For information only - not an official document
15 February 2018
Meeting on the Implementation of the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes "Plan of Action"
13-15 February 2018
VIENNA, 15 February 2018 (UN Information Service) - An important step towards preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes was taken on 13 to 15 February, when more than one hundred and fifty religious leaders and actors from around the world, Member States and United Nations officials, gathered at the UN in Vienna to discuss the implementation of the Plan of Action.
The Plan of Action, which was launched by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in July last year, is the outcome of a process which began in 2015, in Fez, Morocco, when the first consultation with religious leaders was held on their role in preventing incitement to violence.
The meeting started with a warm welcome from Christine Stix-Hackl, Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, and opening remarks by senior officials from the organizing bodies: United Nations, World Council of Churches, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, and KAICIID International Dialogue Centre.
In his remarks, Under Secretary-General Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, stated: "The Plan of Action is a pioneering document. It is the first to engage with religious leaders and actors to develop context-specific strategies to prevent incitement that could lead to atrocity crimes. I believe its implementation could contribute not only to the prevention of atrocity crimes but also to other key agendas of the United Nations that seek to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies, prevent violent extremism and promote the inclusion of women and youth."
The meeting focused on concrete measures to implement the Plan of Action at the national and local levels. There was widespread agreement among participants that engaging youth and women must be a key focus if we are to prevent violence and promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies everywhere.
Many of the actors present made commitments to implement the Plan of Action through a variety of means, individually and working in partnership, building on existing initiatives and networks. These commitments, which were made based on discussions along both thematic and regional lines, will be included in the outcome document.
Some of the main points agreed on during the meeting were the need to map existing initiatives that could contribute to implementing the Plan of Action, collaborate on the development of a Covenant for faith actors for the realization of the Plan of Action, develop capacity-building activities for religious leaders and actors, disseminate and share curricula for interreligious coexistence, and include youth and women in all activities.
The meeting also resulted in the development of the terms of reference of a Steering Committee that will be responsible for overseeing the implementation process.
Commenting on the Fez Process, Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar, Secretary-General of KAICIID, said: "If we are to seek positive and sustainable change, I think we need to deal with individuals, leaders and religious institutions to support policymakers in this area, and religious institutions should contribute to the implementation of results on the ground in their local communities."
Antti Pentikäinen, the Executive Director and Convener of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, said: "Religion is being increasingly pulled into conflicts to fuel division and violence. No religion will survive healthy if their leaders don't resist and act against the incitement to hatred. It is not only humanity that is at stake. This is a question of the legacy of faiths."
The Director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Peter Prove, added to that comment, stressing that, "There is certainly no room for complacency in a context in which the extremist ideologies that gave rise to extremist groups continue to be promoted."
The outcome of the meeting includes the establishment of a steering committee to oversee implementation of the Plan of Action and an outcome document, which will be made public.
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