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Interfaith Peacebuilding

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

July 2018
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Interfaith Programs

Statesmen Voice Support for an Interreligious Council

Excerpts of statements by elder statesmen in support of a proposed interreligious council at the United Nations:

H.E. Tursunbek Chyngyshev
Prime Minister, Kyrgyzstan (1992-93)
A special organization [at the UN] must be created that would work on communication between nations, religions and the optimization of international religious relations. It must include people who are genuinely dedicated to the cause of peace, who are capable of valuing such ideas above racial, national and religious interests.

H.E. Ramiro de Leon
President, Guatemala (1993-96)
The only organization that can make decisions at the worldwide level is the United Nations. Just as there are several commissions within the United Nations charged with specific tasks, like the permanent Security Council, there should also be a permanent commission charged with educating people about peace, promoting reconciliation, and encouraging a peace culture. This commission should create the right frame for dialogue so that the nations that exercise major world leadership can permit Third World countries to make decisions, propose solutions, and offer proposals about a peace culture. Its executives should educate and promote moral and ethical values, including strengthening the family, as the key to help present and future generations.

Rt. Hon. Tsakhia Elbegdorj

Prime Minister, Mongolia
If one religious leader speaks, it might sound more attractive to those who belong to that religion. However, if representatives of all religions speak, this sounds like the voice of mankind. If every nation and every religion can show respect to each other, there shall be no terrorism.

Dr. Negasso Gidada
President, Ethiopia (1995-2001)
We have to encourage the participation of traditional and religious leaders in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

H.E. Hamilton Green

Prime Minister, Guyana (1985-92)
The noble initiative to establish an interreligious council at the United Nations to complement the other peacemaking efforts is an epoch-making venture. The major difficulties facing us are the nature of interstate relationships and the standards for behavior by individual nation states. There is also the critical issue of a standard moral code that all nations, rich and poor, big and small, should subscribe to and respect without equivocation. The role of religion and caring people in this process is vital. If we can persuade governments and businesses that embracing inclusiveness and righteousness are qualities that should characterize their administrations, we can rest assured that peace will overtake all places and every corner of the globe. It is imperative for us to plead with the leaders of all nations to open their minds and hearts and allow the Creator to guide them to the throne of glory through compassion, respect for human dignity, and most of all, love.

H.E. Abd-Elaziz Hegazy
Prime Minister, Egypt (1974-75)
It is our job to find common ground to work together toward the path of peace. We must work according to the will of Allah if we are to attain peace in this life and His most favorable reward in the life after. Let us build more friendships and more friendship associations for the implementation of the message of God the Almighty, the Merciful, on earth. To coordinate these efforts worldwide we need to establish an entity that can set policies and programs of action so we can carry out evaluations and accountability and so enlarge the community of peace-loving people. We also have to establish a code of ethics to govern our way of life, a system of self-accountability. Otherwise, we seem to miss the road of God. We should join in prayer so that God will lead us to the righteous path, the way of those to whom God has bestowed His grace, those who do not go astray.

H.E. Steingrimur Hermannsson

Prime Minister, Iceland (1983-87, 1988-91)
All the international organizations should convene meetings of people of different faiths, cultures and nationalities.

H.E. Rahim Alievich Huseynov
Prime Minister, Azerbaijan (1992-93)
The creation of an interreligious council in the UN will clear the path for peace in our societies and our nations. It will enable our children to be educated in the spirit of goodness. The pure, innocent, and sincere quest for peace throughout the world calls us to create the conditions for constructive cooperation between both the secular and religious approaches to world peace. Only through consolidative, constructive, and altruistic approaches—both in our social lives and our individual lives—can peace truly be realized in our fragmented world.

H.E. Kenneth D. Kaunda
President, Zambia (1964-91)
We need a United Nations that can effectively direct the abundant financial, academic, spiritual and technical resources when provided. Though the problems which are endemic to many parts of the world may be manifested in social, economic, political and cultural spheres, their origins are rooted in values. The process of creating one world through globalization in all its external aspects cannot be stopped. But this process must be parallel with a universal value system that meets the hopes for happiness and fulfillment for all humanity. This task is not the work of one single religion but the combined work of all religions, the entire spirituality of mankind working together. This challenge makes religion once again relevant in the daily affairs of mankind. Whether they be Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox, or indigenous religions, they all can find nourishment in order to fulfill mankind's oldest dream—one world of peace, harmony, and unity with justice for all mankind. It is time for this challenge to come to the recognized universal body of nations, the United Nations.

H.E. Luis Alberto Lacalle
President, Uruguay (1990-95)
Nations and empires have always been centers of power. But religion and the media are also effective centers of influence. When Pope John Paul II speaks, he does so not just as someone who has infallibility, but also he speaks as one of the most important political leaders of the world. When the churches come together ecumenically, that is a great political power.

H.E. Ochirbat Punsalmaa

President, Mongolia (1991-97)
The proposal to establish an interreligious council of representatives from different religions and areas of society deserves serious consideration as a way to change the current situation of the UN. Many countries, including Mongolia, support this.

Rt. Hon. Sir Lloyd Sandiford
Prime Minister, Barbados (1987-94)
I am strongly supportive of the call for an interreligious council at the United Nations to harness the power of religion and ethical and moral technology in the struggle to solve global crises of our time. For it is at the United Nations that the great dialogue among nations and people takes place, and it is there that the voices of love, peace, justice, equity, and non-discrimination must be heard echoing from the principles of a right relationship with God, a right relationship with true parents and families, and a right relationship among nations.

H.E. Edward Schreyer

Governor General, Canada (1979-84)
So-called coalitions of the willing that sometimes have turned into coalitions of the bribed, the bullied, and the intimidated are not a substitute for the United Nations. The United Nations needs help against the threat of these kinds of circumventions, and I for one regard the Interreligious and International Peace Council as a wise and hopeful attempt to provide just that.

H.E. Stanislav Shushkevich

President, Belarus (1991-94)
The United Nations should no longer be just a meeting-place of leaders of the civilized world with dictators, killers and terrorists. The United Nations should go to a new level. Any efforts toward such cooperation and mutual understanding will be hopeless unless they are based upon healthy moral and spiritual principles.

H.E. Indrek Toome
Prime Minister, Estonia (1988-90)
It would seem to me that religion ought to play a major role in bringing peace, in that its inherent wisdom and historical experience can impart good counsel to individuals and ethnic groups as well as to the collective whole of peace-loving people. The advice of religious leaders should be to shun the use of violence and mobilize instead the power of the spirit for the sake of achieving common goals. We must, all of us in unity, combine both our political and religious resources and attain a well-balanced understanding of our responsibility in the interests of peace and for the democratic leadership of society as a whole.

H.E. Abdurrahman Wahid

President, Republic of Indonesia (1999-2001)
If it is true, as someone said, that war is too important to be left to the generals, then world peace is also too important to be left to the politicians. If we believe in the current system and its institutions, then we will be at the mercy of the politicians. That is why I hope that an interreligious council will be able to fight for peace outside the framework existing now. In the long run, the benefits will be evident. The effort to establish it is a very worthy. It demands from us the utmost attention because without us the world will lose the most valuable commodity: patience, thoughtfulness, and the whole-sum approach to life.

 

For additional background materials on the proposal for an interreligious council at the UN, click here.

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