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Interfaith Programs

Scholars Voice Support for an Interreligious Council at the UN

Excerpts of scholarly presentations at UPF consultations on the proposal for an interreligious council at the United Nations

Dr. Vladimir Petrovsky
Former Professor, Moscow State University, Russia; President, Russian National Peace Council

The proposal to establish an interreligious council relates to the UN’s mission and its Millennium Development Goals. In bringing together councilors representing governments, religions, civil society, business and academia, it would serve as a model of integrated governance. It would draw on core spiritual and moral principles to provide solutions to critical global problems. Its authority would depend on the personal standing, status and actions of its members, the Ambassadors for Peace. Its program would be action-based and result-oriented, including research that will bring about real progress towards achieving a lasting peace. More

Dr. Hans-Martin Jaeger
Department of Political Science, Carleton University, Canada

A potential benefit of an interreligious council at the UN would be to broaden attention to religion as a subject of and contribution to international cooperation. Attention to religion has arguably been too narrowly focused, in the UN context. Religion has generally only been considered in terms of the individual freedom of religion stipulated in the UN Charter and in UN human rights documents. What is perhaps needed is a greater recognition for the concerns of religions as communities and understanding the right of a group or community. Another way of thinking about the contribution of an interreligious council would be in terms of collective security. Along with a number of other dimensions (military, economic, ecological, etc.), collective security certainly also relates to “the minds and hearts” of people (as stated in the preamble of the UNESCO Charter). More

Dr. Edvardas Rudys
Chief of Department, Institute of Agriculture, Lithuania

There must be an opportunity at the United Nations for leaders of different religious groups to work together. God is one. Although people from different nations and continents worship Him in different ways, they pray for the same things: happiness, peace, health and coexistence. There needs to be an institution at the United Nations where people from different religious groups can find peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.

Dr. Juozas Satas
Professor, Kaunas Technical University, Lithuania

The present structure of the United Nations is based on representation of states and their political interests. Its activity is directed towards solving political and economic issues. Such a basic factor of society as religion (morality) and structures that represent it are eliminated from the UN structure and activity. Partly because of this, the organization is in deep crisis, unable to solve issues of international importance and perform the functions laid down in its bylaws. The way out of this situation can be found in the proposal for establishing within its framework an interreligious council made of representatives of the world’s major religions. It is evident that the difficulties inherent in the UN’s present structure could be removed more easily if the moral and ethical teachings of the world’s major religions are heard and if their representative hierarchies’ viewpoints are taken into consideration.

Dr. Victor Andreyevich Tumanov
Rector, Kiev Medical Institute of the Ukrainian Association of Public Medicine

The proposal for reforming and perfecting the structure of the UN by setting up an interreligious council within its body merits careful attention and consideration, for certainly interreligious consensus plays a major role both in forestalling and ending conflicts.

Dr. Leo Gabriel
A social anthropologist and journalist in Vienna, Austria; member of the International Council of the World Social Forum
An interreligious council at the UN should recognize the diversity of currents not only among the different religious institutions but also within these institutions. Representation should center on the diversity of people. The decision-making process should reflect the wisdom of indigenous peoples, for whom consensus is more important than majority rule. More

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