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SECRETARY-GENERAL OF MILLENNIUM WORLD PEACE SUMMIT CALLS ON RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO GALVANIZE AGAINST TERRORISM

New York – [September 14, 2001] – In one of darkest hours of American history, religious leaders are being called upon to help ease the pain, confusion and horror of Americans and those around the world who share in the suffering inflicted by the terrorist attacks on the United States.

"This is a time when the religions of the world must stand together and not be divided," said Bawa Jain, Secretary General of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which met at the United Nations in August 2000. "No religion preaches violence. I call upon all religious leaders to speak out in their communities against this violence, and to stand with the people of the United States in the effort to recover from this enormous tragedy. All peace loving people must work together against this new global threat."

Individually many religious leaders have condemned the violence, but there is growing recognition that great benefit would be derived from the world's religious leaders issuing a common call during such times of crisis. Great moral leadership is needed to prevent more suffering to innocent victims and to allow wisdom and justice to prevail. The World Peace Summit is urging religious leaders to issue strong statements asking the religious communities to stand together and not allow anger to be directed toward innocent people.

"Religious leaders came together at the United Nations in the effort to end intolerance and conflict between people of different faiths. Now we must work even harder toward this goal, urging people to exercise calm and restraint," said Bawa Jain. The World Peace Summit began an initiative to form a World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders that would provide moral guidance during such times of difficulty. World terrorism would be one issue that this Council would address, working in conjunction with the United Nations and governments. Religious leaders have the greatest outreach into the communities, and their support is essential for any successful effort to end terrorist activities around the world. Now religious leaders must work more closely with each other and with political leaders to end this growing world danger. Initial plans are already underway to create a more vocal and visible role for religious leaders from the major faith traditions on this issue and to see how religious leaders can educate people against any involvement or association with terrorists.

The World Peace Summit took place August 28-31, 2000 in New York City. The Summit opened at the UN with Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing the leaders. The Summit continued at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where religious leaders engaged in working group sessions to devise ongoing initiatives to address regional conflict, poverty and environmental problems. In addition to the signing of The Commitment to Global Peace, another outcome of the World Peace Summit is the formation of an "Advisory Council" of religious leaders who would be available as a resource to the United Nations in its conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

The Summit represented the first time in history that religious and spiritual leaders of the world's diverse faith traditions came together to discuss forging a partnership of peace with the United Nations and to identify ways that the worldwide religious communities can work together on specific peace, poverty and environmental initiatives.

The Commitment to Global Peace condemns all violence in the name of religion and makes a strong appeal to all religious, ethnic and national groups to seek a cessation of all hostilities. The signing of the Commitment signifies an unprecedented collaboration among religious and spiritual leaders to commit to cooperate in building peaceful societies.

The Commitment to Global Peace was developed with the contribution of the Summit's International Advisory Council and with input from the Scholars Group at Harvard Divinity School and other Summit strategic partners in the months preceding the Religious Summit. It was then circulated among religious leaders for their input and changes. The Commitment includes input from all the major religious faiths.

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