What is the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers?

The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers is a service function for international and local mediation and peacebuilding initiatives. The Network consists of religious and traditional leaders and organizations supporting their mediation and peacebuilding efforts.

The initiators of the network are UN Mediation Support Unit (MSU) in the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC), Religions for Peace (RfP) and Finn Church Aid (FCA), of which the latter currently works as secretariat of the Network.

Why has the Network forReligious and Traditional Peacemakers been established?

Religious and traditional leaders are influential representatives of local communities in questions of peace, war and mediation and they have expressed their willingness to be included in international mediation efforts. Yet, support for their mediation work and proper coordination have often been ad-hoc by nature.

Second, the UN has officially stated that enhanced dialogue and coordination with religious leaders is key in supporting the development of UN’s mediation capacity (UNSG’s report A/66/811).

Third, the Network supports the implementation of several international mediation/peacebuilding strategies or guidelines (incl. UNSCR 1325).

Fourth, the Network provides the international community with enhanced mechanisms to address the adverse effects that extreme religious views or harmful cultural practices are causing.

Fifth, over 30 relevant international organizations and religious leaders gathered in Helsinki in January 2013 to discuss the means of how to support, in a more structured way, the mediation work of religious and traditional leaders and promote coordination between religious leaders, relevant organizations and the UN. As a result, the participants of the meeting decided that the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers will be established.

What are the objectives of the Network?

The aim of Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers is to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of peace focused efforts through collaboratively supporting and strengthening the positive role of religious and traditional actors in peace and peacebuilding processes.

The goals of the Network are:
1) The potential of religious and traditional peacemakers in mediation efforts is concretely utilized.
2) More structured connections between religious and traditional leaders, relevant organizations and the United Nations are promoted and achieved.
3) Track 1 diplomats and negotiators are sensitized to the role of religion and religious leaders in mediation and build necessary skills to use their expertise.
4) Religious and traditional peacemakers develop local-level networking and coordination as well as advanced joint learning through shared lessons learned.
5) Religious and traditional leaders have the capacity to act as positive force in mediation.
6) Religious and traditional leaders promote the role of women in peace processes at different levels of society and empower women religious leaders in their mediation work.
7) International organizations support religious and traditional leaders in achieving their mediation goals.

How is the funding of the network envisaged?

The Network is grateful for the funding provided by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Finn Church Aid, and is reaching out to potential donors.