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Organization: United Religions Initiative
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

URI has seen definite progress toward a culture of peace as our organization -- committed to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings -- has grown from 85 Cooperation Circles (our local groups) in 2000 to nearly 280 CCs in 60 countries in 2005, with activities annually engaging over 1 million people. These numbers are imperfect indicators to measure progress that comes from having an ever larger number of people involved; but they don't measure a more critical factor -- the depth of transformation that comes from forming mutually respectful communities whose members have rarely, if ever talked with each other and/or worked cooperatively to realize a shared vocation for peace, justice and healing.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to progress is that we live in a time when there is so much visible division, fear, greed and hatred which so easily animate that part of human nature that is predisposed toward violence; and when so much material and human resource flows into developing and using the technologies of violence. Or, to express it from another perspective -- a time when so little of the good work that is creating new models of understanding, mutual respect and solidarity is widely publicized and so few, relatively speaking, financial and human resources are dedicated to developing the human capacity to excell at this work.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

The activities of URI's global Cooperation Circle network include: resolving religiously motivated violence in conflict zones; offering HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness education; providing health care services to marginalized groups; creating women and children’s development projects; advocating economic justice for laborers and marginalized peoples; transmitting values-based education to youth; preserving and transmitting indigenous cultural values; developing new paradigms in health education and enterprise; protecting and restoring our environment; mentoring leadership through a global youth interfaith network; providing spiritual support to the ailing and aged.

Though our CCs are free to organize around any issue critical to them, we also seek shared global engagement, most noticeably around the International Day of Peace, which a growing number of CCs have actively observed since 2003. In 2004, CCs at over 30 sites in 12 countries celebrated the IDP. For more information, visit the URI website: www.uri.org/CC_News/Global_News/idp2004.html.

A key resource that has emerged from URI's work around the world is an Interfaith Peacebuilding Guide, which is a hands-on guide for grassroots interfaith, cross-cultural peace work.

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

We would urge the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to do everything possible to raise the global visibility of and participation in the International Day of Peace as a symbolic expression of the UN's intention for peace; and to do everything possible to promote cooperative endeavors to realize the Millennium Development Goals that create positive relations among nations and help transform conditions that lead to violence into conditions that lead to peace.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

Through our CC at the UN, we work in partnership with various UN departments, programs, agencies and networks of NGOs including: CONGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, The Values Caucus, Spiritual Caucus, and the Committee of Religious NGOs. In addition, URI partners with a wide array of organizations, including a consortium of 15 international interfaith organizations, the World Peace Prayer Society and Roots of Peace.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

Certainly, we will continue to expand our observance of the International Day of Peace. We will continue our work of interfaith organizing around the world to grow and deepen the capacity of our global network of Cooperation Circles to be an effective agent to create cultures of peace, justice and healing. In addition, we are currently working with UNESCO, DESA and the Missions of Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Spain and the UK to develop a UN conference on interfaith cooperation for peace.

Postal address of organization

P.O. Box 29242
San Francisco, CA  94129

E-mail address of organization

office@uri.org

Website address of organization

www.uri.org

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Understanding, tolerance, solidarity

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace


Highest priority country of action (or international)

International

Second priority country of action (or international)

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Organization: United Religions Initiative

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