Role of religious leaders in promoting human rights, peace and security

Role of religious leaders in promoting human rights, peace and security

Intervention of Mgr. Luis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, at the 19th United Nations’ Human Rights Council (Geneva, March 2012)



Archbishop Louis Sako

Kirkuk – Iraq

(First intervention)

Human rights around the world are under attack. Many states have signed the Charter of Human Right, but they are not respecting it indeed for many reasons, giving many excuses.

As religious leaders we believe in the Truth, in human dignity and in the freedom that is the image of God in humankind. Our role is to promote spirituality and to push forward the culture of dialogue and peace, but we cannot activate it in fact, without real basic human rights for free people in dignity and justice.

Today it is an unthinkable fact that a government or a religious group persecutes a person because of difference of religion and ethnicity! These acts are an offense to God the Creator and to human beings in general. Freedom is an absolute value that everyone must respect. Freedom is strictly inherent to the human stature; otherwise, man would only be a robot without value.   On 19th of January Pope Benedict XVI delivered the annual address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. The pope recalled: “This year the persecution and discrimination suffered by Christians in many countries, deploring the spread of simplistic notions of religious freedom. To be genuine, this fact must be “characterized by an individual dimension, as well as a collective dimension and an institutional dimension. This is the first of human rights, because it expresses the reality of the most important person. Too often, for various reasons, such rights are limited or even mocked.”

In Iraq, Christians know what it means to be persecuted, kidnapped, and killed and – at the same time – what it feels like to feel helpless!   Sectarianism cancels the citizen and citizenship.

1-All religious leaders around the world have to work together to see human rights respected and every human being can enjoy his rights fully.

2-    All religious leaders should avoid any kind of disdain or contempt or exclusion of the other for religion or national affiliation, and officially to recognize each person as a human being and accept him as creature of God, and as a brother in humanity. We have to consider

him as a partner in citizenship.

3-    All religious leaders should activate common values: freedom, citizenship, human dignity, social justice and equality.

4-    Our country is going through tough times; we do not know where to take it. We should be aware that the future of Iraqis is Iraq, and reconciliation between all parties is the only means to get our people to safety, stability, democracy, pluralism and civil respect of everyone. No future with conflict and violence. The only future is with mutual respect and strengthening pacific co-existence.

5-      We have to work for a State which protects all the civilians and all religions in the same way. The state must be at the same distance from all without raising barriers between majority and minority!! I am a citizen in my country and I am not a minority. No sense of tolerance, i.e., that allows me to exist. I am a partner in this country and I am not a guest or a migrant. Religion should not make difference in the matter of citizenship.   Muslim countries should look for a clear vision of citizenship? 6-      We should help the individual to choose the good without coercion (no compulsion in religion as the H. Koran says in several verses)! Religion is an issue between me and God. The value of the human person is based on freedom. No place for extremism in Religion, especially when it is turning into a frightening phenomenon of violence.

7-      Christians too, should look to themselves and to their identity as a total and integral part of their country and to promote citizenship?

8-    Religious Muslim leaders, have a historic responsibility to be a bridge for dialogue, a bridge to reunite all without exception.   They should make their voice heard loud and denied spilling the blood of all innocents not only of Muslims, and call openly for respect of pluralism and discover of common spaces to guaranty the rights of living for everyone in freedom and dignity.


9-    Religious Christian and Muslim teaching (programs of religion) should be updated with the current reality of the changes.   In the texts we should look for meaning to our lives. And we have to speak about different religions with respect and form our people to deal with positively. 10     – Religious discourse should contribute to the consolidation of faith, love and harmony between people and not of division, rivalry, hatred and conflict. And benefit from the information field, educational, cultural and social..


(Second intervention)

The future of democratization process in Iraq: challenges and perspectives

In Iraq there is a mosaic of cultures, religions and civilizations, but all carry a common national legacy. The challenges are today: the division of the land or a sectarian ongoing conflict!   Both will destroy the unity of Iraq and end its religious, ethnic and cultural pluralism.

In the atmosphere of new developments on our reality, we must not live on the borders of a fake bear in her womb all opposites, but we all ordered to rectify the face of the future remains to be built, as part of a dynamic creative promote and encourage.

The form of home, of the city, of the society, the form of living, must be prepared and accurately.

Democracy is not an academic exercise or a modern slogan; it’s the future of our country.

Democracy: The Greek word composed of Démos: people and Kratos : authority, power.

People: During the past years we have lost a lot of our personality, cultural, social and economy.   The understanding of authority and its exercise was bad. Authority became authoritarian, arbitrary and benefited instead of being a service and a help. We do not need today a theocratic state – according to the concept of fundamentalists, nor a unilateral administration or secular as western-style? We need a state of law and institutions, a state based on civil society and multi-civilized?

We need a true democracy according our circumstances and our traditions which respects the freedom of individuals and groups. We need a social system which acknowledges the others as partners with the right to think and to live differently and not like second class citizens.

How?   1-     Finding common bases.

2-      Adoption of a Constitution which ensures a civil society in multi-prosperous nation and supports peace and stability and does not allow the dominance of a political, religious or ethnic component.

3-      So we need time to research and debate in a free and sincere dialogue for our country’s future. What is good for all because in the same dignity of citizenship were the majority or minority.

4- To take advantage to strengthen the social structures in place to become more effective and inclusive and to create new structures where light and creativity.


5-      And the role eye on the scientific and educational institutions: schools, universities, mosques and churches to play for the development of peculiarities of local cultural, social, religious, national, linguistic flowing all in one fact is Iraq that embraces everyone, as in a tent and a big one away from any mental factional .Democracy means recognize the other and accept him and not to eliminate him or cancel him!  It is time now to work together to transform the suffering and tears of Iraqis to a sound and peaceful future.

6-Tolerance should be a real concern for Christians, Muslims and other components to live in peace and dignity. They have to collaborate to rise above the violence that our country becomes an oasis of peace, by eradicating extremism, and respecting pluralism and democracy. Therefore religious leaders should fruitfully follow-up this ideal with serious meetings which can strengthen the good resolve of Iraq.

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