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Organization: United Religions Initiative (URI)
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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Postal address of organization/institution

P.O. Box 29242, San Francisco, CA 94129

E-mail address of organization/institution


Website address of organization/institution


Telephone of organization/institution


PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


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

NAIN, Parliament of the World's Religions, Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN, International Day of Peace NGO Committee, Culture of Pece Initiative

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.

The United Religions Initiative (URI) is an internationally recognized global network that cultivates and connects grassroots change-makers across religious, cultural and geographic boundaries, harnessing their collective power to take on social, economic and environmental issues that can destabilize regions and contribute to poverty.  We believe that when people’s passions and initiatives are organized and connected, their differences bridged and their work shared, they are creating a Culture of Peace.

Since the signing of our charter in 2000, we have touched the lives of more than 1.5 million people of different faiths in over 73 countries through our 465 interfaith Cooperation Circles (CCs), whose 320,000 members are overcoming religious and cultural  differences  to work together in their communities and regions to combat violence and meet urgent human needs. URI is the common thread, connecting people around our shared principles and amplifying their local initiatives for peace and social change. URI’s unique global network of grassroots CCs allows for local and international issues to be addressed using our charter and purpose while building multi-stakeholder partnerships to transform communities and build regional stability.

Highlights of URI activities contributing to the Culture of Peace during the second half of the Decade include: expanding the number of members and CC's, the URI Traveling Peace Academy (TPA), our  Youth initiative,  addressing  humanitarian needs,  natural disaster relief, and the International Day of Peace.
Membership in the URI advances the Culture of Peace.  To form a Cooperation Circle, there must be a minimum of seven people from three distinct religious traditions or spiritual practices who want to work together on a shared focus.  Many of the CC programs are designed to share traditions, compare scripture and hold dialogues with people from various religious traditions and cultures.   Other programs meet the needs of people within their communities.  Examples include providing sewing machines to women getting job training in the Philippines, toilet goods to people in prison in Mosambique,  school supplies to  needy children in Jordan and music and dance training to children in India.  CCs sponsor a variety of educational forums. In India there is an annual form that brings scholars together to address sacred texts.  Pakistan created a women's division and held a recent conference on women's rights. Forums have addressed the environment, health, education, human rights and many other topics.  CCs around the world were active in promoting the UNEP tree planting program and celebrate the International Day of Peace and other UN days.
The URI Traveling Peace Academy (TPA), developed in conjunction with Dr. John Paul Lederach of Notre Dame University, offers unique, ongoing, quality team training to advance peacebuilding  skills.   It began as the Moral Imagination project and has now grown into the Traveling Peace Academy.   In the Philippines, an ongoing training program is bringing the diverse Mindanao community leaders into constructive relationship with each other, and to bring their voices into dialogue with the Manila government, social service agencies, military and police. In Ethiopia, young leaders are seeing themselves as –and inspiring others to become - peacebuilders, creating training materials translated into Amharic, and addressing religious conflicts on college campuses. In India, URI members intervened in a century-old conflict, initiated actions that prevented the impending violence, resulting in re-opening the locked churches where thousands are now freely attending services together.  In Uganda the URI interfaith leaders who led mediation efforts between rebels and the government are now facing post-war challenges – mediating land disputes and reconciling the returning rebels who were abducted as children back into the culture.    

Over 200 youth from 30 countries gathered in Mayapur, India in 2008 to expand the URI youth priority. This network uses technology to work together to address global issues and support projects and programs at the local level.  

In the face of disaster, the URI has responded to show that people of differnt faiths care for one another.  One example were the truck loads of food, clothes, tents and blankets organized by the CCs in Pakistan and delivered by URI members to earthquake  victims.                                                                                                                         
The International Day of Peace, September 21 is a shared date for CC activities.  The URI works with the Department of Public Information on the annual IDP student observance the United Nations, bringing hundreds of youth to the UN each year.   CCs hold interfaith services and peace vigils, others sponsor marches, parades, cultural events and community service projects.  Many CCs use the opportunity to work with schools and local governments.   A few highlihgts of URI IDP events include a football match with local politicians and the Uganda Sports Press Association;  an indigenous gathering at Machu Picchu, Peru for a healing and reconciliation ceremony; an annual program at UN Square in Buenos Aires, Argentina; a large interfaith gathering in Copenhagen, Denmark;  an interfaith choir  concert in Barcelona, Spain; distribution of gifts to hospitals in India; and educational forums in USA, Nepal, India and Pakistan.   Participation expands each year.   IDP is one way to connect local activities to the work of the UN.  It offers an opportunity to interface with government officials and request proclamations.

Other UN days and year themes have been used by CCs to promote interfaith gatherings and educational forums on the Environment, Women, Maleria,  AIDS, Nonviolence and Reconciliation.  An initiative that began in Ethiopia in 2007 is the Golden Rule Day, April 5.  In 2010 Golden Rule Day was used to promote the Charter for Compassion throughout the URI.  

Reverend Patrick Lumumba, member of the Acholi Religious Leaders CC in Northern Uganda (and a member of the Moral Imagination Project) in response to the violence in Nigeria said this.."Nobody can build sustainable peace alone in this world, we need to network with other stake holders even the government …".  

The URI is a peacebuilding  network and a bridge building organization to other networks.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

We have the blessing to see many local activities throughout the world make a difference at the community level.  The URI also works at regional and multiregional levels and has been instrumental in making change happen, addressing important issues and offering ways of exchanging information on problems and successes through our list serve, website,  conferences and Global Assembly.  We are affiliated with the United Nations as an ECOSOC and DPI NGO.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

Obsticles include the prejudices people need to address and overcome indealing with various religions and cultures; lack of resources to do all the things we would like to accomplish;
building longterm, working relationships takes effort, time and resources; dealing with religiously motivated violence is a hard topic when governments and media are involved in the  incidents.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

The Traveling Peace Academy will be expanding.  The International Day of Peace continues to grow in importance and in participation.  URI CCs will continue to plan meetings, conferences and educational forums ways of increasing tolerance, understanding and shared actions to continue building the URI network.

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

We could work more closely with governments, religions and other organizations to promote peace, human rights, tolerance and understanding.  Individuals can realize that they do make a difference and that collectively we do make a difference.
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Organization: United Religions Initiative (URI)

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