University of Winchester

ABSTRACTS /Alison Williams

Building the Earth: World Development & Social Regeneration with reference to UN Renewal & Interreligious Encounter

The argument in a nutshell: among all the global trends today and their regional, national and local ramifications there are developments which could provide a sound foundation for a peaceful, just, environmentally sustainable world. They are evident in the process of UN Reform and interreligious encounter. For these developments to achieve their potential, a profound shift of mindset is required by most of humanity, above all the decision-makers among us. Instead of jealously defending the interests of whatever part of the whole we perceive to be Ours we need "full recognition of our increasing interdependence and its implications" (Kofi Annan, July 2005).

UN Renewal: especially since September 2002, the UN Secretary-General has through his own reports and speeches and the reports of High Level Panels appointed by him, encouraged the now 191 member states to "strengthen the UN system". The Outcome Document of the World Summit preceding the 60th Anniversary General Assembly (14-16 September) shows where we have got to: confirmation of the Millennium Declaration and its Development Goals, a
commitment to mainstream Human Rights throughout the UN system including the acceptance of an international Responsibility to Protect citizens; and the establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission of all talents to give hard-won peace agreements a better success rate by helping states emerging from conflict to achieve stability.

Interreligious Encounter has an important role to play and is well placed to do so. For example, a UN Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace (22 June) was co-sponsored by eight religious NGOs, UNESCO, the World Bank, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and sixteeen countries.

Conclusion: humankind must bring the best of itself to bear on the challenges of our time, and for many of us, religious faith is the inspiration that sustains our best efforts.


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