Christianity dominates the United Nations and a more inclusive system must be introduced at the world peace-making organisation, according to a new study.
The report Religious NGOs and The United Nations found that Christian NGOs are overrepresented at the UN in comparison to other religious groups.
Overall, more than 70 per cent of religious NGOs at the UN are Christian, where the Vatican enjoys a special observer status, as a state and religion, according to research undertaken by Professor Jeremy Carrette from the University of Kent's Department of Religious Studies.
The study questions claims by the Christian right that cults are running the UN given the scale of Christian NGOs, and calls for greater awareness, transparency and equality, while putting a strong emphasis on religious tolerance.
It also warned that lack of funding is limiting other religious groups such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which are under-represented at the UN. The number of inter-faith and New Age NGOs is still very small.
The study highlighted that Muslim NGOs are often represented through the collective of states in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, rather than civil society NGOs, which are mostly Catholic.
Prof Carrette said: "It would seem there needs to be more of a 'global goodwill' to make the UN system work for all religions equally, and for religions to follow and share equally UN goals for peace and justice.
"The report highlights that while all religions are represented in some way in the peace-making system of the UN, there are structural and historical differences that need to be addressed.
"It also shows that religions form an important part of international global politics and that in a global world we need to establish a new pluralistic contract for equal access for all religions to the UN system," he added.
Despite their small size, accounting for 7.3 per cent of the total consultative status NGOs at the UN, some religious groups can have a great influence, the research suggests.
Among the most active religious NGOs are Catholics, Quakers and the Baha'i faith, which have some of the highest number of meetings with UN diplomats.
Additional reporting agencies