National Buddhist Unions at the Council of Europe
From 23rd – 29th of January 2017 delegates of the European Buddhist Union (EBU) experienced a busy and exciting week, in participating in the Session of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. It was a unique opportunity to be in the heart of this European institution and to focus on actual issues in relation to our practice. The delegates of the EBU team had in fact taken part in the meetings of the Conference of INGO’s of the Council of Europe, with many topics “on the table”: the situation of migrants, the limits of the web and social networks, especially in relation to the participation and the spread of violence.
During the week, the “No hate speech” campaign was presented, focusing on the problem of increasing hatred on the web and the strategies to face it. Many young people from Universities and organizations from across all Europe gathered to discuss this issue that is also very relevant to our practice, the appropriate and conscious speaking.
A working group of the Human Rights Committee of the conference of INGOs organised a side event with ambassadors, parliamentarians and experts to support the civil society in protecting Human Rights in southern countries where big industries take ownership of local resources and expel local people.
The main meeting of the conference of INGO’s in the Council of Europe on Friday was a great opportunity for us to learn more about the manifold realities, from different backgrounds, working on our continent on actual issues of our society. Experts, parliamentarians, ambassadors and representatives of governments took actively part in the work and discussions of the INGOs. This gave us on the EBU level, on one hand, a great opportunity to grow, as it enables us to have a broader view on what is happening in Europe at the political and institutional level. At the same time it requires from us a great sense of responsibility, as these institutions see us as representatives of Buddhism and observe the needs that we represent. The EBU- representatives have certainly a challenging job that requires sensitive professionalism, but at the same time it offers us enthusiasm and enables us to be part of a major project.
The week ended with the meeting of the National Buddhist Unions that are part of the EBU in the Zen centre of Strasbourg. The two days of work and very effective encounter saw the delegates from 12 European countries engaged in designing policies and prospects for the future commitment of our organizations in the European context. The aim, in fact, is to find suitable ways to meet the challenges that are lying ahead and to relaunch our commitment both in our respective countries with common lines, both globally and as one body. This is a major challenge but the dialogue, openness and collaboration that characterized the meeting presented a great hope and the best confirmation of how buddhist practice is able to create right conditions to achieve what we have in common and to foster Buddhism in Europe.