A study by the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) examines how the international community can better leverage local faith-based actors toward achieving more just and peaceful societies.
NEW YORK CITY, NY, July 12, 2019 – A new study commissioned by an international coalition of governments and non-governmental organizations examines the importance of having better partnerships with local faith-based actors as a way of achieving more peaceful and inclusive societies, as articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16). The study is a joint work of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities and the PaRD work-stream
on SDG 16: peace, justice and strong institutions.
“The value of solidarity and the desire to achieve peace, equality and justice are common to all religions,” said Faisal Bin Abdulrahaman Bin Muaammar, the Secretary General of KAICIID, an intergovernmental organization that’s one of the study’s many co-sponsors under PaRD. “Motivated by these powerful values, religious leaders around the world are mobilizing their communities as mediators and agents for change. Their efforts should be acknowledged, and their potential should be recognized. When we tap into this phenomenal resource, then bringing down the walls of fear and mistrust becomes an easy task.”
The study analyzes the role of religious and traditional actors through stages of conflict as well as in fostering social cohesion and peace, with a special focus on the Lake Chad and South Asia regions. Among other findings, it shows that both international and local faith actors have something to contribute and something to learn from one another; that effective partnerships require trust-building over time; and that partnerships that work across humanitarian-development-peacebuilding silos are especially promising for making a more lasting contribution to sustainable peace. It also includes 10 case studies of successful local faith actor partnerships,
including examples from such conflict-prone countries as Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.
“The study points to an ideal situation in which local religious leaders, faith-based and community service organizations, donor governments and hosting governments can collaborate at the national level in all of the countries in which PaRD has members. Together, we can reach and surpass the U.N. Sustainable development goal of promoting peace, justice and strong institutions,” said Don Rogers, the church engagement advisor for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which is the international aid agency of the U.S. Catholic Church and another study co-sponsor under PaRD. “This study must inspire our organizations and our governments to act together to improve conditions at the grassroots level for those we serve.”
To read or download a copy of the study, click here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD)
Dr. Olivia Wilkinson is the Director of Research at the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), based in DC. The JLI is an international collaboration across academia, practice, and policy that convenes interested members on the evidence for the role of religion in humanitarian and development work. Stacy Nam, JLI Senior Program and Knowledge Manager, explained more about the JLI in the ACCORD Research podcast. This webinar will dive deeper into the current state of the evidence in religion and development, focusing on a review of what information JLI has gathered so far, what main findings can be summarised from their research, and discussing some of the largest thematic and methodological gaps in the religion and development research. Olivia is a sociologist, with a Ph.D. and Master’s in humanitarian action from Trinity College Dublin and Université catholique de Louvain (Network on Humanitarian Action – NOHA) respectively and an undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge.
The JLI is an international collaboration of international development organizations, UN agencies, academic initiations and religious bodies on evidence for faith groups’ activities and contributions to local community health and wellbeing. In 2018, UNICEF and JLI with Religions for Peace and Harvard Divinity School collaborated to launch the Faith for Social Behaviour Change Initiative. The proposed work in the last quarter of 2019 involves up to two workshops in Francophone speaking countries.
Lead dynamic workshops on religious and faith-based organization engagement on Social and Behaviour Change Workshop in two Francophone West African countries
Plan and coordinate with FSBC team before and through a workshop series
Maintain accurate workshop data, including attendance rosters, surveys, evaluations, and drafts reporting document based on a template.
Track record of meeting facilitation in Francophone countries
Ability to ensure knowledge transfer and sharing during workshops while achieving workshop goals within time constraints
Ability to clearly and concisely communicate to persons from varying backgrounds
Familiarity with Development topics, SDGS and indicators of child wellbeing.
Experience with diverse faith communities a plus
Knowledge of donor and governmental goals and processes
Schedule for Performance and Delivery of Services and/or Deliverables:
Time frame: September – December 2019 exact dates TBD
Description of Service or Deliverable
Estimated Level of Efforts (hours)
Up to 8 hours
Facilitate and wrap up country consultation workshop (1 day prior/after + 4 day workshop)
Up to 10 days or 80 hours
Please send expression of interest noting how meet the qualifications, with resume, sample workshop report, and references to[email protected]
Together for the Goals –Religious Actors’ Role on Sustaining Peace
LEARN about the role of religious and traditional actors in achieving SDG 16 and the importance of working across sectors
MEET experts and practitioners from PaRD Member States, Multilateral Organizations, Religious and Faith-Based Organizations, Academia and Civil Society.
DISCUSS evidence-based recommendations to guide engagement and partnerships between local faith actors and international actors.
GET INSIGHTS on the new “scoping study” to be launched by PaRD knowledge partner JLI on the role of religious and traditional actors through stages of conflict as well as in fostering social cohesion and peace with focus on Lake Chad region and South Asia.
Dr. Olivia Wilkinson will speak on the Sustaining Peace Report on Local Faith Partnerships.
The Sixth annual G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Tokyo Japan with about 300 religious leaders, FBOs, academics and others gathered from around the world.
Katherine Marshall, World Faiths Development Dialogue and Cole Durhan, Brigham Young University under the patronage of Dr Haruhisa Handa organized the conference.
The goal of the Forum was to discuss global issues through the lens of faith. Attendees also aimed to develop recommendations from the faith community to the G20 meeting in Osaka.
This year’s themes were People, Planet Peace: Pathways Forward
Jean Duff represented JLI and made contributions to two working sessions and to the closing Plenary “Towards 2020”. At the People session on Every Child has a Right to a Childhood, JLI announced the launch of the EVAC Hub’s new three-part Scoping Report and presented recommendations for the G20 Summit. At the Peace session on “New Ways to Serve and Integrate Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Communities,” JLI presented recommendations for the G20 Summit relating to the importance of the Global Compact on Refugees and the role of local faith actors in implementing it. Also, JLI contributed to the policy briefs from the two sessions.
On June 18, 2019, JLI held a webinar on Applied Climate and Faith Research. This is the third webinar of a four part series that is structured around the domains in which JLI aims to draw from and have an impact: practice, policy, and academia.
Dr. Olivia Wilkinson, JLI Director of Research moderated the webinar.
Professor Evan Berry, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University
Presentation: Applied Academic Research Faith and Climate [4.15 – 18:15]
In October 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a special report on Global Warming of 1.5˚C, which is predicted by 2030-2052 which is predicted by 2030-2052. This warming will cause sea level rise, drought, and other effects that will have impacts on people worldwide. The effects will be even more severe if there is global warming of 2˚C. There is an urgent need to curb anthropogenic emissions that are causing these long-lasting effects on the earth’s climate system.
Local faith communities are already heavily impacted by climate change. They are also increasingly involved in the action on climate change, bringing religious motivations to understandings of stewardship and care for our planet. Faith-based NGOs are working to mitigate climate change, help climate change adaptation in communities, and mobilize and faith communities towards advocacy for change, as well as implementing climate-sensitive ways of operating in their humanitarian and development operations. Yet much remains to be done in the humanitarian and development fields where the climate is frequently acknowledged as one of the most pressing issues of our time but little has changed from the status quo.
JLI is an international collaboration committed to convening academics, practitioners, and policymakers to examine the research and evidence on the role of religion in humanitarian and development aid. In the past year, many members have asked us to consider topics such as climate change, climate justice, the environment, and ecology as future interests for a possible Learning Hub.
We recognize that there is already a lot of work and research in the area of faith and climate. We believe that the JLI’s convening mechanisms can offer added value by focusing in on the specific intersections of climate, faith-based international humanitarian and development work, and a focus on research and evidence.
Leading members from Lebanon’s diverse network of religious institutions came together on Tuesday to stress the crucial role that faith plays in responding to the refugee crisis and to urge for faith to be better integrated into the mainstream refugee response.
Representatives from UNHCR and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Christian, Sunni and Shia faith leaders, as well as aid groups with and without religious foundations all stressed how faith should play a pivotal role in reducing the strain of displacement and war and be used as a tool to better integrate arrivals into host communities, as well as in preventing conflict in the first place.
The Role of Local Faith Actors in Implementing the Global Compact on Refugees event was co-hosted by the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), World Vision, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Kaiciid Dialogue Centre, the Middle East Council of Churches and ACT Alliance. Dozens of faith representatives, leaders from faith-based and secular humanitarian agencies as well as multiple UN agencies and government representatives all attended the consultation at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute.
pc: World Vision Lebanon
UNHCR’s Representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard said: “At a time of unprecedented displacement across the world, there is a growing consensus that we need to work together towards more effective responses. The Global Compact for Refugees recognises that we need to do better. We all have a role to play and need to mobilise everyone.
“Faith-based organisations are relevant throughout this cycle of displacement – from arrival, to eventual return. Faith-based organisations have a sound knowledge of the context and have a lot of experience in relief support. They also have a role to play in conflict prevention and reconciliation where they can be especially relevant.
“With economic crises and unemployment prevailing in many parts of the world, refugees are increasingly being stigmatised and seen as the reason for these economic crises. These sentiments are widespread so we have to ask ourselves what we can do together to address this phenomenon.”
Robin Sghbini, the Minister of Social Affairs representative and the Head of the Resettlement Response Plan in Lebanon, stressed that religious leaders have an important role to play because they exert great influence in their local communities.
“Their role is not only to ease tensions between the displaced and the host communities, but to reach cooperation in order to resolve other societal issues affecting the refugee community,” he said. “In the past the ministry of social affairs has cooperated with many religious leaders to protect children and women from early marriage and other social and humanitarian issues that protect and support refugees in Lebanon.”
Sghbini also welcomed the idea of partnership between religious leaders and other institutions concerned with the protection of refugee rights because “the crisis of displacement has reached its maximum and we need to join all our efforts”.
Professor Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Academic Chair of the JLI’s Refugee and Forced Migration Hub, Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies and Co-Director, UCL-Migration Research Unit University College London, said:
“When a person is forced to leave their home and their country in search of refuge and international protection, they are uprooted from their relatives, communities and lives. Often, they will see loved ones killed or injured and face immense barriers as they seek safety. The distress that these experiences and barriers cause is profound, often leaving people struggling to cope in their new surroundings.
“In times like these, faith is one of the only things that many people have left. Yet all too often even this is restricted as people lose access to religious support when they are displaced. What we have seen around the world, though, is that faith can be a key tool in helping people to recover and pursue their quest for protection and social justice. We have also seen that, when harnessed effectively, faith can bring communities together and help prevent future conflict.
“The international community has already recognised the role of faith actors in the Global Compact on Refugees, but it is up to us to ensure that displaced people are able to seek, and be granted, protection, to translate these noble words and intentions into concrete actions.”
The Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), agreed by the world at the end of 2018, acknowledges the role faith actors play in helping refugees and host communities all over the world, but the compact is non-binding.
To truly maximise the impact that faith actors in global refugee response Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh said that the research that has been conducted by the JLI Refugees and Forced Migration Hub shows that:
Humanitarian actors and other institutions need to recognise faith actors in all aspects of refugee response and ensure that faith actors are able to meaningfully take part and share responsibility.
International actors should expand engagement with faith actors, especially local faith actors in refugee response, with donor agencies stepping up support to build the capacity and compliance of those on the ground.
Financial barriers that exclude and discriminate against faith-based organisations need to be removed and donors must support faith actors that provide key services in support of refugees and members of host communities.
Access to spiritual support must be available to displaced people alongside psycho-social and humanitarian support.
Faith leaders need to be recognised for the role they can and do play in promoting Gender Justice, often countering – not advocating for – issues like FGM and child marriage.
Inter- and multi-faith initiatives should be supported to aid integration in host countries and help reconciliation upon return.
Many speakers were careful to stress that they felt xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia, in particular, were all on the rise, across the world but also across the Middle East.
Ziad el Sayegh, Policies and Communication Advisor, Middle East Council of Churches:
“The Global Compact for Migrants and Refugees is built on the obligation to respect human dignity and peace in society and to implement justice; these are fundamental values in all religions.
“It is absolutely impossible for religious authorities not to make the choice of promoting hope and moving people away from xenophobia, especially when accompanying the migration and refugee crises.
“It is impossible to solve the political and security crises through a mere economic and social approach. Solutions should be inspired by the religious fundamentals of human dignity, going back to the roots of ethical bases. This is the role of religious authorities when it comes to converging with the content of the Global Compact for Migrants and Refugees.”
Sheikh Hassan Dalli, of Lebanese organization Iftaa House, and the Mufti of Hasbaya and Marjeeyoun, meanwhile stressed that the Syrian conflict forced many to flee due to internal Syrian matters, but that it was important for all to be concerned for the safety and wellbeing of those who had fled seeking a safer place for their family and children.
“This was our humanitarian duty to receive the Syrian refugees in Lebanon as many countries did and to provide what is necessary to preserve their lives,” he said. “Similar circumstances have happened throughout history during wars and its hardships.”
This event is made possible by support from the Henry Luce Foundation
The diversity of origins and traditions which make humanity unique are being targeted by intolerance, sometimes by brutal violence, and refugees are often on the front line of this assault. Reinforcing the traditional role of faith communities in offering sanctuary to refugees, more than 25 faith-based actors express their further commitment to upholding the dignity of refugees through offering effective protection, access to social services and fulfilment of human rights and enhancing peacebuilding efforts. Based on their religious teachings, as well as on the experience that some of their communities have of being targeted themselves, faith-based actors seek to address xenophobia as one of their special responsibilities.
The Global Compact on Refugees specifically recognizes the contribution and long-standing experience of faith-based actors in supporting refugees and will highlight these contributions at the Global Refugee Forum. Whether supporting refugees, including children, on their journey to safety including in reception and admission, meeting protection or service delivery needs and supporting communities to find solutions such as private sponsorship programmes, faith-based actors are committed to working alongside states and the rest of the global humanitarian community to deliver the promise of the Global Compact on Refugees.
This statement is supported by:
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
American Jewish World Service
Church World Service
Food for the Hungry
HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
International Catholic Migration Commission
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Jesuit Refugee Service
Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities
The JLI Gender-based Violence Hub held a webinar for an online discussion on Faith and Gender Justice on June 13, 2019.
The webinar speakers included Professor David Tombs, University of Otago, and Shahin Ashraf, Islamic Relief Worldwide. The webinar was moderated by Dr Elisabet le Roux, Stellenbosch University
Dr David Tombs spoke on his recent work ‘When did you see me naked’ project: How recognising Jesus as a victim of sexual violence may help the churches and FBOs to better address SGBV. The work outlines the biblical evidence and historical context for identifying Jesus as a victim of sexual violence through repeated stripping and forced nudity and the possibility of further sexual assault in the praetorium. It examines why the sexual humiliation and sexual violence experienced by Jesus remains ‘hidden in plain sight’, and unacknowledged as sexual violence, and how a contextual bible study might help to address this. It also explores the potential significance of this for addressing the stigma associated with sexual violence in churches and wider society, and why this matters for FBOs working on SGBV.
Shahin spoke about the Islamic Relief’s Gender Justice work and the ‘Islamic Gender Justice Declaration’ a global platform of Muslim civil society organisations dedicated to addressing the many injustices that women and girls face as a result of poor faith literacy, oppressive culture and structural power imbalances.
David Tombs is the Howard Paterson Chair of Theology and Public Issues, at the University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand. He has a longstanding interest in contextual and liberation theologies and is author of Latin American Liberation Theologies (Brill, 2002). His current research focuses on religion violence and peace, and especially on Christian responses to gender-based violence, sexual abuse and torture. He is originally from the United Kingdom and previously worked at the University of Roehampton in London (1992-2001), and then in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin (2001-2014).
Shahin works on campaigns focused on gender, climate change and refugees. With over 25 years of experience, she is a faith and development expert, with a particular focus on sexual and gender-based violence (GBV). Her additional areas of expertise lie in the intersection of gender, social inclusion and social protection with a particular focus on authority and guardianship.In addition to having first-hand experience of working with women in humanitarian and development contexts.Shahin has worked at senior level at a number of global humanitarian, women’s rights and civil society organisations. She has conducted a wide range of policy research projects in a number of countries.