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Philippines kicks off forum to spur interfaith dialogue and coexistence

Following on last year’s ground-breaking conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace at the UN, which brought together members of governments, the UN, and NGOs, the Phillippine Mission announced last week the creation of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace. The launch event was attended by representatives from more than 60 nations, UN departments, and civil society groups, including the five officers of the Committee of Religious NGOs (Soka Gakkai International, Temple of Understanding, Religions for Peace, Baha’is of the USA, United Religions Initiative).


UNITED NATIONS, March 24, 2006 (AFP) - Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo on Friday launched a partnership of governments, UN agencies and civil society to back UN programs promoting interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence.

Speaking at a luncheon attended by the president of the UN General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, Romulo told the new tripartite Forum aimed to vanquish intolerance by building on the increasing momentum behind interfaith cooperation for peace.

"We must complement and mutually reinforce other initiatives, particularly the Alliance of Civilizations," he told a luncheon also attended by several ambassadors to the UN and officials of UN specialized agencies.

The Alliance of Civilizations is a 2005 initiative by UN chief Kofi Annan and the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey aimed at bringing together institutions and civil society to bridge prejudices and misunderstandings between peoples of different cultures and religions.

"Many of us have seen and felt the tragic consequences when terror and conflict are fueled by those who exploit differences in faiths and beliefs," Romulo said.

"But increasingly, all of us are fighting back, armed with the profound resolve to build peace, understanding and tolerance by fostering dialogue and cooperation among faiths, cultures and civilizations," he added.

The apolitical forum is an outgrowth of a conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace that was held here last June.

The June parley was attended by representatives of 16 countries – Argentina, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Gambia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Spain, Thailand and Tunisia.

It was also attended by the World Bank, UNESCO and religious non-governmental organizations.

Romulo said the Forum would hold a ministerial session on the sidelines of the General Assembly session here later this year.

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