Six panelists, comprising world leaders from Central America and the Caribbean region, came together on December 10, 2022 to discuss the Universal Right to Religious Freedom as the Foundation for a World Culture of Peace. The webinar on the titled theme was sponsored by the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD), a project of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF).
Dr. Dennis P. Petri participated in the discussion in the capacity of Founder and Scholar-at-large of the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America, and International Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom.
The webinar was moderated by Rev. Remy Taupier, the Regional Coordinator for the IAPD. Besides Dr. Petri, the expert panel consisted of Dr. Charles S. Yang, the Chair of the Universal Peace Federation for Central America and the Caribbean; Dr. Elaine Duval, ordained minister, motivational speaker, and worship songwriter; Mr. Arturo Pozo, Zen Buddhist monk who teaches Buddhism at the Pontifical University of Mexico; Prophetess Marilyn Hippolyte, Greater Works International and President of “Women Empowerment Ministries; and Rev. Dennis Salmon, the Regional Coordinator of the International Association of Arts and Cultural for Peace (IACCP).
In his presentation, Dr. Petri highlighted five aspects about the relationship between peace and religious freedom: the empirical relationship between restrictions on religious freedom and conflicts; the moral imperative to protect the 80% of the people in the world that adhere to a religious faith; the opportunity to capitalize on the contribution of religious groups to development, human rights, peace, and democracy; the need to take advantage of the presence of religious groups when the State fails; and the necessity to protect religious persons because they are not only particularly inclined to make a positive contribution to peace but are also specifically vulnerable to suffer human rights abuses because of that inclination.
In Dr. Petri’s words:
“Promoting peace requires the protection of the rights of all religious people and allows us to act in the face of violations of Human Rights against a majority of the population.”
Link to the webinar: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=myoMkmwpFo0