The official news service of the Inter-European Division
February 08, 2017 | Bern, Switzerland. | ICRF COM, CD-EUDNews.
On February 4th, 2017, the world’s first International Center for Religious Freedom and Public Affairs was inaugurated. The blue ribbon was cut by Ambassador Ibrahim Salama, Director of the Division of Treaties Relating to Human Rights at the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Office at the United Nations in Geneva and by Ganoune Diop, Director of the Department of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom for the Worldwide Adventist Church.
The event took place under the watchful eyes of John Graz, who managed the same Department of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom from 1995 to 2015 and today took over the management responsibility of the new Center; A Center that was greeted by several leading figures from the Adventist Church in France, Switzerland and worldwide.
Jean-Philippe Lehmann, The General Director of the Adventist Campus who welcomed the new Center, located on the floor above the Alfred Vaucher Library, had reminded us of the reasons that lead to the fulfillment of this project.
Firstly, for historical reasons. In the past, the Campus has been marked by leading figures committed to the defense of religious freedom, such as Doctor Jean Nussbaum who founded the IADRL (The International Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom), Pierre Lanarès that has considerably widened the audience of the journal, Conscience et Liberté (Conscience and Freedom) or Jean Weidner, “Righteous Among the Nations” for his conduct during the Second World War.
For geographical reasons. The proximity to Geneva, the center of the Reform and headquarters to numerous international organizations, notably in the sector of Defense of Human Rights.
Lastly, for educational reasons. The Campus arbitrates school groups, a French Language School and a faculty of theology. The Center will contribute to developing the notion of respect for people and differences, something that is already dear to the institution.
There is no doubt that the Center will encourage research, will produce publications, will organize meetings and will contribute to the education of students.
Some ideas were listed in the presentations and the discussions that preceded the inauguration.
Ganoune Diop: "Religious freedom is the first of all freedoms. It includes the freedom of thought, of choice, of conscience, of expression, of transmission… Human Rights are interdependent and indivisible."
John Graz: "The interreligious dialogue and with the authorities allow us to determine what distinguishes us but also the levels at which we can be together. This is how we can be peacemakers."
Questioned about the importance, in his opinion, of the International Center for Religious Freedom and Public Affairs, Ibrahim Salama responded that religions must play a major role in the defense of human rights.
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