The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

High Level Meeting on Youth at the United Nations General Assembly 1 August , 2011

On July 25 and 26, over 500 youth representatives from all over the world came to the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of the High Level Meeting for the International Year of Youth on Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The meeting, which included 2 panel discussions, several plenaries and a multitude of side events, was also attended by several official delegations from member countries of the United Nations.

The International Year of Youth, which began in August of 2010, aims to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world’s youth in overcoming the challenges facing humankind. Under the theme ‘Dialogue and Mutual Understanding,’ the Year aims to promote the ideals of peace as well as respect for human rights, freedoms, and solidarity. In addition, it encourages dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations.

In his remarks during the opening ceremony of the High Level Meeting, the United Nations Secretary General strongly condemned the bombing in Oslo and the shooting massacre at a Norwegian summer camp while reiterating that young people play a crucial role in creating a path of tolerance and understanding. “Young people often understand better than older generations that we can and must transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals.”

Mr. Romulo Dantas, a youth representative from Brazil, called for a stronger partnership with governments and the United Nations in order to move further in the direction of trust and mutual understanding. “We all need to understand the fact that is impossible to build solutions for a diverse world once we are still lacking true partnership among all the important players in the youth field in many areas and at all levels.”

Several interventions, both from youth representatives and member countries, noted the discrepancies between the number of young people around the world – in some countries, youth represent over 60% of the population – and the resources allocated to this generation. In addition, many speakers made the case for “youth mainstreaming”, in a manner similar to what is done for gender mainstreaming. This proposal was applauded by all youth representatives present at the event.

Another intervention that was received very positively is that of the youth delegate from Germany who said that “Youth participation is not an investment; it is a value in itself”.

At the end of the High Level Meeting on Youth, an outcome document was adopted. It underlines the fact that, while the International Year of Youth is coming to a close, much still needs to be done and that youth and mutual understanding should remain a top priority for all sectors of the society.

The High Level Meeting on Youth was organized by the United Nations Intern-Agency Network on Youth Development. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is a key member of this network which adopted a statement expressing its plan to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations in advocating for and supporting national efforts to accelerate the implementation of international agreements and development goals as they relate to youth.

After the closing to of High Level Meeting on Youth, the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations held its annual meeting nearby. The Director of the UNAOC was invited to take part in a panel discussion about increasing collaboration between the United Nations and youth-led organizations. Building on the calls for partnerships made during the High Level Meeting on Youth, Mr. Scheuer underlined the fact that the UNAOC’s success and impact very much depends on collaboration with youth organizations: “We rely on the energy and innovativeness of youth organizations around the world to mobilize society at large and change the narrative about other cultures and religions. The UNAOC would not reach its goals without strong partnerships with youth organizations. We are now working on getting this great partnership to the next level.” The UNAOC Youth Program, especially through its Youth Solidarity Fund, aims to highlight and promote youth initiatives as well as support the development of partnerships with their respective governments.

For more information about the International Year of Youth, see


PH Holds Interfaith Dialogue Stakeholders Meet at the United Nations 10 June , 2011

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UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK—Interfaith dialogue stakeholders at the United Nations met here to seek ways of enhancing their individual initiatives by taking stock of present and future activities and programs and exploring possible partnerships.

At the Informal Discussion on Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Initiatives and Ideas co-sponsored by the Philippine Mission to the UN, the UNESCO New York Office and the Committee on Religious NGOs at the UN, about 90 participants from Missions, UN agencies and offices listened to the latest initiatives undertaken by UNESCO, the governments of the Philippines, New Zealand, Indonesia, the United States and Pakistan and other religious NGOs.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan described the event as an “important venue” for discussion and for moving forward interfaith dialogue initiatives on an individual or collective basis.”



Indonesia Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week 7 February , 2011

JAKARTA, Feb 7 (Bernama) — Hundreds of adherents of different faiths all over the country celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Senayan indoor stadium here on Sunday, Antara news agency reported.

“The event is the formal agenda of the United Nations aimed at campaigning for the importance of harmonious life among adherents of different faiths,” Chairman of the Presidium of the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) for Indonesia Prof Dr Din Syamsuddin said in his address to the event.

Din said the event also served as a means to gather interfaith figures to address a myriad of social problems facing the nation. READ MORE


Rev. Charles Gibbs:For God, For Good, For Neighbor

More than a century before religious extremists brought down New York’s Twin Towers, the opening act of a new era of terror, a visionary Hindu leader spoke these words to the first ever Parliament of the World’s Religions on September 11, 1893: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood … ”

“I fervently hope,” Swami Vivekananda went on to say, “that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”

Tragically, Swami Vivekananda’s hope has proved illusory. Sectarian and religiously motivated violence has continued to plague the earth to this day. The bombing of a church in Alexandria, Egypt and the assassination in Pakistan of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer are but two recent high-profile examples.

However, a recent initiative by Jordan’s King Abdullah II once more raises the banner for cooperation among people of different faith traditions, for a global effort to defuse the powder keg of religious division. READ MORE



Hindus Welcome “Interfaith Harmony Week” 3 February , 2011

Hindus have applauded the launching of “World Interfaith Harmony Week” by United Nations (UN).

Notable Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that “it was step in the right direction”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that despite our seriously different traditions, we should learn to live together in mutual trust and peace. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment and help us overcome prejudices passed on to us by previous generations.

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Huffington Post: U.N. Marks First Annual ‘Interfaith Harmony Week’

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The United Nations kicked off the first “World Interfaith Harmony Week” on Tuesday (Feb. 1) to promote dialogue and civility among the world’s religions.

The observances are meant to reaffirm that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace,” according to a resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly.

The resolution establishes the annual events during the first week of February each year.

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San Francisco Chronicle: URI Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week 2 February , 2011

As popular uprisings roil the Middle East and North Africa this week, a revolution of a different kind is just beginning to take shape. Tuesday marked the start of the first annual United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7. Crowded amidst a dizzying array of UN days, weeks, month, even decades, this designated week stands out as the first global-level acknowledgment of the importance of interfaith cooperation and understanding to world peace and prosperity.

Initiated by King Abdullah II of Jordan, the week is a chance for interfaith advocates, religious and government leaders, and people of all walks of life to celebrate the common ground they share as people of faith and conviction and take a united stand against violence in the name of religion.

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The Californian: Rev. Dr. Lillian Capehart: Support World Interfaith Harmony week 31 January , 2011

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Can we be more open-minded to those proclaiming a different faith or no faith at all?

Have we ever treated others who have different beliefs as adversaries undeserving of respect and dignity? Can you imagine knowing and living in a community or a world where love dominates and is manifested as interfaith harmony?

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution declaring the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The idea was initially proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan to further broaden his goals of world harmony beyond the Muslim and Christian communities to include not only people of all beliefs, but those without religious beliefs as well. READ MORE


From Illume Magazine: UN Establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week 2 November , 2010

In October, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution deeming the first week of February each year to be ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week.’ The initiative was proposed by King Abdullah of Jordan and co-sponsored by 29 other countries. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad delivered the King’s proposal in September, encouraging all states to “spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship…to each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.”

Citing Gallup Poll findings in a recent international survey on religion, Prince Ghazi spoke of how 53% of Westerners have “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinions of Muslims. Additionally, he told of how 30% of Muslims worldwide hold negative views of Christians.

The General Assembly agreed that there is an urgent need for engagement among “different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.”

The proposal specifically highlighted Muslims, Christians and Jews for  making up 55% of the world’s population, and their involvement in many  of the world’s conflicts. However, the language used in the resolution  was drafted to exclude no one:  “Every person of goodwill, with or without faith can and should commit to Love of the Neighbor and Love of God or Love of the Neighbor and Love of the Good.”