The Words of the Kagawa Family

"Spirit of the UN Award" Recognizes Exceptional United Nations Officials

Genie Kagawa
October 21, 2013
Deputy Director, UPF Office of UN Relations

New York, USA -- "Spirit gives life, and without it, there is a vacuum. Thank you for keeping Spirit alive and sending it all over the world. I want to thank you for giving life to the United Nations." With these words H.E. U. Joy Ogwu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria and recipient of the "Spirit of the UN" Award, articulated her profound reflection during the 2013 Week of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns Awarding Ceremony on Oct. 21, 2013. The NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns-NY (CSVGC-NY) created the award in 2007 and sees it as an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge those individuals whose work is an expression of the core principles, spirit and vision of the United Nations.

Under the Chairmanship of Ms. Sharon Hamilton Getz, CSVGC-NY and several UN NGOs and committees came together to co-sponsor the week-long activities of the Week on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns October 21-25. Co-sponsors for the week were: Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations (CoNGO), NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Social Justice, United Nations Staff Recreation Council (UNSRC) Enlightenment Society, UNSRC Feng Shui Group, United Nations Women's Guild, Spiritual Caucus, Values Caucus and the United Religions Initiative at the United Nations (URI-UN). Universal Peace Federation is a member of the Executive Council of CSVGC-NY, represented by Genie Kagawa as its Vice Chair.

Based on the theme of "Ten Years Perspective: Sustainable Spirituality at the United Nations," Ms. Sharon Hamilton Getz, Rabbi Roger Ross and Mr. Agha Muhammad Saleh of Pakistan expounded on the importance and the history of spirituality at the United Nations. The following distinguished persons received the prestigious award: H.E. U. Joy Ogwu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations; Ms. Lina J. Arellano, UN Staff Member, Retired, President of the UNSRC Enlightenment Society; Mr. Munenori Ichinori Tsumagari, International Relief Friendship Foundation, and Mr. Miroslav Polzer, NGO International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges – Youth Outreach.

Ambassador Ogwu commented about the significance of the occasion: "It is moving that people are dedicated to spiritual values in a world that is more and more in turmoil. The United Nations was established to end the scourge of war. How far have we met this commitment to beat our swords in ploughshares? How much commitment have we demonstrated to see this happen? This Committee is seeking to pursue the cause of peace, and I am grateful that this Committee is seeking to pursue the cause of peace in the world – through dialogue, through prayers and through thoughts of peace. Our mission is to pass on the baton to our children and our children's children."

The Awarding Ceremony not only coincided with the 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the UN but also marked the 10th Anniversary of the Founding of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns at the United Nations -- New York. Simultaneously, an announcement of the CSVGC-NY Committee for the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the United Nations was made.

Events throughout the Week of Spirituality included meditation sessions on relevant topics. In particular, a meditation organized by the Spiritual Caucus entitled "Silence and the Spirit of the United Nations" was held on the last day.

On October 24, the Healing Transformation and Spirituality Working Group held a program on "Sustainable Peace, Health and Happiness: Through Forgiveness," co-chaired by Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention, Meaningful World, and Dr. Lorne Schussel, Teachers College, Colombia University. Other expert speakers included Jean Kearns; Laura Kittel, Curtin University, Australia; and Janet Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer Power Seminars. The speakers presented their discourses on "Mind-body-spirit health," "Happiness through spiritual and moral integration" and "The practice of healing anger and restoring peace."

The Spiritual Council for Global Concerns Working Group, hosted by Ms. Getz and Mrs. Kagawa, held a special session on the "Spiritual Ethical Dialogue for New Development." H.R.H. Dr. Nisreen el-Hashemite, granddaughter of King Faisal I of Iraq, gave a profound and meaningful keynote address about the background of her work at the Royal Academy of Science International Trust, which is addressing the needs of women, children and the needy in Iraq and the Middle East. She emphasized her grandfather's vision for a nation based on ethics, interfaith and equality. She applauded the work of CSVGC-NY for emphasizing ethics in the global arena.

Other speakers expanded on the ethical foundation of spirituality from their own diversified perspective: Richard Jordan, International Council for Caring Communities; Roberto Borrero, NGO Committee on the International Decade on the World's Indigenous Peoples; Shomik Chaudhuri, Institute of International Social Development; Renee M. Lobo, Science of Spirituality; and Brian Kaufman, The Sounding Board.

An important element in the all-day program was a break-out session on the new paradigm for development. The audience was divided into interested constituent groups representing persons to be included in the Post-2015 Agenda on Sustainable Development (spiritual leaders, headed by Rabbi Roger Ross; women, headed by Dr. Ani Kalayjian; youth and sports, entertainment and tourism, headed by Richard Jordan; the aging, headed by Kay Dundorf; and indigenous people, headed by Roberto Borrero). With the assistance of Mr. Jordan, and based on discussion recommendations, a CSVGC-NY statement will be submitted for consideration to the Office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the General Assembly, and the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. It is the Committee's hope that all sectors will find the strength and commitment to fully engage in action towards a new elevated paradigm of development on sustainable development based on an ethical foundation. 

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