Local humanitarian leadership is built upon the premise that humanitarian action should be led by local humanitarian actors whenever possible, yet this research finds that secular humanitarian INGOs do not engage systematically with local faith actors in their local leadership work. Based primarily on interviews with humanitarian INGO staff, this research also found that neither secular nor faith-inspired international humanitarian organizations have a sufficient level of religious literacy to enable them to understand the religious dimensions of the contexts in which they work and to effectively navigate their engagement with local faith actors.
Join to hear more about the research and participate in a discussion on religious literacy and engaging local faith actors. Please feel free to send your questions to the email below.
First network event: FBO Workshop on Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals
On Monday 13th February 2017, Islamic Relief Academy and the University of Leeds held a workshop in Birmingham, UK. Around 25 participants came together to network and discuss research priorities on religions and the SDGs, representing a mixture of academic and non-governmental organisations, including Islamic Relief, and academic partners from India and Ethiopia.
Questions addressed in the workshop included:
Did your organisation have a role in the consultation process to define the SDGs? What were some of the strengths and challenges of the process?
To what extent do you feel that religious voices were enabled to be heard in the consultation process and with what effect?
To what extent and in what ways are you now beginning to interpret and implement the SDGs in your work?
Do you feel the SDGs provide a useful framework to tackle ‘sustainable development’ globally? What are the opportunities and limitations of the SDGs?
Participants discussed the opportunities and challenges presented by Agenda 2030 and discussed current research gaps in the area. As part of the network’s agenda, conferences will be held in these Ethiopia and India over the course of the next eighteen months, with opportunities for country specific consultations to take place. The Network also intends to publish an edited volume and launch a policy paper in the UK Houses of Parliament within the next year and a half.
Announcing a new religion and sustainable development network – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK – which involves academics and faith-based development actors. The network aims to enhance international exchange about the role of religions in defining, implementing, and safeguarding ‘sustainable development’, as codified in the UN ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs).
Religion is a major cultural, social, political, and economic factor in many ODA recipient countries, which is why understanding the local religious dynamics and the role of faith actors is crucial for sustainable development. While development practice and development studies had essentially subscribed to a modernist, secular paradigm of social change for much of the 20th century, this has begun to change. Greater portions of development aid are now channelled via so-called faith-based initiatives or organisations, and religion is increasingly recognised as a human resource rather than just an obstacle to development. Many religious groups have also been involved perceptibly in development policy, by adopting and heralding the Millennium Development Goals and through consultations in the drafting of the new SDGs.
Convened by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development (Chaired by UNFPA) in partnership with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.
HE Ambassador David Donoghue, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, and Dr Azza Karam, UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development will be co-moderating.
Jean Duff will be representing JLI on a panel addressing faith-based partnerships to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The panel will also include JLI Board Member Anwar Khan, Islamic Relief USA.
Four-hundred religious leaders, members of diverse faith communities, leaders of faith-based organizations, United Nations officials, and representatives of international and grassroots organizations from around the world attended the Forum. A pre-forum brought together 64 children on 6-8 May.
The GNRC 5th Forum built on work from GNRC members from diverse faith traditions have been doing since the year 2000, working for and with children, to build a better world for children. Working locally, nationally, and globally. The 5th Forum focused specifically on the role of faith communities in addressing challenges presented by various forms of violence against children in three sub-themes:
“Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime”
“Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing”
“Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children.”
JLI announced a new Learning Hub on Ending Violence Against Children at the forum. Rebeca Rios-Kohn, Arigatou International (shown below) and Christo Greyling, World Vision International announced plans during sessions at the forum. To apply to be a member please register at evac.jliflc.com
Chaired by Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Panama, President of the Ecumenical Committee, Chair, Interreligious Committee in Panama, Chair, GNRC 5th Forum
Remarks by Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President, Arigatou International, Convenor, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and Rev. Mons. Sidney Fones, Chair, GNRC 5th Forum International Organizing Committee
Messages from H.E Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Holy See; H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
Opening Address from Panama’s President: Juan Carlos Varela
Co-Chaired by: Prof. Anantanand Rambachan, Professor and Chair, Religion Department, Saint Olaf College, Council Member, Prayer and Action for Children, and Rabbi Diana Gerson; Program Director, New York Board of Rabbis
Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, United Nations, discussed state of Violence Against Children. Referenced report on
H.E. Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Session Moderator: Mr. Kul Gautam, Chair, Prayer and Action for Children, Former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations
Introductory Remarks: Dr. Susan Bissell, Executive Director, Global Partnership and Fund to End Violence Against Children
Ms. Marita Perceval, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, Lead, Faith-Based Initiative, World Bank Group
Dr. Kezevino Aram, Co-Moderator, Religions for Peace International, President,
Shanti Ashram, India, President, Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children
Rev. Hidehito Okochi, Chief Priest, Kenji-in Temple and Juko-in Temple, Japan, Board Member, Arigatou International
Children’s Representative (from the Children’s Pre-Forum Meeting)
Attendees then attended breakout working sessions by region (Latin America and Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East)
Session Co-Chairs: Prof. Abdulghafur El Busaidy, Chairman, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, and Ms. Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International
THEME 1: Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime: The Role of Faith Communities
Keynote Address by Fr. Juan Luis Carbajal Tejeda, Executive Secretary, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, followed by a children’s representative’s remarks
THEME 2: Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing: The Role of Faith Communities
Keynote Address by H.G. Dr. Barry C. Morgan, former Archbishop of Wales
THEME 3: Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities
Keynote Address by Dr. Alaa Murabit, UN High-level Commissioner on Health, Employment and Economic Growth, followed by a children’s representative’s remarks
Parallel Sessions by Theme
Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime: The Role of Faith Communities
Moderators: Dr. Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Imam Dr. Rashied Omar, Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peace Building, University of Notre Dame, Coordinating Imam, Claremont Main Road Mosque, Cape Town, South Africa
PANELISTS: Mr. Antti Pentikäinen, Executive Director, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers (NRTP), Dr. Amr Abdalla, Senior Advisor on the Reform of Education in Muslim Societies Project, International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Washington, D.C. Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace International Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director, Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers (NRTP) Children’s Representative (from the Children’s Pre-Forum Meeting) Ms. Janet Arach, GNRC Member, Uganda, Youth Representative
Nurturing Spirituality and Ending Violence in Child Upbringing: The Role of Faith Communities
Moderators: Dr. Nelson Arns Neumann, Coordinator, Pastoral da Criança, and Rev. Dr. Nicta Lubaale, General Secretary, Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC)
PANELISTS: Ms. Georgina de Villalta, Global Movement for Children in Latin America and the Caribbean Prof. Harold Segura, Regional Director of Church Relations and Christian Identity for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Vision International Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez, President of CONAVIGUA, Member, Continental Network of Indigenous Women of Americas, Guatemala Children’s Representative (from the Children’s Pre-Forum Meeting) Mrs. Sheran Harper, Worldwide Trustee, Mothers Union, Trainer, Worldwide Parenting Programme
Ending Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children: The Role of Faith Communities
Moderators: Ms. Silvia Mazzarelli, Regional Head of Policy and Programming, Plan International, and Ms. Bani Dugal, Representative to the United Nations, Baha’i International Community, United States
PANELISTS: Ms. Dorothy Rozga, Executive Director, ECPAT International Sr. Denisse Pichardo, O.P, Dominican Order of the Altagracia Children’s Representative (from the Children’s Pre-Forum Meeting) Ms. Corina Villacorta, Regional Director, Plan International Americas Mr. Christo Greyling, Senior Director, Faith – Advocacy and External Engagement, World Vision International
ALL FOR CHILDREN: Working with Faith Communities and Partners to End Violence Against Children through Arigatou International’s Initiatives
Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC): Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, GNRC, Director, Arigatou International – Nairobi, and Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, GNRC Network and Programs Coordinator Ethics Education for Children: Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Secretary General, Ethics Education for Children, Director, Arigatou International – Geneva Prayer and Action for Children: Ms. Rebeca Rios-Kohn, Director, Prayer and Action for Children, Director, Arigatou International – New York Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty (End Child Poverty): Rev. Fredrick O. Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty, Arigatou International – Nairobi
Parallel Sessions by Theme
“The Nexus Between Child Poverty and Violence Against Children”
Facilitators: Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, Lead, Faith-Based Initiative, World Bank Group, and Rev. Fredrick O. Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty, Arigatou International – Nairobi
“The Role of Ethics Education in Strengthening Families and Nurturing Spirituality in Children”
Facilitators: Dr. Kezevino Aram, Co-Moderator, Religions for Peace International, President, Shanti Ashram, India, President, Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children, and Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Secretary General, Ethics Education for Children, Director, Arigatou International – Geneva
“Combatting Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children”
Facilitators: Rabbi Diana Gerson, Program Director, New York Board of Rabbis, and Ms. Rebeca Rios-Kohn, Director, Prayer and Action for Children, Director, Arigatou International – New York
The Sixth Plenary included reading the consensus statement of GNRC Network, commitment from GNRC to see the statement through and a call to action for others to join.
Seventh Plenary: Closing Ceremony
Session Co-Chairs: H. L. Bishop Dr. Method Kilaini, Bishop of Bukoba Diocese, Bukoba, Tanzania, and Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez, President of CONAVIGUA, Member, Continental Network of Indigenous Women of Americas, Guatemala
Sheikh Mohamed Sohaib Al-Chami, the Grand Imam of Aleppo, Syria
Dr. Agnes Abuom, Moderator, Central Committee, World Council of Churches
Dr. Alaa Murabit, UN High-level Commissioner on Health, Employment and Economic Growth
Reading of GNRC 5th Forum Declaration, Rev. Mons. Sidney Fones
H.G. Archbishop Felix Machado, Archbishop of Vasai, India
The conference ended with an interfaith prayer celebrating all the faith traditions in attendance.
The GHR Foundation is partnering with OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform, to conduct the BridgeBuilder Challenge. The BridgeBuilder Challenge leverages the universal call from Pope Francis to ‘build bridges’ addressing the pressing and emergent concerns of our time in the areas of peace, prosperity and planet.
The top ideas selected from the challenge will receive a total of $1 million in funding (up to $500,00o for one organization), in addition to support provided by experts. All participants will benefit from the platform’s collaborative improvement process and opportunities for connection to new partners and potential funders.
Religions for Peace (RfP) Co-Presidents, Honorary Presidents, and International Trustees convened with international leaders at the Vatican for the second meeting of Ethics in Action initiative.
This meeting was on the important topic of peace, especially in the context of how the world’s religious communities can help guide the world back from the brink and reality of war and toward a vision of positive peace rooted in the unbreakable link between unfolding human dignity and advancing shared well-being. See the statement here.
Topics included: Positive Peace and its Pillars, Challenges to Peace, Role of Religions, Role of Ethics in Action, Advocacy and Engagement
The success of ISIS’ recruiting efforts has become a major challenge for the international community. ISIS has been systematically misrepresenting religious doctrines and manipulating political grievances as tactics to legitimize violence and attract new recruits. Violent Salafi groups have employed advanced social media strategies to recruit youth for their activities. U.S. security organizations estimate that 30,000 citizens from 100 countries have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq, including more than 3,000 Europeans and 100 Americans. Government officials are concerned what these individuals might do upon returning to their native countries and are seeking out policies and ways to counter this phenomenon.
As long as Syria and Iraq remain failed states, violent Salafi groups, such as ISIS, will take advantage of the chaos and power vacuum to flourish in both countries. These crises are highly dependent on one another and are deeply interconnected. There is a general consensus among a broad spectrum of Syrian interlocutors that any peace process to end the Syrian war must address the rise of violent Islamist groups and take ownership of the theological discourse.
To diminish this trend, radicalization of these youth must be understood fully, paying special attention to not only the political and religious appeals that provide the foundation for the discourse used by ISIS recruiters, but also how ISIS’ various branding efforts have been employed to influence public opinion. The role of religion cannot be overstated in response to the danger posed by ISIS, especially in light of this group’s routine use of religion as the foundational strategy in its recruitment campaign. As such, it is more important to engage religious actors from the outset in the process of identifying the problems and solutions, and to recognize the particular role that they can play in providing psycho-social support to those vulnerable to recruitment.
In this context, The Carter Center is undertaking a new initiative that aims to understand violent Salafi groups’ recruitment strategies, specifically ISIS, by working with Muslim leaders, including clerics, chaplains, and scholars. The project aims to identify the flaws in violent Salafi groups’ narratives and to develop counter messaging strategies to discredit their rhetoric and address the rise of Islamophobia. The project has been designed to address six specific problems:
the increasing use of new media for extremist propaganda purposes
the information gap on ISIS recruitment strategies
the lack of technical capacity and new media resources of religious leaders to discredit ISIS ideology
flaws of existing government measures to address radicalization. Addressing these problems requires partnership with religious actors who hold unique positions of authority, credibility, and ties with the local communities
women’s role in prevention and recruitment
return, reintegration and rehabilitation
Addressing these problems requires partnership with religious and community actors who hold unique positions of authority, credibility, and ties with local communities. The Carter Center is collaborating with media training institutions in Europe, U.S., Middle East and North Africa. Also the Carter Center is pursuing key partnerships with religious local leaders to identify the flaws in and counterarguments to ISIS narratives. The Carter Center will make available the counter narratives and local initiatives to governments, civil society and clerics. This twin approach will have an impact on the dangerous tide of Islamophobia that countries have been experiencing due to governmental policies that narrowly address the issue of violent extremism.
The Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs
Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Peace
On Monday, 23 January 2017 at the United Nations Secretariat the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists and the World Council of Churches (WCC) organized the third annual Symposium.
The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force for Engagement with Faith-based Organizations and The Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations co-sponsored the event.
Panel on Current Status of Peace: Philippines and Colombia-Panelists included Dr. Miguel Ceballos Arévalo (left) and Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao and Secretary Jesus Dureza (right)
Morning Session Summary-Anatomy and Scope of Peace Panel and Religions and Peace Panel
Mr. Rudelmar de Faria opened the morning session. Mr. Adama Dieng also gave a welcome message by video, quoting Secretary General Gutteres that conflict prevention is not a priority but the priority in managing conflict and sustaining peace. He emphasized better integration, provide support, need to work with FBOs and announced the Plan of Action on the role of religious leaders and actions in prevention of atrocities and violence will be released this year.
Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe followed speaking on how the bible makes justice the inseparable companion of peace and discussed the interrelatedness of the values woven into the UN pillars.
Anatomy and Scope of Peace Panel
Moderated by Dr Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Culture, UNFPA and Coordinator, UN Inter-Agency Task Force for Engagement with Faith-based Organizations
Dr. Ganoune Diop spoke on a global vision of peace as an enduring value. He spoke about deconstructing nationalist ideologies, need for partnership and collaboration for peace.
H.E. Mr. Pekka Metso said that we could not deny the role of religion in shaping the world of foreign policy. He emphasized the need for mediation mentioning the Group of Friends of Mediation and that women were the single under-utilized resource in effective peacebuilding.
Mr. Akinremi Bolaji spoke on the reconciliatory role of religious organizations.
Ms. Aisha H.L. al-Adawiya discussed the transmission of trauma and healing and emphasized the need to change vocabulary and media framing of words so as not to create marginalized people.
Mr. Mohamed Elsanousi emphasized four key issues for engaging religious actors- ownership of process, partnership, inclusivity and patience in the process.
Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer introduced the KAICIID Centre programs including religious literacy training. He gave two key challenges on working with religious institutions as how do we immunize the public to prevent easy manipulation of religion and how do we bring constructive voices of religion into policy.
Afternoon Session- Just and Sustainable Peace and Panel on Current Status of Peace: Philippines and Colombia
Moderated by Rev. Liberato Bautista, Assistant General Secretary–UN and International Affairs & Main UN Representative, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, and President, Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations
Mr. Thomas Gass spoke on the SDGs as a framework for peace, duty bearers, rights holders, who we leave behind, reducing inequality and inclusivity.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines or NCCP celebrates the 3rd round of formal peace negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines this month. We are edified that this third round is taking place in Rome within the octave of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
We will pray especially for the successful negotiations as we always uphold the peace talks in our prayers. We will pray that the men and women directly taking part in the process will take to heart the urgency and importance of the agenda on the table, mainly the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms or CASER. We recognize that the peace negotiation is a political process. Our enduring concern for peace and justice bid us to support and pray for its success. Our fervent prayer is for the resolution of the economic injustice that has bred the social unrest for a long time. We hold on to the long awaited political reforms, as well. We owe this much to the generations after us. Meanwhile, we press the government to honor agreements and release all political prisoners.
As we urge our constituency to be unceasing in prayer for peace so do we exhort the members of the negotiating panels to be resolute in resolving the strife that has been going on for almost half a century. We thank the Royal Norwegian Government for its crucial role as Third Party Facilitator.
It is time to let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream. (Amos 5:24)
JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO (Ret.) REV. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
Chairperson Vice Chairperson
BISHOP RODOLFO A. JUAN MS. LISSA BELLE R. BROWN
Vice Chairperson Vice Chairperson
MR. REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
Corporate Treasurer General Secretary