From Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s influence in the Iraqi elections to the involvement of religious actors in South Sudan’s peace process, the role of religion in conflict zones continues to dominate headlines. At the U.S. Institute of Peace on June 26, experts presented an approach for mapping the role of religious actors and institutions to better understand their legitimacy and influence in contributing to peace and conflict, exploring findings from three recent mappings from Libya, South Sudan, and Iraq based on work from the field.

As the United States and the international community pursue means of preventing and ending violent conflict, understanding the religious landscape is critical. Religious actors are important players across the entire conflict resolution spectrum. They participate in and shape peace processes, de-escalation campaigns, stabilization efforts, and transition periods. They lead nonviolent action campaigns in support of peace and are often the only providers of social services, including education and health services, on the front lines of conflict. Religious actors also shape the theological underpinnings of their country's morality around justice and peace. Yet their roles are often complex, contributing to both peace and conflict in various ways.

The religious landscape of any conflict zone is undergoing constant change, making it difficult for stakeholders to engage and partner with religious actors. This event presents a methodology that relies on local researchers to understand the influence and legitimacy of religious actors and institutions, taking a unique approach to identifying key informants to facilitate trust and accuracy. Researchers who participated in the project in South Sudan and Iraq will be present to answer questions about challenges faced and how they were overcome.

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #USIPReligiousMapping.

The following reports were commissioned by the U.S. Institute of Peace:

Speakers

Col. Paul Hughes, welcoming remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Applied Conflict Transformation, U.S. Institute of Peace

Rev. Susan Hayward, introductory remarks
Senior Advisor, Religion & Inclusive Societies, U.S. Institute of Peace

Rosarie Tucci, moderator
Director, Inclusive Societies, U.S. Institute of Peace

Palwasha Kakar
Senior Program Officer, Libya Project Coordinator, U.S. Institute of Peace

Monica Pio
South Sudan Researcher, Forcier Consulting

Zainab Qassim
Networks Manager, Sanad for Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace

Dr. Ann Wainscott
Lead Researcher and Iraq Project Coordinator, U.S. Institute of Peace

Dr. Jacqueline Wilson
Lead Researcher and South Sudan Project Coordinator, U.S. Institute of Peace

 

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