KAICIID SG Speech at PaRD General Assembly of Members

2 May 2019


2019 PaRD General Assembly of Members (GAM)
On May 1st to 3rd, 2019
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
In Copenhagen, Denmark

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to dive right in: our topic today is the shrinking space for civil society and the role of religious actors. This phenomenon is rearing its head due to several factors, such as increasing societies that face major political turmoil and civil war, as well as an increase in political leaders who manipulate religious identity and use it to mobilize political support – constituting a threat to dialogue and any constructive engagement through a populist policy and approach.

On the other hand, we must not overlook the fact that we are also seeing many new avenues of cooperation, and there is a great need to engage civil society in fulfilling the sustainable development goals, through cooperation with governments and faith based organizations.

At KAICIID, we foster interreligious and intercultural dialogue to enhance cooperation among followers of different cultures and religions all around the world.

Our work takes on a largely collaborative approach, depending on partnerships with like-minded organizations and advocates for peace and interreligious harmony.

We currently have signed official memoranda of understanding with organizations including the UN Office for Preventing Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, UNESCO, UNDP, the African Union, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, ISESCO, Religions for Peace, the World Organization of the Scout Movement… as well as some universities, like ISCREB, University of Complutense, and the University of Montreal… and of course we are proud partners with PaRD.

I would like to specifically highlight our membership in PaRD as it increasingly becomes more significant and important, as this respectable network includes several faith-based organizations and governments in the same forum. It sets an example for expanding the space for engaging civil society with policymakers on various world issues and common responsibilities, such as the sustainable development themes and goals. We are very much in need of such venues to sort out the best ways for engagement.

We believe that engaging civil society and faith-based organizations requires awareness for dialogue and inclusivity. The lack of integration of these values in education systems makes it more challenging for engaging civil society by policymakers. This is why we call for the systematic integration of dialogue in all agencies.

Policies based exclusively on fear and self-interest are destructive and deprive civil societies and their representatives from expressing their voices. Not to mention, deteriorating security on the ground makes it even harder to open the space of engagement between civil society and policymakers. The dominance of security and the securitization approach to many problems facing policymakers regarding religion has made it more difficult to engage the faith-based organizations and other civil society groups.

Through our work at KAICIID, we focus on SDG 17: to strengthen global partnerships to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda, bringing together national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors.

We believe that religious actors have a significant role to play here specifically because 85% of the world’s population identifies with a religious belief.

Through our partnerships, we collaborate to address the achievement of Agenda 2030 through the establishment and support of interreligious dialogue platforms in the Arab region, Central African Republic, Europe, Nigeria and Myanmar. These KAICIID-supported platforms are constituted of representatives from faith-based organizations on national levels, they are also inclusive of other members of the communities that they operate in, including youth and women. All of the action plans of our dialogue platforms are geared towards supporting the achievement of Agenda 2030. Through the platforms, we address issues like religious freedom and preventing hate speech.

We are also working, through an exciting new film project, to capture the contributions of religious leaders and institutions toward achieving Agenda 2030. Around the world, religious leaders are actively working to meet the needs in their communities, whether that is through providing education, clean drinking water initiatives, promoting inclusive societies, or ensuring equality for marginalized people groups.

It is through this shared commitment, from the community to the global level, that we achieve concrete results. That is the essence of Agenda 2030: coming together as one community to make the world a better place. Engaging all segments of the society, whether it be civil society, religious actors, women, or youth.

If we do not find a way to work all together, then the process cannot be sustainable as it will not be inclusive. Inclusivity is a key aspect of sustainability. Through it we come together as an international community to fulfil our shared responsibilities and overcome our shared challenges. On behalf of KAICIID, I look forward to future collaboration with all of you here today.    

Thank you.