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The Role of Faith in Addressing the World’s Challenges: 75th Anniversary of the UN

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN), the Multi-Faith Advisory Council to the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development (UN–MFAC) convened a global online conference, "Faith in the UN: Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and looking to the future," on 8th September 2020.

The, “Faith in the UN: A Global Online Conference,” global online conference premiered at a time of great challenges in the world, coupled with an unexpected global health crisis-affecting lives economically, socially, mentally and psychologically. Experts worry that 2020 is perhaps one of the most challenging times in world history. As a result of this, members of the UN–MFAC sought to engage, discuss, reflect and dialogue on the need to protect, preserve and promote human dignity and a greener environment for a better future for all, especially on the occasion of the UN anniversary. Most importantly, the online engagement celebrated the role of faith communities in building and strengthening the UN through promoting peace, human rights, eco-climate and sustainable development.

Notable panelists and participants at the meeting included the Most Revd. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director; and model, actor, and Goodwill Ambassador to the UN, Dia Mirza. The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, together with Arigatou International — New York, Ms. Rebeca Rios-Kohn, represented Arigatou International in the online meeting.

Prof. Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace (RfP), was upfront about the challenges facing humanity today. She noted that the UN anniversary came at the perfect moment when faith communities needed to come together and work towards maintaining international peace and security, and develop international cooperation.

Sadhvi Bhagavati Sarasvati, the President of the Divine Shakti Foundation, noted that our faith compels us to act, serve, to help and to work for peace, security, and a healthy, happy, sustainable development.

At the meeting, Dr. Ali was concerned by the increased online exploitation of children and youth with a rapid growth of online criminal networks and sexual crimes committed against children and young people. He noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more children and young people were spending more time online, thus increasing their exposure to criminals. With these modern trials he called on the UN together with faith communities to ensure the dignity of children online.

To celebrate the UN 75th anniversary, Dr. Ali proposed the following points to the UN:

  • Enhanced collaboration between law enforcement agencies in multiple jurisdictions;
  • Strengthen partnerships between governments and faith-based organizations;
  • Create and promote stronger legal frameworks; and
  • More investments in preventive tools, to take out sexual abuse materials online.
Faith in the UN 75th Anniversary 2020 1A screenshot of members during the interfaith virtual meeting