Summit of World Religions Holds in New York
August 27, 2000
Delegations from no less than 10 African countries are scheduled to participate at a three-day conference of world religious and spiritual leaders which opens at the UN headquarters in New York Monday.
Organised by an independent group of interfaith leaders, the conference, termed "The Millennium World Peace Summit" has attracted participants of different religions from more than 50 nations, including the Vatican which is to be represented by Francis Cardinal Arinze, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.
African countries participating are Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda.
Nigeria has the largest African delegation of 15 religious leaders broken into 12 Christians, two Muslims, and one indigenous religious practitioner.
The South African delegation of eight members has six indigenous delegates, the largest indigenous representation from Africa.
Conference organisers have announced that 1,000 delegates will be attending.
But one man who would be missed at the conference is the Dalai Lama, renowned Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and Nobel peace laureate whose attendance was objected to by China, which considers Tibet a breakaway territory.
Among the religions to be represented are Bahai, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Indigenous, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sokhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.
"one aim of the summit is to engage these leaders in frank and meaningful discussions of how they can work together to reduce tensions in their regions," the organisers explained.
After the opening, participants will break out into working group sessions discussing various issues, including religious tolerance and spiritual faith, reducing divisions and ancient antipathies, forgiveness and reconciliation, regional conflicts, poverty and environmental degradation.
At its conclusion, the conference is expected to issue a declaration for world peace and establish an international advisory council of religious and spiritual leaders.
The conference is one of many activities organised this year aimed at making the new millennium one of peace and progress.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will deliver an opening address.
Also expected to speak at the opening session are the president of the 54th session of the General Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia, and Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president of Algeria
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