Skip to main content

San Francisco-Based URI Marks July 4th with “Peace Building”

Media Contacts:
David Perry (415) 676-7007 /
Isabelle Ortega-Lockwood (415) 570-3235 /

San Francisco-Based URI Marks July 4th with “Peace Building”

Kicking off its 20th Anniversary Year with last week’s

 “Accelerate Peace Conference”, International Non-Profit Challenges Americans to “Build Peace” this Independence Day

3 July 2019 – San Francisco: “The larger responsibility for all of us, and the next generation, is to create a situation where conflicts are prevented,” said General James Mattis, former Defense Secretary at last week’s unprecedented “Accelerate Peace” Conference at Stanford University, presented by San Francisco-based nonprofit URI. 

“Military leaders have responsibilities as much to support peace as they have to fight wars,” said Mattis. “We have as much a role in the military in peace keeping and peace making as we do in war, because the entire purpose in why we do it is to try and restore a better peace. I vote for peace. I vote for what URI is doing and I endorse it.”

Heading into the nation’s 243rd birthday celebration, URI wants to make it clear: peace-building is the key to a better world. 

“The best way to celebrate our nation’s independence day is to recommit our world to independence from violence,” said Isabelle Ortega-Lockwood, Communications Director for URI, which kicked off its 20th anniversary this year. “Our world is experiencing unprecedented levels of pollution, depletion of natural resources, and scarcity of clean drinking water. Hate crimes are on the rise and houses of worship go up in flames. Women’s rights are under attack. Communities are in turmoil, with neighbors living in fear of neighbors. There’s no denying the world is at a turning point. But a world-wide interfaith peacebuilding effort is pushing to turn it in the right direction.”

Responding to the increased fear and stress generated by current events, URI, the world’s largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network, hosted an unprecedented international conference at the Hoover Institution on theStanford University campus on June 26-27. Accelerate Peace: Interfaith Action in Global Peacebuilding gathered representatives of the world’s religious, spiritual, and Indigenous traditions to explore interfaith strategies for addressing humanity’s most pressing issues and find actionable solutions.

In addition to General Mattis, keynote speakers included:

  • H.E. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Prevention of Genocide; and Azza M. Karam, Senior Adviser at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Coordinator of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; addressing ending religiously-motivated violence
  • Valarie Kaur, Founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, delivering the Call to Action Keynote to combat the rising fear, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, hate speech, and violent crimes that divide communities
  • Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, addressing Women’s Empowerment and Environmental Sustainability in a time of global crisis for both
  • Young leaders from around the world addressing the immediacy of youth impact on international events in “From NextGen to GenNOW: Young Leaders Bringing Interfaith Action to the World”

General Mattis’ words echo an earlier endorsement from former Secretary of State Hon. George P. Shultz, who singled out URI’s work in building bridges across religious and cultural differences as the kind of positive, non-military approach that must be supported to deal with the rising violence of religious extremism: “I think that things like this are to be encouraged because they get people of different religions together…and get them working together.”

URI (United Religions Initiative) is the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network in the world. It cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities. It implements its mission in 109 countries through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of nearly 1000 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights. 

URI holds the prestigious distinction of being a non-governmental organization (NGO) with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and has long-standing partnerships with several other UN agencies.

Learn more at

STANFORD, CA – June 26 – Audrey E. Kitagawa and Sadhvi Bhagawati participate in URI’s Accelerate Peace Conference on June 26th 2019 at Stanford University in Stanford, CA (Photo – Drew Altizer Photography)
STANFORD, CA – June 26 – James N. Mattis and William Swing speak at URI’s Accelerate Peace Conference on June 26th 2019 at Stanford University in Stanford, CA (Photo – Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography)
Adama Dieng (center), UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, accepts URI’s Global Peacebuilder Award on behalf of the UN Office of Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect