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URI Executive Director's Letter for February 2005

In his February "Executive Director's Letter", Charles Gibbs urges URI Cooperation Circles to join in support for three major United Nations' observances in 2005: World Environment Day, the 60th Anniversary of the UN Charter (and 5th for the URI's), adn the International Day of Peace

By Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs

Dear Friends of the URI, Greetings of love and peace.

As URI's global community grows as a force for peace, justice and healing, we and all of humanity owe a debt of profound gratitude and support to the visionary founders of the United Nations and to those people who devote their lives to its success. A strong and effective UN is critical to humanity's future. The UN inspired the birth of the URI and URI is formally affiliated with the UN through the Department of Public Information. There is a URI Cooperation Circle at the UN and many URI CCs around the world have partnerships with local UN groups. In support of the UN and in the spirit of global solidarity, I invite you to join your brothers and sisters all over the world in three major United Nations' observances in 2005, one of which is also a major observance for URI:

World Environment Day: WED was established by the UN's General Assembly in 1972, on the same day the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) was created, to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. In 1987, Nairobi, Kenya became the first city to host a global WED observance - Environment and Shelter: More Than A Roof. In subsequent years, this annual observance has focused on a wide variety of environmental issues: global warming, clean water, the oceans, poverty and sustainable development.

This year San Francisco will host WED, the first city in North America to have this honor. The theme is Green Cities, which the host committee believes "is timely because the 21st century marks the first time in human history that the majority of the world's population will live in urban areas. Today, cities consume 75% of the planet's natural resources. As urban populations grow, it is increasingly important to balance the needs of the environment, the economy, and social equity if we are going to achieve a way of living that can support our planet and our people into future generations." URI is a partner in this effort. Our purpose calls us "to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings." We encourage you to visit the WED website (www.wed2005.org) for ideas about how you can share in this global observance.

UN & URI Charters: June 26, 2005 marks the 60th Anniversary of UN Charter and the global institution it created, which has inspired and supported countless leaders over the past sixty years to make an extra effort for peace and justice.

We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

June 25, 2005 is also the 5th Anniversary of URI Charter and the global community it created, which daily brings people together across faith lines to build a more peaceful and just world.

We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously-motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

In these times when the need for global cooperation among nations and faiths is made vivid each day, we urge you to find ways to celebrate this important anniversary.

International Day of Peace: The International Day of Peace was established by the UN in 1981. Originally tied to the yearly opening of the General Assembly, in 2001 its date was fixed annually on September 21. For the past two years, members of the URI community around the world have joined in celebrating this day with a wide array of activities that demonstrate the power of shared action for peace. We invite you, again, to join with your sisters and brothers around the world in helping this day become a major global celebration.

We will be sharing more about these observances as the year progresses, but we invite you now to put these dates on your calendar and begin planning how you and your community will participate. Please let us know what you're planning by emailing office@uri.org. Together we can build communities of peace, justice and healing for a better future.

Love, Charles Gibbs

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