Interreligious and International Peace Council

Inaugural Assembly in Austria

UPF-Austria: Vienna, June 18, 2004

The Interreligious and International Peace Council was officially inaugurated on June 18th 2004 in Austria. The turnout was much higher than expected. Over 200 attended the event in the Park Hotel Schönbrunn, near the famous Imperial Castle in Vienna. No less than 15 Embassies were represented by either the ambassador or a high ranking official. Among the guests were also distinguished religious leaders, academics, leaders of NGO’s and  members of the international community.


Mr. Peter Haider, secretary general of IIFWP-Austria and the main organiser of the conference said  in his opening remarks: “Such a keen participation indicates the great interest for peace and for the cooperation of religions and cultures.” During the weeks before the event IIPC Ambassadors for Peace visited over 120 embassies to inform the diplomatic community about the upcoming IIPC inauguration.


The Youth Choir of the West African Pentecostal Church from the city of Linz welcomed us with the message “We all are one body of God”.




The Ambassador of India, H.E. T.P. Sreenivasan, delivered a powerful plea for peace and religious tolerance: “I represent India, the nation, which has with the exception of China the largest population of the world. Our population is more than twice as big as that of Europe, including its new membership states. Considering the size of India, our nation is relatively peaceful. There is a lot to learn from this. India encourages religions to flourish without discrimination. Hinduism is an all embracing way of life that has enabled us to absorb everything that is good in each religion”. He ended his message with a world peace prayer from the Vedas: “Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.


H.E. Mme. Béatrice Damiba, Ambassadrice of Burkina Faso to Austria conveyed her best wishes for the noble cause of the new peace council. “My country has been classified as one of the poorest in the world economically, technologically and financially. But when it comes to tradition and culture it is one of the richest in the world, where people live in peace and accept each other despite their diversity and coming from many different tribes. If there would be a market where peace could be sold, Burkina Faso would become rich on this market”.

Heinrich Krcek, a theologian and Ambassador for Peace, presented in his lecture 10 commandments of peace, giving a profound insight into the “Principles of  Peace and Reconciliation”, which are the foundations of IIPC.


Dr. Maria Riehl shared her experiences and observations during her recent trip as an Ambassador for Peace to Israel, which was part of the Middle East Peace Initiative organized by the Women’s Federation for World Peace in cooperation with IIFWP. As she was sharing her personal encounters with the Palestinian and Israeli families, Dr. Riehl was fighting back her tears and the audience was also moved by her testimony.


At the beginning of the 2nd part of the program representatives of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, the Catholic religion, Islam, the Pentecostal Church, the Church of Jesus Christ LDS and one representing all other religions lit eight candles.  They read a short text each from a Holy Book of the tradition they represented.




Prof. Dr. Christian Brünner, a professor of constitutional law and former member of parliament, who is very active in the field of human rights, presented a lecture on the “Globalisation of religions and cultures”. Referring to Samuel Huntington’s book on the clash of cultures, he emphasized the serious work we have to do in interreligious and intercultural dialogue and research, in order to prevent the worst case scenario, which Huntington has warned us of.


Rev. Peter Zöhrer, IIPC Middle Europe, delivered excerpts of the IIPC inauguration speech given by the founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon in New York on October 3rd 2003. In his message, the founder appealed to the leaders of the world, to “tear down the walls, which separate us as individuals, families, religions, nations and cultures from each other. The best place to begin this process is in our own home or even in our own hearts and minds.”

To manifest the start of the work of IIPC in Austria the IIPC Peace Ambassador from USA, Mr. Eric Brewster, hit the gong four times representing the four directions.


Among others H.E. Dr. Dayantha L. Mendis, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Austria was honoured as an Ambassador for Peace. For a most surprising finale his wife, Dr. Brashanti Mendis, performed some astonishing melodies on two Caribbean steel drums, accompanied by a Japanese concert pianist. No one in the audience had ever expected to hear such beautiful sounds of Viennese music coming out of steel drums. In spite of the late hour, listeners were so uplifted that they continued applauding and thus persuaded Dr. Mendis and her friend to play another piece of music from the Caribbean and one from her home country Sri Lanka.