7th International Conference on Youth & Interfaith

by New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation
Vetted

INTRODUCTION

The global community currently faces multiple threats of terrorist acts by terrorist groups. These pose great threats to international peace and security and, in some instances, state continuity. Extremist individuals and groups that reject democracy and constitutional order are not limited to any one set of beliefs, and several show the appetite to use violence to attain their goals. Furthermore, they offer a pool of potential recruits and partners for regional and global terrorist organizations. Our World today is in deep crisis. Signs of unpredictable dangers are everywhere. Diseases and epidemics continue to devastate and annihilate hundreds of thousands. Countries are exporting their problems and challenges abroad. The global economy is also not in good shape.

Generally, there is no country or continent in the world that is not affected by the menace of terrorism and security challenges. While in principle, most religions of the world today preach and teach peaceful co-existence in one way or the other, in practice, religious people are found behind many of the hostilities, uprisings, attacks, and assaults in our societies. Security problem is such a global issue that there is virtually no country or continent that is left un-affected by the menace of terrorism and security challenges in general. While in principle, most religions in the world today preach and teach peaceful co-existence in one way or the other, in practice, religious people are found behind many of the hostilities, uprisings, attacks, and assaults in our societies. The question therefore is: if God truly is the Author of peace and the message of peace is claimed to be at the centre of every religion, why then are we constantly experiencing insecurity in our world in spite of daily proliferation of religious sects and activities? Can we say religion has done our world more good than harm in security matters or the vice-versa? What has been the role(s) of religion as a divine institution in ensuring security of lives and property in our societies? How can religion mediate in restoring peace and stability to our world? Countering these challenges and the threat they pose to populations around the world call for the use of a wide range of approaches to promote tolerance and reconciliation, respect for cultural diversity and freedom of belief, thought and expression. Among these approaches, dialogue – including among religious leaders – is a critical tool for fostering peaceful, inclusive societies that reinforce shared human values and a sense of common humanity.

 

THE CONFERENCE

New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation and United Religions Initiative (URI AFRICA) in partnership with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (AU-ECOSOCC), Youth Groups of Global Network for Rights and Development (YGGRND), Bege Foundation and other partners, convened the 7th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, from November 20-21, 2015 at the Havista Hotels, Asokoro, Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme: “The Role of Religions to promote Peace, Security, Sustainable Development and Transcend Violent Extremism in Africa”, to support the efforts of government and to seek the contributions of stakeholders and practitioners of religions from across the globe towards addressing this global challenge. The Conference overall goal was to provide an opportunity for State and non-state actors, including religious and faith leaders, along with other stakeholders to share experiences and to address key issues and challenges relating to the promotion of tolerance and reconciliation with the aim of fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and countering violent extremism.  Additionally, the conference sought to make a critical appraisal of the roles of religion in security issues and suggest practical ways religions can help in resolving security problems especially in Africa, as well create and promote an inclusive, compassionate community dialogue process that honours different personal experiences, perspectives, and narratives, while allowing for better expressing and listening to each other as we work together toward understanding and harmony. The Eighty Five (85) Conference Participants included State Actors, NGO representatives, Political leaders, Religious/Spiritual leaders, Students, Cultural/Ethnic and Spiritual Community representatives, Academics, Social Science researchers, Visionaries and front-line thinkers in social-political principles, psycho-social-spiritual dynamics, and human consciousness and members of the interested public from Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and the USA.

 

OPENING SESSION

Very distinguished and Eminent Personalities made keynote statements and good will messages during the opening Session. Such eminent personalities included H.E.Amb. Dr. Mussie Hailu, Adviser of ECOSOCC of the African Union on Interfaith, Interreligious and Intercultural Issues,URI Africa Continental Director & Special Representative at the AU, UNECA, UNEP & IGAD, Mr. Koffi Kouame, Deputy Representative,United Nations Population Fund,Abuja, Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, Former Minister of Education, Nigeria, Hon. Elisha Buba Yero, a retired Permanent Secretary and Special Adviser on Religious Affairs to the Kaduna State Government and now Global Council Trustee, United Religions Initiative (URI), who chaired the Opening Session, etc. The Opening statements and goodwill messages all focused on the great significance of the conference, especially in seeking to deepen understanding of violent extremism in Africa, interrogating the various forms and drivers of violent extremisms, and how these dovetail into regional and global terrorist campaigns.

 

CONFERENCE PAPERS AND PRESENTERS

Papers were presented by Experts, Religious Leaders and Representatives of various International and National Organizations. A moderator facilitated the discussions that followed the Paper presentations.  Among those who made paper presentations included:

  1. Pastor Dr. James M. Wuye & Imam Dr. Mohammed N. Ashaffa, Co-Directors, Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC), Kaduna, Nigeria- “The Role of Faith Leaders and FBOs in Peacebuilding  and Countering Violent Extremism”
  2. Dasam S. Ibrahim and Charles Akale, Center for Strategic Research and Studies, National Defence College Abuja – Nigeria-  “Countering Violent Extremism And The Rise of Female Suicide Bombing in Nigeria: The Way Forward”
  3. Dr. Harriet Lewis Hope, Senior Director at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Founder/PrincipalKonesens Development,Chicago, USA-“Attitudes from African-American Christians and Muslims Regarding Interfaith Dialogue and Action in the United States and Africa”
  4. His Grace Salika Dasa Adhikari, Executive Secretary, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), & Temple President, ISKCON, Jos, Nigeria-“Religion, Knowledge and the World’s Problems: From Despair to Hope”
  5. Mr. Godwin Okoko, Country Director, APURIMAC Onlus-Nigeria-The Role of Young People in Peacebuilding- Lessons from the Field”
  6. Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, Secretary General,Universal Peace Federation, Nigeria-Religion and Peacebuilding in Nigeria: From Theory to Practice”

 

CONFERENCE FORMAT AND PARTICIPATION

The Official Language of the Conference was English, with no simultaneous interpretation into other international languages. The Conference lasted 2 days and consisted of an opening, discussion and closing sessions. It was highly interactive.

The first day of the conference was dedicated solely to discussing and analyzing practical, implementable strategies to foster peaceful, inclusive societies and to counter the threat of radicalization and violent extremism, especially in Africa, while the second and final day of the conference focused on Interfaith Dialogue, from theory to practice featuring interactive panel discussions with religious, political and traditional leaders on community engagement practices aimed at countering violent extremism, including the role of religion and religious leaders in promoting tolerance for diversity, freedom of expression and human rights. The discussions were organized around the three main themes of:

  • Information sharing: prevention of violent extremism in Africa
  • Joint activities: The Role of State and Non-State Actors
  • Recommendations and Follow up strategies

 

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The 7th International conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, held from November 20-21, 2015 at the Havista Hotels, Asokoro, Abuja, Nigeria, attracted 85 participants, from 5 countries. Participants shared their experiences; lessons learned and best practices. The Participants also identified common priorities and challenges as well as the ways and means to overcome violent extremism and build peace and security in Africa.  The Conference was highly interactive. The short, informal presentations, mostly by panel practitioners triggered discussions and engaged participants to regularly look at relevant benchmarks, indicators and examples of best practice drawn from the various mechanisms. The conference made a critical appraisal of the roles of religion in security issues and also suggested practical ways religions can help in resolving security problems especially in Africa. The Eighty Five (85) Conference Participants provided practical recommendations to decision-makers, institutions and individuals for dignifying everyone and our shared values. Among the recommendations, Conference Participants emphasizedthe need to engage all of society; the need for special effort and interventions targeting young people; building truly accountable institutions and respect for rule of law and human rights, etc. Other specific recommendations include:

  1. Good governance should be promoted to improve the living condition of individuals and families in order not to make them susceptible to, and open for recruitment by groups such as Boko Haram, etc.
  2. The government needs to appreciate the role of women in the society as they are powerful agents of peace processes and conflict resolution. In addition, there is the need to intensify focus on educational and professional enhancement for young girls and women as it is necessary for cultivating an environment where violent radicalization is curtailed.
  3. Furthermore, the pathway to building trust between the military Joint Task Force (JTF) and local communities must be predicated on the guarantee of the rights of individual women and women’s groups, this could be done by promoting participation of women in security for a programme such as countering violent extremism (CVE).
  4. Governments should aim to increase the civic engagement among marginalized communities and to build the capacity of community-based organizations.
  5. Law enforcement organizations should focus prevention and intervention activities on behaviors and not on racial, religious, or ethnic identity.
  6. Law enforcement organizations should prioritize building and strengthening mutual trust between themselves and the communities they serve.
  7. Creating analternative worldview for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Interfaith dialogue and action are beneficial in countering violent extremism; not only for the purpose of reducing potentially violent actors from committing atrocities through an understanding of our shared humanity, but also from members of communities not viewed as threats.  It is important for non-Muslims to dialogue with Muslims in order to better appreciate and celebrate our shared humanity. Celebrating a shared humanity will create allies who will support more inclusive programs and policies, and who will become outspoken in reducing any anti-Muslim sentiment that may lead to violence perpetrated by Muslim or non-Muslim extremists.

Links:

Dear Friends,

Greetings of peace and blessings to you. As we finalie preparations for the 7th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, from November 20-21, 2015, in Abuja, Nigeria, we are very pleased to report that more distinguished International Speakers have signed up to present papers at the conference. Below is the list of Conference Speakers and Facilitators

H.E. Ambassador Mussie Hailu, PhD

H.E. Ambassador Mussie Hailu, PhD, is a peace activist working at national, regional and international levels for peace, reconciliation, interfaith harmony, disarmament, the Golden Rule, world citizenship, right human relationships, and international cooperation. He identifies himself as a Citizen of the World, strongly believes in the interdependence of human beings, and celebrates cultural diversity. He sees the differences in race, ethnicities, religions, politics, and nationalities as important elements of the one and indivisible humanity. Mussie, building on Scarboro Mission’s Golden Rule poster, is circulating tens of thousands of an African version of the poster. He has served African and global organizations, including United Nations agencies, and he is a founding member of United Religions Initiative. Currently he serves as regional director of URI for Africa and representative of URI at the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Union (AU). He is also Ambassador-at Large to the Republic of Burundi.

Harriet Lewis, PhD

Harriet Lewis, PhD, is Senior Director at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a Muslim-led organization located in Chicago, Illinois, United States, that provides health, wellness, and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.  In addition to her work with IMAN and Konesens Development, Dr. Lewis serves in a volunteer capacity as Interfaith Director for the Africa Ministry at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois, United States, where she is a member.A former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea-Bissau, she has presented and consulted in various countries throughout Africa and the Americas. Dr. Harriet Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a doctorate in Human Services (Social Policy Analysis and Planning) from Walden University. Her dissertation topic was “International NGO Capacity-Building Programs in Benin and Burundi”. Her current research interests include: human rights, gender equity, and interfaith social action.

Karen Leslie Hernandez

Karen Leslie Hernandez is a Theologian with a focus in Christian-Muslim Understanding, as well as religious fundamentalism and extremism. She has a Master of Sacred Theology in Philosophy, Theology and Ethics with a focus in Religion and Conflict Transformation from Boston University School of Theology, '11; a Master of Theological Research in Christian-Muslim Understanding from Andover Newton Theological School, '07; and a BA in Peace and Justice Studies with a concentration in Islam from Wellesley College, '05. Karen was raised Catholic and is now the only theologian that is a Latina and a United Methodist, doing this type of multi-faith work in the United States. She has also published with several media outlets, including The Interfaith Observer, Feminism and Religion, the Women's United Nations Report Network, State of Formation, The American Muslim, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, and she is the only Christian, worldwide, to publish a regular Op-Ed Column with OnIslam in Cairo, Egypt. Karen currently lives in San Francisco, is an Ambassador with the Council on the Parliament of the World Religions, and she is exploring working with the homeless and domestic violence victims in 2015. 

Mr. Liam Chinn

Mr. Liam Chinn is URI's Co-Director of Global Programs, Evaluation & Learning. He joined the URI team as Director of Evaluation and Learning in March 2013. For the past decade he has worked with international and local NGOs on governance and peacebuilding programs in multiple countries across Asia, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Timor-Leste where he directed a USAID funded conflict mitigation program. He brings extensive expertise in program development and evaluation, and will guide URI as it begins to build regional impact evaluation strategies. He has a long held passion for promoting greater engagement of civil society in the development process, authoring several surveys on community level conflict and the role of local leaders - including religious leaders - in bridge building. Liam holds a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and is an avid cook, trained in both Thai and Cantonese cuisines. He lives in San Francisco, CA, USA.

His Grace Salika Dasa Adhikari

His Grace Salika Dasa Adhikari is currently the Temple President of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) on the Plateau and Executive National Secretary of the Movement in Nigeria. He was born Shamusideen Atanda Lasisi in mid-1962 to a devoted Muslim father and a Christian Mother, being very deeply interested and inquisitive about God and religion from tender age, he was dedicated to Islamic studies and at age seven he got a scholarship to study Arabic in Saudi Arabia but had to study locally because of age and other considerations. At college he became a Muslim Student leader and served as Secretary General Muslim Student Society (MSS). 

A specialist in Comparative Religions and Interfaith Dialogue, Salika Dasa travels alot and has become a spiritual consultant to many high-ranking members of the Public, to various celebrities and to several chiefs, and high court justices. He has met and worked with few past Indian Ambassadors to Nigeria among others. He has organized and participated in several interfaith programs, Published Books, Journals and Magazines, featured on several television programs as a panellist on various topics ranging from religion, peace development, conflict resolution and presented papers atlocal and internationalseminars on varied topics on religion, World Peace Development, Environmental Degradation etc.

Mr. Biswadeb Chakraborty

Biswadeb Chakraborty is the United Religions Initiative’s Regional Coordinator for East India. With graduate degrees in percussion (Indian drum) and human resource project management, his interfaith activism and musical career as performer and producer weave together beautifully. For six years Biswabed worked at Transformative Collaborations International, a California-based organizational development venture. In India and abroad he has worked with young human rights and interfaith activists, using his music to attract large numbers to the cause. From a deeply spiritual family that encouraged his early musical abilities, Biswabed is a networker bringing together artists, human rights activists, and interfaith organizations. His musical group Ektaan promotes a grassroots-supported, discrimination-free India on television and radio, in concerts, and on CDs. 

 

Claudia Espinel

Claudia Espinel has dedicated herself to communications in the social field. Born in Colombia, she has worked for both national and international NGOs, using communications to promote social change. Currently, Claudia is working as Director of International Formation at a theological school in Chicago, USA, where she is leading the Global Fellowship for Multifaith and Multicultural Understanding among other programs focused on training religious leaders to drive spiritually grounded social change. Prior to moving to the United States, Claudia was Chief of Communication for the Bolívar Davivienda Foundation, Colombia's largest corporate foundation. There, she led the communication strategy for the organization's seven main projects.  While living in New York, she worked with a variety of international institutions including Religions for Peace and the United Nations. In May 2015, Claudia received her Master's degree in Communication from New York University where she concentrated her academic work in communication for peacebuilding initiatives. Claudia holds a BA in Psychology from Universidad de los Andes, in Colombia, and a Specialization in Corporate Communication from Universidad

Enole Adapoyi

Enole Adapoyi has a Master’s of Science in homeland security management with a focus on women and children’s disparity in displaced condition. She has over three years experience in conflict resolution, beginning from when she first witnessed the gruesome maiming and killing of albino children in some parts of Africa. It was disheartening to say the least not just as a parent but one with an intelligently focused albino child who is a blessing. She therefore reached out to friends in the peace building world like Len and Libby seeking collaboration on how to help out. During these collaboration found a lack of awareness about the situation and so ARISE was born ARISE (Albino Relief for Inclusion and Safety Endeavor) is an initiative of an albino parent attracting the attention of other parents and friends of albino children worldwide to raise awareness and shining the light on the plight of ostracized brethren suffering stigmatization and mutilation .With a mission of creating awareness and advocating for worldwide education of the phenomena, ARISE seeks the wellbeing and education of children refugees in and provision for others seeking refuge. Other tracks than government is sought to improve these lives with inclusion in mind. ARISE seeks a thorough understanding of the genetical condition with its education to the populace to foster relationship eroding the myth associated with it. This is targeted at proletarian communities integrating its acceptance through education.

As we intensify preparations for the hosting of the 7th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, from November 20-21, 2015, in Abuja, Nigeria, the list of distinguished Speakers for this year’s conference continues to increase. As at July 2, 2015, below is our list of conference speakers, even as we continue to receive more speakers and update the list.

 

 H.E. Ambassador Mussie Hailu, PhD, is a peace activist working at national, regional and international levels for peace, reconciliation, interfaith harmony, disarmament, the Golden Rule, world citizenship, right human relationships, and international cooperation. He identifies himself as a Citizen of the World, strongly believes in the interdependence of human beings, and celebrates cultural diversity. He sees the differences in race, ethnicities, religions, politics, and nationalities as important elements of the one and indivisible humanity. Mussie, building on Scarboro Mission’s Golden Rule poster, is circulating tens of thousands of an African version of the poster. He has served African and global organizations, including United Nations agencies, and he is a founding member of United Religions Initiative. Currently he serves as regional director of URI for Africa and representative of URI at the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Union (AU). He is also Ambassador-at Large to the Republic of Burundi.

 

 Hon. Elisha Buba Yero is an elder statesman, an experienced peace builder and community developer. He serves as the Wakilin Kpope (ambassador to the Chief and traditional ruler of his community) in the Kaduna State of Nigeria. He works as Board Director with the Interfaith Meditation Center of the Christian/Muslim Dialogue Forum, and previously served as Special Advisor on Religious Affairs to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State. He also served as Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State Ministry of Religious Affairs, and has initiated and directed several interfaith peacebuilding initiatives. Among several other institutions, Hon. Elisha attended the American University of Washington DC’s Peace Institute. In the last 20 years, he has committed himself to promoting, daily and enduring interfaith cooperation and Peacebuilding and to reconciling historical enemies, especially in Nigeria. Hon Elisha Buba Yero is currently a Global Council Trustee of the United Religions Initiative (URI).

 

 Karen Leslie Hernandez is a Theologian with a focus in Christian-Muslim Understanding, as well as religious fundamentalism and extremism. She has a Master of Sacred Theology in Philosophy, Theology and Ethics with a focus in Religion and Conflict Transformation from Boston University School of Theology, '11; a Master of Theological Research in Christian-Muslim Understanding from Andover Newton Theological School, '07; and a BA in Peace and Justice Studies with a concentration in Islam from Wellesley College, '05. Karen was raised Catholic and is now the only theologian that is a Latina and a United Methodist, doing this type of multi-faith work in the United States. She has also published with several media outlets, including The Interfaith Observer, Feminism and Religion, the Women's United Nations Report Network, State of Formation, The American Muslim, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, and she is the only Christian, worldwide, to publish a regular Op-Ed Column with OnIslam in Cairo, Egypt. Karen currently lives in San Francisco, is an Ambassador with the Council on the Parliament of the World Religions, and she is exploring working with the homeless and domestic violence victims in 2015. 

 

 Mr. Liam Chinn is URI's Co-Director of Global Programs, Evaluation & Learning. He joined the URI team as Director of Evaluation and Learning in March 2013. For the past decade he has worked with international and local NGOs on governance and peacebuilding programs in multiple countries across Asia, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Timor-Leste where he directed a USAID funded conflict mitigation program. He brings extensive expertise in program development and evaluation, and will guide URI as it begins to build regional impact evaluation strategies. He has a long held passion for promoting greater engagement of civil society in the development process, authoring several surveys on community level conflict and the role of local leaders - including religious leaders - in bridge building. Liam holds a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and is an avid cook, trained in both Thai and Cantonese cuisines. He lives in San Francisco, CA, USA.

 

 Biswadeb Chakraborty is the United Religions Initiative’s Regional Coordinator for East India. With graduate degrees in percussion (Indian drum) and human resource project management, his interfaith activism and musical career as performer and producer weave together beautifully. For six years Biswabed worked at Transformative Collaborations International, a California-based organizational development venture. In India and abroad he has worked with young human rights and interfaith activists, using his music to attract large numbers to the cause. From a deeply spiritual family that encouraged his early musical abilities, Biswabed is a networker bringing together artists, human rights activists, and interfaith organizations. His musical group Ektaan promotes a grassroots-supported, discrimination-free India on television and radio, in concerts, and on CDs. 

Links:

New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation, a Nigeria-based Cooperation Circle of United Religions Initiative is pleased to announce the hosting of the 7th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue, from October 23-24, 2015, in Abuja, Nigeria. The theme of this year's conference is: "The Role of Religions to Build Peace & Security and Transcend Violent Extremism in Africa"

The conference will engage participants in a dynamic experience of faith development as well as challenge them to positively respond to the universal call to holiness. Our world today more than ever before is faced with the challenge of overcoming the "faith divide" and the global citizenship divide in order to build the bridge of all bridges, the interreligious and international bridge that connects all humanity to God. The conference will create and promote interfaith collaboration and build bridges of trust, friendship and partnership among religiously diverse youth and provide a platform for local, national, regional and international collaboration. Conference participants will include Community leaders and activists, NGO  representatives, Political leaders, Religious/Spiritual leaders, Peace activists, Government representatives, Students, Cultural/Ethnic and Spiritual Community representatives, Human Service providers, Academics, Social Science researchers, Key participants from current or recent regions of turmoil in Nigeria, Visionaries and front-line thinkers in social-political principles, psycho-social-spiritual dynamics, and human consciousness and members of the interested public from Nigeria and around the world.

Conference objectives include to:

  • Raise the level, depth, and breadth of public dialogue and awareness on core issues. The conference examines dimensions and dynamics of "The OTHER" on individual and group levels, and considers how enemy identity is formed, perpetuated, and manipulated.
  • Identify and compile fundamental questions, dilemmas, and implications for further deep inquiry and examination in an expanding public dialogue, and to challenge embedded negative belief systems that promote adversarial perceptions of the "The Other."
  • Formulate findings and products to make available to all - through publications, media, the Internet, educational curriculum, networks, community based dialogue groups, etc.
  • Create Networking Opportunities to promote collaboration, action planning, and next steps following the conference.
  • Tap our shared wisdom, compassion, and responsibility as a community - from the local to the global - in developing practical applications. Participants are encouraged to develop and share practical recommendations and strategies for applying results to the current state of local and world relationships to promote increased understanding, sensitivity, and compassion as a means of countering and neutralizing hostility, particularly inter-group hostility.

 

Through this Conference, we will continue and sustain our modest efforts to promote an inclusive, compassionate community dialogue process that honours different personal experiences, perspectives, and narratives, while allowing for better expressing and listening to each other as we work together toward understanding and harmony.

conference

On Saturday, November 29, 2014, New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation and Universal Peace Federation-Nigeria, in partnership with United Religions Initiative-URI AFRICA and the Bege Foundation,Jos, successfully hosted the 6th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue and the Religious Youth Assembly, at the National Merit House, Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.

The Conference was attended by 120 religious youth leaders and adult mentors from  Islam, Pentecostals, Eckankar, Rosicrucian Order, Catholics, Brotherhood of Cross and Star, the Unification Movement, Deeper Life and other faith based and interfaith civil society organizations, political and community leaders, etc.

The Theme of the 6th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue was: “The Role of Religions to Build Peace, Security and Counter Violent Extremism in Africa”. The conference engaged the participants in a dynamic experience of faith development, challenged them to positively respond to the universal call to holiness as well as created and promoted interfaith collaboration, built bridges of trust, friendship and partnership among religiously diverse youth and provided a platform for local, national, regional and international collaboration. The 6th Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue and the Religious Youth Assembly (RYA) ended with the resolution by religious youth leaders making a determination and commitment to work together beyond their religious denominations for the sake of national peace and unification.

After thorough deliberations on the presentations at the 6th International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue and the Religious Youth Assembly in Abuja, participants offered the following proposals:

  • There is an urgent need for the establishment of a Federal Ministry for Interreligious Affairs and the creation of National Assembly committee on interreligious affairs to respondto religious issues
  • The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to be commended for the establishment of the national mosque and national church in Abuja. However, there is the need to provide a platform for the recognition of the voices and activities of other religious groups in Nigeria and a national interreligious center should be established in Abuja and in each state of the nation as the worship place for all religious groups.
  • The Ministry of Education needs to work with other stakeholders to develop a national curriculum on interreligious education for families, schools and worship centers
  • To complement the efforts toward promoting national unity and integration through the National Youth Service Corps scheme, the UPF initiative of Religious Youth Service needs to be promoted and adopted by the religious institutions in Nigeria as a platform for religious youths to serve their communities and the nation and the government should consider integrating the Religious Youth Service scheme into the National Youth Service Corps scheme so that other youths in the country can have an opportunity for community service.
  • There is an urgent need for the establishment of national interreligious youth council as the lower chamber for religious youth leaders engagement to complement the present efforts of the National Interreligious Council (NIREC) which has no youth representative at the moment
  • A formal request should be made to the federal government of Nigeria to look into the issues of promoting interreligious pilgrimages and sponsorship of religious youth leaders to participate in the Interfaith peacebuilding courses to be trained as young interreligious leaders
  • All religious groups in Nigeria should be mobilized to participate in the 2015 world interfaith harmony week in the first week of February 2015. Participants also expressed concern about the increasing wave of religious extremism and called on all religious youths in Nigeria to embrace dialogue as a strategy for resolution of conflicts instead of embarking on violent killing of fellow citizens.

At the Conference, three (3) individuals were recognized and honored with the PEACE HEROES AWARDS, for their outstanding efforts, work and commitment to peacebuilding, social justice and positive change in Nigeria. The Individuals were:

  1. Alh. Salis Abdulsalam Muhammad, Founder/CEO of Displaced Women and Children Foundation/Face of Peace
  1. Ema Miroslava Billings, Mediation Training Coordinator, Search for Common Grounds-Nigeria
  2. Hon. Idris Halilu, Caretaker Chairman, Tafawa Balewa Local Government Council, Bauchi State, Nigeria

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Organization Information

New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation

Location: Jos, Plateau State - Nigeria
Website: http:/​/​www.needcsi.org
Project Leader:
Dr. Ivorgba Emmanuel Ande
Jos, Plateau State Nigeria
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