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Interfaith Harmony Week 2013 Celebrated at the UN General Assembly

United Nations, New York - “Let us reach out to one another, on equal footing, and truly work on healing the wounds of centuries of conflict between peoples of different religions – vigilantly mindful of the danger that the ills and grievances of by-gone centuries – if they continue to be reawakened – can engulf us in a maelstrom of unmatched ferocity,” stated H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President, United Nations General Assembly, on the occasion of Office of the President’s hosting of World Interfaith Harmony Week on Feb. 14, 2013 at the General Assembly Hall, along with UNESCO and the Committee of Religious NGOs. This year’s theme was “United for a Culture of Peace.”

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Several Member States co-sponsored the event, including Guatemala, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Iraq, the Republic of Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and New Zealand. Other supporting Missions were: Libya, the Republic of the Philippines, Samoa, Zimbabwe, and the World Peace Prayer Society. Cooperating NGOs included the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace; the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief; the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, NY; the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous; the Spiritual Caucus; and the Values Caucus at the UN. Once again this year, Universal Peace Federation staff were part of the organizing team, and UPF was acknowledged for its web support.

The program was a celebration of deep insights and sharing, musical presentations, interfaith prayers, statements of support for interfaith dialogue, and a flag ceremony led by the UN Secretary-General’s wife, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek. Although the world is still characterized by too much confrontation, intolerance, and wars, the event was a reminder of the aspirations of the UN founders, still not realized.

“It is time to reclaim faith as an instrument of peace,” as profoundly expressed by the UN Under Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. "This yearly event is proof that the United Nations can greatly benefit from further engaging with religious leaders from around the world who advocate the path of peace."

The two fundamental religious commandments, “Love of God and Love of Neighbor” / "Love of the Good and Love of Neighbor," were chosen as the motto of World Interfaith Harmony Week to encourage dialogue for the sake of peace. The formula includes all people of good will, regardless of their faith traditions, as well as those without a faith tradition.

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