Network Advisory Group Meeting Brings Peacemakers to Helsinki

The Advisory Group of the Peacemakers Network convened in Helsinki to reflect on the past work and the future niche of the Network. As the complexity of conflicts rise, so does the need for peacebuilders, was a view echoed throughout the day.

HELSINKI. The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers convened its seventh Advisory Group Meeting in Helsinki on Friday the 7th of April. The meeting brought together almost 45 participants representing traditional and religious peacemakers, partner organisations, members, and funders from the United States, Europe, Middle-East, Africa and Asia. The meeting provided Network members a platform to deepen collaboration and streamline strategic thinking across and between Network members. The meeting also served as a venue for joint reflection on the work done both in respective home offices as well as in the field.

The meeting was held back-to-back the National Dialogue Conference. The themes of the conference were further expanded during the meeting in discussions reflecting the impact of world politics on the role and importance of religious peacemakers as actors paving the way for sustainable peace.

 

Palwas Kakar from the United States Institute of Peace discusses the global trends and the changing nature of conflicts, and how recent developments impact the role  and work of religious peacemakers.

 

The day was opened by Senior Political Affairs Officer of the UNDPA Mediation Support Unit Ms. Roxaneh Bazergan, who reflected on the recent UN developments and their impact on the Network’s activities. Ms. Bazergan noted that the new UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, has emphasized the bottom-up perspective in conflict prevention and mediation. This emphasis provides a direct link to the work done by the Network in enhancing the capacity of local mediators.

The meeting proceeded with an interactive discussion on global trends and the changing nature of conflicts. Religion was noted to have an increasingly pivotal role in providing an integrated approach to conflict transformation, reconciliation and the healing of community relationships. As conflicts become ever more complex, the Network is presented with the responsibility of ensuring the visibility of traditional and religious peacemakers and of supporting their inclusion in decision-making processes.

Additional themes raised included the importance of comparative research, and the need to strengthen cooperation, collaboration and communication between Network members.

 

 

Rachel Madenyika from the Quaker United Nations Office shares field experiences from reconciliation and dialogue projects.

 

In the afternoon, participants split into groups to discuss four thematic areas: peace support, preventing violence extremism, inclusivity, and reconciliation. The discussions gave members the chance to reflect and share knowledge from the field, research projects, trainings, and dialogues.

The meeting was concluded by the Director General of KAICIID, Mr. Fahad Abualnasr. In his speech, Mr. Abualnasr applauded the development and growth of the Network. Even though the Network is a young entity, it has succeeded in convening around 50 member organisations.

The concluding remarks were followed by several comments and acknowledgments by Network members. Mr. Venerable Napan, a Senior Monk, thanked the Network for supporting the peace processes in South-East Asia and emphasised that the work of the Network has been able to demonstrate remarkable impact in, for example, Thailand. Imam Walidou from the Central African Republic thanked the honest mean of discussing the challenges faced in conflict countries and the persistence of the Network in heightening the impact and voice of local actors like himself.

 

Program Director for Course Development for Al Amana International and independent consultant Cassandra Lawrence shares key findings of Al Amana International’s recent research titled “Demystifying Religion – Identifying Gaps in Training, Knowledge, and Practice”.