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Faith in Human Rights Statement, Dec 2008

On the occasion of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Justitia et Pax, supported by the Govt of Netherlands, prepared a document reiterating the freedom of religion mentioned in the original charter of Human Rights.

Representatives of the final signatories of this document met at The Hague on Oct 22, 2008 to finalise the document. Significant deletions and additions were made to the draft document.

The final declaration, known as 2008 Faith in Human Rights Statement, was signed in the presence of Her Royal Majesty Queen Beatrix by invited religious leaders or their representatives at a ceremonial gathering in the Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands, on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Before signing the document, the nine signatories personally addressed the audience on behalf of their Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Taoist and Indigenous faith communities.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati, speaking on behalf of Hinduism, said that this Statement, which was going to be signed by the leaders of all religions, was historic because it had all the clauses necessary for peace and harmony. Besides many other things, the Statement recognized the importance of universal values, mutual respect and a commitment for mutual cooperation for peace and harmony.

Swami Dayanada added that acceptance of universal values implies absence of double standards, such as one set of values for believers (of a given religion) and another for non–believers (in that religion). So too, mutual respect implies acceptance of others as they are without an attempt to change them.

He concluded by saying that commitment to co–operate is very important for promoting peace and harmony. Peace is there until it is disturbed. The words and deeds of the signatories of this Statement should preserve the existing peace and harmony without disturbing it.

It is hoped that the 2008 Faith in Human Rights Statement will become a catalyst for transformation and change towards justice, peace, mutual respect and interfaith co–operation. The International Inter–Religious Conference marked the first time ever that major world religions have jointly emphasized the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Members of the general public are also invited to sign the Faith in Human Rights Statement. In so doing it would send a message to faith leaders that ordinary people everywhere endorse their commitment to ending religious conflict. The full Statement can be signed online at Faith in Human Rights*.

*PDFs can be read on any device via the free Adobe Reader software.

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