The approach that ICRD takes in any given situation is unique, driven as much by personalities as circumstances. It also differs according to whether the situation calls for early-on preventive diplomacy, emergency intervention after conflict has broken out, or longer term reconciliation in the wake of conflict.
In many cases, ethnic, tribal and religious conflicts do not lend themselves to resolution at the level of government-to-government intervention. To complement those efforts, ICRD brings its unique capabilities to bear where it can have a measurable impact consistent with the Mission:
What we do – Prevent or resolve “identity-based conflict,” when:
- Struggles of individual or group identity are a primary factor in the conflict;
- Religious identity is a driver of conflict;
- Religious identity could act as a potential mitigator of conflict.
Where we work – Communal conflicts that “exceed the reach of traditional diplomacy,” in which:
- US foreign policy has a strategic interest;
- US diplomacy has abandoned or has not yet engaged the area of conflict;
- Official diplomats cannot reach important conflict actors;
- Religious actors are actively involved in conflict, or are ineffectively engaged in peace processes;
- ICRD has relationships that facilitate access to key conflict actors and ensure local buy-in.
How we have impact – “Incorporating religion as part of the solution,” by:
- Bridging the political and religious spheres in support of peacemaking;
- Deploying inter-religious action teams to areas where conflict threatens or has already erupted;
- Training clergy and laity in the skills of peacemaking, and;
- Supporting interpretations of religious teachings that reduce misunderstanding and conflict.
The Center’s basic approach typically involves research, planning, execution, and follow-up in the following order:
1. Using global religious/spiritual networks, select situations where help is needed and it appears that ICRD’s capabilities can be applied to positive effect.
2. Examine the situation on-scene to determine the full nature of the problem and the key factors involved, including any contributions of history.
- Identify key personalities affecting the situation.
- Through targeted networking, determine who has an established relationship with one or more of the personalities and how they might be approached to provide the necessary linkage.
3. Estimate the range of skills needed to address the problem(s).
- Assess local religious and secular capabilities.
- Determine outside skills that will be needed to buttress indigenous talent.
- Select candidate organizations or individuals from partnering organizations that might be called upon to fill “outside” needs.
1. Based on the above, select that situation where the Center’s approach and resources are likely to make the greatest contribution.
2. Develop a comprehensive strategy to address the problem(s) in the chosen situation.
1. Using the identified points of contact, arrange for two members of the Center’s exploratory team to meet with key local religious personalities to determine their attitudes toward the problem(s) in question and their perceived willingness to help if adequate assistance is provided.
2. To the degree that the above results show promise, determine the art-of-the-possible with respect to potential local support (both governmental and non-governmental) for religious peacemaking initiatives by similarly meeting with key non-religious players.
- As proves necessary and possible, enlist support/pressure at the national level to influence local attitudes in a helpful direction.
3. Once local religious and secular attitudes appear open to moving forward, determine the makeup of an appropriate inter-religious action team that possesses the necessary skills to address the problem(s) at hand and that reflects the same religious composition as those with whom it will be working on the ground.
4. In concert with appropriate partnering institutions, recruit, brief and deploy the team, involving Center personnel as team leaders/members wherever necessary.
- Initiate dialogue with on-scene religious leaders and get their support to commence a peacemaking initiative.
- Select appropriate indigenous institution(s) with which to partner.
- Enlist support of government and private sector players.
- Execute the strategy.
1. Monitor the process, providing moral and intellectual support for the team throughout.
2. Once a just solution to the problem(s) has been achieved, continue communication with the principals, with an eye toward using them as a resource for future problem situations elsewhere.