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Inter-religious Council
Meeting of the Inter-religious Council
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Today, on the 11th of November, at the Administration of the Government of Georgia, a meeting of the Inter-Religious Council of the State Agency for Religious Issues was held with the United Nations Children's Fund and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the religious organizations in Georgia: Patriarchate of Georgia, Administration of Muslims of All Georgia, Georgian Jews Union, Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia, Apostolic Administration of the Caucasus, Spiritual Assembly of Yazidis of Georgia, Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Georgia, Evangelical-Protestant Church in Georgia, International Baptist Church of Tbilisi, Union of Evangelical Christian Baptist Church of Georgia, Evangelical Faith Church of Georgia, International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Zaza Vashakmadze, the chairman of the State Agency for Religious Issues welcomed the participants and briefed them on the activities implemented in the field of children's rights in Georgia and emphasized that the agency would continue to play a mediating role between the religious organizations and the United Nations Children's Fund which would further enhance the best possible protection of children's rights in Georgia. According to him, the meeting with representatives of two religious organizations - the Georgian Patriarchate and the Administration of Muslims of All Georgia had already been held with the UNISEF and the practice of such cooperation would continue. The Chairman of the agency noted the "Code of Protection of Children" adopted by the Parliament of Georgia, which would play an important role in the protection of children's rights in our country.

Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia, noted the contribution and involvement of the State Agency for Religious Issues in organizing and hosting such an important meeting. He welcomed the Foundation's consultative meetings with the representatives of the Patriarchate and the Administration of Muslims of All Georgia in Adjara and highlighted the Foundation's activity and new challenges in light of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Protection of Children (Georgia joined the Convention in 1994). According to him, the involvement of the agency in the process is of great importance, with which the memorandum of mutual cooperation has just been signed. The Fund representatives will meet with all religious organizations to ensure that they are fully involved in the protection of children's rights: “Religious leaders are very close to the community, they have a great influence and that is why our cooperation is strategic. In some countries, religion is abused and children are also involved in it. The peaceful environment in Georgia means that tolerance is characteristic of you and it should also be present in the field of protection of children's rights, an example of which is our cooperation,”Ghassan Khalil said.

The deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration, Rati Ionatamishvili, spoke about the important document, the “Code of Protection of the Rights of Children”, adopted by the Parliament, which together with experts and the involvement of the representatives of the agency, civil society, international organizations and the youth was created. In addition to protecting human rights, the Code also provides for the obligations of children, including equality of children on religious grounds. According to the deputy chairman, it is important not only the adoption of the Code, but also the components of its implementation and parliamentary supervision.

The leaders of religious organizations expressed their willingness to cooperate with the United Nations Foundation and noted challenges such as child poverty, education, upbringing, displaced children, harm of products containing propaganda of obscenity, violence that is inappropriate for the child’s psyche and thanked the agency for bringing this problem to the forefront of interreligious relatios.

In his closing remarks, Zaza Vashakmadze, the chairman of the State Agency for Religious Issues, thanked the invited guests for participating in the event and expressed a willingness to cooperate intensively.