UNHCR recently embarked on a ‘journey of mutual discovery’ with faith-based organizations by exploring the role of faith in humanitarian responses. In December 2012, the fifth High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges was held on the theme of Faith and Protection. The Dialogue assembled over 400 representatives of faith-based organizations, faith leaders and other partners for a two-day discussion in Geneva on partnership with faith-based actors.

This was the first formal multi-faith dialogue UNHCR ever engaged in and explored the common values underpinning the notion of refugee protection in all of the world’s major religions. It also fostered deeper appreciation for and understanding of the role religion and spirituality plays in the lives of those UNHCR serves.

At the close of the event, the High Commissioner underscored “the valuable contributions that faith organizations and communities make to the protection of refugees and the displaced.” He highlighted a number of concrete suggestions for follow-up, which included a call to develop guidance on ‘faith literacy’ for UNHCR staff. The present Partnership Note has been prepared pursuant to this request.

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