Interfaith Human Rights Celebration in Washington DC, USA
A ceremony that brought together representatives from ten faith traditions celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the new SGI-USA Washington DC Culture Center on December 2, 2008. The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and SGI-USA organized the event.
First a Celtic harp and then a Jewish shofar or ram's horn greeted the participants. SGI-USA Vice-General Director Bill Aiken, who delivered the welcome, noted the relevance of this observance, coming just days after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and stated that the world's religions have a central role to play in providing education and understanding about the inherent dignity of all people.
William Davis, director of the United Nations Information Center in Washington DC, expressed the UN's commitment to restore security, prosperity and human dignity in every corner of the globe. In his call to action, Rev. John Peterson, Canon for Global Justice and Reconciliation of the National Cathedral, said, "We are here to remember all the people who do not have their basic human rights respected, and for them let's redouble our efforts."
Representatives of the ten religions expressed the practices and beliefs that compel them to support universal human rights. Eleanor Holmes Norton, member of congress representing the District of Columbia and renowned champion of civil rights, delivered closing remarks.
[Adapted from a report by Bill Aiken, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of SGI-USA]