Baha'i International Community’s Quadrennial Report (2006-2009)
Field 1 Organization’s name, geographical coverage
The Baha'i International Community is an international non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Baha'i International Community has more than five million members worldwide, residing in virtually every country and territory around the world, in well over 100,000 localities. In thousands of these, patterns of Baha'i community life have evolved to a degree that allows for the annual election of a local council to effectively administer affairs at that level. At the national level, there are currently 186 affiliates, including in the following:
Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Americas: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua,
Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.
Australasia: Australia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Europe: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Field 2 Aims and purposes of the organization and its course of action
The Baha'i International Community seeks to contribute to the processes of advancing human civilization by bringing the principles of the Baha'i Faith and the insight and experience of its worldwide membership to bear on the issues under consideration by the United Nations. Among the principles shaping our contributions and working methods at the United Nations are: the oneness of humanity; the elimination of all forms of prejudice; the equality of men and women; the nobility of the human being; the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty; universal education; freedom of conscience; an ethic of sustainability; harmony of science and religion; unity in diversity; and consultation (processes of collective deliberation and decision-making).
The Baha'i International Community pursues its vision through collaboration with United Nations agencies and its functional commissions; participation in United Nations fora; oral and written interventions addressing issues of concern to the United Nations and to the worldwide Baha'i community; its participation in NGO committees in an executive or membership capacity; and its support of the United Nations and NGO community through the provision of conference meeting facilities in our New York Office.
At this time, the work of the Baha'i International Community focuses on the protection and promotion of human rights; the advancement of equality between women and men; as well as sustainable development.
Several elements have assisted in the development of our work at the United Nations: the expansion of our conference facilities and meeting space (which support over 200 meetings and 6000 guests annually); the creation of a new website in 2006 (www.bic.org) which provides up-to-date information about our work as well as other resources to the United Nations and NGO community; the development of an internship program (20 interns/year), which assist with carrying out our mandate; and the continued publication of the ‘One Country’ newsletter of the Baha'i International Community, which reaches over 40,000 readers, around the world.
Field 3 Any change that may have had a significant impact
Field 4 Your contribution to the work of the UN
Since 2006, our representatives have played a leadership role in the United Nations Gender Equality Architecture Reform Group, which has advocated for a unified gender entity. Each year, our representatives, as Chair/ Past Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, have facilitated the participation of hundreds of NGOs at the Commission and have organized the annual NGO orientation—bringing women’s voices to bear on the issues at the Commission. We submitted statements to the 50th, 51st, 52nd and 53rd Sessions of the Commission. Since 2006, our Office has co-organized over 50 side events with various agencies including the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and with member states. Our representatives have been invited speakers on panels regarding the girl child, media, transnational justice, violence against women and have been invited to consult with members states as well as United Nations agencies. Our representatives are members of 7 NGO Committees working on gender equality.
As Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development, our organization has worked with the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development and Members of the Bureau of the Commission for Social Development. Our Office has invited Baha'is with specialized knowledge and representatives of Baha'i development organizations to share their experiences at Sessions of the Commission. We submitted statements to the Commission about our organization’s work on the eradication of poverty, social integration, employment and decent work and co-organized many side events during Commission sessions. We have become a leading voice on the ethical dimensions of climate change: we have organized 3 panel presentations on this theme during the Sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD); led two well-attended Learning Center Workshops on capabilities for sustainable rural development and ethical dimensions of climate change. Our organization was an official observer at the 2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Poland) and, in 2009, led a 21-member delegation to the Climate Change Conference (Denmark), where we organized 3 side events and spoke at two press conferences. Our organization serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development as well as 3 other NGO committees working in sustainable development.
Our representatives participated actively in discussions to strengthen the Human Rights Council and contributed to the articulation of substantive and operations dimensions of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. Representatives attended every session of the the Council between 2006-2009, organizing side events, submitting statements on: the situation of the Baha'i communities in Iran and Egypt, the eradication of violence against women, defamation of religion and freedom of religion or belief; and taking part in interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur. Our representatives were co-signatories to 21 NGO statements advocating for and proposing concrete measure to strengthen human rights machinery. Our office organized a seminar for over 30 participants—representing United Nations agencies, Mission and NGOs—to explore themes of human rights and responsibilities; Responsibility to Protect; and the freedom of religion or belief. Our representatives serve as Chair of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Geneva and New York); are members of the executive committee of the NGO Committee on Human Rights and are members of 5 other human rights committees. Our representatives were actively involved in preparations for the 2009 Durban Review Conference and submitted a statement on the eradication of racism. In the context of the work of the Human Rights Council, our representatives spoke on 5 United Nations- and NGO-organized panels on various themes related to the promotion of human rights.
Field 5 Your participation in the fora of the UN
From 2006-2009, our representatives attended over 300 United Nations-sponsored meetings and contributed 25 statements and position papers, including over 20 joint statements. Our representatives attended all 11 sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Representatives delivered statements on the situation of Baha'is in Iran at the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th sessions. Representatives took part in the UPR Working Group in Geneva (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th sessions) and the Council Advisory Committee in Geneva (1st, 2nd, 3rd sessions). Representatives took part in the 1st,2nd, 3rd and 4th Sessions of the Preparatory Committee meetings for the Durban Review Conference; all intercessional meetings; and the Durban Review Conference (20-24 April 2009, South Africa), where we presented a statement on racial prejudice. Our article, “Freedom to believe: A defining freedom of our time,” was published in the United Nations Chronicle (Volume XLIII, Nr. 3).
Representatives participated in the 50th, 51st, 52nd and 53rd Sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. As Chair/past Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, we facilitated the engagement of hundreds of NGOs; played a leading role in organizing the United Nations Orientation Day for NGOs on behalf of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW). Our organization submitted statements to the Commission: ‘Beyond Legal Reforms: Culture and Capacity in the Eradication of Violence Against Women,’ (2007); ‘Transforming Values to Empower the Girl Child’ (E/CN.6/2007/NGO/15); ‘Mobilizing Institutional, Legal and Cultural Resources to Achieve Gender Equality’ (E/CN.6/2008/NGO/3); ‘Striving Towards Justice: Transforming the Dynamics of Human Interaction’ (2009). Over 20 Baha'i delegates from 10 countries attended the Commission every year. We co-organized nearly 40 side-events during the Commission. Representatives attended the 41st and 42nd Sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
Representatives participated in the 44th, 45th, 46th and 47th Sessions of the Commission for Social Development. We submitted statements to the Commission: ‘A New Framework for Global Prosperity’ (2006); ‘Full Employment and Decent Work’ (2008); ‘Reclaiming Freedom of Conscience, Religion or Belief to Promote Social Integration’ (E/CN.5/2009/NGO/3). Our representative was a member of the organizing Task Force (2008) of the Civil Society Forum and served as Forum moderator (2009). Our Office co-organized several side events during the Commission and, in 2008 and 2009, co-hosted a dinner reception for members of the Commission Bureau.
Representatives took part in the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th Sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission’s publication (Outreach) published our article, ‘Summoning the Will for Sustainable Development.’ 2007: Our representatives organized a panel titled, ‘The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change,’ (30 April 2007, New York), attended by over 100 people. 2008: Our Office offered a workshop through the Commission’s Learning Center titled, ‘SAT: A Model for Building Capabilities for Sustainable Development.’ (8 May 2008, New York), with over 90 people attending. Our organization submitted a statement to the Commission titled, ‘Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the Challenge of Climate Change.’ (2008). Our organization was an official observer at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland (1-12 December). 2009: Our office offered a workshop through the Learning Center titled, ‘Climate Ethics: Implications for the CSD-17 Thematic Cluster’ (4 May 2009, New York), which drew over 75 people. Our organization was selected as an Organizing Partner of both the ‘Women’ and ‘Children and Youth Caucuses.’ Our representative led a 21-member delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark (7-11 December 2009). Our organization became a partner in the UNDP-Alliance of Religions and Conservation Seven-Year Plan of Generational Change.
Field 6 Your cooperation with UN Bodies
Each year, our representative (as Chair/Past Chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women), conducted on behalf of the Division for the Advancement of Women, an orientation for NGOs at the Commission on the Status of Women. Our Office has collaborated with UNICEF and UNIFEM in organizing briefings and events throughout Sessions of the Commission. Our representatives have played a pivotal role in the Gender Equality Architecture Reform Group, leading planning, strategy and advocacy efforts. Our representative participated in a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General (along with other NGOs) regarding the United Nations gender architecture. Our organization joined other NGOs in submitting recommendations to the United Nations Coherence Panel, all of which were reflected in the Panel’s report to the Secretary-General (“Delivering as One,” 9 November 2006).
On many occasions, our Representatives were invited to consult with government representatives and United Nations officials (e.g. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Secretary of the Human Rights Council) regarding matters pertaining to the protection of human rights and the right to freedom of religion or belief. Our representatives issued 21 joint statements providing an assessment and recommendations regarding the working methods and function of the the Council as well as its UPR mechanism; and read 18 statements at Council sessions. They have also issued joint statements in support of the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief. Our organization submitted information about the situation of Baha'is in Iran to the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief; on the right to education; on torture; on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on racism; on the independence of judges and lawyers; on freedom of opinion and expression; and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues. In 2007, in response to a call from the OHCHR for stakeholder feedback on its ‘Draft Guiding Principles on Poverty and Human Rights,’ we held consultations in six countries and submitted participants’ feedback in a statement to the OHCHR. Our representatives worked with United Nations entities to manage NGO participation at the Durban Review Conference.
As Chair of the NGO Committee on Social Development (elected in 2009), our representative met with members of the Bureau of the Commission for Social Development to foster collaboration between civil society and members of the Commission. Since 2008, our organization has helped to organize the annual Civil Society Forum—convened by the NGO Committee on Social Development and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). In 2009, our representative served as moderator of the Forum. Our representatives have also engaged closely with the Commission on Sustainable Development: working closely with the ‘Children and Youth’ and ‘Women’ Major Groups (in 2009, our organization was selected as Organizing Partner of these groups); in 2009, our youth delegate delivered the Children and Youth Major Group oral statement at the opening session of the Commission; in 2008 and 2009 our organization presented a 3-hour Learning Center Workshop on the themes of “Climate Ethics” and “Capabilities for Sustainable Development” respectively. Our representative attended the Expert Group Meeting on “Promoting Social Integration,” organized by DESA (8-10 July, Helsinki, Finland.) Our representatives participated in the launch of the Seven-Year Plan of Generational Change, an initiative of UNDP and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. Our organization jointly sponsored 9 panels with, among others, the Permanent Missions of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and of Tuvalu, the Values Caucus, the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, during the Commission on Social and Sustainable Development.
Our organization sent: $10,000 to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for relief in Myanmar (2008) and $10,000 to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund for flood relief in the Philippines (2009). Our Office made available its meeting and conference facilities to UNDP, DESA, UNIFEM, UNICEF and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations free of charge.
Field 7 Initiatives in support of the MDGs
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Target 1: Halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day. ACTIONS: Public launch of Baha'i International Community’s statement, “Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward as One” (New York, 14 February 2008). Country consultations to gather feedback to the OHCHR’s ‘Draft Guiding Principles on Poverty and Human Rights.’ (January – June 2007)=6. Target 2: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all. ACTIONS: Submitted statement on “Full Employment and Decent Work” to the 46th Session of the Commission for Social Development. Rural youth served by the FUNDAEC (‘The Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences’) educational programs (Colombia)=70,000.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education. Target 1: Ensure that children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. ACTIONS: Youth served by empowerment program (Mongolian Development Center)=1,300. Primary school students assisted by rural education programs (Ghana)=16,000. Rural children provided with accredited nursery, kindergarten and primary education (Thailand)=700. Central African Republic: teachers trained=100; school established=24; children served=1,200. Students served by ‘Golden Way’ program for moral education (Republic of Tatarstan)=2,500. Individuals participating in literacy projects (Uganda)=6,000.
Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women. Target 1: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education. ACTIONS: Children (ages 11-14) attending youth empowerment classes (Barli Development Institute (BDI), India) = 134. Individuals in parenting classes (Barli Development Institute, India) = 583. Number of national Baha'i offices advocating and working for the advancement of women=70.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality. Target 1: Reduce by two thirds the under-five mortality rate. ACTIONS: Baha'i community of Zambia organized clinics, medical and dental camps, as well as primary health care and health education. The health education training programs build local capacity by equipping participants with the knowledge and skills to be Family and Community Health Educators. Educators focus on issues such as women’s health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, disabilities and alcohol and drugs. Persons served by primary health education program (Zambia)=1,600 (since 1998).
Goal 5: Improve maternal health. Target 2: Achieve universal access to reproductive health.
Persons served by primary health education program (Zambia)=1,600. Women attending pre-and post-natal classes (Women and Child Center, Murdogri, India)=489.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Target 1: Have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and Target 3: Have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases. ACTIONS: Individuals participating in HIV/AIDS Education (Barli Development Institute, India)=2,426. Individuals participating in literacy projects that also focus on health (Uganda)=6,000. Residents assisted by village medical post in Karkar, Papua New Guinea=3,500.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. Target 1: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources. ACTIONS: Persons attending CSD Learning Center Workshops: “Exploring Capabilities for Sustainable Rural Development” (2008)=100: “The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change” (2009)=90. Delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (7-11 December 2009)=21. Baha'i delegates from Thailand and Brazil attended the Bangkok Regional Climate Change Conference (29 September 2009). Organizations endorsing our 2009 “Appeal to World Leaders on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change”=30. Target 2: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss. ACTIONS: Became a partner in a UNDP-Alliance of Religions and Conservation initiative, “Seven-Year Plan of Generational Change” for combating climate change (2008).