Address by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Head of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions - Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan at the opening of the Conference “Religions against Terrorism”


Dear participants of the Conference,

The Message from the President of Kazakhstan is evidence of the vital importance of this Conference.

In 2003 President Nursultan Nazarbayev launched the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Since then Astana has hosted this forum on a regular basis. Five successful summits have proved that this dialogue platform is essential in the 21st century. Over the years, Congress participants have adopted valuable final documents reflecting common visions and approaches to the most pressing issues facing the world. This initiative is aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue and multicultural coexistence in a globalized world, preserving universal values, youth education and countering terrorism. The final documents of the Astana Congress were made possible thanks to the joint efforts of the participants and were adopted by consensus.

The fifth summit held in June 2015 strengthened high-level dialogue between religious and political leaders. UN Secretary-General, His Majesty the King of Jordan, President of Finland and all religious leaders participated in the fifth summit.

I am confident that this Conference will give new momentum to this constructive dialogue.

This year we have witnessed another wave of terrorist attacks across the world and unfortunately, this activity is increasing. Radical groups are receiving stable funding, becoming adept at using advanced technology and even claiming “quasi–state structure”.

We can only fight this global evil through a joint approach. As the President of Kazakhstan urged in his message to the participants of the Conference, we should move from individual actions to a comprehensive strategy to root out terrorism. I believe that we can include the President’s proposals in the final document of our forum.

Terrorism seeks to undermine international law, the principles and mechanisms of cooperation between states and their commitments to human rights and freedoms. Consolidation between civilizations can be the only response to this menace. Our societies, and, especially the media, should establish and amplify ethical norms to prevent any incitement to religious hatred.

In broader terms it is essential that we look to eliminate extreme poverty, hunger and epidemics. A goal we have committed ourselves to achieving in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolving military conflicts, which serve as a breeding ground for terrorism, would greatly assist in the pursuit of our objective.

Education and enlightenment are also crucial. These two pillars must be improved so that young people are aware of the evil nature of terrorism.

In his Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”, President Nazarbayev warns of the erosion of international law and cooperation. Basing national counter-terrorism policies on the central and coordinating role of the United Nations in global affairs is a necessary step to address this.

We need to realize that terrorism must be countered not only by individual countries or their groups, but by the global community.

It is obvious that religion plays an ever increasing role in modern societies, so does parliamentary diplomacy. Religious leaders and parliamentarians, being prominent and powerful representatives of their people, should be extensively involved in counter-extremism activities including prevention measures, crisis management and the reconstruction of societies that suffered from terrorism and extremism. 

At the same time we should take a common position condemning the actions of anti-religious extremists offending the feelings of believers. Consequently, another task facing us is to divide freedom of speech from blasphemy.  

This is a complex task that requires continued attention, dialogue and cooperation, everything our Conference stands for. We hope that our discussions will be fruitful and constructive and will strongly contribute to the fight against terrorism.