Faith and Values in Global Affairs


alternate text2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week with faith representatives.

The attainment of world peace is a challenging process that will require mutual respect and cooperation between faith communities and religious leaders. Despite the fact that religious prejudice has been one cause of war, there are many religious leaders and faith communities that are advancing the cause of peace.

The U.S. Baha’i community has been widely engaged in these efforts. In 1950, for example, it initiated an annual World Religion Day to emphasize the power of religion to contribute to the cause of unity. The Baha’is of the U.S./UN Office works to ensure that these messages — and the moral questions posed by the transitions to an increasingly global society — are included in a variety of UN forums.

U.S./UN Office Involvement

The U.S./UN representative has been the co-chair of the Values Caucus at the United Nations for a number of years. The Caucus hosts both seminars and occasional “coffee conversations” for UN ambassadors to discuss the role of values within the UN system. Discussions have been held on diverse topics, including the role of values in sustainable development and the ethics of peace and conflict resolution.

Office representatives have held leadership positions on the Committee of Religious NGOs. This Committee represents almost 40 UN-accredited national and international organizations that define their work as religious, spiritual, or ethical in nature. The Committee hosts forums “for exchanging and promoting shared religious and ethical values in the deliberations of the world organization.”

alternate text2013 World Interfaith Harmony Week’s Symphony of Prayers.

Following the terrorist incidents in the U.S. in September 2001, the Committee hosted a series of briefings on topics such as political Islam, hatred, retribution, forgiveness, human rights, and justice. In response to inquiries about Islam, the Committee sponsored periodic lunch seminars on different aspects of Islam and its theology. The Committee hosts a variety of interfaith forums at the UN and actively promotes World Interfaith Harmony Week every February.

Serving as President of the Committee of Religious NGOs, the Baha’is of the U.S./UN Office was heavily involved in planning a High-level Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation in September 2006. The event addressed, among others, the need for far greater understanding about the role(s) of faith communities in peacemaking and development. The Committee of Religious NGOs represents faith-based NGOs on the Tripartite Forum and includes a representative from government (The Phillippines) and a UN agency (UNESCO). In recent years, the Office has been involved in planning the Committee’s annual forum on Interreligious Cooperation at the UN which have been well received by governments, UN agencies and NGOs.

The Office representative has served with the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment. The Partnership was founded in 1986 by the UN Environment Program’s Regional Office in North America. Its goal is to inform North American congregations about the serious environmental problems facing life on Earth. It has since evolved into a global network of faith traditions and organizations working to bring together the forces of religion and ecology.

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