The world is painfully aware of the horrific suffering in Syria and yet unable to find a way to end it. This consultation assembled by the Universal Peace Federation in Amman, Jordan, October 11-13, 2013, quickly doubled in size, eventually numbering more than 40 participants. This initial report takes a thematic approach, highlighting its strengths and special characteristics, which might be summarized as its diversity and the interdisciplinary approach; regional and international perspectives; religious/spiritual perspectives; NGO perspectives, and the points emphasized in the declaration.
The conflict in Syria has escalated at an alarming rate, leaving more than 100,000 people dead and more than 2 million internally displaced persons and refugees; in effect, spawning a human disaster of enormous magnitude. With recent news of the August 21 deaths of 1400 men, women, and children as a result of chemical weapons, the world's leading stakeholders, including the permanent members of the UN Security Council, find themselves at a critical juncture. While a solution seems far away, there is at least movement in the direction of establishing some international control over Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons, a move that might avert a military intervention by the USA.
UPF appeals to the United Nations and the major powers to redouble their efforts for a diplomatic solution. Meanwhile, we call upon leaders of the world's great faith traditions, especially Muslims, Jews, and Christians, to come together in the search for a solution that brings an end to the bloodshed. Moreover, when we speak of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, we include all the diverse factions, sects, divisions, denominations, and subcultures within those great and esteemed traditions. After all, we know that the obstacles to the great dialogue among religions are not merely found at the borders that separate the major religions, but the fissures and battle-lines are drawn with equal strength within the sphere of each of the major religious traditions.
UPF applauds the efforts made by Pope Francis, calling for prayer, fasting, and an end to the violence in Syria, as well as other worthy and outstanding initiatives, such as King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz' International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Religions for Peace, UNESCO's Culture of Peace initiative, and the UN's Alliance of Civilizations. UPF supports these efforts and has itself been consistently advocating for the establishment of an interfaith council of spiritual elders within the United Nations system, along with promotion of ongoing dialogue, rapprochement, and trust-building between the USA, the European Union, and the Russian Federation.
We call upon leaders and believers from all the faith traditions, and sub-traditions, to come together in support of peace in Syria, offering humanitarian assistance, as well as a wide range of soft power initiatives.