URI Welcomes the Launching of African Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum

20 July 2010, 4:19 PM

United Religions Initiative (URI) and its member organization in Ethiopia, Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (IPI), applaud the African Union’s new effort to build partnerships with religious communities and promote interfaith dialogue in the region. Building on the work done by URI and other interfaith organizations, the AU held its first ever Interfaith Dialogue Forum in Abuja, Nigeria on June 15-17, 2010.

The forum, organized as part of the African Year of Peace and Security, brought religious leaders throughout the continent together with heads of state under the theme “Advancing Justice, Peace, Security and Development: Harnessing the Power of Religious Communities in Africa.” It resulted in the creation of a permanent steering committee, consisting of fifteen senior religious leaders, tasked with advancing cooperation between the AU and Africa’s religious communities to reduce conflict and coordinate peace and development efforts. The forum will be held every two years, providing an ongoing framework to promote interfaith cooperation.

"It is with great pleasure that we welcome the African Union’s initiative,” said Ambassador Mussie Hailu, URI’s representative at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Board Chairman of IPI. “It is an idea whose time has come.”

Ambassador Hailu noted that URI Africa and IPI have advocated for such a partnership for years, and are “looking forward to working closely with the African Union to make this declaration a reality.”

Ambassador Hailu has also been working at the United Nations to create a Golden Rule Day and a Decade of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace, and called on the AU and UN member states to endorse both. “This decade and the Golden Rule will help foster a genuine and lasting peace based on more equitable, fraternal and harmonious societies––societies that fully respect human rights and all manifestations of life, in which sharing is more important than competing, where dialogue replaces all forms of violence for resolving conflicts, and where cultural and religious diversity are appreciated.”

URI and IPI, in conjunction with the World Peace Prayer Society, are celebrating the African Year of Peace and Security by organizing an International Day of Peace event on September 21, 2010 at the African Union Hall, where they will present a “Peace Award of the Year.” This year’s International Day of Peace, an annual United Nation’s holiday, has also been declared Peace Day in Africa by the AU, a day for a cessation of hostilities and non-violence across the continent.