The third annual session of the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom opened on Monday in Washington, D.C., with delegations of legislators gathered from around the world.
"The Interparliamentary Conference encourages the genuine expression of opinions from representatives of the peoples of the world. There is no greater legitimacy than that expressed by peoples in their choice of representatives," said Joseph K. Grieboski, Founder and Secretary General of the IPC, in a released statement. "Nothing happens in history unless the will of the common people is channeled and directed towards the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all. It is this idea that fueled the creation and establishment of the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom."
Members of national and supranational parliaments from such countries as Armenia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Russia, Afghanistan, Paraguay and Iraq have convened for the event, hosted by Institute on Religion and Public Policy, to focus on themes around the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. First on the agenda was religion's role in conflict resolution.
Through panel discussions and plenary sessions that will run until Dec. 1, representatives will continue to examine countries to measure human rights and freedoms and guarantee adherence to the international standards protecting human rights.
"The Interparliamentary Conference has twice now encouraged the expression of genuine opinions from direct representatives of the peoples of the world, on a wide variety of issues. As most of the global bodies and international organizations are constituted by governments with mandated powers, we chose to offer a podium to those that have direct legitimacy from their peoples," said Mr. Grieboski.
"History proves that all major changes originate with a small idea. It is our belief that human rights and religious freedom need to be the basis of a political ideology in this twenty-first century, which needs to take shape and become the energizing concept for public action. This forum provides for the elaboration of such a concept, one tempered through renewed debates and the continuous exchange of ideas."
The Institute on Religion and Public Policy is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, non-partisan, inter-religious organization that seeks to shape the public participation in policy of the American community of faith.