UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Religions for Peace, a global, multi-religious movement representing the world’s faith institutions and traditions, announced today a commitment to form a Multi-Religious Council of Leaders to strengthen efforts to address the root causes of conflict and displacement, and to support peacebuilding, inclusion and reconciliation efforts.
Religious leaders representing the world’s diverse faith traditions committed to form the Council during the first ever high-level strategic roundtable co-hosted by Religions for Peace and UNHCR.
“Faith leaders have much to contribute in the efforts to tackle today’s global humanitarian and displacement challenges,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. “This Council will now provide us with a global, multi-religious platform to engage with faith leaders in support of those forcibly displaced and their host communities.”
Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, emphasized the movement’s long-standing commitments and service in these areas, dating back to 1970. She stated that “this Council will strengthen the shared commitment and intentionality of UNHCR and multi-religious institutions collaboration, fostering systematic inclusion of refugees and migrants in all societies, and advocating for their concerns within and across all communities”.
Religions for Peace, which comprises 90 national and six regional Inter-Religious Platforms, provides direct, multi-religious humanitarian support, and mobilises faith communities across the globe to welcome migrants and refugees.
The Council members – to be jointly identified by UNHCR and Religions for Peace – will include the senior most religious leaders from Religions for Peace’s World Council as well as from its wider movement.
Members will have a demonstrated record of serving as strong advocates for conflict prevention, reconciliation and peacebuilding in challenging humanitarian as well as forced displacement contexts, and will have experience in building a culture of peace that protects the most vulnerable, especially those at risk of gender-based violence.
With a three-year tenure leading up to the 2023 Global Refugee Forum, the Council’s objectives include generating multi-religious advocacy and synergizing efforts to support forcibly displaced and stateless people at global, regional and national levels.
At the end of 2019, there were some 79.5 million people forcibly displaced people; the highest number on record according to available data. The human and economic cost requires a more collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach, engaging all sectors of society.
The Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, recognizes that faith-based actors are important contributors to good relations and peaceful co-existence. They are critical in serving and advocating for refugees and internally displaced people, as well as their host communities.