Reports

Central Asia and the Caucasus Regional Session Report

Third Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children
LEARNING TO SHARE
Values, Action, Hope

Central Asia and the Caucasus
Regional Session Report


Name of the Region: Central Asia and the Caucasus
Number of persons participating: 16 adults, one child
From the following countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, with guest participants from Greenland, S.Korea and Japan.

Introduction

Meeting in Hiroshima has been extremely rich in symbolic value. All countries around the world, irrespective of their religious background and values, need to work to ensure that there are no more Hiroshimas. We of the Central Asia and Caucasus region pledge ourselves to reflect in our approach the Hiroshima lesson as the central one in our education to tackle the silent emergencies that children around the world are facing today.

Working together, and learning from each other in Hiroshima, and generating a process of thinking together after the Third Forum, participants from the region affirm their commitment to the following priorities, and to developing interaction and networking in order to pursue these aims.

A critical feature of the 4-year efforts will be the building and support of dialogue potential among people, and children, to encourage that divisive factors and psychological distances be constructively addressed. Present members from the region see the need to ourselves "be the change we want to see in the world," and to begin by perceiving that non-confrontational and mutually respectful approaches must be our way forward. We cannot re-write history or change the past, but we can work together to build a common future!
Our own activities and conduct will be the best promotion of the Third Forum message of 'learning to share.'

PRIORITY ACTIONS FOR 2008-2012
  • To develop a strong knowledge base of facts and data on all rights of children and on faith and culture traditions of our region, reflecting all its rich diversity.
  • To give special attention to becoming informed advocates of the environment and climate challenges facing the region and to promote good practices of responsibility.
  • To develop and operate an active information exchange to keep channels of communication open in the region. To involve and inform children and young people in this exchange. To also work pro-actively to build dialogue between generations: young and old.
  • Adopt ethical education as a key to transforming first ourselves and then to influencing education planners, teachers and learners in all our country.
  • Work to generate re-examination of existing school texts and teaching-learning relating to the identities and diversities of the region and its people. Join or build dialogue on the influences of culture and tradition on different streams of communication and learning.
  • Further develop the CENTAC story-book initiative, generate a similar compilation of traditional and popular symbols, and invite creative learning to discover universal or shared values and foster mutual respect.
  • Work to promote and advocate that the child is at the centre of our State policies and strategies.
  • Pay greater attention to consulting children on issues of poverty, environment and violence.
  • Proactively engage educators, teachers, cultural and creative persons and institutions, religious leadership and the media in addressing negative stereotypes with regard to religions and communities in our regions.
  • Proactively engage in learning about other historical, cultural or ethnic factors that have challenged mutual understanding and respect for diversity among peoples and area of the region, and work to develop 'spaces' and forums for dialogue. (Study the Turkish initiative to revise schoolbooks to amend references to certain countries).
  • Invest in linkage activities to address distances created by language differences in the region. For this purpose, invest in translation and provision of information and materials.
  • Encourage and support small-scale and local area initiatives and activities to make the GNRC mandate and message better known and appreciated.
  • Organise in 2008 a strategy workshop to map out agreed objectives for specific regional and country-level promotion of the mandate of GNRC.
  • Organise in 2009 in one of the capitals or centres of the region a forum on promoting respect for others.
  • Actively seek the interest and involvement of religious persons and representatives of culture and the creative arts.
  • Invest in family-to-family exchange to build dialogue and understanding through contact programme.
  • Undertake visits between and within countries of the region to further these objectives.
  • Inform ourselves, and be informed messengers of the international mandates the world has adopted (including UN commitments).
Actions regarding poverty, violence and environment:
  • Build a better knowledge base by exchanging information within the region so that we are better informed.
  • Generate greater awareness and understanding of the root causes of poverty in the region. Be good learners ourselves.
  • Promote ethical education based on universal spiritual values to address issues of poverty, environment and violence.
  • Recognise the equal worth of all children and community and the right to inclusion.
  • Explore the trends, reasons and causes of violence in the region by adopting and promoting the message 'No More Hiroshimas'.
  • Be active networkers: Carry the GNRC message on these issues to other forums in which we participate and promote the message and our ideas in these wider settings.
Inputs and actions for the day of Prayer and Action for Children:
  • Organise in our respective countries prayer for addressing the poverty of love as part of the Day of Prayer and Action for Children by the World's Religions. Organise related focus activities or adopt activity plans to promote specific actions.
Working Guidelines:
  • The working method of operating an E-secretariat will be sustained. The region hopes to further develop and activate a tri-lingual internet site (English,Russian,Persian).
  • The network-building investment in developing an ongoing interaction of young persons, scholars and peace educators from countries of the region will be actively pursued, initially from Delhi base, and progressively from other centres.
  • The unexpected and valuable connection with Asiatic Siberia will be further explored.
  • The positive potential of consultative linkage with the Europe and South Asia regional initiatives will be further pursued.


Submitted on the basis of regional consultation, by:
Razia Ismail Abbasi
On behalf of the Central Asia & Caucasus Region of GNRC

Date of submission: 8th September 2008.