This publication aims to support humanitarian actors’ engagement with religious leaders with the goal of generating greater respect for humanitarian norms in armed conflict. It relies on socio-legal research conducted over a period of three years as part of the Generating Respect for Humanitarian Norms: The Influence of Religious Leaders on Parties to Armed Conflict – The Generating Respect Project.

The project addressed the following overarching research question: How do religious leaders influence the behaviour of State and non-State parties to armed conflicts and can their religious interpretations lead to humanitarian norms-compliance? The answer is a resounding yes – the study has established that religious leaders can and do influence armed actors’ compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. In this document, we explain systematically the relevance of these findings for humanitarians and donors.

Part I answers a set of fundamental questions and provides concrete examples based on primary data collected in over 250 interviews with religious leaders, humanitarian practitioners, scholars, armed actors, and other stakeholders, and draws on an extensive review of interdisciplinary literature.

Part II tackles the question How to engage? Conflict mapping, the mapping of influential religious leaders in specific contexts, what approaches to engagement to pursue, what topics could be chosen, what competencies are needed, and how outcomes could be measured are all addressed.

Resource preview