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November 2009—January 2010

IN THIS EDITION, READ ABOUT: Inauguration of the Arms Down! Global Youth Campaign in Costa Rica Regional and national updates of Arms Down! activities and signatures

The Arms Down! Campaign for Shared Security, led by youth from the world’s major religions, works to engage religious leaders and believers around the world to unleash the power of multi-religious cooperation through shared action. It will also reach out to international organizations, governments, national assemblies and parliaments, municipalities, media, and all men and women of good will. Through education, mobilization and advocacy, the campaign will advance shared security by working to reduce nuclear and conventional weapons and to reallocate military spending to support urgently needed development, as set forth in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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The stories that follow are just a few examples of dedicated work undertaken by members of the Religions for Peace Global Youth Network in relation to the Arms Down! campaign, from November 2009 to January 2010. Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition dedicated to promoting peace. Its Global Youth Network is representative of the world's major religious traditions across six regions.

quarterly e-Bulletin! Questions, comments, or news? Kindly Contact: Ms. Katerina Ragoussi


Associate Director, Youth & Network Coordination


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The first youth-led global multi-religious campaign on disarmament, led by the Global youth network of Religions for Peace, was inaugurated in San José, Costa Rica, from 79 November 2009. The United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-Moon and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sánchez offered their support to this historic initiative. More than 120 young religious leaders of different faiths from forty-nine countries in six regions came together to outline their strategies for meeting the campaign’s three goals: abolishing nuclear weapons, stopping the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons and redirecting at least 10 percent of military expenditure to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212 687-2163 Fax: 212 983-0098 RELIGIONS FOR PEACE—the world’s largest and most representative multireligious coalition—advances common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Religions for Peace works to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth. The global Religions for Peace

Over the three days of the event, several panel discussions were held that exposed the youth to valuable insights from international experts on each of the campaign goals. At the same time, capacity building workshops equipped the participants with the practical tools to work on lobbying and advocacy, engaging the media, raising public awareness and working with mayors, parliamentarians and policy makers for the purposes of the campaign. Lastly, participants were divided into regional working groups to develop national, regional and global plans of action that would eventually contribute to the success of the campaign.

network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional inter-religious bodies and more than seventy national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Youth Network.

Network and Global Youth Network.

At the closing ceremony of the event, the International Youth Committee (IYC) of Religions for Peace presented the Statement and Plan of Action of the Global Level to Mr. Hernando París, the Minister of Justice and Peace of Costa Rica. Each region has also committed to collect signatures on the Arms Down! Disarmament petition, and the Global Youth Network has set a goal of 50 million signatures to be delivered to the United National Secretary General, the permanent members of the Security Council, as well as to Members of Parliaments, in one year’s time. SIGN THE PETITION!

REGIONAL UPDATES AFRICA Number of signatures collected. Local religious youth groups and members of the network have collected 2,311 signatures in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo so far. More updates from other parts of the country as well as reports from other countries in the region are expected. TUNISIAN REPUBLIC | YOUTH AND THE FUTURE The Arms Down! campaign was successfully presented by Mr. Abubakar Kabwogi, special advisor to Religions for Peace Secretary General, at the International Summit on Youth and the Future: Current Challenges, Capacity Building and Participation Mechanisms, which took place in Tunis, Tunisian Republic, on 1416 January 2010. The event took place under the High Patronage of His Excellency Mr Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Tunisian Republic, who was the one to propose to the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming 2010 as an International Year of Youth. Representatives of religious and academic youth organizations who may not have been youth per se (find a better way to say this than per se) but have the opportunity to champion the needs of youth and influence the leadership within the Middle East and North Africa, were present. The speech was warmly welcomed by participants, who got the opportunity to learn more about Religions for Peace and our activities in North Africa and the Middle East in general, as well as the Arms Down! campaign in particular.

ASIA & THE PACIFIC Number of signatures collected. Religions for Peace Japan has collected 34,000 signatures. JAPAN | INAGURATION OF THE ARMS DOWN! CAMPAIGN

The Religions for Peace Arms Down! campaign was granted important recognition during its inauguration in Tokyo, Japan, on 3 December 2009. More than 300 religious youth leaders representing forty member communities of Religions for Peace Japan came together to attend presentations on the campaign and its goals, as well as a panel discussion on the current status of the UN Millennium Development Goals with representatives from Mayors for Peace, UNICEF and members of the Japanese Diet. The Japanese religious youth leaders expressed their support to the campaign and its goals, and committed to actively engaging their communities across the country. The Religions for Peace Japan Youth Board and its Chairman, Rev. Koichi Matsumoto, play a leadership role in the campaign not only in Japan but also worldwide. Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Assistant Secretary General of Religions for Peace, and Ms. Katerina Ragoussi, Associate Director for Youth, also met with Rissho Kosei-Kai’s (RKK) senior leadership, including RKK President-designate Ms. Kosho Niwano, RKK Chairman Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, and Rev. Takeshi Kawabata, Director of RKK General Affairs Bureau, all of whom expressed strong support for the campaign after hearing about its successful launch in Costa Rica. RKK is an international engaged Buddhist movement with 6 million members in Japan and abroad, and it is one of the major supporters of Religions for Peace Global Youth Network and its activities. Japanese RKK members related the campaign’s value of shared security to Japan’s own historic promotion of harmony and peace, thus conveying the importance of Japan playing a leading role in the Arms Down! campaign.

INDONESIA | INAGURATION OF THE ARMS DOWN! CAMPAIGN Indonesian youth joined the campaign and translated the campaign’s petition in Bahasa Indonesia for dissemination across schools and the interfaith network in their country. Concrete activities supporting the campaign’s goals are scheduled to take place in the following months.

EUROPE Number of signatures collected. Religions for Peace France has collected 351 signatures in the Paris area. Updates from other cities are forthcoming.

LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN Number of signatures collected. 235. More updates from the region are forthcoming. COSTA RICA | UNITED WORLD COLLEGE MEETING Following the inauguration of the Arms Down! campaign in San Jose, Costa Rica, students of the United World College met to discuss the event at the end of November 2009, presented a summary of the inauguration and had the college’s president sign the petition.


The youth chapter of Religions for Peace Uruguay organized on 27 November 2009, in Montevideo, Uruguay, a workshop called Disarming Prejudices, We Build Cities. The workshop brought together teenagers from three communities: Jews, Catholics and Protestants. During the workshop, the Arms Down! campaign was for the first time presented in Uruguay, and individual, family, and community disarmament was presented as the first step to build safe cities. The workshop was organized in partnership with the youth group of the Uruguayan Council of Christians and Jews.


Representatives of the youth chapters of Religions for Peace Uruguay and Religions for Peace Argentina presented Arms Down! during the XXVII Youth Waldensian Assembly that took place in Colonia Valdense, Uruguay from 9-16 January 2010. The Waldensian Church of the Rio de La Plata, a region at the border of Argentina and Uruguay, has approximately forty communities and 15,000 members shared between Uruguay and Argentina. More than 140 youth were present and decided to work together planning common actions to develop the campaign. The Waldensian youth expressed commitment to interreligious cooperation and disarmament and decided to be part of Religions for Peace Argentinean and Uruguayan chapters.

EL SALVADOR | RELIGIOUS LEADERS SIGN CAMPAIGN PETITION The third Mesoamerican Interreligious Meeting took place on 5-7 December 2009 in San Salvador, El Salvador, where Arms Down! was presented to religious leaders. Representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panamá, Nicaragua and Costa Rica will give support to the development of Religions for Peace national chapters and many of them recorded audio declarations supporting the campaign in Central America, namely Bishop Martín Barahona Moderator of the Mesoamerican Interreligious Network, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga Religions for Peace Co-president, Rabbi Gustavo Kraselnik Panamean Interreligious Committee coordinator, Ms. Ana Victoria Peláez, Mesoamerican Women of Faith Network coordinator; Rev. Marcelino Bassett, Nicaraguan Interreligious Committee coordinator and Rev. Roger Cabezas, Costa Rican representative of the Latin American Council of Churches.

EL SALVADOR & HONDURAS | INTERRELIGIOUS YOUTH NETWORKS JOIN Following the creation of two new national chapters in December 2009, young religious leaders in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and in San Salvador, El Salvador, met on 4 and 7 December 2009 respectively, to engage youth in interreligious cooperation through Arms Down!. In El Salvador, one of the most important newspapers in the country, Diario Co Latino, agreed to support the Arms Down! campaign by putting a banner on its first page until December 2010. The emerging network in the country is currently in discussions with different institutions such as the Ministry of Public Security, the Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA-El Salvador), Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (P.D.D.H), Campos Art Group and Citizen Network to support the campaign.

EL SALVADOR & COLOMBIA | SUPPORT FROM THE BOGOTA PROCESS The leaders of the Bogota Process gained support for the Arms Down! campaign from religious leaders across Latin America by promoting it at their most recent meeting in early February. The Bogota Process is a platform that aims for the creation of strict norms on the use and trade of arms on behalf of governments in the region. It includes representatives of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM) as well as Religions for Peace. It is also the counterpart to the international “Gothenburg Process” which is an ecumenical forum for dialogue on arms transfers.

MEXICO | COLLECTED SIGNATURES AT SCHOOLS The youth chapter of Religions for Peace Mexico did the first Arms Down! presentation on 18 December 2009, at the Sócrates School, in Mexico City, Mexico. More than eighty children, parents, and teachers signed the petition and received a sticker with the campaign logo. This activity was supported by CUPSA, a publishing house that printed a campaign banner for the presentation.

ARMS DOWN! PARTNERSHIPS MAYORS FOR PEACE Mayors for Peace, an organization comprised of cities from around the world that have formally expressed support for the total abolition of nuclear weapons, is also supporting the Arms Down! campaign. This partnership has allowed the Arms Down! campaign to reach a larger audience and has provided Mayors for Peace with the opportunity to support young leaders advocating for disarmament. Recently, Mr. Steve Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, which acts as the Secretariat for the Mayors for Peace network, sent an email to 3,500 mayors around the world asking them to support the Arms Down! campaign by 1) signing the petition; 2) informing and engaging religious communities in their cities; and 3) supporting religious youth in their cities who are members of the campaign.

THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE BUREAU The International Peace Bureau (IPB), with its 300 member organizations in seventy countries working to secure a world without war, has partnered with the Arms Down! campaign to have governments reduce their military expenditure by 10 percent to make the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. IPB has pledged to carry the Arms Down! campaign’s petition in its upcoming newsletter as well as feature it on its website.

THE PEACE FOUNDATION The Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation actively involved in creating a more peaceful society, actively promotes Arms Down! through their youth peace website, ENACT - Youth Enabling Action , and also through their electronic newsletter.

HEADS UP | FORTHCOMING EVENTS ARMS DOWN! AT THE 2010 NPT REVIEW CONFERENCE Religions for Peace will send a delegation of religious youth leaders to participate in the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take place in May 2010. The month-long diplomatic conference at the United Nations in New York will also bring together members of civil society from all over the world to speak out about the importance of eliminating the nuclear threat. The Religions for Peace youth will organize an official conference side event at the UN called “Arms Down! Religious Youth Respond to Nuclear Weapons” and will try to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 2010 Review Conference to achieve complete nuclear disarmament by 2020. They will also have opportunities to interact with diplomats, collect signatures for the petition and collaborate with other young people. The youth will also be joined by a delegation of senior religious leaders.

2010: INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF YOUTH The United Nations has officially declared 2010 the “International Year of Youth.” The declaration is meant to energize young people and challenge them to tackle the world’s problems, from nuclear proliferation to poverty and hunger. For more information, visit the website for the International Year of Youth at: In order to start the dialogue with youth from around the world, the UN Program on Youth has also launched a facebook page entitled “United Nations International Year of Youth”. The page is available at: 2010: YEAR OF PEACE AND SECURITY IN AFRICA The 2010: Year of Peace and Security in Africa campaign was launched in late January at the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The Year of Peace aims to give added momentum to peace and security efforts on the continent. During 2010, AU member states will work to speed up the implementation of commitments and instruments to promote security. They will also establish a bridge between official efforts and civil society initiatives to promote peace and security. For more information, visit the website:

ARMS DOWN! ON THE WEB Please visit the Religions for Peace Arms Down! campaign’s webpage at: ared-security/ to sign our petition currently available in English, Arabic and Spanish, and help us reach our goal of 50 million signatures! On this Web page you may find: Our Arms Down! resource guide for engaging the public and mobilizing for disarmament; Detailed information on each of our campaign goals; The procedure for disbursement of funds for local, national and regional activities conducted in the framework of the Arms Down! campaign. Please also join us and invite your friends on Facebook at and at!/event.php?eid=313358504704&ref=ss The official logos of the Arms Down! campaign are now available in Spanish and Portuguese. Both logos are available on Religions for Peace campaign Web page.


Please visit the Religions for Peace Arms Down! campaign’s webpage at: to download our logos.

RELIGIONS FOR PEACE—the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition—advances common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Religions for Peace works to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth. The global Religions for Peace network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional inter-religious bodies and more than seventy national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Youth Network. 777 United Nations Plaza | New York, NY 10017 USA | Tel: +1 212-687-2163 | Fax: +1 212-983-0098 | Forward | Unsubscibe | Update Profile

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