September 8-12, 2021 — Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia
A conference on “International Religious Freedom and Peace,” will be hosted by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia, from September 8 to 12, 2021, with the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. The conference is being organized by the Committee for the Preservation of the Spiritual-Cultural Heritage of Artsakh.
Information about the conference program can be found at the website www.irfpeace.org The conference proceedings will be recorded and posted on the website.
His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will deliver the welcoming message at the conference on Thursday, September 9. Abp. Vicken Aykazian and Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, cochairs of the committee will convene the sessions of the conference.
Dignitaries and high-ranking religious figures from throughout the world will participate in the Conference including Arch. Angaelos, Primate of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of London; Apostolic Nuncio to Armenia; The Right Rev. Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe; Fr. Ioan Sauca, Interim General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Rev. Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches; His Excellency, Archbishop Jose Avelino Bettencourt, Archimadrate Ignatios Sotiriadis, Greek Orthodox Church; and His Eminence Archbishop Mor George Kourieh, Patriarchal Vicar in Belgium, France and Luxembourg; Fr. Abraham Thomas, Secretary to the Department of Ecumenical Relations of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, Baroness Caroline Cox and others.
The goal of the conference is to create a set of recommendations for international religious freedom and cultural preservation that can be applied globally. The conference, which will include sixteen individual presentations and panel discussions, will bring together religious leaders with leading scholars, human rights advocates, and experts from around the world to discuss issues related to the preservation of the world spiritual, cultural and historical heritage, which all too often comes under threat from ethnic and religious intolerance, especially during wars and armed conflict.
Access to places of worship in conflict zones, protecting the fundamental human rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and preserving cultural heritage, are just some of the topics that will be addressed. The conference follows the recent war in Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabagh, whose international status remains unresolved. Since the end of the 2020 War, which has seen large swaths of Artsakh taken over by Azerbaijan, concerns have been raised over the inability of the local majority Armenian population to access historic monasteries and churches for worship; and there are fears for the preservation of thousands of ancient Armenian churches, historical monuments, and archeological sites located in the occupied area.
The organizing committee hopes for a successful conference the contents of which will be available post-conference for review and comments. Please direct any questions on the website on issues specifically related to the topics which will be presented and discussed.