UPF Statement on the Crisis in Syria
September 11, 2013

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 Security Council, finds 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, the UN's Dialogue Among 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 wider range of soft power initiatives that may open a way for a sustainable peace. 

UPF therefore is currently in consultation with interfaith advisors about the prospects for convening leaders of the world's religions in the near future in the Middle East, perhaps in Jordan, to explore the ways in which faith leaders can contribute to the peace process.

While governments naturally have their realm of responsibility, the religions should not shirk their own duties that have been dictated since time immemorial by our common Maker.

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