Concluding STATEMENT

At the end of its 2024 Executive Council meeting held at the Tangerine Conference Centre south of Colombo, the ACRP Council thanked the recently reconstituted Sri Lankan chapter, led by the Venerable Professor Kotapitiye Rahula Thero, for hosting the meeting and organizing and sponsoring the Peace Conference held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.

In a world afflicted by greater uncertainty and unpredictability, not least by the Gaza situation in Israel which has impacted on the world since the last Executive Council meeting in Davao, the Executive Council is deeply concerned with the suffering and loss of life on all sides in wars and conflicts across the world. Especially we condemn the attacks on innocent Muslim and Christian Palestinians and on innocent Jewish Israeli civilians, particularly women and children.

As members of the ACRP Executive Council, we call upon all parties in all conflicts to adhere to international legal provisions and to respect human rights as outlined in the various United Nations’ Declarations and Charters. We call for immediate ceasefires and maximum restraint, urging all stakeholders to engage in peaceful dialogue and negotiations in recognition that violence perpetuates suffering and death. We support all movements of reconciliation and justice that recognise the humanity, dignity and we desire all peoples to live in peace. Religions for Peace Asia as committed multifaith leaders are committed to holding complex truths and striving to overcome polarisation. Let us all come together in action and prayer to end the suffering and build a better future for all.

During the meeting, the Executive Council heard that 2023 had been a very productive year in achieving the objectives of the Five Year Action Plan and the Flagship projects. The FPCC (Faith for Positive Change for Children), a joint project of UNICEF and RFP in the five South Asian countries, had succeeded in protecting children, blind girls and adolescent girls and had striven to remove corporal punishment. The Women’s branch was addressing the issues of climate change, human trafficking and protracted conflicts. The Seoul Peace Education Centre had hosted the ACRP youth group (APIYAN) in a special camp.

The Executive Council also discussed the need to think ahead in terms of decades and to form new chapters in countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Fiji, Maldives, and Viet Nam. As well, the newly founded, incipient Board of Asian Trustees met for the first time.

The Executive Council further discussed the preparation for the 10th Governance Assembly It examined such important matters such as Assembly objectives, Assembly venue and Assembly main and sub-themes, etc. The Executive Council expressed its appreciation to the members of the Assembly Preparatory Committee for their endeavors in the preparation process.

The Peace Conference, given Sri Lanka’s recent economic plight, focused on the theme, “The Role of Religions in Achieving Peace through Economic Empowerment”. Faith communities, as is well documented, add to social wealth or social capital. And they need to be involved actively through informed policy advice and welfare initiatives in removing poverty and its consequent violence in order to achieve peace and social harmony. It must resist greed or the desire to possess goods limitlessly. In particular, faith communities must call out corrupt activity and educate about its destructive presence through their educational institutions. Generating wealth is a serious spiritual responsibility as is its sharing in order to overcome wealth inequalities. 

“All the religious traditions in the world have provided teachings for welfare and betterment of humanity.” The success and the prosperity of humankind depends heavily on the strengthening of good qualities and the upholding of global friendship and unity.