Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Bettina Krause, communication director, International Religious Liberty Association

As the world’s political leaders gathered earlier this month for the G20 Economic Summit in Hangzhou, China, an international group of religious scholars met in Beijing to consider how religion can help foster international dialogue and problem-solving.

Ganoune Diop, director of public affairs and religious liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was invited to address the group of some 40 scholars and religious leaders. He told the group that before talking about our differences, we must first recognize shared human values. 

His paper, entitled “Exploring Intersections of Values: A Pathway to Peace and Solidarity Among Nations and Civilizations,” highlighted a number of universal human values that bind people together no matter what their culture or religion. He said principles such as unity, dignity, justice or righteousness, and honor are interdependent values that help model what it means to be both human and humane. 

In his paper, delivered on the second day of the summit, Diop also traced the fundamental concept of “human dignity” within Islam, Christianity, Judaism, as well as many Asian religions and major world philosophies.   

“The principle of human dignity is a plinth upon which human rights, and human responsibilities are based,” said Diop. “This principle along with the values of unity in diversity, justice, righteousness and honor are core to all major world religions and moral philosophies. In international treaties and covenants, and in nearly every national constitution, human dignity is foundational.”

For the past eleven years, G20 Interfaith Summits have taken place on the sidelines of every G7, G8, and G20 Summit. Their purpose is to consider the role of religion and faith in current global issues, and to highlight concrete contributions made by religion. 

This is the second time Diop has been invited to give a plenary address at this event—the first was at the 2015 G20 Interfaith Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. 

This year’s gathering was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and was jointly sponsored by the Institute of World Religions and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University. Longtime religious liberty advocate and scholar Dr. Cole Durham was a key organizer of the event.

A more in-depth report on Diop’s paper can be found at