Initiated by the President of Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on 23-24 September 2003 was held the first congress of world and traditional religions in Astana.
On the first interfaith forum participated by the most authoritative representatives of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Buddhism.
As guests of honor at the forum participated by prominent politicians such as Minister of Justice – Envoy of the King of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Sheikh Aliyev, Minister of Awqaf – Envoy of the President of Egypt M.Zakzuk, ex-Prime Minister of Japan Ts.Hata, Special Representative UN Secretary-General V.Sotirov.
The undoubted success of the initiative of Kazakhstan to conduct the interfaith forum was a representative structure and high level participants of the Congress.
The congress was a significant contribution to the global process of inter-civilizational and intercultural dialogue. Forum reflected the international community’s efforts to overcome the crisis of civilizations and conflicts based on cultural and religious differences, and build a tolerant, stable world, sustainable development.
It should be noted that Kazakhstan’s initiative to convene inter-religious forum for multilateral dialogue and the use of collective solutions to reduce tensions in the world has received universal recognition and broad support from members of the international community and has an adequate response to modern challenges. It opens up new horizons for the use of the huge potential of world and traditional religions to promote peace and harmony between nationalities.
On 12-13 September 2006 in Astana, the II Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, chaired by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, was held in the new, special building for the forum “Palace of Peace and Accord”. The Congress was attended by 25 religious leaders (7 of them – representatives of Islam, 7 – from Christianity, 4 representatives- Buddhism, 2 – from Judaism,1 representative from Shintoism, Taoism, Hinduism and the heads of 2 international religious organizations) and 14 dignitaries from 26 countries in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The total number of participants was more than 160 people. First arrived in Astana were delegations from Libya, Thailand, Armenia, South Korea, as well as the heads of other international religious organizations of the United States and Switzerland. As guests of honor at the forum attended by prominent politicians, heads of international organizations and states.
II Congress was aimed at building confidence and establishing a constructive cooperation between the major religions of the world to solve actual problems and develop joint action.
The congress was held under the overall theme of “Religion, Society and International Security” in two directions: “Freedom of religion and respect for the followers of other religions” and “The role of religious leaders in strengthening international security.”
The main theme of the III Congress was the role of religious leaders, who have a special hope in building the world based on tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation.
A new feature in the conduct of the Congress was the creation of breakout sessions to discuss pressing issues related to peace, reconciliation and dialogue in the modern world. At the III Congress have chosen the following topics for breakout sessions: 1) Moral and spiritual values 2) Justice, Peace and Security, 3) Environment and harmony, 4) Dialogue and cooperation, 5) Solidarity, especially in times of crisis. The main purpose of the breakout sessions – enhancing the role of religious leaders in a positive resolve any issues in the context of their contribution to the provision of the tolerant world based on mutual respect and cooperation.
It should be noted that the initiative of convening a congress of world and traditional religions, complements the efforts of various countries, international organizations and NGOs to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Therefore, the forum has received worldwide recognition as an effective platform for dialogue to promote peace and harmony on the planet. One of the major achievements of the forum was that around table are collected not only the religious leaders, and influential politicians from many countries of the world community to act with a single call to friendship and peaceful coexistence, and its agenda can cover a wider range of pressing issues of present times .
Kazakhstan welcomes such initiatives and, with experience in solving problems of interethnic and interreligious harmony, is ready for broad and efficient cooperation in the field.