More than 300 religious leaders from around the world met in Washington, D.C., in February where they signed a new declaration calling for the global protection of religious minorities and marginalized communities. The conference was organized by the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and its leader, Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Saudi Arabian Islamic Studies professor.
Called the Alliance of Virtue, the conference brought together Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders to help cultivate goodwill and counter hostility and hatred.
Those attending endorsed the “Washington Declaration” affirming:
- All people, men and women alike, are entitled to equality and due process under the law. All are entitled to freedom of movement within their states, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom from political persecution, freedom from torture, the right to seek political asylum, the right to nationality, and all other internationally recognized human rights.
- Each government has an obligation to respect the dignity and related rights of all who dwell within its jurisdiction. Each should employ its resources to address the root causes of inequality and to create opportunities for people to make full use of their energy and talents to provide for their families and contribute productively to society. Each should be a faithful steward of the natural environment, which we hold in trust for future generations. Each state has a duty, per the United Nations Charter, to refrain from aggression or attempting to subjugate others and to cooperate in resolving disputes peacefully, lawfully, and justly. Governments should respect, promote and implement international human rights standards.
- People from all sectors—including public service, religion, business, academia, civil society, and the arts—share a responsibility to encourage international and intercultural understanding and to oppose any effort to convey information that is false or defamatory toward the members of any ethnic, racial, or religious group.
The declaration concludes with a call to action:
- We call for the establishment of an Alliance of Virtue to grow and implement the Washington Declaration.
- We call for the provision of one billion meals to feed the communities that have been made vulnerable by the violence and conflict that challenges us on the path forward.
- We call for the creation of a multi-religious body consisting of prominent religious actors to support mediation and reconciliation that will act in accordance with our shared values to build peace in the world.
- We will establish a committee to adopt these recommendations that reflects the fullness of diversity in our communities and across the world.
The full text of the Washington Declaration may be read on the website of the Karamah Women Lawyers for Human Rights.