Theme

"Harmony based on shared values – beyond national identities and beliefs: dialogue between Confucianism and Christianity"


Time & Location

Date: Nov 10, 2012 – Nov 11, 2012
Time: 9:00AM - 4:00PM
Venue: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Admission: By invitation only
Language: Chinese and English (simultaneous interpretation service provided)

Background

The study of civilizations is an important topic not only for scholars but for all those concerned about the well-being and future of our world. In the history of mankind, there are many examples of civilizations co-existing peacefully side by side, but there are also examples of civilizations clashing over issues they cannot resolve.  Resolving differences between civilizations east and west, old and modern is not an easy matter, but there can be no doubt that for the purpose of eliminating conflict and promoting peace among nations cross-cultural dialogue is a very effective means.

Conduct cross-cultural exchange, protect world cultural diversity and establish harmony among civilizations -- this was exactly the aim of the Nishan Forum on World Civilizations initiated in China in 2010 by Dr. Xu Jialu, the eminent scholar who served as Vice Chairman in the Standing Committee of China’s 9th and 10th National People's Congress.

The Nishan Forum continues to be China’s positive response to UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Global Agenda for Dialogues among Civilizations.  Its name reflects profound cultural and educational goodwill, “Nishan” (“Confucius Mountain”) being the birthplace of Confucius, the great ancient sage who founded the school of thought known to the West as Confucianism. The First Nishan Forum was held in Jining (Nishan), Shandong Province, on 26 and 27 of September 2010, and was attended by over 170 government dignitaries, distinguished scholars and religious leaders. Its significant achievement was the issuance of the Nishan Declaration of Harmony.

On the other hand, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) called and held the “United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)” on 20-22 June 2012 in Brazil. The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want calls for a broad alliance of people, governments, civil society and private sector, all working together to secure the future we want for present and future generations. Sustainable development through international cross-cultural collaboration requires all actors - governments, civil society, the private sector, as well as all citizens - to look beyond their national boundaries and global constraints, and work in close cooperation with each other on the basis of common cultural and spiritual values that can be embraced and upheld by all.

As a non-governmental organization with special consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) is dedicated to fostering international dialogue and understanding of cultural values, regional cooperation, energy security, and issues relating to China’s emerging place in the world. It believes an enhanced understanding of one another’s historic legacy and cultural values would lead to a more accurate interpretation of our respective actions.

Taking advantage of its strategic location in Hong Kong, CEFC initiate exchanges between China and other countries to address areas such as energy security, cultural values, and regional cooperation. Inspired by the spirit of The Nishan Declaration of Harmony and the mandates of Rio+20, CEFC is presently organized New York-Nishan Forum on World Civilizations in November 2012 with the endorsement, collaboration, and assistance from the Organizing Committee of the Nishan Forum on World Civilizations and the NGO Branch, Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The Forum will take place on Saturday and Sunday 10 and 11 November 2012, Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York. Launched in one of the world’s most culturally-diverse and cogent landmarks, the forum will be an unusual opportunity for religious leaders and experts from different nations to speak up and discuss the key relevance of Confucianism and Christianity in our modern age. Ultimately the discussion should lead to expositions on universally-treasured human values that are considered essential to the building of a harmonious world.

Mission and Objective

The New York Forum on World Civilizations will have the title “Harmony based on shared values – beyond national identities and beliefs: a dialogue between Confucianism and Christianity”. It will continue to explore possibilities of cross-cultural collaboration in the spirit of The Nishan Declaration of Harmony and the mandates of The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The Forum aims at promoting shared values from both civilizations after the Nishan Forum and provides a good opportunity to enhance understanding between civilizations which gave birth to Confucianism and Christianity. It also helps to promote a new spirit of cooperation in the post Rio+20 era, highlighting the increasing role of civil society and people-to-people diplomacy in reinforcing mutual understanding and cooperation.

Confucianism and Christianity, two civilizations with great influences around the world, have both different and common features between them. Dialogue and exchange between the two civilizations in the era of globalization will be pivotal to promote communications and understanding leading to a new harmonious relationship based on mutual respect and appreciation. It can provide the very foundation necessary to build a new and sustainable relationship as the world is becoming a global village. This Forum of intercultural and interreligious dialogs will pave the way for future dialogs between Confucianism and major religions around the world.

About the Sessions

In order to facilitate a comprehensive and effective discussion, the forum will be divided into five sessions:

1) “The Challenge of Inter-cultural Dialogue: Preserving yet Transcending Differences”

Unless cultures co-exist in harmony, there could not be a world of peace.  Inter-cultural dialogue is the only way for communities to peacefully work together and to learn from each other. With globalization as a backdrop in today’s society, how should inter-cultural dialogues proceed? Is thorough understanding between civilizations possible? Beyond the basic formula of seeking common ground and preserving differences, should we also embrace visions for mutual learning between religions?

2) “Confucian-Christian Collaboration toward Nonviolent Conflict Resolution”

Looking at the history of the development of human civilization, there are two main streams: the Christian civilization, with its deep roots in West Asia Mesopotamia, and the Confucian civilization, which has origins tracing back to East Asia Mesopotamia. Evidently, partnerships and dialogues between Christianity and Confucianism play key roles in advancing world peace and resolving human conflicts.

3) “One Earth, many civilizations: a Confucian-Christian Ecological Dialogue”

Humans are inhabitants of the Earth –– the relationship between humankind and the Earth is a perpetual subject. Throughout their long development process, Christianity and Confucianism have deeply explored the interrelationship of nature and humanity. In face of all the various environmental challenges existing today, humanity is called to promote ancient wisdom taught by the two civilizations, so as to live according to the way of the sages.

4) “The Role of Civilization in Promoting the Harmony of Society: Christian-Confucian Perspectives”

"Worship and warfare are the greatest concerns of a country." Civilization is the driving force in promoting social harmony. It shapes a common attitude for the people, and it even layouts a timeless perceptive framework, endowing a sense of moral confidence in current human activities, and empowering members of society to collectively uphold special historical responsibilities. What are the commonalities between Confucianism and Christianity in terms of advancing social harmony? In the modern age, what can be done so that cooperation is mutually benefiting?

5) “Is a Global Ethic Necessary? Possible? -- A Confucian-Christian Response”

Is globalization inevitably leading to a global ethic? In a culturally diverse global village, is an all-inclusive global ethic possible? Confucianism and Christianity have a deep regard for “the world below the heavens”, and are always immersed within diverse cultural contexts. Drawing Confucian-Christian comparisons could yield the double-benefit of identifying universal and regional characteristics. Through such reflections, it would be possible for a unification of global ethics in a modern and culturally diverse world.