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Organization: United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle at the UN, URI UN
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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?

We have seen progress. The United Religions Initiative, which was born in 2000, just a year before the Decade began, is evidence of this progress, having grown to include thousands of members in over 50 countries representing more that 100 religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions coming together in understanding and mutual respect. The URI-UN was formed to serve as a bridge between this international, multi-faith community and the United Nations.


Our way of measuring the progress is the increased participation and number of activities, celebrating the International Day of Peace each Sept 21.  People use the IDP to have an annual, shared day to focus on the Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.  Our Cooperation Circle participates in the annual DPI Youth Program for IDP at UN Headquarters. We promote IDP participation within the UN and globally.

We encourage others to observe this day,
www.internationaldayofpeace.org.

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

The biggest obstacle to the culture of peace is that not enough attention and resources are being given to develop and publicize it.  There is a lack of coordination and shared vision to make the culture of peace a priority in daily living. For example, the International Day of Peace UN Resolution calls on UN Member States to observe the International Day of Peace as a day of ceasefire and non-violence.  If this resolution were taken more seriously, progress could be measured by listing places where ceasefires are happening and honoring areas where conflict has ceased and IDP observances are taking place.

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

To open the Decade, we co-sponsored a “Blessing for the Children of the World,” by Wangari Maathai at the Interfaith Service for the Work of the UN.  

Annual observances of the International Day of Peace (IDP) at the UN are primary to our focus on developing the culture of peace. In 2003 this program linked youth to five UN Messengers of Peace.  After young Rwanda genocide survivor Jacqueline Murekatete told her story to Elie Wiesel at the IDP program, she was asked to speak in the General Assembly as the voice for the survivors at the UN Day of Reflection for Rwanda, April 7, 2004.  

Jane Goodall became involved with the youth program in 2003 and then joined us at the site of the World Trade Center for a peace walk with giant doves for IDP in 2004.  IDP programs can be seen in full on the UN Cyberschool Bus website, www.cyberschoolbus.un.org.  United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circles around the world observe the day working with various faith partners, organizations, governments and schools to hold activities, develop ongoing programs and to pray for peace. Reports on these activities have been sent around the world as well as to the office of UN Secretary-General.

In 2004 we began a series of workshops on the "Spiritual and Ethical Dimensions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)."  The workshop is available on our website, www.uri-un.org. Since peace is not one of the MDGs or even mentioned in them, this workshop also stresses the importance of including the values from the Millennium Declaration in working toward achieving the goals.

In addition, the URI-UN has made an outreach to URI cooperation circles worldwide to relate their interfaith work to the Millennium Development Goals, all of which are important components of a culture of peace.

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?

The UN has a great opportunity to promote itself and transform the world by working to advance the culture of peace.  The UN can be that firm foundation that shows that although peace is not easy, it can be lived.

When the Secretary-General invited the World Council of Churches to participate in the International Day of Peace, 65 million people were invited participate.  The UN can put out a clarion call for the world to share a day of peace and non-violence each IDP as a reminder that peace is possible. As we practice and plan for peace one day each year, peace is lived.  Put the focus on PEACE to develop it.

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

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.

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)?

The International Day of Peace 2005-2010.  To remind ourselves and others that in order to achieve a culture of peace and nonviolence we need to practice it, plan for it and work to promote it.  We plan to publicize successes and increase visibility on activities that promote the culture of peace, especially the IDP.

Postal address of organization

26 Benton Rd.
Wessaic, NY 12592

E-mail address of organization

MBWillard@aol.com

Website address of organization

http://www.uri-un.org

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Understanding, tolerance, solidarity

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Education for 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 Cooperation Circle at the UN, URI UN

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