The World Week of Interfaith Harmony among all religions, confessions and beliefs is an annual event that has been celebrated during the first week of February since 2011.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed “World Week of Interdenominational Harmony among all religions, confessions and beliefs” in its resolution A / RES / 65/5 , adopted on October 20, 2010. In the resolution, it is stated that understanding and dialogue between religions are important dimensions of the culture of peace.
With this week’s observation, we want to highlight the urgent need for different confessions and religions to dialogue so that there is a greater mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation between people and that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs include peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.
Designed to promote a culture of peace and non-violence, World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the United Nations in 2010. The UN General Assembly quickly welcomed the proposal and in its resolution A / RES / 65/5 declared the first week of February of each year as World Week of Interfaith Harmony. In this resolution, it asks governments, institutions and civil society to observe it with various programs and initiatives that promote the objectives of this celebration.
The United African Congress and the Give Them a Hand Foundation organized an interfaith forum at the UN in 2012 and have continued to participate in the celebrations every year since. The theme of the Week was ” The Diaspora: A Force for Positive Change ,” which emphasized the ability of immigrant communities of diverse origins, religions, and ethnicities in the United States to coexist harmoniously, united by common values such as love. to a god and neighbor. The interfaith forum brought together Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders to discuss the teachings of their respective religions regarding peace and harmony.
In 2013, a meeting was held again, this time with the aim of including the faith and value systems of indigenous peoples. For this reason, an African spiritual leader from Guinea was invited, who remarked that, in addition to living in peace, we must consider the interdependence of humans with nature, and therefore, we must be good guardians of our environment. Their participation generated a lot of interest among the UN diplomats and the other guests.
The theme for the Week in 2014 was ” Tolerance, Reconciliation and Forgiveness ” in honor of Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013, who led South Africa during his critical transition from Apartheid to a prosperous multicultural democracy and avoided what might have been a disastrous racial war. His personal example of forgiveness for peace among his people resonated throughout the world. The Indonesian Mission to the UN teamed up with the Ethiopian Mission to co-sponsor the event.
The passage of the devastating Hurricane Sandy left many houses destroyed in and around New York City. The United African Congress and its partners organized hundreds of volunteers of different faiths to help clean up flooded houses and deliver food to affected communities. In recognition of the power of prayer and interfaith collaboration, the theme for the Week of 2015 became ” Interfaith Prayer, Healing, and Community Services for Peace .” It was an excellent example of how people of different religions, colors, and ethnicities can work together for the common good. This year, the UN Missions in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Jamaica were the co-sponsors.
In 2016, the UN launched the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and one of the worst health emergencies in the world, the Ebola pandemic that devastated Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, was starting to decline, after having claimed more than 11,000 lives. The United African Congress was one of the first to draw attention to the impending health emergency in August 2014 by holding an awareness-raising forum at the UN, followed by a concert held in the General Assembly Hall in March 2015. Taking taking into account the interconnection between the search for peace and harmony during global health emergencies, such as the Ebola pandemic, the theme chosen for 2016 was ” Building bridges beyond borders This year the Native American spiritual leader of the Mohawk Nation was invited to participate with other religious leaders.
The foundation of all faith systems and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support each other to live in peace and harmony in a sustainable world. Our world is being plagued by conflict and intolerance towards the growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons who move in a hostile and unwelcoming world. Unfortunately, we also witness hate messages that spread discord among people. The need for spirit guides has never been greater. It is imperative that we duplicate our efforts to spread the message of good harmony with our neighbor as human beings and it must be a message shared by all faith traditions. For all these reasons, the theme of the Week for 2019 was “Sustainable development through inter-religious harmony “.