Since the mid-1990s, the Conflict Transformation program operates around the world to encourage the cooperation of religious communities in response to violent conflict.
When different religious communities work together, they possess an enormous capacity to promote peace. Religious leaders are also uniquely positioned to use their moral stature and influence to encourage mutual understanding within their communities. Religious communities are familiar and trusted institutions that may provide social cohesion and spiritual support, helping people face the most agonizing pain and suffering and leading them to forgive the unforgivable.
Inter-religious councils and groups formed and supported by Religions for Peace have played key roles transforming conflict and rebuilding peaceful societies in the Balkans, West Africa and the Middle East. In the past decade, Religions for Peace has engaged its leadership of prominent international religious figures to bring together diverse Bosnian religious leaders in the aftermath of civil war and to support multi-religious peacebuilding efforts in West Africa. Currently, Religions for Peace is also facilitating emerging efforts for peacebuilding collaboration among religious leaders in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Sudan, and the Korean Peninsula.
To date much of Religions for Peace’s conflict transformation and peacebuilding programming has centered on sub-Saharan Africa, where its network of inter-religious councils and groups is the most developed. In West Africa and the Great Lakes region of Africa Religions for Peace has facilitated multi-religious collaborations working to prevent conflicts from developing, to mediate peace negotiations among warring parties, and to rebuild peaceful societies in the aftermath of violence.
The priority objectives of the Conflict Transformation program are:
- To deepen interfaith commitments to dialogue and cooperation for promoting peace.
- To equip existing inter-religious councils (IRCs) with relevant knowledge and skills in order to prevent and mediate violent conflicts.
- To strengthen the delivery capacity of the IRCs in the implementation of concrete responses to conflict situations.
- To mobilize and equip religious communities to build new IRCs in conflict areas to serve as a mechanism for peaceful change.
- To strengthen the participation and leadership of women of faith in their respective IRC structures and initiatives.
- To facilitate active sub-regional collaboration among religious leaders and IRCs for the advancement of peace, stability and security.