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Faith and Diplomacy: Strategic Reflections on Religiously Inspired Global Efforts Towards Building Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies
December 10, 2021 | 10:00 am - 1:30 pm
| Church Center for the UN
Co-organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and Religious for Peace
The role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations (FBOs) as key players in their respective countries and in the regional and international levels, as well as harnessing the unifying potential of faith, are key issues at the intersection between faith and diplomacy.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) – the leading United Nations platform for intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation – and Religions for Peace – the only international multi-religious organization with affiliated and legally registered multi-religious leadership platforms in every continent-, have been working on the nexus between faith and diplomacy over the years with the ultimate goal of building and strengthening dialogue, social cohesion and mutual understanding in societies around the world.
In 2019, Religions for Peace hosted its 10th World Assembly. Established in 1970, the systematic efforts of fifty years of the existence of this “UN of Religious Institutions”, have been dedicated towards advocating and supporting multi-religious efforts designed at enabling a positive peace. The latter defined as the whole of society and of governments’ efforts beyond ensuring the absence of war, towards securing lasting human dignity for each and all.
The 10th World Assembly was also the beginning of a ‘trinity’ of efforts with Ring for Peace, a Foundation founded in 2018, with the aim to foster the peaceful coexistence between people and religions to strengthen international understanding and cooperation, and to promote the dialogue between civil society and governments, within Germany and Europe. The partnership between Religions for Peace and Ring for Peace was enabled, in all three cases, thanks to the generous support by the German Federal Foreign Office, thus underlining the strategic vision of Europe’s largest and most powerful economic and political nation, in the importance of multi-religious engagement, globally. The UNAOC High Representative provided an opening keynote at this Assembly in which he announced that the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites – elaborated by UNAOC at the request of the UN Secretary-General in the aftermath of the attacks on mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand)- was nearly completed. He was also actively engaged in all discussions and meeting with faith leaders and diplomats throughout.
In 2020, at the height of global lockdowns due to Covid-19, Religions for Peace and Ring for Peace ensured a global Assembly, as a follow up, focusing on a critical constituency which had hitherto not received its due of global attention and recognition: women of faith. Accordingly, in this Assembly, which was fully virtual, managed to convene religious leaders (male and female), together with diplomats, politicians, and academics, to highlight and assess the unique roles and contributions of faith, to women’s leadership and all diplomacy efforts focused on diverse aspects of peace making, peace building and sustainability of human rights and development efforts. Approximately 1,600 people tuned in and joined the virtual discussions and presentations from around the world, daily, for 3 days. The UNAOC Chief of Staff presented a Keynote at this event and was consulted in the framing of the Conference. In 2020 UNAOC became one of the three co-Chairs of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force for Religion and Sustainable Development (UN-IATF), together with the UN Population Fund and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
Building on the outcomes – and indeed recommendations – of the above two assemblies, Religions for Peace and Ring for Peace were positively compelled to host the third in the trinity of global multi-stakeholder consultations, focusing on an intergenerational dialogue around the most pertinent of our challenges in the 21st century: humanitarianism, environmentalism, and the broader dynamics of peace and security. Accordingly, the International Conference of Religious Leaders on Faith and Diplomacy: A Generational Dialogue, was convened, as a hybrid modality, also in Lindau, Germany. A total of 150 participants were convened in person, with a total of 1700 participants (including virtually), wherein twenty-two percent were younger than 35, and women made up 45 percent of all.