Religion’s Essential Role in Peacekeeping

Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, right, walks with Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, center, in Bangui, after a meeting of religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces Feb. 10.  (CNS photo/Luc Gnago, Reuters)

This meeting was to discuss the positives and negatives of religious faith, its role in violence and peace, and how leaders of faith can promote peace.

Following opening remarks by Mr. Brez, Father Landry began by noting two common objections on faith. He stated that he felt faith-based organizations should be as important as education when it comes to the prevention of conflict. He also noted that individuals dispute whether religion is a force of peace or violence, but to him, it is definitely not the latter. He then said that secondhand knowledge of religion and religious convictions can be misleading and can spiral into endless negativity.

Next, Mr. Hodes noted how religious leaders have two options in the face of conflict. They may bring peace, or they may use conflict for leverage to gain support from the masses. He said that it is not a question of whether religion is positive or negative, but a question of how it is being used.

Mr. Flynn stated the importance of continuing to fight extremism, and went on to note the importance of youth in Security Council Resolution 2250.

Dr. Karam said she saw religion not as potential for evil, but for healing, and then went on to say how breaking the glass ceiling required honesty. She stressed the importance of the UN goals of human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development. She then said that although individuals speak on religion and culture as distinct qualities, they are more often than not intertwined.

Reverend Breyer spoke on the tension that often exists between Muslims and followers of other religions. Finally, Revered Kazanijian noted that instead of active violence, organizations should seek to establish active dialogue. He stressed the importance of establishing cohesive relationships.

Meeting: Thursday DPI Briefing for NGOs-Focusing on faith series: Promoting peace and reconciliation to counter violent extremism

Date/Location: Thursday, February 4, 2016; 11:00-12:30; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Mr. Jeffrey Brez, Chief of NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events in the Department of Public Information; Father Roger Landry, priest of the Diocese of Fall River, attache at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the U.N; Matthew Hodes, Director of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization; Mr. Edward J. Flynn, Senior Human Rights Officer at the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate; Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Culture and Social Development at the United Nations Population Fund; Rev. Chloe Breyer, Director of The Interfaith Center of New York; Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian Jr. Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative

Written By: WIT Representative Olivia Gong

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: CNS photo/Luc Gnago, Reuters