An International INTERFAITH DIALOGUE and Cooperation for PEACE in the Philippines | September 23, 2009

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization that developed from the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The member-countries are those which hoped to ensure their  progress and independence  without being drawn into an alignment with either the West or the Soviet blocs during the time of the Cold War. At present NAM has 118 member countries. With the break-up of the Warsaw Pact NAM has been able to refocus some of its objectives as an organization.The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization that developed from the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The member-countries are those which hoped to ensure their  progress and independence  without being drawn into an alignment with either the West or the Soviet blocs during the time of the Cold War. At present NAM has 118 member countries. With the break-up of the Warsaw Pact NAM has been able to refocus some of its objectives as an organization.
In September 2006 the Heads of State or Government of the 118  countries, meeting in Havana, Cuba, accepted the offer of the Philippines to host a Special Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace. This will take place on December 2 and 3, 2009 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
What is interesting to note is that NAM, which started out with concerns about maintaining  their sovereignty independent of aligning with either the West or the Warsaw Pact countries ( at the time) , has now discovered the wisdom of working for interfaith dialogue as a means to achieving peace in each of the member countries. As stated in the Final Document from the Havana Conference one goal for the December meeting is Promote the respect for the diversity of religions, beliefs, cultures and prophets and other religious figures worldwide, as part of the universal respect for peoples and civilizations.
It is hoped that the “significant role of religions and inter-faith dialogue in the pursuit of socio-economic development” will be highlighted.It is also hoped that the meeting can “establish a network of faith and interfaith–based organizations.”

The 118 member countries of NAM come from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Middle East; these are countries that have a wide spectrum of religions and cultures, not just internally in most of these countries, but especially among themselves.

Silsilah has long held that genuine dialogue is promoted in an atmosphere of respect for the “otherness” of people – a characteristic bred from one’s religion and ethnic culture. This respect derives from the internalization of the fact that we are all creatures of God and He made us what we are – Asian, Caucasian, African or whatever; Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or whatever. We differ in how we look or in our color; we differ in how we worship – but we all share in one thing – we are all creatures of God.

The convenors for the December meeting are the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Bishops-Ulama Conference and the Council of Interfaith Initiatives. Silsilah Dialogue Movement and other groups have been invited to share and support this initiative. We in Silsilah believe that this event is a sign of hope and an occasion to reflect more on the challenges of interfaith dialogue and peace today. Some 300 participants are expected to attend, with 3 official representatives allotted to each member country.

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