United Religions Initiative

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United Religions Initiative
HeadquartersThe Presidio in San Francisco, California, United States
Membership+1 million people
• Global Council Chair
Kiran Bali
• President
William E. Swing
• Executive Director
Victor H. Kazanjian Jr.
• United Religions Initiative Charter
26 June 2000

The United Religions Initiative (URI) is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world. The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

This mission is carried out through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of more than 800 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles,[1] to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women's and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights.[2]

Guided by the vision of founder William E. Swing, the URI Charter was developed through a series of international conferences and consultation with transformative organizational design practitioners David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney.[3] The URI Charter was signed by more than two-hundred people present, and hundreds more joining over the Internet, at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on June 26, 2000.[4]

URI also holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and works closely with other partner UN agencies.[5]

Organizational structure[edit]

The URI is composed of 800+ Cooperation Circles (CCs) in 100+ countries worldwide, as of October 2017. CCs are groups of seven or more individuals representing three or more different faiths or spiritual expressions (including atheists and agnostics). CC members are located in one of eight regions; some span across multiple regions:[6]

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America & the Caribbean
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Multiregion
  • North America
  • Southeast Asia & the Pacific


Before the formal charter signing in 2000, URI supporters around the world participated together in a project called "72 Hours for Peace", in which more than 250 local organizations united in projects promoting peace and justice during the turn of the millennium.[7]

Examples of global and member initiatives documented in the public record:

  • The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative has played a key role in promoting peace in war-torn northern Uganda.[8] The Ugandan groups are also participants in the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund supported by the World Bank.[9]
  • Members united in early support of U.S. action to prevent continued atrocities in Darfur through the proposed Darfur Accountability Act of 2005.[10]
  • The Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (IPI) "is a peace organization which has been working actively since 2003 to promote interfaith cooperation, a culture of peace, harmony, constructive dialogue and the Golden Rule. It is a nongovernmental peace organization legally registered with the Ministry of Justice in Ethiopia. IPI was established by concerned citizens from different religions here in Ethiopia that strongly believe that religions should play an important role in building trust and promoting a culture of peace, healing and reconciliation."[11]


  1. ^ Cooperation Circles, United Religions Initiative
  2. ^ "United Religions Initiative Charter".
  3. ^ Cooperrider, David L. and Diana Kaplin Whitney, Appreciative inquiry: a positive revolution in change, page 31, Berret-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2005
  4. ^ Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 28, 2000, Ervin Dyer, Charter Signed for Religious Coalitions "Google archive".
  5. ^ "URI and the UN | URI". www.uri.org. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  6. ^ Cooperation Circles, United Religions Initiative
  7. ^ Talcott, Sarah, Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action, p78, ed. by Eboo Patel and Patrice Brodeur, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006
  8. ^ Religion News Service, January 8, 2008, Jason Kane, Ugandan Religious Leaders Set Aside Rivalries in Pursuit of Peace "Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life". Archived from the original on 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  9. ^ Marshall, Katherine and Lucy Keough, Mind, Heart, and Soul in the Fight Against Poverty, The World Bank, 2004 pp232-233
  10. ^ Christian Today, April 12, 2005, Interfaith Group Backs Call to End Darfur Genocide, "christiantoday.com archive".
  11. ^ Interfaith Peace-building Initiative

External links[edit]