The Bahá’í International Community
More than a century ago, Bahá’u’lláh called for the creation of a system of international governance, based on the principle of collective security, which would encompass all of the nations of the world and lay the foundation for a lasting and universal peace. In seeking to promote this concept, as well as to engender justice, peace, and prosperity at the international level, the worldwide Bahá’í community has, as a duly accredited non-governmental organization, long worked closely with the United Nations, supporting many of its goals and programmes.
Bahá’í representatives were present in San Francisco in 1945 for the founding of the United Nations. In 1947, the Bahá’í communities of the United States and Canada were recognized by the UN Department of Public Information. The next year, the Bahá’í International Community itself was recognized by the Department as an international non-governmental organization.
In May 1970, the Bahá’í International Community was granted consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), allowing for a greater degree of interaction with the Council and its subsidiary bodies in efforts to promote social and economic development worldwide. In March 1976, the Bahá’í International Community was granted consultative status with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), similarly extending opportunities for interaction with the United Nations to promote the health, education, and well-being of children.
The Bahá’í Community of Canada is considered a national affiliate of the Bahá’í International Community and in this capacity sends representatives to attend various UN conferences and commissions, including, in recent years, the UN-sponsored World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Commission on Human Rights. The Bahá’í Community of Canada works closely with the Bahá’í International Community’s UN Office.
Relationships between the Bahá’í International Community and UN bodies and agencies have deepened over the years. Today, for example, the community enjoys a working relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has undertaken joint activities with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and UNICEF.
As an international non-governmental organization, the Bahá’í International Community is involved in a wide range of activities, including peace-building, human rights, the advancement of women, education, health care, and sustainable development.
These concerns are addressed not only at the United Nations but in collaboration with other international non-governmental organizations as well. The Bahá’í International Community, for example, is a member of the Advocates for African Food Security: Lessening the Burden on Women; the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Network on Conservation and Religion; the Center for Our Common Future, based in Geneva; and the Education for All Network.
Read more about Bahá’í statements to the United Nations.
* Adapted from Bahá’í Topics, an information resource produced by the Bahá’í International Community.