On 3 February 2011, the OIC Mission to the UN in New York held a Special Event titled “The Role of Faith Based Organizations and Interfaith Initiatives in Development, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding” at the UN Headquarters on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. In his message delivered by HE Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, Secretary General of the OIC, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu hoped that the observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week would serve peoples of all faiths and beliefs to coexist in peace, harmony and goodwill.
In October 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by The Kingdom of Jordan to declare the first week of every February, World Interfaith Harmony Week. This resolution reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and encourages all states to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and good will in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week.
Ambassador Gokcen said that while there were many promising and praiseworthy examples of interfaith initiatives of reconciliation and against violence in different conflict regions at the local level among religious leaders, there was a need for a framework of cooperation and engagement at the global level among different faith traditions. In this regard, he stated, the call of the OIC Secretary General for a historic reconciliation between Islam and Christianity in the document, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” which was signed by Muslim clerics and scholars and addressed to the world’s Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict and the leaders of the world’s Orthodox Christians and Anglicans.
He continued, in the OIC, as a part of the ongoing reform process and under the new vision of the organization, capacity has been built in preventive diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution. He said, now the OIC was willing to share its experiences and capacity with the international peace community in the service of promoting a pervasive culture of peace, particularly in fighting formation of any faultiness based on religion in any part of the world and fighting extremists, terrorist and their deviant ideologies who hijack religions, particularly Islam, under religious pretensions is an important task for the OIC in its efforts.
The panelists included respectively, Mr. Warren Hoge, Vice President for External Relations from the International Peace Institute, “A Catalyst for Conflict Resolution”; Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Advisor for Culture at the United Nations Population Fund, “Interfaith Engagement Developed within the UNFPA and the Formation of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Faith based Organizations and the MDGS”; Reverend Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York, “Conflict Prevention Role and Gender Equity Implications of Recent Roman Catholic-Muslim Service Partnerships in New York City”; Dr. Qamar-ul Huda, Senior Program Officer at the Religion and Peacemaking Center of the United States Institute of Peace, “Role of the Religions Leaders in Conflict Resolution and Peace Building, particularly from the perspective and traditions of Islam”; Ms. Daisy Khan, Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, “Muslim Women’s Strategy for Peace”; and Ms. Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, Senior Secretary for the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventative Action, “the Importance of Interfaith Initiatives in Conflict Prevention”.