URI and the Institute for Economics & Peace Sign a Memorandum of Understanding

4 November 2019
URI and IEP teams

The URI and IEP teams, from left to right: Carlos Juarez Cruz, IEP Program Director (Mexico), Lorena Rodriguez, IEP Conference Coordinator, Michael Collins, IEP Executive Director (Americas); Steve Killelea, IEP Founder and Executive Chairman; The Rev. Victor Kazanjian, URI Executive Director; Laurie Smolenski, IEP Outreach and Development Officer, Biff Barnard, URI Director of Institutional Advancement, and Alice Swett, URI Director of Global Programs.

Read about this partnership on Vision on Humanity.



SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA – On October 28, 2019, URI (United Religions Initiative) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). The partnership brings about an exciting increase in URI’s capacity to analyze and articulate the work of its members, more effectively spotlighting their impact in creating a more peaceful world and inspiring others to undertake similarly effective approaches.

Founded in 2000, URI is the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organization in the world with more than 1,000,000 volunteers in 108 countries. Its member groups work at the local, national, and international levels to build trust and partnerships between people of different faiths, ethnicities, and belief systems.

The Institute for Economics and Peace is the world’s leading think tank dedicated to developing metrics to analyze peace and to quantify its economic value. It does this by developing global and national indices, calculating the economic cost of violence, analyzing country-level risk, and understanding positive peace: the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

“URI’s charter guides us to ‘create cultures of peace, justice and healing,’ and from direct experience and assessment with affected individuals and communities, we know it’s working,” said URI Executive Director Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr. “But measuring the less tangible dimensions of positive peacebuilding can be elusive. The IEP team is answering this challenge with its groundbreaking research.”

As an immediate positive outcome of the partnership, URI and IEP shared the stage at the 2019 Positive Peace Conference at Stanford University the following day, which brought together academics, advocates, civil society, government and business leaders to amplify their contributions to peace as a system. Co-hosted by IEP and Stanford’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the conference focused on how building and sustaining peaceful societies requires multiple, society-wide improvements in concert with one another over time, buttressed by deep-rooted collaboration and partnerships.

The conference provided a forum to explore the role that strengthening peace can play in improving economic outcomes, sustainability, social cohesion, resilience, and equity. IEP’s 2019 Positive Peace report, which was presented at the conference, outlined these latest findings and key trends in peace.


Pictured after the MOU signing, left to right: Michael Collins, IEP’s Director of the Americas Program; Alice Swett, URI Director of Global Programs; The Rev. Victor Kazanjian, URI Executive 3 Director; Steve Killelea, IEP Founder and Executive Chairman; and Biff Barnard, URI Director of Institutional Advancement.

URI IEP Positive Peace Conference

Onstage at the Positive Peace Conference: Michael Collins, IEP's Director of the Americas Program; Elias Szczytnicki, Secretary General & Regional Director for Religions For Peace Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Rev. Victor Kazanjian, URI Executive Director.


URI (United Religions Initiative) is the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network in the world. It cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities. URI implements its mission in 108 countries through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of more than 1,000 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights. 

URI holds the prestigious distinction of being a non-governmental organization (NGO) with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and has long-standing partnerships with several other UN agencies.

Get involved at URI.org.



Isabelle Ortega-Lockwood

URI Director of Communications


[email protected]