At the core of all the faith systems and traditions lies the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony; and to coexist peacefully in an environmentally sustainable world. The moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.
Our world continues to be baffled by conflict and intolerance with rising number of refugees and the internally displaced in a hostile and unwelcoming world around them. We are also witnessing messages of hate spreading discord among people, creating rifts and building walls, when all we need are bridges. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater. In the world as it stands today, it is imperative that we double our efforts to spread the message of good neighborliness based on our common humanity regardless of our faiths and religious traditions.
Since 2010, as an annual event, World Interfaith Harmony Week has been observed during the first week of February. It was proclaimed by the General Assembly in a Resolution adopted on 20 October 2010.
In the Resolution, the General Assembly emphasised that it is mutual understanding coupled with interreligious dialogue that constitutes important dimensions of a culture of peace. The Resolution envisaged World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.
In order to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, there is an imperative for dialogue among different faiths and religions. Realising that need, the General Assembly, through its resolution encouraged all States to spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.
The Resolution of 2010 stands on the bedrock of its former resolutions adopted on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (1999), resolution concerning the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-violence (2002), on the Promotion of Religious and Cultural Understanding, Harmony and Cooperation (2003), on the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilisations (2005), on the Alliance of Civilisations (2009), on the Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (2009), on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (2009). The Resolution recalled with appreciation various global, regional and subregional initiatives on mutual understanding and interfaith harmony, including the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, and the initiative “A Common Word”.
The theme for the observance of the Interfaith Harmony Week for 2019 is therefore “Sustainable Development through Interfaith Harmony.” Because as we all know, it is only by being united that we can stand and by being divided, we cannot but fall.