SL calls for UN Action Plan to include interfaith Dialogue and harness faith leaders as early warning systems
At a Meeting on the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious sites organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) on 11 June 2019, Ambassador Dr. Rohan Perera, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, called for renewed engagement with faith leaders who he noted could act as early warning systems.
The Meeting, chaired by Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos, High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations was convened in order to discuss with member states the development of a UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious sites. The preparation of the Plan of Action was set in motion following the Christ Church attacks on Mosques.
Ambassador Perera in his statement welcomed the UN Plan of Action to safeguard religious sites, and said that Sri Lanka stands ready to work with UNAOC in this regard, and was happy to have welcomed the High Representative to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks. He noted that the attacks on religious sites such as in Christ Church and Sri Lanka were particularly debased. However, he said that the attacks brought out the essential goodness in all religions, as Temples and Mosques opened their doors to hold Christian services. In fact one of the sites destroyed by the horrific Easter Sunday Attacks – St Anthony’s Church – had been rebuild in a matter of two months demonstrating the resilience and determination of our people and the religious harmony that exists, he said. In formulating the upcoming Action Plan, Sri Lanka welcomed the suggestions made by other states, and added that it was important to also encourage interfaith dialogue and harness religious leaders to act as early warning systems so that governments could be alerted to radical behavioral patterns in a timely manner. Additionally, PRUN noted that it was vital that youth, media and the private sector is included in the Action Plan.
High Representative Moratinos in responding to Sri Lanka said that during his visit he was struck by the tremendous dignity with which the leaders of all faiths gathered together, and that the sense of unity was palpable as he met with the President, Prime Minister and others. He welcomed the news of the church that had been renovated, and took note of the comment on interfaith dialogue and on using religious leaders as early warning systems. It is important that we do this not post attack but before an attack happens so we can focus on prevention, the High Representative said.
Several member states spoke including Spain, Turkey, Egypt, UAE, Philippines and Iraq, many of whom referred to the Easter Sunday Attacks in Sri Lanka.