Paris, France, 11 November 2018 - His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today joined over 60 world leaders for the opening session of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum. Initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, the Forum is founded on the principle that international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace. The Forum was launched on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, marking the end of World War I.
“It is my conviction that one of the key conditions for peace in our world today is a greater respect for pluralism,” explained the Aga Khan. “In a world challenged by globalisation, social fragmentation and conflict between peoples, pluralism and a well-anchored civil society are essential for human peace and progress. This is why the Aga Khan Development Network is delighted to be a partner of the Paris Peace Forum.”
Earlier in the day, the Aga Khan was the guest of the French President at a lunch held at the Elysee Palace for all the visiting heads of state and government.
The Aga Khan has often spoken about the need to recognise pluralism as a fundamental value of human society, an essential ingredient in the development of a country and a necessity for the existence of a peaceful society. The promotion of pluralism has therefore been an aim of many AKDN programmes, from irrigation schemes bringing together diverse communities and cultures in Pakistan to inclusive reading programmes for children in Kenya, from a project to integrate immigrants in Lisbon to the reintroduction of midwifery schools in Afghanistan. AKDN’s ultimate aim is to nurture successful civil societies in which every citizen, irrespective of cultural, religious or ethnic differences, can realise his or her full potential.
Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, international, non-denominational agencies working to improve living conditions and opportunities for people in specific regions of the developing world. The Network’s organisations have individual mandates that range from healthcare (through over 200 health facilities including 13 hospitals) and education (with over 200 schools) to architecture, rural development, the built environment and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. Together, they work towards a common goal – to build institutions and programmes that can respond to the challenges of social, economic and cultural change on an on-going basis. AKDN works in 30 countries around the world, employing approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development is approximately US$ 950 million. AKDN agencies conduct their programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender.