Grassroots religious and traditional actors, including women and youth, from the Central African Republic were joined by a high-level delegation in Bangui to develop and endorse a Plan of Action. “Promoting Interreligious Dialogue for Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic,” was designed to contribute to a whole-of-society approach in developing sustainable peace throughout the Central African Republic.
The three-day workshop built upon previous discussions held during the 2019 Religions for Peace World Assembly closed-door discussions in Lindau and an initial roundtable discussion held in Bangui in July 2019. A high-level international delegation participated in the workshop to explore what methods of support are required for these actors to effectively implement the Plan of Action. The delegation, led by Ambassador Pekka Metso of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland, was comprised of representatives form Network member organizations, including Finn Church Aid, KAICIID and UNAOC. In addition, the EU and ACCORD Ambassadors to CAR and FCA and KAICIID local officers attended the workshop.
Over the three-day roundtable discussion, the religious and traditional actors developed seven specific objectives as the core of the Plan of Action:
- Restore peace throughout the entire country;
- Advocate for the restoration of state authority;
- Promote socio-economic development actions;
- Create an early warning system to prevent conflict;
- Build the capacity of religious leaders and actors to promote dialogue amongst themselves;
- Advocate for the psychosocial and legal care of victims;
- Use traditional conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve conflicts between communities.
Initiatives were designed to advance the objectives, including: providing social cohesion trainings to community level actors, developing awareness campaigns against hate speech and other forms of discrimination, engaging in interreligious dialogue to enable the restoration of the State authority as well as developing initiatives specifically for women and youth while ensuring they have a participatory role in all other initiatives.
Ms. Tarja Kantola, Finn Church Aid Board Chair, commended the work of the actors in developing and committing to the Plan of Action. Ambassador Metso ensured the continued commitment to implement the Action Plan in collaboration with other partners.
In order to promote the work of religious and traditional actors and to highlight the action plan, the high-level delegation attended numerous meetings throughout the region. The delegation had very successful meetings with: the President and Minister for Humanitarian Action and Reconciliation of Central African Republic, Ambassador of Morocco to CAR, Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR and the European Union Mission in CAR.
In order to ensure the Plans sustainability, the actors outlined resource estimations as well as identified responsibilities within the Plan. The Network will continue to support the religious and traditional actors as they implement the Plan of Action. The Network looks forward to further discussing the Plan with the religious and traditional actors as well as relevant stakeholders and partners.
Towards the Development of a Plan of Action
Building upon the Networks vast experience and knowledge on the Central African Republic, the Network, together with Religions for Peace, KAICIID and Finn Church Aid developed a serious of three workshops to that would result in a tangible plan of action, designed by religious and traditional actors, to advance peace in the Central African Republic. This was designed to be a three-part project, with each session building upon tangible links. The first session was a roundtable discussion held in Bangui, the second was a closed-door session at the Religions for Peace World Assembly in Lindau, Germany and the third was the most recent roundtable session in Bangui.
The first round-table on multi-religious dialogue and reconciliation was held in Bangui at the end of July 2019. The roundtable gathered 14 grassroots religious and traditional actors from CAR, as well as representatives of the CAR government, civil society, UN and NGOs, to explore how religious and traditional actors, including women, can contribute to the Accord for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic. More concretely, the round table addressed the following two issues: 1) exploring how religious actors, youth and women can support the implementation of the APPR, and 2) how they can prevent the instrumentalization of differences based on religion, ethnicity and politics, especially with youth. The three-day roundtable concluded with a declaration to demonstrate the actors joint-commitment to work for peace through a unified approach as leaders and actors of different faiths, traditions and genders.
For the second session, the religious and traditional actors from CAR travelled to Lindau, Germany for consultations during the 10th Religions for Peace World Assembly. The World Assembly provided an opportunity for religious and traditional actors coming from conflict zones to engage in conflict mediation and peacebuilding through the Track II Peace Consultations held during the assembly. Continuing on the previous discussions surrounding the Declaration, the participants unanimously agreed that the Declaration was a fruitful starting point in order to develop a detailed action plan for religious actors to increase their participation in CAR. UN High Representative of the Alliance for Civilizations, Mr. Migel Moritanos, participated in the closed door sessions and express the interest of the UNAOC to support the work of religious and traditional actors in CAR.
The two previous sessions lead to the third workshop in Bangui, where the actors developed and endorsed a Plan of Action to further consolidation of peace in CAR through promotion of interreligious dialogue.
11 December 2019