Respected Religious Leaders,
Distinguished Participants of the Forum,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union and members of United Religions Initiative (URI) from diverse religions, spiritual expressions, indigenous traditions and cultures in Africa and the rest of the world and that of myself I present you warm greetings of peace.
As we gather this morning for the World Public Forum, I pray for the Almighty God to open our hearts and minds to understand the uniqueness of each one of us and to pour out the spirit of unconditional love, compassion and wisdom and to understand and fully embrace the idea that, though we are people of different faiths, traditions, cultures, tribe, colors, political ideology and countries we all are part of one human family who aspire to live in peaceful world beyond global disorder.
Before presenting the peace award to World Public Forum please allow me to say few words about United Religions Initiative and the Africa peace award.
United Religions Initiative (URI) is an International interfaith peace-building organization with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and its purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. It has over 700 member organizations in over 91 countries.
URI is cultivating peaceful co-existence among different religions and cultures through constructive dialogue and by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world.
The vision of URI-Africa is to see united, prosperous, and peaceful Africa where followers of different religions and cultures live together in harmony and respecting each other.
URI Africa acknowledges and joins hand with the African Union (AU) in launching an Interfaith Dialogue Forum at the African Union level to harness the power of religious communities for the integration and development in Africa.
Distinguished Participants of the Forum,
We have been following with great interest the outstanding work of World Public Forum as Dialogue among Civilizations is the road map which will help us to create a peaceful world for all.
Today URI-Africa is going to present its Prestigious Africa Peace Award to WORLD PUBLIC FORUM “DIALOGUE OF CIVILIZATIONS” in appreciation and acknowledgment the outstanding work of World Public Forum in promoting a culture of peace, constructive dialogue, partnership and network among various international and national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), representatives of public and state institutions, civil society organizations and faith-based groups, academics, representatives of cultural, spiritual, business, and media spheres from different countries, members of diverse civilizations and cultural traditions, and individuals.
The award is also in recognition of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations” effort to protect the spiritual and cultural values of humankind and to create a space for constructive dialogue among the major civilizations of the modern world and introducing the spirit of cooperation and understanding into everyday life.
URI-Africa established the Africa Peace Award to recognize the committed, effective leadership that is currently being exercised to bring sustainable peace, development, democracy and good leadership in the continent. The Africa Peace Award celebrates, acknowledges and honors the accomplishments of individuals or organizations who have exhibited extraordinary leadership to build a culture of peace, reconciliation and harmony among different religions and cultures and respect the universal declaration of human right. The Award helps to create role models of peace-builders.
The Africa Peace Award is a non-monetary award that honors distinguished individuals or organizations who have exhibited exceptional leadership in bringing about peace, reconciliation, solidarity, and the alleviation of poverty, preservation of the environment, and promoting interfaith harmony and co-existence among different ethnics groups and cultures.
The Africa Peace Award focuses on individuals or organizations whose leadership and policies reflect courage, initiative, and creativity in a wide variety of areas that help to create peace and a better future for all.
The Africa Peace Award acknowledges and honors the recipients' outstanding contribution to the general well-being of the people of Africa and the world at large. In addition, the Africa Peace Award seeks to generate heightened awareness within the world community of the many African leaders who are making the difficult decisions and taking the necessary actions to resolve the pressing political and social issues facing the continent. The Award recognizes that leadership is exercised at every level and sector of society and thus the Africa Peace Award seeks to recognize recipients from all walks of life.
Since its establishment in 2007 URI-Africa have been giving the award ever year to distinguished leaders, individuals and organizations that are doing exemplary work.
Some of the receipts of the Africa Peace Award are:
Former President of Mozambique,
The Achole Religious Leaders Initiative of Northern Uganda
National Unity and Reconciliation Commission of Rwanda,
The Elders Council of Ethiopia,
Missionaries of Charity (a humanitarian organization established by the late Noble Peace Prize Laureate Mother Teresa),
Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
The Africa Union,
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNEP,
Peace One Day,
President of Liberia. President of Nigeria, President of Djibouti, President of Ethiopia and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Finally I want to say that our world is coming together and as such all nations are our close neighbors and our wellbeing increasingly depends on how well we interact and live together with others based on the teaching of the Golden Rule which says “ Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
In this interrelated and globalized world we need the Golden Rule more than ever as it is a fundamental human value needed today as the basis for peaceful co-existence, Justice and Human Dignity.
The Golden Rule is one practical action that leads us from war to peace, from killing each other to co-existence, from disrespect to honoring each other, from hate to love, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from being selfish to living for the sake of others and from taking revenge to forgiveness.
As Gandhi once said “Let us be the peace we want to see in the world”.
It is high time for all of us to walk the talk.
May Peace Prevail in our Mind,
May Peace Prevail in our Heart,
May Peace Prevail in our Family,
May Peace Prevail in our Country,
May Peace Prevail in the world,
May Peace Prevail on Earth.