International Interfaith Organisations Network Meeting
Representatives of twelve leading international interfaith organisations – one of which is the World Congress of Faiths – have reaffirmed their commitment to co-operate and to ensure that their resources are used as effectively as possible to foster inter-religious understanding and co-operation. It was recognised that each organisation has a particular emphasis to its work and that the organisations should be mutually supportive. The twelve organisations are members of the International Interfaith Organisations Network (IION), which held its annual meeting at the Global Retreat Centre, near Oxford from 26th to 28th November 2007.
Particular attention was paid to the developing interfaith work at the United Nations both in New York and Geneva. A series of UN General Assembly Resolutions have led to a Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and to a High-level Dialogue on ‘Interreligious and Intercultural Cooperation for promotion of tolerance, understanding and universal respect on matters of religion or belief and cultural diversity’. It was agreed that named representatives of the organizations should be kept informed of and invited to comment by those involved on the issues being discussed. It was also agreed to ask Gerardo Gonzales to keep organizations informed about the possibility of a Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and to invite their support.
The meeting heard about plans for the next Parliament of the World’s Religions which is to be held at Melbourne, Australia in from 3rd to 9th December 2009 and discussed their participation in this global event.
It was encouraging to learn from participants how many young people are engaged in interfaith work in different parts of the world. Members also shared best practice in responding to hurt caused by extremism.
It was agreed that an improved website could help keep member organisations informed of each other’s work and raise public awareness of it.
It was hoped that the Elijah Interfaith Institute, Just International and the International Council of Christians & Jews would become active members of the Network. The participating organisations were: Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Inter Faith Network UK, International Association for Religious Freedom, International Interfaith Centre, Minorities of Europe, North American Interfaith Net, Religions for Peace (WCRP), Temple of Understanding, Three Faiths Forum, United Religions Initiative, World Congress of Faiths, and World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils. (Also Interfaith Youth Core who were unable to send a representative to this meeting)
It is planned to hold the next meeting at Cochin, India from 3rd to 7th October 2008, in conjunction with the World Fellowship of Inter-Religious Councils Assembly. It is also hoped to hold a meeting at Melbourne in December 2009 before or during the Parliament of the World’s Religions.