Interreligious Council at the UN

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Making a case for a positive role of religion in peacebuilding because of its teachings promoting compassion and redemptive love. Tracing General Assembly resolutions promoting interreligious dialogue and understanding and high-level dialogues to date. 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.
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  • 1. The Need for an Interreligious Council at the United Nations Universal Peace Federation www.upf.org
  • 2. The Significance of Religion <ul><ul><li>Religion is an essential part of human consciousness and human identity. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religious ideas form the basis for human worldviews and worldly action. </li></ul></ul>
  • 3. The Significance of Religion <ul><ul><li>Religion guides us to understand about: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>our ultimate origins </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>our condition in the world </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>our ultimate purpose and destiny </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion shapes civilizations, cultures and social, political, and economic systems. </li></ul></ul>
  • 4. Positive Impact of Religion <ul><ul><li>Religion inspires and guides individuals and movements in truthful, constructive, beneficial, and morally upright ways, giving meaning, purpose, hope. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion inspires compassion, giving, service, humanitarian action, sacrifice for others. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good, enlightened religious leadership is essential to achieving world peace. </li></ul></ul>
  • 5. Negative Impact of Religion <ul><ul><li>Religion can, and often does influence and guide individuals and movements in untruthful, destructive, harmful and morally problematic ways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor religious leadership gives rise to manifold problems and contributes to both division and great suffering in our world. </li></ul></ul>
  • 6. Overcoming Interreligious Conflict <ul><ul><li>Religion has too often been a source of division, and many conflicts around the world: Middle East, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Balkans, Caucasus, Thailand/Cambodia, Nigeria, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This pattern should be reversed, through dialogue, good leadership, and cooperation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religions should provide peace leadership. </li></ul></ul>
  • 7. Preamble to the UN Charter <ul><li>We the peoples of the United Nations determined, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war , which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.… </li></ul>
  • 8. Preamble to the UN Charter <ul><li>… and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, </li></ul><ul><li>AND FOR THESE ENDS to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples…. </li></ul>
  • 9. The Ongoing Scourge of War <ul><li>Despite tremendous efforts to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war , history recalls </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Korean War (1950-53) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Vietnam War (1959-75) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Balkan Conflicts (1991-96) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Middle East </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rwanda </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Darfur </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sri Lanka </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Caucasus </li></ul></ul></ul>
  • 10. The Case for an Interreligious Council <ul><ul><li>The vast majority of “we the peoples” are persons who identify strongly with a religious worldview. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-state actors are increasingly relevant and important: civil society, faith-based organizations, religious movements. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion can be an ally for peace, and an ally for socio-economic development and conflict resolution. </li></ul></ul>
  • 11. Value of Religious Teaching <ul><ul><li>All religions teach compassion toward those in need and love for one another. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religions have the potential to foster forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, and peace, bringing an end to cycles of resentment and violence. </li></ul></ul>
  • 12. Mahatma Gandhi Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa
  • 13. Interreligious Voices Contribute to Peace
  • 14. Call for UN Renewal <ul><li>World peace can be fully accomplished only when the wisdom and efforts of the world's religious leaders work cooperatively and respectfully with national leaders. </li></ul><ul><li>Serious consideration should be given to forming a religious assembly or council of religious representatives within the structure of the UN. </li></ul>Rev. Sun Myung Moon Address at UN Headquarters August 18, 2000
  • 15. UN General Assembly Resolutions <ul><ul><li>“ Promotion of Interreligious Dialogue” (A/RES/59/23, November 2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Promotion of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace” (A/RES/60/10, Oct. 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace” (A/RES/60/L.11/Rev.2, December 2006) </li></ul></ul>
  • 16. Sponsoring Nations <ul><li>Spearheaded by the Philippines. Sponsored by </li></ul>Azerbaijan Bangladesh Belarus Belize Benin Burkina Faso Cambodia Cameroon Comoros Congo Costa Rica Djibouti Dominican Republic Egypt El Salvador Gabon Gambia Guatemala Guinea Haiti Honduras Indonesia Iran Kazakhstan Kuwait Philippines Qatar Russian Federation Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Senegal Sudan Suriname Tajikistan Thailand Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Madagascar Malaysia Marshall Islands Micronesia Mongolia Morocco Myanmar Nicaragua Oman Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea
  • 17. Focal Unit to Aid Dialogue <ul><li>… insures the systematic and organizational follow-up of this dialogue through the designation of a focal unit in the Secretariat to handle these matters. </li></ul><ul><li>December 2006 GA Resolution </li></ul><ul><li>RESULT: Focal unit was established in 2007. </li></ul>
  • 18. Call for High-Level Dialogue <ul><ul><li>Call for a “high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural cooperation for the promotion of tolerance, understanding and universal respect….” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RESULT: High-level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace was held October 4-5, 2007. </li></ul></ul>
  • 19. Address to High-Level Dialogue <ul><li>It is time to promote the idea that diversity is a virtue, not a threat. It is time to explain that different religions, belief systems and cultural backgrounds are essential to the richness of the human experience. And it is time to stress that our common humanity is greater-–far greater-–than our outward differences. </li></ul><ul><li> Ban Ki-moon </li></ul><ul><li>UN Secretary-General </li></ul>
  • 20. General Assembly and Interreligious Dialogue <ul><li>As a follow-up on an interfaith conference held in Madrid in July 2008, organized by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Juan Carlos of Spain, the General Assembly convened a high-level dialogue on November 12-13, 2008 with major world leaders in attendance. </li></ul>
  • 21. A UN Interreligious Council: Mission <ul><ul><li>As an organ of the UN, an interreligious council could contribute to the UN’s broad mission, as described in its Charter, bringing the unique wisdom, insight, and capacities of religion in support of the UN’s efforts to achieve peace and human development. </li></ul></ul>
  • 22. A UN Interreligious Council: Functions <ul><ul><li>Convene, dialogue, and confer together on the critical challenges facing humanity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advise, guide, and pass resolutions by consensus on issues relevant to peace and human development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage grass-roots service, volunteerism, and activism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guide nations and people to act in accordance with universal spiritual and moral principles </li></ul></ul>
  • 23. A UN Interreligious Council: Membership <ul><ul><li>Possibly 40 councilors representing major and, on a rotating basis, smaller religions, as well as spiritual “eminent persons” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possibly three-year terms </li></ul></ul>
  • 24. The world must teach its children the wisdom of all cultures. Dr. Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan (L) President, UNESCO General Conference UNESCO
  • 25. Address to High-Level Dialogue <ul><li>In today’s era of global travel and instant satellite transmissions, people everywhere are encountering less of the familiar, and more of ‘the other.’ This reality has fed rising intercultural and inter-religious tensions, as well as growing alienation among vast segments of the world population. </li></ul><ul><li>Ban Ki-moon </li></ul><ul><li>UN Secretary-General </li></ul>
  • 26. Address to High-Level Dialogue <ul><li>Today’s gathering also comes at a particularly auspicious time, as Jews mark the celebration of the Torah and Muslims approach the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Such occasions remind us that men and women of faith around the world can be brought together, rather than separated, by their convictions and their belief in something greater than themselves. </li></ul><ul><li> Ban Ki-moon </li></ul><ul><li>UN Secretary-General </li></ul>
  • 27. Compassion <ul><ul><li>All men are responsible for one another. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Talmud, Sanhedrin 27b (Judaism) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give and it will be given to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Luke 6.38 (Christianity) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All [human] creatures are God’s children, and those dearest to God are those who treat His children kindly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hadith of Baihaqi (Islam) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Great Compassionate Heart is the essence of Buddhahood. Gandavyuha Sutra (Buddhism) </li></ul></ul>
  • 28. Love for the Enemy <ul><ul><li>Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matthew 5.43-48 (Christianity) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The good deed and the evil are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! He with whom you had enmity shall become a bosom friend. Qur’an 41.34 (Islam) </li></ul></ul>
  • 29. Love for the Enemy <ul><ul><li>Aid an enemy before you aid a friend, to subdue hatred. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tosefta, Baba Metzia 2.26 (Judaism) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dhammapada 3-5 (Buddhism) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do good to him who has done you an injury. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tao Te Ching 63 (Taoism) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  • 30. What is UPF? <ul><ul><li>A broad, civil society movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made up of individuals and organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guided by universal principles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working together to solve critical global problems and build a world of lasting peace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoting one family under God </li></ul></ul>
  • 31. UPF’s Guiding Principles <ul><ul><li>All human beings share a common origin, God, the source of the value of human beings and nature. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unselfishness service, living for the sake of others, is an essential pre-requisite of peace. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The reconciliation that is necessary to achieve peace requires that we learn to love our enemies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The family is the primary school of love and ethics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interfaith cooperation is necessary for lasting peace. </li></ul></ul>
  • 32. Call for UN Renewal <ul><li>We must supplement formal institutions with informal policy networks, bringing together international institutions, civil society and private-sector organizations, and national governments, in pursuit of common goals. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kofi Annan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>former UN Secretary-General </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We the Peoples,” April 3, 2000 </li></ul></ul>
  • 33. Call for UN Renewal <ul><li>The time has come for the United Nations to outline its working relationship with civil society organizations. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>H.E. Anwarul K. Chowdhury </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>former UN Under-Secretary-General </li></ul></ul>
  • 34. Religion Contributes to Peace <ul><li>The negotiations between Menachem Begin, Anwar el-Sadat, and myself at Camp David in 1978 were greatly influenced by our religious backgrounds. This was evident in the fact that a joint appeal for prayer preceded our discussions… Begin and Sadat were deeply religious men. </li></ul><ul><li> Jimmy Carter </li></ul><ul><li>Former President, United States </li></ul>
  • 35. An Idea Whose Time Has Come <ul><li>We believe the creation of an interreligious council or a specific unit on interfaith understanding within the UN system is an idea whose time has come. </li></ul><ul><li>Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr. </li></ul><ul><li>Former Speaker, House of Representatives </li></ul><ul><li>Philippines </li></ul>
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