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The mere absence of war is not peace.
|Track 2 Consultation on Syria Held in Geneva|
|Saturday, January 25, 2014|
Geneva, Switzerland - UPF convened a special program entitled “Geneva: Track 2” in Geneva, Switzerland on Jan. 23-25, 2014, concurrent with the “Geneva II” inter-governmental conference that aims to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria. The theme for the consultation was “Toward Peace and Reconciliation in Syria: The Significance of Religion, Faith-Based Organizations and Civil Society.”
The tragic and devastating consequences of the conflict war in Syria, both in terms of the loss of life and the millions of displaced persons, is giving rise to a humanitarian disaster of epic proportion. UPF applauds the efforts of the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the participating nations, and sought to offer support for the success of Geneva II.
Following the recommendations of the Amman resolution of October 2013 and the Jerusalem resolution of December 2013, UPF convened the Track 2 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to assist the daunting task of the Geneva II talks on the Syrian conflict. The intention in convening a wide variety of spiritual and religious leaders, as well as academicians, civil society representatives, women and youth, was to supplement the “track 1” initiative of Geneva II, with a “track 2” program that underscored the need to engage religious and spiritual leaders, faith-based organizations and a variety of civil society organizations in the pursuit of peace.
The consultation included a high-level segment of faith leaders, academicians and other stakeholders who deliberated on the current crisis in Syria, including the wider geopolitical context, and considering the role which religion, civil society, women and faith-based organizations can play in restoring peace and order in Syria.
To read the executive report of the consultation, click here.
For videos of all sessions, click here.
The religious and NGO leaders from various countries supported international diplomatic effort to bring together representatives of the conflicting sides in Syria and encouraged the sides of the conflict to continue direct talks despite all difficulties the may face. They called on the participants In Geneva II to move towards implementation of the Geneva Communique and also reminded political and military leaders of the conflicting sides of their personal responsibility of adhering to basic human rights standards and human security needs of the civilian population in Syria.
The UPF Track 2 conference discussed a Seven-Point Forward Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Humanitarian Reconstruction for Syria, which included, as follows:
Interfaith program at St. Peter's Cathedral
An interfaith program at St. Peter's Cathedral featured a variety of spiritual and religious voices, interfaith prayers for peace and artistic performances. The program was as follows:
- Greetings by Emmanuel Rolland, pastor, and Dr. William McComish, pastor and president of the Geneva Spiritual Appeal
- Reading in English of the Geneva Spiritual Appeal by M. Walter Gyger, ambassador of Switzerland.
- Prayer in Arabic by Shi'ite Imam Sheik Mohamad Ali Al-Hajj, from Lebanon, translated into French
- Prayer by Mme Danièle Bianchi, Baha'i community of Geneva
- Collection of funds for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (www.uossm.org).
NOTE: UPF has convened or contributed to a number of civil-society forums on the crisis in Syria:
Vienna, Austria: All-Sides Consultation for a Political Solution to the Syrian Conflict, Mar. 8-9, 2014
See also: Interfaith Declaration on Peace in Syria, Oct. 13, 2013