Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: The Significance of Faith-Based Organizations

UPF participated in the United Nations’ 28th Crime Commission Conference on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, convened from May 20-24 at the Vienna International Center in Austria, home to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Association and the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime.  The annual conference draws delegations from around the world, representing UN offices as well as member states.  In addition, a variety of experts, activists and NGO delegations participate.  In addition to the official intergovernmental discussions, there are numerous side-events organized by NGOs.

UPF International, together with UPF Austria, organized a side-meeting on “Ethics and Good Governance as Applied to Criminal Justice: The Significance of Faith-Based Organizations”. 

Dr. Thomas Walsh, Chairman of UPF International, and Mr. Peter Haider, President of UPF Austria, organized the session, which included the following speakers and commentators:

Dr. Michael Platzer of the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,

Dr. Jay Albanese, Criminologist from Virginia Commonwealth University,

Rev. Darcy Roake, Unitarian Minister from USA,

Dr. Afsar Rathor, former project manager in different UN organizations 

Jasmina Bosto from KAICIID (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue).

The side-meeting gave attention to sub-topics such as the importance of education, especially in areas of ethics and civics; the importance of good governance and equitable and prudent public policies related to the criminal justice system; the value of innovative approaches such as restorative justice methodologies.

The development of partnerships between faith-based-organizations and United Nations agencies, as well as with national and local governments was considered. The session deliberated on the relevance of faith-based agents and institutions, as well as core religious values, principles and best practices, common to many if not most religious traditions, to criminal justice and crime prevention. The following day, after a conference co-organized by UNODC and KAICIID on “The Role of FBOs and Religious Leaders in Crime Prevention” UPF, together with KAICIID, hosted a special concert for peace, featuring a number of performers, which was coordinated by Dr. and Mrs. Slawomir Redo. 

UPF is in partnership with many of these NGOs and FBOs and has plans to cultivate those relationships.  In particular, plans are underway for a set of meetings in San Francisco this November, during the time of the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology.  This meeting will also include a public program at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  This program will be followed by a next step during the meeting of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Kyoto, Japan in April 2020.

Faith-based organizations, as well as believers from all religions are important stakeholders, who can and should be encouraged and welcomed to associate with various government agencies in the effort to prevent crime and improve the criminal justice system. 

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