December 2011. The suggested “UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace” does not find enough political support within the UN General Assembly and is removed from its agenda. The Coalition activates its search for an alternative global vehicle within the UN, while keeping the core objectives pursued by the proposed decade.

Two consultations to the member states were conducted by DESA on behalf of the UN Secretary-General in 2009 and 2011 about the convenience of proclaiming a “UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace”.1 Although the idea found support from many countries, the European Union as a block opposed, arguing that the UN could play a facilitating role in the field of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, but should not lead such a dialogue. Since this kind of resolutions is normally adopted by consensus, the suggested UN Decade is likely to remain for some time not politically viable within the General Assembly.

Additionally, the Philippines didn`t include –as done in previous years- any mention to such a decade in the text of the 2011 resolution on a “culture of peace”. Consequently, the idea of a UN decade of interreligious dialogue and cooperation for peace is not any longer in the agenda of the GA.

This scenario had been anticipated by the Coalition since its 2nd meeting (Melbourne, December 2009), when it instructed its Steering Committee to explore alternative vehicles for promoting the kind of partnership with the UN to which the original notion of the Decade pointed. During 2010 the Steering Committee worked with that aim, identifying three complementary approaches:

  • Multi-faith pilot partnerships with individual UN agencies or programs;
  • Participation in pertinent UN events (such as the annual “World Interfaith Harmony Week” and the “International Day of Peace”)
  • An umbrella arrangement with the UN Secretariat, as in the UN Global Compact (www.unglobalcompact.org/) or the UN Academic Impact Initiative (www.academicimpact.org/)

Progress made in those lines was reported and discussed at the 3rd Meeting of the Coalition (Maryknoll, March 2011) under Track 2 “Partnering with the UN towards shared goals”, finding wide support. Track 1 was a last attempt to get political support for the proposed “UN Decade” taking advantage of the second consultation by DESA to the member states, which –as already mentioned- didn’t succeed.

Since November 2011 a Working Group constituted by members of the Coalition’s Steering Committee and coordinated by the Executive Secretary, has been outlining and exploring the viability of a possible “UN multi-faith global partnership”, inspired in the UN Global Compact as organizational model, as alternative umbrella arrangement instead of a “UN decade”. (See the summary outline Summary outline for a UN multi-faith global partnership MFGP and working document Looking for a new global vehicle by GG )