6 June 2008

The United Religions Initiative was inaugurated in the year 2000, when representatives of a wide variety of religions from many countries of the world joined in signing the URI Charter, developed over five years of global consultation. The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Given this sacred mission of building peace, the URI was quick to embrace the UN International Day of Peace as a shared focus for the hundreds of multifaith Cooperation Circles all over the world. 

URI Cooperation Circles have observed the International Day of Peace (IDP) in various ways, including prayers, Peace Pole dedications, musical celebrations and community service projects. In addition, URI’s Representative to the United Nations, Monica Willard, has been instrumental in raising the profile of the International Day of Peace both within the United Nations system and among its Member States. 

This year, the URI is issuing a Call to Religions to observe the International Day of Peace. In the language of the Call: 

The time has come for people of faith to honor our own heritage by stepping forward in a living demonstration of a global culture of peace. Let us adopt this International Day of Peace, offered by the General Assembly of the United Nations, as a neutral focus belonging not to one group but to all humanity. Inspired by our scriptures and the wisdom of our teachers, the prayers of every faith will unite us in service to peace. May peace prevail on Earth. 

URI members are being asked to help achieve the following: 

Observe the IDP with their multifaith Cooperation Circle; 
Outreach to local houses of worship to encourage peace activities and prayers on or around the International Day of Peace; 
Ask the leaders of their own religions to issue a proclamation or statement of support of the IDP. 

People of different religions have been celebrating the International Day of Peace as recognition of the IDP increases worldwide. In 2008, when 21 September falls on a Sunday and also during Ramadan, the IDP could be the tipping point when people of all faiths join in shared prayers for a new culture of peace for all humanity. 

The beauty of the International Day of Peace is that the UN has provided a day that invites people of every country to focus on peace in their own way. The United Religions Initiative warmly encourages members of every religion, spiritual tradition and indigenous community to demonstrate global solidarity on 21 September for the dream of a world at peace. 

Deborah Moldow 
Vice Chair, United Religions Initiative Global Council 
Facilitator, The United Religions Initiative at the UN Cooperation Circle