Since 2018, USIP, InclusivePeace, and the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy have been conducting research that explores the roles that religious actors play in track 1 dialogues and official peace processes. While distinct cases demonstrate the impact—both real and potential—that religious actors and communities have on formal peace processes, little research or analysis exists to show whether, when, how, and to what extent religious actors should be engaged as part of these processes. By understanding more precisely how religious actors influence the course of official peace processes, both negatively and positively, USIP and partners can more effectively shape the support provided to ensure maximum impact.

Nobel Peace Prize 2011, Tawakkul Karman, Leymah Gbowee, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Leymah Gbowee's engagement of Christian and Muslim women in nonviolent action was pivotal to the success of Liberia's peace process. Gbowee pictured with Tawakkul Karman and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 2011.

Religious actors and communities can greatly influence official negotiations, particularly where religious dynamics have shaped the conflict or religious issues are part of the agenda. In these conflicts, religious actors and communities often feel they have interests at stake in peace negotiations. In the worst case, their absence can disrupt or spoil the peace process, such as in Colombia where some religious actors mobilized against the negotiated agreement with the FARC in 2016.

But religious actors can also support peace processes by acting as inside mediators, shuttle diplomats, observers, and official facilitators—such as Bishop Carlos Belo, who raised global awareness to end Indonesia’s oppression of the East Timorese, and Leymeh Gbowee, who led Muslim and Christian women in nonviolent direct action to pressure parties in Liberia’s peace talks.

This project aims to build on the evolving dynamics in peace processes, particularly efforts to broaden participation among various constituencies to enhance legitimacy, develop buy-in, and mitigate the impact of spoilers as a means to achieve sustainable peace; as well as to build on the increased recognition of insider mediators—a role that can include religious actors. This collaborative initiative seeks to:

Conduct in-depth research by developing a categorization of how religious actors have engaged and impacted peace processes. This includes case study analysis and interviews, as well as convenings between experts and practitioners, to inform more knowledgeable engagement of religious actors for future peace processes. 

Inform experts and policymakers on how to effectively engage religious actors in future peace processes based on an analytical report and case studies. This will involve establishing a consortium of policymakers, practitioners, and scholars who contribute to research methodology and process, resource design and development, and policy recommendations through a series of workshops and consultations designed to analyze and exchange practices. This group will serve as a “community of practice.”

Support inclusive engagement in peace processes by developing a support mechanism which provides direct analysis, technical knowledge and insight, capacity building, and direct engagement of key religious actors and communities in 2-3 current contexts. Key resources, such as training materials and workshop design, will help to build the knowledge and skills of policymakers, track 1 actors, religious actors, and their communities as they engage in formal peace processes, agreements, and implementation. Technical advice will also be available from the community of practice, and can be further enhanced through peer-to-peer learning exchanges that can inform engagement in current and future peace processes .

 

Latest Publications

Mary Glantz on the G20 Summit

Mary Glantz on the G20 Summit

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

By: Mary Glantz, Ph.D.

The joint leaders’ statement at the G20 Summit, while largely symbolic, showed that “Russia [is] a lot more isolated than perhaps we’d been led to suspect,” says USIP’s Mary Glantz, adding that Russia’s anti-imperialist justification for the war in Ukraine is “not getting the traction we thought it was.”

Type: Podcast

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Event Extra: Syria’s Brutal Civil War and the Elusive Quest for Justice

Event Extra: Syria’s Brutal Civil War and the Elusive Quest for Justice

Monday, November 21, 2022

By: Adam Gallagher

In 2016, the U.N. General Assembly established the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), after vetoes in the U.N. Security Council prevented referral of the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court. IIIM Head Catherine Marchi-Uhel discusses the obstacles to this work, the progress made to date and what lessons it can provide for delivering accountability and justice in other conflicts.

Type: Podcast

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Three Key Takeaways from the Biden-Xi Summit

Three Key Takeaways from the Biden-Xi Summit

Thursday, November 17, 2022

By: Rosie Levine;  Jennifer Staats, Ph.D.;  Alex Stephenson

With the U.S.-China relationship at its lowest point in decades, the American and Chinese leaders met this week on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Indonesia for their first face-to-face summit since Joe Biden was elected. The deteriorating bilateral relationship became particularly concerning in August when China cut key lines of communication between Washington and Beijing, including on critical military and climate issues, following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Losing Facts to Fiction: Nationalism, Misinformation, and Conspiracy Theories in Pakistan

Losing Facts to Fiction: Nationalism, Misinformation, and Conspiracy Theories in Pakistan

Thursday, November 17, 2022

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.;  Niloufer Siddiqui, Ph.D.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories have become staples of mainstream politics in numerous countries around the world—democracies and autocracies alike. Pakistan is no exception. This report examines the causes of pervasive belief in misinformation in Pakistan—particularly nationalistic misinformation—and the consequences for the country’s relations with its neighbors, the risk of international or domestic conflict, and attitudes toward Pakistan’s many ethnic minority groups. The report also discusses steps that policymakers can take to counteract misinformation.

Type: Special Report

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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