VIENNA : WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK The Official UN Observance in the 1 Week of February:(United Nations) Vienna Austria.
UPF Austria, Vienna International Centre (United Nations), February 3 2023: Following up on conferences of the Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations in Vienna, New York and San Francisco and supported by UNODC,the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), Growth 4Peace, the Women’s Federation for World Peace, UNCAV and Youth & Students for Peace in commemoration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week organized a conference on theme of “Faith Based Organizations and the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
The conference was attended by 200 participants including UN diplomats, religious leaders, NGO representatives and other members of civil society. The conference began with a welcome from Mr. Peter Haider, President of UPF Austria. The first Session of the conference, “Why Religions and Cultures in Dialogue matter,” was moderated by Moderator: Dr. Afsar Rathor, former UN diplomat and president of LIOS-SOIL. He observed the increasing importance of interfaith dialogue and Why Religions and Cultures in Dialogue matter. Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC Director, Division of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, was the first presenter.
He opened by quoting the speech of HM King Abdullah II of Jordan introducing World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Plenary Session of the 65th UN General Assembly: “humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor; to love the good and neighbor.” Referring to the Global Study on Homicide 2019, Mr. Lemahieu noted contexts in which homicide is perpetrated and the links to religious extremism. Observing that current developments often reflect “navigating without a compass,” he called for the multilateralism of “all faiths working together in inclusive networks with the theme of humanity at the core.”
More Speakers remarks H.E. Dr. Haitham Abu Alfoul, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Austria. H.E. Dr. Eglantina Gjermeni, Ambassador of Albania to the International Organizations in Vienna. Prof. Dr. Paul M. Zulehner, Theologian and Professor, Sociology of Religion. Dr. Elmar Kuhn, President, Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations and Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, Co-Chair Universal Peace Federation Europe and Middle East. They first observation was that most teachings or moral norms of religions are useful for the individual life and for social situations; religions follow the goal of making and keeping the peace in situations of political conflicts.
However, the “dangerous side of religious convictions” was also acknowledged with the observation that many religions draw a very strong border to different believers or to nonbelievers, the so-called outgroup. The conclusion was that “there are many ways to God” and that religious people must engage in “mental disarmament and in political reconciliation between hostile groups.”This conference Attended by nearly 1,000 religious leaders and guests from across the world.
2nd Session: Interfaith and the United Nations SDGs. Moderator: Dr. Farida Valiullina, UPF liaison UN Vienna office. first of all welcomed and while starting the program she said that in today’s conference you will know a lot about how work is being done for peace and order in the world.
Among the speakers included in it Ms. Tatjana Christelbauer M.A., Agency for Cultural Diplomacy Austria (Orange Feather Dance meditation 4 peace) and Ms. Ursula Wagner (Tai-chi), H.E. Aftab Ahmad Khokher, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Austria, Prof. Dr. Ille Gebeshuber, Institute of Applied Physics, Tech. University Vienna, Dr. Joshua Sinclair, American writer, filmmaker, actor and director, medical doctor and Dr. Rahela Kaveer, Chairwoman of World Hazara Council. All the speakers looked at different aspects in their expressions. Some information regarding this conference. World Interfaith Harmony Week. First proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Just under a month later it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February is observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. World Interfaith Harmony Week conferences were organized in the UN in Vienna in 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 und 2013. World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event observed during the first week of February, World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible. The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts. It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities. World Interfaith Harmony Week Resolution UNGA A/65/PV.34
The General Assembly, Recalling its resolutions 53/243 of 13 September 1999 on the declaration and programme of action relating to a culture of peace, 57/6 of 4 November 2002 concerning the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, 58/128 of 19 December 2003 on the promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation, 60/4 of 20 October 2005 on a global agenda for dialogue among civilizations, 64/14 of 10 November 2009 on the Alliance of Civilizations, 64/81 of 7 December 2009 on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace and 64/164 of 18 December 2009 on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, Recalling with appreciation various global, regional and sub regional initiatives on mutual understanding and interfaith harmony including the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, and the initiative “A Common Word”, Recognizing that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, Reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace; Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.
Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one’s neighbour or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.
Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of the implementation of the present resolution. UPF and its network of Ambassadors for Peace celebrate this week each year, in a way that encourages understanding, respect, and cooperation among people of all faiths for the well-being of our communities and peace in the world.