Interfaith Peacebuilding

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The Universal Peace Federation and its global network of Ambassadors for Peace bring universal, spiritual principles to the task of resolving conflict and reconciling the divided human family. International Leadership Conferences, symposia and peace councils offer opportunities for high-level consultations. These are complemented by "track II" diplomacy and grass-roots programs that build support for a culture of peace. World peace can be fully accomplished only when the wisdom and efforts of the world’s religious leaders are combined cooperatively and respectfully with the endeavors of national political leaders. Absent the recognition of spiritual principles, the world has drifted increasingly toward analyses and prescriptions that are materialistic and secular in nature. In so doing, we have lost sight of the profound wisdom to be found in humanity’s spiritual heritage. Global institutions must be built on a foundation that takes into account the full potential of the human being, not only as a political, economic, and social being, but also as a spiritual being with spiritual needs and a capacity for spiritual wisdom and insight. The legacy of the world’s great saints, prophets, sages, and spiritual leaders cannot be denied or discounted without ignoring what is most fundamental about the human being. In too many ways the history of religion has been marked by narrow sectarianism, strife, and competitive struggle with other faiths, all to the detriment of the cherished goals and teachings of the founders and scriptures. This cannot continue. The need to eliminate corruption, selfishness, and bad governance applies not only to all nations but also to all of the world’s religions. Lasting peace depends on cooperative partnerships between governments and religions, as well as NGOs and representatives of the private sector. The United Nations can benefit from a council of religious and spiritual leaders to bring broad vision and wisdom to the effort to address critical global problems. International conferences, publications, networking, and on-the-ground activism are mechanisms for interfaith cooperation and lay a foundation for spiritual renewal at the United Nations.
  • 1. Peace Principles Spirituality Service Dialogue Interfaith Family Cooperation Reconciliation Partnership Universal Peace Federation Interfaith Peacebuilding
  • 2. UPFWorld Assembly in NewYork City. Universal Peace Federation Interfaith Peacebuilding Initiatives T he Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and its global network of Ambassadors for Peace bring universal, spiritual principles to the task of resolving conflict and reconciling the divided human family. International Leadership Conferences, symposia, and peace councils offer opportunities for high-level consultations. These are complemented by“track two”diplomacy and grass-roots programs that build support for a culture of peace. UPF is an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations. The Secretariat is based in New York, and there are 12 regional offices and more than 150 chapters worldwide. Each chapter is entitled to nominate a representative to the UPF Global Peace Council. Individual members of UPF are called to be Ambassadors for Peace. Areas of Focus • Interfaith Peacebuilding • Peace and security • Marriage and family • Culture of peace • UN relations Core Values • We are one human family created by God. • The highest achievements of men and women are rooted in spiritual and moral development. • The family is the“school of love and peace.” • Peace comes through dialogue and cooperation. • Service is the foundation of reconciliation. Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon UPF Founders By practicing the ethics of living for the sake of others we can reconcile the divided human family
  • 3. Religious Youth Service RYS provides an environment wherein youth can rise above doctrinal differences, unite in activities of service and learning that benefit communities around the world, and develop leadership abilities that enable all participants to help create a culture of peace. Interfaith Assembly UPF has hosted Interfaith summits at times of tension, including one of the first interfaith response to the 9/11/2001 attacks on the United States, followed by a conference for Muslims in Jakarta; and more recently the“Divine Winds of Change”seminar in Istanbul. Interreligious Sports Programs Young athletes from different religions and nationalities converge in the spirit of sportsmanship. Play Soccer Make Peace sponsors matches between youth from communities that have suffered tension and division. World Interfaith Harmony Week In support of the first World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2011, UPF worked with religious groups to hold celebrations in 22 nations. In 2012 UPF and religious NGOs helped plan an interfaith program at the UN General Assembly. Publications UPF encourages debate and discussion among the world’s faiths, and promoting understanding of the common ground in teachings, ethics and practice. Among our interfaith publications are the Dialogue & Alliance and the two-volume World Scripture. Consultations In many parts of the world addressing security issues is a necessary step toward peace. UPF’s Office of Peace and Security brings decades of experience and expertise to peace initiatives in the Middle East, East Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the South Caucasus. 3
  • 4. Putting Faith into Action Middle East Peace Initiative O n the foundation of decades of interfaith efforts, UPF’s Middle East Peace Initiative began in 2003, in the heat of violence of the second Intifada. It offers interfaith pilgrimages, fact-finding tours, leadership consultations, and grass- roots encounters. Visiting the historic and holy sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, participants gain a first-hand understanding of the history and spirituality of the Abrahamic faiths. Briefings, dialogues, and opportunities to interact with the variety of people in the region give unique insights into current events as well as opportunities to serve as ambassadors of goodwill who build lasting relationships with people of diverse cultures. Strategies for Reducing Interreligious Conflict: • Establish an interreligious council among respected spiritual leaders representing all the traditions in the region. • Convene the interreligious council during peace talks. • Convene special council sessions with heads of religious bodies outside the region. • Bring together young people from the region’s faith traditions to build bonds of trust and cooperation. • Develop a curriculum that respectfully teaches the core values of the region’s diverse faith traditions. • Encourage interfaith prayer and cooperation.
  • 5. Interfaith Volunteerism Flood Relief Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim students cleaned a Muslim school in Bangkok damaged by flood waters. This collaboration was facilitated by the Thailand National Interreligious Peace Council. Community Cohesion During forums on reconciliation and forgiveness in the UK, speakers talked about their experiences with people of other religions, the challenges they have faced in life, and how they drew upon the resources of their faith. Responses to Terrorism After attacks in Norway killed 77 people in July 2011, UPF-Norway organized a forum in partnership with the Central Mosque in Oslo that included political leaders and a youth panel. Rural Development Young people of different faiths built a classroom and toilet facilities for students in an impoverished community near Lumbini, Nepal the birthplace of Buddha. Post-tsunami Cleanup After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, UPF partnered with Christian Disaster Response to train volunteers doing clean up. This sparked a collaboration of NGOs and government offices involved in disaster relief. Reconciliation after Civil War The disputed presidential elections of 2010 in Cote d’Ivoire sparked a civil war. Religious leaders and Ambassadors for Peace met with the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission to plan a grassroots campaign to teach peace princples. 5
  • 6. NAM World Interfaith Harmony Week A warm welcome for people of all faiths in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Prayers from several faith traditions inTokyo, Japan First week of February each year Azerbaijan Barbados Canada Côte d’Ivoire Germany Indonesia Israel Italy Japan Kazakhstan Kenya Korea Malaysia Moldova Russia Slovakia Solomon Islands St. Lucia Switzerland Taiwan Thailand United States T he Universal Peace Federation organized observances in 22 nations in 2011, notably in an International Leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea. The opening plenary on February 7 began with interfaith prayers from the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Confucian, Shinto, Buddhist, and Sikh traditions. Each of the religious representatives shared a reading from their scripture, lit a candle, and offered a prayer for peace, while colorful banners and decorations proclaimed the vision of the week of interfaith harmony. • H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan advocated for this annual celebration during the first week of February“based on love of God and love of one’s neighbor, or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.” • “Spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill,”urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,“in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship.”This was his call to people of faith on the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, established by a UN General Assembly Resolution in October 2010. List of Nations Observing Harmony Week in 2011
  • 7. UNAM Faith leaders at an interfaith assembly in Seoul, Korea Humanity everywhere is bound together not only by mutual interests but also by shared commandments, to love God and neighbor, to love the good. Exploring Common Ground In Indonesia, a Muslim emphasized harmonizing words and deeds, a Buddhist spoke about the importance of listening, and a Hindu advocated“heart, humility, humanity, and harmony.”A conference in Switzerland was conducted in both French and German by pairs of lecturers from the different regions of the nation. Forums in Munich and Stuttgart, Germany included speeches, readings, and prayers. Addressing National Concerns Some meetings were part of ongoing work for reconciliation. Muslim and Christian leaders in Cote d’Ivoire made plans to work together for reconciliation. Referring to the bitter post-election violence of two years earlier, a Buddhist leader in Kenya called for people to reach out to each other in forgiveness. In Bangkok, the World Interfaith Harmony Week event built momentum toward the inauguration of the Thailand Interfaith Peace Council in September. Speaking, Listening, Praying Speakers from various religions took part in forums in Barbados; Canada; Kazakhstan; and Solomon Islands. Prayers and readings by representatives of different faiths were the highlights of gatherings in Japan; Malaysia; Russia; Slovakia; and the US. Photos above, left to right: Stuttgart, Germany; Washington, DC, USA; and Nitra, Slovakia Engaging in Joint Action After lighting a“lamp of peace”and reading from various scriptures, students in India cleaned a park. In Moscow, Russia, youth made plans for further dialogue. Youth from four religious groups planned the observance in St. Lucia. Working together to end world hunger was the theme in Italy. A gathering in Israel honored government workers who promote interfaith activity. People in Moldova planned ways to cooperate in public projects. 7
  • 8. Some people say that advances in science have proven that many religious beliefs are mere superstition and irrelevant to the modern world. But the role of religion will always be relevant as long as the spiritual aspect of human beings remains a reality and a world of peace has not been established. The struggles of modern ideologies, cultures, and races can be overcome through interreligious understanding and spiritual harmony. Religious scholars should go beyond complex theories and promoting the superiority of their own religions and give people the wisdom to love humanity and build a world of peace. Religions must pool their wisdom and combine their energies and work diligently to build the ideal world. - Rev. Sun Myung Moon Spiritual Insight R eligion and spirituality impact the worldviews, values, and practices of humanity worldwide. Human beings are not only political, economic, and social but also spiritual beings with spiritual needs and a capacity for spiritual wisdom and insight. UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon advocates that the United Nations, for its own survival and effectiveness, build an interreligious council or similar structure within its system, because the current structure, dominated by political self-interest, represents an incomplete expression of humanity’s potential. Those who represent the highest expressions of humanity’s vision of peace can help ground peacemaking in moral and spiritual principles based on the wisdom of Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, and other sages. Top: Rev. Sun Myung Moon speaking at the UN in 2000; Middle: interreligious peace councils in Thailand (L.) and Ethiopia (R.); Bottom: informal discussions at UPF conferences in Korea and New York Interreligious Councils
  • 9. Universal Peace Federation: INTERRELIGIOUS COUNCILS “We need a United Nations that can effectively direct the abundant financial, academic, spiritual, and technical resources. This task is not the work of one single religion but the combined work of all religions.” – Kenneth D. Kaunda, President of Zambia (1964-91) “We need a United Nations that can effectively direct the abundant financial, academic, spiritual, and technical resources. This task is not the work of one single religion but the combined work of all religions.” – Kenneth D. Kaunda, President of Zambia (1964-91) How Councils Can Help In addition to military, economic, and ecological factors, human wellbeing and security involves people’s ways of thinking, which are deeply affected by religion. Interreligious councils have the potential to • Provide fresh and unique perspectives on problems and potential solutions • Prevent religious differences from being exploited to stir up conflict • Promote intercultural dialogue, understanding, and cooperation • Model the capacity to rise above differences and work together for the common good A Decade of Progress 2000 Vision for an interfaith council outlined in an address by Dr. Sun Myung Moon at the UN 2004 Promotion of Interreligious Dialogue: GA Resolution 59/23 (sponsored by the Permanent MIssion of the Republic of the Philippines to the UN) 2005 Inauguration of the Universal Peace Federation modeling the activities of a proposed council 2006 Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace (partnership among Member States, UN bodies, and NGOs) 2007 Establishment of a Focal Unit in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations (GA Resolution 61/221) 2010 Proposal for a UN Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace (resolution not yet approved) 2011 World Interfaith Harmony Week established (the first week of February) Top photo: A Model UN Interreligious Council session in Geneva, Switzerland; below, left to right: the Azerbaijan National Peace Council, interreligious forum in Uruguay, Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns program at the UN headquarters in New York 9
  • 10. Baha’i: Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a home to the stranger. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew upon the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility. Buddhism: May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free. May the powerlessfindpower,andmay people think of befriending one another. Christianity: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the Children of God. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Confucianism: When the heart is set right, then the personal life is cultivated.When the personal life is cultivated, then the family life is regulated. When the family life is regulated, thenthenationallifeisorderly. And when the national life is orderly, then there is peace in the world. Hinduism: May there be peace on earth. May thy Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world. May all things be a source of peace to us. And may thy peace itself, bestow peace on all, and may that peace come to me also. Islam: If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust God, for the Lord is the one that heareth and knoweth all things. And the servants of God,Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,andwhenweaddress them, we say“PEACE.” Judaism: Come let us go up the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High.And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation— neither shall they learn war any more. Sikhism: God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear: that truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living. Know that we attaineth God when we loveth, and only that victory endures in consequences of which no one is defeated. Shintoism: Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us are all our brothers and sisters, why are there constant troubles in this world? Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I only earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds which are hanging over the tops of the mountains. Unificationism: A life of vertical “noon-time” alignment casts no shadow. I pray that we can wipe away the tears of people in misery and poverty, and lead an illuminated life of eternal true love that dissipates all darkness. Prayers or selections from sacred scriptures are read by representatives of different faiths and traditions, and each pours water from a container into a common bowl or lights a candle for peace. (L.) Ceremonies in Italy and the Marshall Islands. Interfaith Harmony Readings
  • 11. “Spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill, in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship.” — Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary-General “Use every opportunity to transform our world into a world that is more just for the vast majority of citizens, a world where it will be easier and more efficient to work together.” — Hon. Evgeny Nikulishchev First Deputy Chairman Councillor, Parliament of Russia “You are making a difference by standing up for the ideal of peace that transcends race and religion.” — Hon. Kenneth Marende Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly “Relationships with people of diverse faith backgrounds have enriched my life.” — H.E. Dr. Hussein Hassouna Ambassador, League of Arab States to the US Copyright © 2012 Universal Peace Federation 200 White Plains Road, Floor 1 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 529 Tarrytown, NY 10591 • USA New York, NY 10017, USA | True Love is the Ideal and the Guiding Principle of the Universal Peace Federation Universal Peace Federation
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