Un Body Hosts Dialogue On Faith, Peacebuilding & Development

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 (Bernama) — The Dialogue on Faith, Peacebuilding and Development co-organised by a United Nations (UN) body and several religious-based organisations called upon all UN Member States to join efforts in spreading the message of interfaith harmony, mutual understanding and good will to combat violent extremism.

According to a statement by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the one-day dialogue held in Palais des Nations, Geneva on Sunday also expressed the participants’ commitment to the initiative to promote interfaith dialogue and denounce violent extremism.

The statement on “Promoting Interfaith Dialogue and Embracing the Interfaith Harmony Week,” released at the end of the dialogue also emphasised the role of harmonious relations and understanding among the world’s religions in achieving true peace and reconciliation in the world.

The Dialogue on Faith, Peacebuilding and Development co-organised by UNITAR, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Missions of Jordan, the Holy See, the Order of Malta, and the UN Christian Association (UNCA), was held to commemorate the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The week is observed on the first week of February every year after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on it, on Oct 20, 2010.

The dialogue among others discussed the role of faith in peace-building and how faith-based organisations could support social and economic development in synergy with the new 2030 Agenda.

The discussion also recognised the important role that the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism will have in the discussion of faith and peace-building and in the joint efforts of different religions in preventing violent acts that lead to terrorism.

Held in two sessions, the first panel allowed the sharing of perspectives on faith and peacebuilding, and included statements by Saja Majali, Permanent Representative of Jordan to UN Office at Geneva (UNOG); Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See in Geneva and Silmane Chikh, Permanent Observer of the OIC in Geneva.

The second panel explored the theme of faith and development, and included the perspectives of UNITAR Officer in Charge Alex Mejia, former Director of World Vision International in Geneva Beris Gwznne, and Marie-Therese Pictet-Althann, Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to UNOG.

The event attracted 130 people, including diplomats from permanent missions, staff members from UN entities, leaders from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and representatives of major religions.

UNITAR is an autonomous UN body established in 1963, as a training arm of the UN System, and has the mandate to enhance the effectiveness of the UN through diplomatic training, and to increase the impact of national actions through public awareness-raising, education and training of public policy officials.