The Millennium World Peace Summit
One thousand of the world's leading religious and spiritual figures. Apart from His Holiness Pope John Paul II and The Most Reverend Dr. George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, religious leaders who have been approached include Sheikh Ahmed Keftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Alazar from Cairo, the imams of the mosques of Mecca and Medina, Dr. Abdullah Salehal-Obaid, the secretary of the World Muslim League, Israel's Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, the Most Rev Bartholomew, the Russian Patriarch, His Holiness Alexii II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop Carlos Belo, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner from East Timor.
Since the end of World War II, at which time the UN was created to free the world from "the scourge of war," armed conflict has claimed some 27 million lives around the world. Estimates are that 85% of these casualties were civilian, especially children and the elderly. In the last decade alone, there have been over 100 armed conflicts around the world in over 70 different locations and in every region of the world.
Goal of the Summit
The goal of the World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders is to create a forum by which several preeminent leaders of all the world's great religious and faith traditions can come together at the United Nations for the first time in history to pledge a commitment to take concrete actions for the achievement of world peace. This commitment has been embodied in a Declaration for World Peace that participants signed and that has been specified actions to be taken.
Throughout recent conflicts in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, private efforts have been made to rally religious leadership for peace. In 1992, Pope John Paul II gathered Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious leaders in Assisi to pray for peace in the Balkans. In 1997, the World Conference on Religion and Peace acted as a facilitator within Bosnia to open a dialogue about leadership among the nation's Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Jewish communities. In 1997 the Interfaith Center and the Temple of Understanding organized the first annual Interfaith Service of Commitment to the work of the United Nations. The Interfaith Service is held immediately preceding the opening of the General Assembly every year.
Such private efforts, often focused on a single conflict, have borne fruit in a single time and place. They have not - indeed cannot - rise to a more global level, and inspire sustained, interfaith advocacy for peace at the highest international levels.
The Establishment of an International Advisory Council of Religious Leaders
A single meeting may motivate leadership, however, motivation must be sustained and leadership must be vigilantly exercised, for its effects to last. The historical momentum of conflict must be met with an equally historical momentum for peace. To ensure that the spirit and declaration of the Summit creates sustained momentum, the participants of the Summit formed an International Advisory Council of Religious Leaders to function as a resource for the Secretary General of the United Nations
- the United Nations' efforts to resolve international conflicts.
The creation of an Advisory Council was a first step toward developing a World Academy of Nonviolence and Ethics. It has global branches and provides research, education, and leadership on ethical issues and practical mechanisms for maintaining world peace.