His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), joined over 60 world leaders for the opening session of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum on November 11, according to press release issued by AKDN.

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 (AKDN) 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 programs.

AKDN’s ultimate aim is to nurture successful civil societies in which every citizen, irrespective of cultural, religious or ethnic differences, could realize his or her full potential.

Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, AKDN 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 organizations 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 programs 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 programs without regard to faith, origin or gender.

In Tajikistan, AKDN has operated since 1992, drawing on a strong base of experience in working with mountain societies.  It works in all regions of the country and employs over 3,500 people through its operations and investments.  AKDN supports the establishment of programs and institutions that allow the government, private sector and civil society to play complementary roles in increasing prosperity and creativity within a pluralistic society.