NGO Week of Spirituality Focuses on Culture and Peace

New York, USA - The Committee of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns honored the UN’s designation of 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures in a week of events Oct. 22-28, 2010, that explored the UN's commitment to peaceful resolutions of international issues. The week included a series of focused meditations, workshops, panel discussions, group interchanges, and cultural performances. In addition, it honored the final year of the Decade of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).

The Universal Peace Federation has been a member of the Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns at the United Nations since 2006, and is an active member of the Working Groups and the Executive Council of the Committee. In order to fulfill the promise of the United Nations to create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world, the Committee promotes spirituality and adherence to universal values as key factors in addressing global concerns. The Committee aims to integrate spirituality and values into all areas of the United Nations agenda and make the week a part of the UN Calendar.


The Week of Spirituality began on October 22nd in the UN Meditation Room, where participants explored the essence of “Rapprochement” as a way of advancing mutual understanding of all peoples. The Opening Ceremony marked the awarding of the “Spirit of the UN” Awards 2010, honoring exemplary individuals within the Diplomatic Corps, the UN staff, and the NGO community whose professional careers have been an expression of the principles upon which the United Nations was founded. This year's honorees were H.E. Hamid Al Bayati, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations; Rev. Tse Wei Zoe, former President of the UN Women’s Guild; and Mr. Hiro Sakaurai, President of the NGO Committee for Disarmament.

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On October 28th, the Spiritual Dimensions of Science and Consciousness Working Group, led by Mr. Danilo Parmegiani, put together a panel discussion at the UN Foundation called “The Imperative Need for a Transformation of Consciousness.” Philippe Kridelka, UNESCO Representative to the UN, gave the keynote speech. People in other countries contributed to the discussion via the Internet, and an interactive session followed.

The Health, Transformation and Spirituality Working Group, led by Dr. Ani Kalayjian, organized a panel on October 29 entitled “Ancestral Healing: Transforming Generational Pain into Meaning-Making.” Speakers included Yael Pettreti from the Compassionate Listening Project in Israel, Mr. Takeshi Furomoto from Japan Perspectives, and Joni Rose from Healing Arts. They spoke about transformational moments in their own lives or the lives of others that helped them deal with the pain of war. In each case, the spirit of forgiveness and compassion brought about positive change  in their lives.

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The Culture of Peace Working Group, led by Anne Creter and Iris Spellings, brought together outstanding youth leaders in a program entitled “The Power of Youth to Promote a Culture of Peace.” To begin, Ambassador Anwarul K.Chowdhury, former UN Under-Secretary-General, gave an overview about the UN’s adoption of the Resolution on the Culture of Peace in 1999.

The significance of the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace was further examined by Dr. David Adams from the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. He summarized the progress reports of a thousand NGOs, including the Universal Peace Federation. The NGO report on the Decade of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World had recently been presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Finally, youth leaders Jennifer Ichiji and Oliver R. Carlson gave impressive reports about what they have been doing to promote a culture of peace among youth. Many youth leaders responded with their views about ways to advance peace.

The chair of the organizing committee, Sharon Hamilton-Getz, closed the Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns with an expression of appreciation to all contributors. The week ended with a spirit of excitement, as a cultural band with beating drums led the audience in song, dance, and exuberant celebration.

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