Strengthening ties between Nahdlatul Ulama, ASEAN, and the world’s largest political network, Centrist Democrat International

“[Centrist Democrat International] calls upon CDI member parties to expand cooperation with ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference, in order to strengthen shared civilizational values and thereby foster peace, security, and economic prosperity worldwide”
~ CDI Executive Committee, Brussels, 14 November 2023

BRUSSELS, Belgium — On Tuesday 14 November 2023, the Executive Committee of Centrist Democrat International unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon CDI member parties to expand cooperation with ASEAN and the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC).

The event was held in the Jacques Delors Building, which houses The European Committee of The Regions (CoR), the European Union’s assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities with a direct voice within the EU’s institutional framework. CDI’s European affiliate is the European People’s Party (EPP) — the largest political grouping within the European Parliament, whose member parties govern sixteen (16) EU Member States.

CDI’s endorsement of the ASEAN IIDC throws the collective weight of the world’s largest political network — with 109 member parties in 83 countries — behind a visionary agenda pioneered by Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values: i.e., the re-emergence of Southeast Asia as a coherent civilizational sphere and powerful, independent pillar of support for a rules-based international order.

The Resolution on strengthening cooperation between CDI and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in order to foster international peace, security, and prosperity was submitted to the CDI Executive Committee by Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, PKB (the National Awakening Party), which holds one of CDI’s vice presidencies and has played a key role in the governing coalition of H.E. Joko Widodo, two-term President of the Republic of Indonesia (2014 – 2024).

The Chairman’s Statement of the 43rd ASEAN Summit reads, in part:

We, the Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 5 September 2023 for the 43rd ASEAN Summit under the Chairmanship of the Republic of Indonesia…. reaffirmed the importance of fostering the values of an inclusive, sustainable, resilient, dynamic, and harmonious ASEAN Community through facilitating a greater understanding of shared civilisational values derived from the ASEAN region’s culture and religions, and commended the convening of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference 2023 with the theme ‘ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values: Building an Epicentrum of Harmony to Foster Peace, Security, and Economic Prosperity,’ in Jakarta on 7 August 2023, and recognised the values of its outcomes.

H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, welcoming heads of government, ministers, and foreign observers to the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta

Three of ASEAN’s 10 Member States are governed by political parties that belong to Centrist Democrat International. In addition to Indonesia’s PKB, these include the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the largest political party in the Philippines’ governing coalition — Lakas Kampi CMD (Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats).

Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values — which jointly organized and hosted the first ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC) in Jakarta — have worked closely with the leadership of Centrist Democrat International since October 2019.

The CDI resolution reads, in part:

  • Welcoming the fact that on 7 – 8 August 2023 Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Government of Indonesia convened senior religious and cultural figures from across South and Southeast Asia in order to chart a course for the region’s re-emergence as a cohesive, vital, and proactive civilizational sphere;
  • Noting with appreciation that NU established the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC) in order to consolidate a vast constituency upon the basis of shared civilizational values, capable of fostering peace, tolerance, and harmony throughout ASEAN and to inspire a similar dynamic worldwide;
  • Acknowledging that the ASEAN IIDC represents a striking demonstration of broad institutional, popular, and governmental backing for a regional strategy, known as the “Ashoka Approach,” which was pioneered by Nahdlatul Ulama and the Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV);
  • Taking note of the fact that the “Ashoka Approach” seeks to reawaken the ancient spiritual, cultural, and socio-political heritage of South and Southeast Asia, which pioneered key concepts and practices of religious pluralism and tolerance more than 2,000 years ago;
  • Recognizing that Western humanism, Christian democracy, Humanitarian Islam, and the Ashokan legacy are kindred traditions, built upon shared civilizational, philosophical, moral, and spiritual values;
  • Appreciating that the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Indonesia are both heirs to the Ashokan legacy, and governed by CDI member parties that are well positioned to foster civilizational dialogue and cooperation between Southeast Asia and other regions of the world;
  • Noting with approval that ASEAN Heads of State/Government, who gathered in Jakarta in September 2023 under the Chairmanship of the Republic of Indonesia, unanimously “reaffirmed the importance of the ASEAN region’s culture and religions, and commended the convening of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference 2023 with the theme ‘ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values: Building an Epicentrum of Harmony to Foster Peace, Security, and Economic Prosperity’… and recognised the values of its outcomes” (Chairman’s Statement of the 43rd ASEAN Summit, point 122);

The CDI:

  • Affirms the value of the ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference as a means of strengthening Southeast Asia as a bulwark of stability in the Indo-Pacific Region, and an alternate pillar of support for a rules-based international order founded upon universal ethics and humanitarian values;
  • Calls upon CDI member parties to expand cooperation with ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN IIDC, in order to strengthen shared civilizational values and thereby foster peace, security, and economic prosperity worldwide;
  • Urges CDI member parties in Southeast Asia to cooperate in securing recognition of the ASEAN IIDC as “an annual forum, in order to facilitate ongoing cooperation between individuals, religious communities, civil society organizations, media outlets, and governments throughout ASEAN, ASEAN Plus Member States, and beyond” (ASEAN IIDC Jakarta Declaration, point xvii).

Executive Committee meeting – Brussels 14.11.23

The CDI resolution may be read in full by clicking the image below.

IDC-CDI Executive Committee meeting in Brussels, 14 November 2023

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ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Conference (ASEAN IIDC)