Women of Faith Negotiators at the Front Lines of Violent Conflict

Since 2018, ICRD and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) have partnered to research and support the role religious women engaged in negotiating/mediating local settlements and/or protecting the fragile peace achieved through formal peace processes. ICRD, USIP and country-based researchers are engaged in research focused on highlighting the role of women of faith negotiators/mediators in Kenya, Nigeria, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Northern Ireland, and Colombia. The research and case study findings will be used to address gaps in curriculum and training by informing the development of a specialized training program to support women of faith peacemakers and organizations engaged in supporting them. This curriculum will be developed by examining the factors that determine when women’s engagement with conflict and/or extremist actors are effective, taking into account both those women who operate within religious frames and those who do not. ICRD and USIP will develop and pilot capacity-building trainings in negotiation and mediation with peer-to-peer mentorship to amplify the successes of women who contribute to peace in their communities and countries.

Religious Actors and Official Peace Processes

In 2017, ICRD conducted a preliminary desk study on the role and impact of religious and traditional actors on official (Track 1) peace processes in Colombia, Libya, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. Based on initial study findings, ICRD, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Inclusive Peace (IP), and the United Nations Mediation Support Unit (UN MSU) formed a partnership in 2018 to advance research on case studies and develop practical resources such as policy briefs, guidance notes, capacity building modules, and mentoring resources. This partnership also included the creation of an Advisory Group and a Consortium of religious actors and experts to design and implement a support mechanism. Three on-going peace processes will be supported through this program in 2020-2022, possibly including: South Sudan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. As a direct impact of this program, policymakers and practitioners have recognized the value of drawing on the contributions of religious actors in official negotiations to reach political settlements to conflict. This is particularly the case for conflicts in which religious dynamics have shaped and driven the course of the conflict, and contributed to its imperviousness to resolution. In such conflicts, religious actors and communities have interests at stake in political negotiations related to the peace process and, if excluded, may act as spoilers, subsequently disrupting official negotiations. The program has been funded by the USIP and the GHR foundation.