Date of Meeting: 14 July 2017

Meeting Organizer: UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), World Council of Churches

ISJC Staff Present: Joseph Halliday

Reporter: Joseph Halliday

Which SDG does this topic cover? 16, 17

Type of meeting: Panel discussion

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Adama Dieng - Under-Secretary-General/Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide - opening remarks:
  • Three set of recommendations:
  • Prevention - counter-incite violence, gender-based violence;
  • Resilience - education, communication, inter-faith dialogue;
  • Ways to build peaceful, inclusive, just societies, promoting human rights.
  • Implementation will contribute to prevention of atrocity crimes.
  • Includes focus on religious leaders because plan is far more likely to succeed when everybody works toward this aim - local, national, international level.
Antonio Guterres - United Nations Secretary-General
  • Personal reasons for interacting with faith community, but also pragmatic - religion is important to so many people and so co-operating with religious leaders and groups is key.
  • Religion is being manipulated as a means of inciting violence. But religious leaders can also be used to develop trust and so improve the situation.
  • Violence sews the seeds of hate and can be used to persuade people that division is natural and present. 
  • Plan includes a broad range of ways in which religious leaders can work to prevent violence, including women and children in the process. Plan respects need to see the value in all human beings.
Sheikh Bin Bayyah - President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
  • Many approaches - legal, philosophical, cultural etc. - have been tried to tackle issue of incitement against violence.
  • In Islam, peace is a foundation of the religion. Plan and forum seeks to reconstruct this ‘ethical confusion’ step-by-step and to re-establish peace. Authentic teachings of ancient texts need to be rediscovered. 
  • Principle of freedom of expression is present in modern society, but principle of responsibility is important as well.
  • Called upon religious leaders of all tradition to take steps to address violence. Religious solidarity is also important in countering hate-speech.
  • Laws should develop out of the need of local environments. 
Faisal Bin Muammar - Secretary-General of the KAICIID Dialogue Center
  • Path to sustainable development lies in holistic approaches to issues. Peace can only be achieved through an inclusive approach. 
  • Conferences and dialogue arranged around the world in the build-up to the launch of this plan.
  • Requires support of media, legal system, governments, civil society - we all share this responsibility.
  • Religion is used to bring about hatred of the ‘other’. Plan brings together religious leaders and policy leaders to bring about change.
  • Thanks given to religious leaders.
Alvaro Albacete - Deputy Secretary General for External Relations, KAICIID moderates the following panel.

Archbishop Bernardino Auza - Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

  • Plan of action aims to increase understanding and ability of religious leaders to prevent violence.
  • Emphasis of plan is that states have responsibility to protect society from atrocity crimes, rather than religious leaders. Society lately has put this role onto religious leaders, who have a role, but primarily it lies with states.
  • Many religious leaders have used their authority to bring about violence but this is a great disservice to religion, most of which is peaceful. ‘Attacking rather than serving others’. 
  • Emphasis that violence and conflict is contrary to the God that many extremists claim to serve.
  • Inter-religious dialogue is necessary for world peace - according to Pope Francis II. Spatial responsibility for religious to work respectably, to root out discord, to renounce conflict, to carry out works of mercy and to promote peace.
Salih bin Abdullah al Humaid - Imam of Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque of Mecca)
  • Religious violence can lead to ethnic cleansing, widespread conflict.
  • Difference of religion is no excuse to violate the principle of sanctity of life. Extremism is used to bring about division and hatred. Religion is exploited to justify these acts.
  • Religious leaders must affirm the innocence of religion from the evil perpetrated from ‘sick minds’. Plan must be implemented to protect religion from exploitation.
  • H.E. Aziza Baroud, Ambassador of Chad to the European Union, Benelux and the United Kingdom
  • Humans naturally seek to assert its supremacy over others and other creatures. First half of 20th Century shows this well. Now we see, for example, vehicle bombs. Reasons for these recent acts are often stem from religion. 
  • Ways of tackling this are a priority. Plan has been a long time coming. Many try to close theirs ears to the dialogue on global peace but this cannot continue. Implementation of plan is important. Resistance will come from unexpected places, difficulties from view that violence is inevitable and gradual because it is a long-term endeavour which requires a change in attitudes.
  • Implementation should be a plan of hope. 
Bishop Bernard Ntahoturi, former Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Burundi
  • States have primary responsibility but religion has a role to play too. Spirit of love must be built in communities.
  • Reference made to genocide in Burundi and Rwanda. Africa has been ‘ravaged’ by conflict and war. Exploitation, colonialism, economic subordination.
  • Spoke of hope in Africa - equal rights and dignity. Participation of every human in political and cultural life in all nations. ‘No-one should be left behind’, regardless of nationality, race, gender, age, etc.. ‘Sustainable development becomes a new name of peace.’

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

During the meeting, repeated calls were made for religious leaders to stand together against violence and atrocity crimes and to work together to achieve the Fez plan. As a church, The Salvation Army should be a part of this conversation and effort with all leaders being a part of this.

Web links for more information

Tags: SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals