Steering the DECADE Initiative

The Initiative for a UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace was initially guided by a Provisional Steering Committee – PSC (see below). As foreseen in the Draft Proposal for the DECADE, the PSC remained in functions from its formation in January 2008 until March 4, 2009, when the Coalition of supporting organizations was formally constituted at Maryknoll, New York, establishing its own Steering Committee with revised functions and composition.

 

The Steering Committee (SC)

(March 2009 – )

 

Mandate

The Steering Committee serves as the coordinating mechanism of the Coalition for the proposed UN Decade in its efforts to have it proclaimed by the UN General Assembly and implemented.

Members and internal organization

On 4 March 2009, at Maryknoll, The Coalition nominated its SC composed by 15 organizations representing a variety of religious traditions (one Buddhist, two Christian, one Hindu, one Jewish, two Muslims and one from Indigenous spiritual traditions), five international interfaith organizations and two values-based civil society organizations. (see list of SC member organizations)

Mr. Stein Villumstad from Religions for Peace, until then Chair of the Provisional Steering Committee, was elected as Chair of the Steering Committee of the Coalition. In its constituting meeting, to be held on May 2009, after that its member organizations would have designated their representatives, the SC will elect from among themselves up to three vice chairs, with due consideration of presence in New York, Geneva and/or Paris. The SC is also expected to establish thematic and/or geographic groups with members drawn from the Committee and other interested members of the Coalition.

Main tasks of the Steering Committee are:

  • On behalf of the Coalition: to oversee the process of proposing a “Decade for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace” to the United Nations.  This will include close collaboration and advocacy with UN member states and relevant UN bodies, agencies and offices with the aim of encouraging broad ownership and build formal partnerships with them.
  • To take the leadership in expanding and strengthening the Coalition for the proposed UN Decade through mobilizing religious communities, interfaith and value based organizations in support of the proposed Decade.
  • To facilitate an inclusive planning process within the Coalition for its contributions towards a Plan of Action for the proposed UN Decade.
  • To maintain an active communication within the Coalition, including information sharing on progress and challenges related to the process of planning and launching the proposed UN Decade, and to call meetings of the Coalition as appropriate.
  • To facilitate the transition from advocating for a Decade to its implementation. This will include developing proposals on how Coalition members may work in a decentralized Non Governmental Implementation Arrangement that can dynamically interact with UN member states and UN agencies and bodies.
  • To engage the Coalition in mobilizing resources to allow an effective functioning of the Steering Committee, including travels and meetings as deemed appropriate

 

The Provisional Steering Committee (PSC)

(January 2008 – March 2009)

 

Mandate

The representatives from interfaith and faith-based organizations and communities present at the Bossey Consultation designated on 11 January 2008 some of them as “Provisional Steering Committee” to oversee the process aimed at having the proposed DECADE eventually proclaimed by the UN General Assembly.

Members

The PSC had 17 members. It was chaired by Mr. Stein Villumstad, Deputy Secretary General of Religions for Peace, based in New York, with Mr. Trevor Davies, Chairperson of CONGO’s CSVGC-Geneva as Vice-Chair, working in close cooperation with Dr. Gerardo Gonzalez, convener of the Bossey Consultation, who performed as Coordinator of the DECADE Initiative. (See list of members of the PSC)

Achievements

During its 13 months of operation the PSC managed to:

  • Edit and keep updated the Draft Proposal for the UN Decade of Interreligious Cooperation for Peace, translating its short version to other languages than English.
  • Identifying, contacting and inviting spiritual and religious leaders and their communities and organizations to support the initiative and join the Coalition, as well as organizing its Constituting Meeting at Maryknoll. 59 organizations had already expressed their support, with 42 of them represented in that meeting.
  • In the political front:
    • The proposal for the DECADE was sent to all the missions accredited to the UN in New York and Geneva; several missions of UN member states were visited by groups of members of the PSC both in Geneva and New York, finding a positive response towards the DECADE proposal in at least 14 of them.
    • A draft for the GA resolution adopting the DECADE was prepared.
    • The President of the General Assembly, HE Miguel D’Escoto,  was contacted, expressing strong support for this initiative
    • The GA adopted its resolution 63/22 opening the door for the consideration by that body of a possible UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace.
  • A website was designed and put in operation.
  • Funds-raising for financing the Maryknoll meeting was successfully accomplished.