribution to social and economic development is our decision to host an Islamic summit on science and technology next year, which we announced recently at the OIC Summit in Istanbul.

It will be a political high-level gathering within the EXPO-2017 framework designed to boost the transfer of green technologies, as well as to accelerate broader South-South cooperation including access by less developed countries to energy resources.

In line with the objectives of Agenda 2030, Kazakhstan has made water and food security the linchpin of future economic and human development, both at home and abroad.

It was at Kazakhstan’s initiative that an Islamic Food Security office been created – striking example of what can be achieved with vision and good will. We hosted the organization meeting on that last year and established the Islamic Food Security Organization in Astana.

Women are important shapers of religious narratives and motivations that support either violence or peace.

Moving towards gender equality goals would empower women to implement both peace and social progress.

With the UN playing a crucial role in the distribution of knowledge, expertise and resources necessary for the implementation of Agenda 2030, we aim to engage relevant regional organizations in order to use their political potential and expertise to achieve these important goals.

Mr. President,

Bearing in mind the broader definition of peace and security, we should not limit this High Level Conversation to violence and terrorism only, but also address other factors that prevent the world from progressing.

The most devastating danger - a possibility of a nuclear conflict - is still central to military calculations.

The NPT provisions requiring signatories to set out a phased plan for nuclear disarmament remains largely ignored.

A Comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty has stalled for over 20 years.

That is why Kazakhstan promoted the adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution endorsing the Universal declaration for the achievement of a nuclear free world as a first step in a gradual and phased process to prohibit possession, use and testing of nuclear weapons.

We support the creation of nuclear weapon free zones, like in Central Asia, including in the Middle East, and believe this is an essential stepping stone to future peace, stability and the elimination of conflict.

The nuclear free world envisaged in President Nazarbayev’s recent Manifesto: “The World. The 21st century” is an ambitious but achievable goal.

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.

It was to build confidence that Kazakhstan proposed that countries should set aside one percent of national military budgets annually to meet global development needs.

We also called for a UN High-Level Meeting to reconfirm basic principles of international law to be convened as soon as possible 

Kazakhstan also believes strongly that peace and development must be the central pillars of the strategic plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the UN and deliver the vision of an end to wars and the suffering of past generations

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.

Mr. Chairman, 

Modern history has shown the greatest communicators in promoting peace and healing divisions were leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

They were both shaped by their strong religious beliefs yet were equally passionate in preaching harmony and tolerance.

Today religious authorities have a chance to draw on their values and teachings to unite nations based on global responsibility and mutual understanding.

Let me conclude by expressing my confidence that this meeting will produce practical and effective recommendations which can help us end misunderstanding and build a better world of peace, mutual trust and tolerance.

Thank you for your attention.

Created at : 9.05.2016, 21:48, Updated at : 9.05.2016, 22:08