Faith and Values Organizations form COALITION to advance United Nations Decade for Inter-religious Cooperation for Peace

NEW YORK, 4 March 2009

Forty-two religious, interfaith, and value-based organizations from five continents agreed to form a coalition to advance a “United Nations Decade for Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding, and Cooperation for Peace.” Coalition members expressed the hope that the UN Sixty-Fourth General Assembly, which will begin its deliberations in September 2009, will approve a resolution establishing such a decade from 2011-2020. 

The meeting took place at the Maryknoll, New York, on 2-4 March. Participants included Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Zoroastrian as well as indigenous spiritual traditions. The most influential international inter-faith organizations – CPWR, IARF, ToU, URI and WCRP among them– were also represented.

 

A  provisional steering committee worked for the Decade with UN member states during 2008, and the UN General Assembly on 14 November, 2008, took the first step by adopting resolution 63/22 which calls for exploring the feasibility for such a decade. The resolution was co-sponsored by 78 states.

 

On Monday, the President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, reiterated in a message addressed to the meeting his previous calls for a “new spirit of solidarity and a powerful injection of moral and ethical values into our business and political lives.” He urged the religious leaders to work together with the United Nations since these concerns require “life-long commitment” and religious institutions have the “staying power in the face of these challenges.”

 

The Coalition nominated  a Steering Committee composed by 15 member organizations, which will include six religious/spiritual organizations (two Christian, two Muslim, one Buddhist, one Jewish, one Hindu and one representing Indigenous spiritual traditions), five international interfaith organizations and two secular values-based organizations.  Mr. Stein Villumstad, who had performed as Chair of the Provisional Steering Committee and has been offered by Religions for Peace to continue fulfilling that function in this new phase of the DECADE initiative, was elected as Chair of the Steering Committee. Two Vice-Chairs, one based in Geneva and one in New York, will be designated by the Steering Committee once formally constituted. 

 

Coalition members hope the proposed UN Decade will be launched on 21 September 2010, the International Day of Peace. This would immediately follow the current 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World and the 2010 International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.