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Vesak 2019 – demonstration of peaceful, friendly Vietnam

Most Venerable Phra Brahmapundit, President of the International Council for Day of Vesak, speaks at the opening ceremony of Vesak 2019. Photo: VNA
The 16th United Nations Day of Vesak has successfully wrapped up, offering participants wonderful experiences, Most Venerable Phra Brahmapundit, President of the International Council for Day of Vesak (ICDV), has said.

The event brought together domestic and foreign leaders, along with dozens of thousands of Buddhist dignitaries and followers.

In her opening speech, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, who is also Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), highlighted the UN’s commitments to values in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including contributions of the ICDV.

Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) and Vice Chairman of the Vesak 2019 International Organising Committee, said the Ha Nam Declaration issued at the event details the commitments of the global Buddhist community to peace building.

The event’s theme, “Buddhist approach to global leadership and shared responsibilities for sustainable societies,” has signaled the significance of the 16th UN Day of Vesak and affirmed the core values of peace and wisdom in Buddhism, which should be spread to build peace and spur sustainable development.

Most Venerable Thich Nhat Tu, member of the VBS’s Executive Council and Deputy Secretary General of the Vesak 2019 National Organising Committee, pointed out several key global challenges, such as armed conflicts, environmental degradation, changes in family and social relations, psychological diseases, and social and economic inequality.

With this context in mind, the Buddhist view of global leadership and social administration orientated towards a sustainable future would play a key role in dealing with these problems, he said.

The 16th UN Day of Vesak discussed five sub-themes, namely “Mindful leadership for sustainable peace”, “Buddhist approach to harmonious families, healthcare, and sustainable society”, “Buddhist approach to global education in ethics”, “Buddhism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, and “Buddhist approach to responsible consumption and sustainable development.”

The Ha Nam Declaration looks to send a message of peace, societal sustainability, and other relevant matters based on Buddha’s teachings of wisdom and compassion.

Delegates adopted an increasingly active role, both locally and globally, advocating for, working for, and supporting sustainable societies in the current context of profound social, political, economic, and cultural crises.

They also invigorated the concept of “Engaged Buddhism” by actively and positively seeking the participation of international institutions.

Regarding the mindful leadership for sustainable peace, they were resolved to emphasise dialogue and non-violent approaches for peace-building contrary to the belief that physical strength will triumph over the weak, and encouraged the notions of wisdom and compassion as the basis for any conflict avoidance and resolution.

In his closing remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said “We hope for a bright future for humankind” and that social uncertainties will be pushed back gradually.

The event has promoted Vietnam as a peaceful and friendly nation which hopes to befriend other countries, while demonstrating the Vietnamese Government’s commitments to implementing the UN Millennium Development Goals, as well as religious freedom in Vietnam.

Vietnam has consistently pursued policies on respecting and ensuring rights to freedom of religion and belief in line with law, he said.

The Deputy PM noted the close relations between religions in Vietnam as well as their companionship with the nation and contributions to national construction and defence.