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Towards Spiritual Concord/ First World Congress towards Spiritual Concord


Towards Spiritual Concord
Global Context
Specific Context
Alma Ata
Participants and Representation
Key Figures and Endorsements
Organization and Structure
Process Dynamics and Communication
Purpose and Content
Spirituality and Concord: questions vs answers
Spirituality and Concord: challenge of language
Using differences creatively
Configuration of Tensions towards Polarization
Hidden Shift in Focus
Evaluations and Learnings
Conclusions for future initiatives

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Published as First World Congress towards Spiritual Concord (Alma Ata, October 1992) (Transnational Associations, 43, 1993, 1, pp. 28-37)


It is unprecedented for the government of a newly independent country to provide extensive official support for a large international non-governmental conference -- especially for a country in which 'nongovernmental' initiatives are a new and questionable phenomenon. That the conference should be organized on behalf of an international body headquartered in the capital of the former ruling superpower increases the challenge of creative diplomacy. But it is even more difficult to imagine any government providing official support for a conference on 'spiritual concord' -- and that this should be done in a country that is far from wealthy (as one of its first international conferences) is a further challenge to belief.

And yet, without external subsidies, the Government of Kazakhstan placed extensive facilities and resources at the disposal of the First World Congress towards Spiritual Concord recently held in its capital of Alma Ata (October 1992) with the explicit benediction of its President N Y Nasarbajev and his wife. The congress of 2,500 participants was organized by the International Association 'Peace through Culture' (based in Moscow) in the record time of 3 months. This is a tremendous achievement by any standards, but especially in a country in considerable political and economic turmoil.

The physical location of the conference in Central Asia ensured an unusual range of participants. In these times of transition for the countries emerging from the Soviet Union it raised unusual challenges in terms of feasibility. The socio-political traditions developed within the Soviet Union favour a command approach which is less than satisfactory to nongovernmental conferences seeking other forms of interaction in which they are as yet inexperienced. How these challenges can be met is a matter of great interest for the future.

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