The Partners

As other UN activities, the DECADE is conceived as a tripartite venture, with the active involvement of UN Member States, UN Agencies and Programs as well as interfaith organizations, religious communities,  organizations representing indigenous traditions and other pertinent social actors of the civil society.

The primary political and programmatic responsibility for sponsorship and implementation of the DECADE will lie with UN Member States and pertinent UN agencies and programmes. Nevertheless, given the unique focus of the DECADE, religious communities, interfaith and values-based organizations are expected to be given key responsibilities in a participatory approach to implementation, interlinked through an appropriate non-governmental arrangement established by a coalition of these supporting entities.

a. The UN Member States

The involvement of Member States in the DECADE initiative has been progressive. Six member states were represented at the Bossey Consultation. (See “List of participants at the Bossey Consultation”). On May 2008 the Third Draft Proposal (see “Third Draft Proposal For Decade Final Version”) was sent to all the UN Member States’ missions based in New York and Geneva by the “ECOSOC and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch”, Department for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat. Since February 2008 members of the Provisional Steering Committee based in New York and Geneva have visited many of those missions (see “Missions contacted by the Provisional Steering Committee”) looking for political support to the DECADE initiative. Since July 2008 those consultations have focused around the text of a “Draft Resolution” (see “DRAFT for Draft GA Resolution for Decade”) which would be submitted by a group of Member States to the General Assembly.

b. The UN Agencies and Programmes

The first contact with pertinent UN bodies took place at the Bossey Consultation, which was attended by Mr Sergei Kambalov, Chief, “ECOSOC and Inter-organizational Cooperation Branch”, Department for Economic and Social Affairs, which coordinates activities in the interreligious, intercultural and intercivilizational  fields at the UN Secretariat. That Consultation was also attended by advisers from ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNHCR and an observer from UNESCO.

Fourteen months later DESA, ILO, UNESCO and UNFPA participated at the constituting meeting of the Coalition in Maryknoll , near New York City (March 2009) reporting on their cooperation with FBOs.

A third collective contact took place two days latter at DESA premises in NY, with the participation of representatives from UNESCO, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP and the DESA’s Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination.

During the first formal meeting of the Steering Committee (NY, 7-8 May 2009) we had separate conversations with UNESCO, the Secretariat of the Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Millennium Campaign and again with DESA.

The past and ongoing experiences of partnership involving UN agencies and Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) were one of the main subjects addressed during the last three contacts mentioned above.  In order to have a more systematic knowledge and assessment of the accumulated experience in that field the Executive Secretariat of the Coalition has been conducting during the second half of 2009 a review of these experiences of partnership. This has been a new opportunity for contacting again several UN agencies. A report with the preliminary findings of this Review was presented by the Executive Secretary to the Coalition at its Second Meeting, held at the Holy Cross Centre, Melbourne, Australia, on 1-3 December 2009. (See report)

In case that the UN General Assembly proclaims the DECADE, it is expected that the UN Secretary General would designate an appropriate entity of the UN system to serve as Lead Agency for the Decade, as well as invite other pertinent UN agencies and entities to cooperate in its implementation according to their specific mandates. Given the wide spectrum of fields and issues within the UN agenda which might be addressed by the DECADE, a decentralized multi-agency arrangement would be the most appropriate for its implementation.

c. The civil society: The Coalition

After a long process of promotion, the COALITION in support of the Initiative for a UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace was constituted by representatives of forty two organizations gathered with that purpose on 2-4 March 2009 at the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Ossining, New York.

Functions

The Coalition will have four main functions:

  • To promote the support for the proposed Decade, leading to its adoption by the UN General  Assembly through the coordination of its Steering Committee
  • To contribute towards a Plan of Action for the proposed UN Decade together with UN member states and pertinent UN bodies and agencies, and like-minded NGOs.
  • To propose and establish a “Non-Governmental Arrangement to Facilitate the Implementation of the Decade” in consultation with UN member states and pertinent UN bodies and agencies as described in the proposal for this UN Decade..
  • To mobilize Coalition member constituencies towards engaging in UN agendas pertinent to the proposed UN Decade.

Role of members of the Coalition

Members of the Coalition commit themselves to some or all of the following:

  • To actively promote the proposed UN Decade within its own membership/constituency through raising awareness of potentials and benefits that can come out of the proposed Decade
  • To identify potential programs and projects that are within their own mandate and that converge with UN agendas, particularly relevant and pertinent under the framework of the proposed UN Decade.
  • To make attempts to build partnerships with UN member states and relevant UN bodies and agencies to implement projects and programs within the framework of the proposed UN Decade Plan of Action and under the broad umbrella of the Non-Governmental Arrangement.
  • To share relevant information that may enhance the implementation and impact of the Decade.
  • To make efforts, in an attempt to make the proposed UN Decade a worldwide effort, establish regional and national networking mechanisms for:
    • Information sharing, sharing of best practices and suggestions for projects and programs that may encourage multi-religious and multi-organizational cooperation.
    • Effective liaison with UN agencies and offices on issues that can help promote the implementation of the proposed UN Decade.
  • To engage in resource mobilization for the work of the Coalition.

Principles of cooperation

The Coalition members are invited to reach out to one or several other members for cooperation, or operate on their own to advance the proposed UN Decade.

The Coalition will work towards facilitating partnerships with UN bodies and agencies in ways that respect already existing bilateral or multilateral partnerships with members of the Coalition.

The Steering Committee will suggest policies and priorities for the Coalition within the framework of the UN Decade Proposal, and members are expected to respect these.

Member organizations

By December 2009 sixty seven organizations had already joined the Coalition or are in process of confirming and specifying their engagement. Eighteen of them are of interfaith character, thirty six can be defined as faith-based organizations associated to eleven different religious and spiritual traditions, and eleven can be considered as predominantly values-based organizations of the civil society. (See the list of organizations supporting the Decade initiative and participating in activities of the Coalition)).