United Nations to host first-ever spiritual summit next year

Published January 1, 2000

Prior to Nelson Mandela’s address to the Parliament, Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town talks to the Chief Rabbi C. K. Harris of the Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa.

Cape Town

A “spiritual summit” bringing together 1,000 of the world’s religious and spiritual leaders is being organized by the United Nations for next August ? the first such gathering in the UN’s 54-year history.

The Millennium World Peace Summit will take place from Aug. 28 to 31, just before the world’s political leaders gather for the UN Millennium Heads of State Summit.

“Our dream is to get the pre-eminent religious leaders to the UN so they can support the peace process, in concert with the political bodies there,” said Bawa Jain, executive co-ordinator of the summit.

“I definitely feel that the religious and spiritual communities can play a substantial role in easing tensions in the world zones of conflict,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will give the welcoming address.

“Ultimately, this first-ever council of senior religious and spiritual advisers will be established as a resource to the UN secretary-general, and its members could be ‘parachuted’ into trouble spots,” Mr. Jain said.

Mr. Jain was speaking during the Parliament of World Religions. Much of the work and discussions of the 10-day parliament will be channelled into next August’s gathering of religious leaders.

Only a small group of Muslim extremists protested against the parliament on the opening day.

They asked why “satanists” were gathered in Cape Town, accused the parliament of being a “Zionist conspiracy” and claimed that “Islam is the only way of life.”

However, the leaders of all of Cape Town’s faith communities supported the gathering on the campus of the Cape Technikon tertiary institution, at the foot of the world-famous Table Mountain, and at various venues in the city centre and suburbs.


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