Millennial World Peace Summit Meets in New York

August 28, 2000

Source: The Associated Press

On August 28, 2000, The Associated Press reported that "songs, cries and calls for prayer opened the Millennium World Peace Summit of religious leaders at the United Nations Monday, a gathering as much about private talks between adversaries as formal resolutions passed in public...Participants say they hope the summit, which runs through Thursday, will result in a declaration on peace, poverty and the environment, as well as the formation of a council of religious leaders to advise the United Nations on preventing and settling disputes.

"But the meeting of more than 1,000 leaders drew controversy before it even began when participants learned last month that conference organizers did not invite the Dalai Lama to the first two days of the event for fear of offending China. China accuses the Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner [of] 'creating turmoil' in Tibet, from where he fled in 1959 after an abortive uprising against China's occupation...Dissent on that issue aside, participants said they were grateful for the event, considering the number of global conflicts with strong religious components. Sessions were planned on the role of religion in conflict resolution, with specific workshops on the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

"'This afternoon, this General Assembly hall has become a sanctuary,' Bawa Jain, the summit general secretary, told an audience in gilded robes and woven tunics, pointed caps and long white veils....Among the leaders on the program were Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cambodian Buddhist leader Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda; the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Ceric and the Rev. Jesse Jackson... Leaders who declined to come include Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who sent a videotaped message, and Jerusalem Mufti Ikrema Sabri, who has refused to meet with Rabbi Lau...The summit has received funding from Ted Turner's U.N. Foundation, Better World Fund and others."