In the Heart of New York: KAICIID’s Pivotal Week at the United Nations General Assembly
Amid the towering edifices of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, September brimmed with discussions, deliberations, and decisions. The United Nations General Assembly High-level Week took place from 18th to 23rd September and saw a flurry of activities geared towards fostering global development. The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) marked an active presence, reaffirming its profound commitment to furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and deepening interfaith dialogue.
Participation in the SDGs ACTION Weekend
Prior to the main event, the UN Secretary General convened an SDG Action Weekend, which aimed to create a platform for stakeholders, UN entities, and Member States to come together and make decisive commitments to facilitate the SDG transformation up to 2030.
The weekend comprised two pivotal days: the SDG Mobilisation Day, which saw various sectors converging to bolster a resolute SDG Summit and UN General Assembly High-Level Week, as well as the SDG Acceleration Day, which was primarily focused on the UN's High-Impact Initiatives. The active involvement and momentum generated by civil society, the private sector, youth, scientists, and local governments were instrumental in the success of the Summit and its subsequent actions.
KAICIID Co-Sponsors a High-Level Event at the SDG Summit
Hosted at the Baha’I International Community HQ on the 18th of September, KAICIID co-sponsored a high-level event titled "Inspiring Faith, Hope and Transformative Action to Accelerate Progress Towards the SDGs". This crucial meeting was held within the framework of the Trilateral Partnership of Regional Faith-based Networks for the SDGs, the Africa Faith Leaders Initiative on SDGs (AFLI), the Pacific Faith-Based Coalition for Sustainable Development (APFC), and the Interreligious Alliance for the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The event illuminated the role of faith in attaining the SDGs and included the participation of two distinguished KAICIID Fellows, who underscored the profound impact of faith in driving sustainable development. Sr. Agatha Ogochukwu Chikelue, Fellow Alumni of The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) and Executive Director of the Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace, poignantly remarked, “With organizations like KAICIID supporting us, we remain hopeful of achieving SDGs in Africa.”
Echoing her sentiments and further highlighting the role of faith in developmental endeavours, Pastor Jose Piñero, another distinguished Fellow Alumni of KAICIID and Director of Faith and Development at World Vision Venezuela, shared, "Faith encourages us to work together for the benefit of those most in need." Their words, firmly rooted in experience and belief, paved the way for further insightful discussions on faith's transformative potential.
The UNGA Side Event on Innovative Peacebuilding and the Human Dignity Award
On the 20th of September, KAICIID’s delegation joined the UNGA high-level side event titled “Innovative Peacebuilding to Advance FoRB”, which was hosted at the Baha’I International Community HQ. The event counted with the prominent role of the distinguished Special Rapporteur on FoRB, Nazila Ghanea, Professor of International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, who holds an impressive record of contributing to the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and belief.
On the same day, KAICIID’s delegation attended the American Jewish Committee’s Human Dignity Award ceremony to honour H.E. Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the President of the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, and Chair of the Islamic Law Council of the United Arab Emirates. With this Award, the American Jewish Committee sought to distinguish H.E. Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s relentless “dedication to ensuring that religions contribute to peace and human flourishing, not violence and hatred.”
KAICIID joined in congratulating H.E. Bin Bayyah for his relentless efforts in promoting peace and dialogue and his work with the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace.
“Congratulations to H.E. Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah on receiving American Jewish Committee’s Human Dignity Award. His commitment to promoting peace and dialogue and his important contributions through the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace serve as an inspiration to us all. We celebrate his achievements and look forward to further collaborations for a peaceful and harmonious future,” Message from Dr. Zuhair Alharthi, Secretary General of The International Dialogue Centre.
The Kofi Annan Faith Briefing
As a proud member of the UN Multi-Faith Advisory Council (MFAC) since 2018, KAICIID regularly plays an active role in supporting the organization of the Kofi Annan Faith Briefing, which this year took place on the 21st of September. Notably, The International Dialogue Centre made an important input to the design and planning of the activity at the Working Group on Multilateralism. The annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefing creates a consistent platform during significant intergovernmental moments, drawing on experts knowledgeable in religion and related affairs, to both inform and gain insights from UN system discussions.
With a focus on how faith-based organizations have allied with UN agencies to further the SDGs, the event was a testament to the power of faith in driving global change. Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Executive Director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and Co-Chair of the Multi-Faith Advisory Council, cogently captured this essence, stating: “Peace is more sustainable when there is local ownership.”
The platforms provided by the UN-Multi-Faith Advisory Council and initiatives like the Kofi Annan Briefings amplify the voices of faith-based communities, reinforcing our collective mission for a harmonious and sustainable future. Such collaborative efforts underline the significance of dialogue and partnership in our journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Message from Dr. Zuhair Alharthi, Secretary General of The International Dialogue Centre.
High Level meeting of the Group of Friends of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)
On the same day, another crucial meeting marked a significant convergence of thoughts around the pivotal role of intercultural and interreligious dialogue in contributing to a peaceful and sustainable world. At the UNAOC Group of Friends High Level meeting, H.E. Miguel Ángel Moratino, the Under-Secretary General and UN High Representative, briefed on UNAOC’s advocacy work, institutional developments, programmes and progress made under various initiatives and mandates in2022-2023.
The Group’s discussions were vast, encapsulating topics from the sanctity and protection of religious sites to fortifying the bridges of interreligious dialogue. Special attention was dedicated by some members to the added value of mapping sacred sites and improving policy frameworks to protect sacred books. Additionally, the discourse revolved around the pivotal roles that women and youth can play in peacebuilding, the imperative to combat hate speech, and the interrelation of these issues with the broader theme of human rights, all of which are central to KAICIID’s mission.
Throughout this week, the deliberations and discussions resonated with the conviction that intercultural and interreligious dialogue and collaborative action are indispensable in the journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In its turn, KAICIID’s engagement exemplified its unwavering dedication to nurturing peace and fostering global understanding, reinforcing the invaluable role of faith-based organizations in the global push for sustainable, peaceful, and inclusive development. KAICIID looks ahead to the Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024.