Hope for Interfaith Initiative Linking Governments, UN Agencies and NGOs
New York, U.S.A.: At a packed workshop on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation at the UN Headquarters, Mr. Leslie Gatan, Minister of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN, described how the level of support for interfaith efforts aimed at building peace has dramatically increased since 9/11.
The September 6 workshop held during the 59th Annual DPI/NGO Conference introduced the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, an innovative initiative which links governments, UN agencies and NGOs. It was cosponsored by the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN (RNGO), the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), the Baha'is of the US, Religions for Peace USA, the Temple of Understanding and the United Religions Initiative and drew over 100 participants from around the world.
Mr. Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey of the Temple of Understanding chaired the event, and speakers included Ms. Sarah Titchen, Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO, and Ms. Monica Willard of the United Religions Initiative. Mr. Hiro Sakurai, SGI's representative to the UN and president of RNGO, commented, "There was real excitement and hope here. Everyone wants religions to work together for peace."
The Tripartite Forum grew out of efforts spearheaded by the government of the Philippines and a Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace held in June 2005. At the Forum's official launch on March 24, 2006, then President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Jan Eliasson stated, ".we live in an age when religious and ethnic divisions are evident. All initiatives that now today aim at bringing us together must be commended and supported."
Fifty governments are now part of the Tripartite Forum, along with 15 UN agencies and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN which represents over 100 religious NGOs. On September 21, to commemorate the International Day of Peace, the Tripartite Forum will host a High Level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation at the UN Headquarters, to be attended by H.E. Ms. Haya Rashid Al Khalifa, President of the 61st General Assembly, Mr. Ismael Gaspar Martins, Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and religious leaders.
SGI is a lay Buddhist movement with 12 million members around the world. Its activities to promote peace, culture and education are based on the longstanding traditions of Buddhist humanism.