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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRIPARTITE FORUM ON INTERFAITH COOPERAITON FOR PEACE
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you all in today’s simple commemoration of the first anniversary of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace – a unique partnership of governments, UN agencies and religious NGOs accredited with the UN. In a very real sense, we celebrate the first birthday anniversary of a unique child, a special gift to the world: a child born out of a universal love for justice and passion for peace and from global interfaith, intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue, understanding and cooperation.
Our Tripartite Forum explores practical measures, utilizing interfaith dialogue and cooperation, to advance understanding between diverse peoples, their cultures and religions, in order to foster mutual respect, tolerance and friendship by addressing opportunities and challenges to peaceful co-existence.
Among its salient accomplishments during the past 12 months were the holding of the High-Level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace on 21 September 2006, the monthly Information Sessions on activities related to the mission and goal of the Tripartite Forum, and the review it made on the various UN General Assembly resolutions dealing with or related to interreligious and intercultural dialogue and cooperation.
New challenges to peace, development and the promotion of human dignity seem to elude many traditional ways of addressing them. The Tripartite Forum represents one of the creative approaches to deal with these modern day challenges, by addressing these challenges through a multi-pronged fashion that seeks to mobilize the involvement of all stakeholders, in particular the faith communities.
The influence and capability of religious leaders and faith communities in addressing pressing secular concerns are immense, especially if they train their eyes collectively at human sufferings.
All religions preach non-violence in addressing conflicts and share the view that peaceful co-existence includes the promotion of development and human dignity.
The Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, held in New York on 22 June 2005 conceived and gave birth to the Tripartite Forum. I must at this point acknowledge with deep appreciation the collective efforts of the original group of governments that convened the Conference and nurtured the blossoming of our initiative, namely, Argentina, Bangladesh, Ecuador, The Gambia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Spain, Thailand and Tunisia, in cooperation with three UN bodies, UNESCO, UNDESA and the World Bank, and with the 110 religious NGOs at the UN.
Interfaith dialogue has gained growing interest world-wide and is recognized by the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Asia-Europe Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum. It is currently the flagship project of UNESCO for the biennium 2006-2007; it was noted in the 2005 World Summit Outcome; and served as one of the premises in the creation of the Human Rights Council. More importantly, it gave impetus to the unanimous adoption by the UN General Assembly at its 62 nd session of the resolution entitled “Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation” introduced by Pakistan and the Philippines and co-sponsored by over 50 countries.
Several UN agencies have been cooperating with faith communities in the discharge of their mandates – UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNEP, the World Bank, among others. Civil society has been active in the promotion of interfaith dialogue and cooperation, notably, the World Conference on Religions for Peace, the Temple of Understanding, United Religions Initiative and a host of other important organizations.
Last year, international interfaith conferences were held in several cities – New York, Moscow, Almaty, Cyprus, Bali and Cebu.
May I conclude by inviting you all to consider enriching the open-ended activities of the Tripartite Forum, in keeping with one of the conclusions of the High Level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, that “interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace is no longer an option but a must.” Thus, the child whose first birthday anniversary we celebrate today must grow surrounded always by our tender love and care.
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