FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATION FORUM
on Multi-religious Cooperation for Humanitarian Relief,
Development and Peace
ABOUT THE FORUM
When disaster strikes—a tsunami, a hurricane, a civil war—faith-based humanitarian and relief agencies are on the ground, often within hours. They bring water, food, shelter, and medical care. And, very often, they provide the spiritual guidance and counseling that is needed to help survivors cope with the unimaginable. In many cases, they are operating effective, long-term development programs.
Collectively, these faith-based organizations provide an invaluable service. Coordination mechanisms exist to link the humanitarian and development programs of some of the faith communities. Often they have an ecumenical orientation, e.g. ACT International (Protestant) and Caritas Internationalis (Catholic). Might there be a way for faith-based organizations to cooperate across multiple religions to add to the quality of humanitarian and development responses following protocols that are acceptable to all faith communities?
With the goal of exploring this question, Religions for Peace has convened representatives from faith-based organizations working in the fields of humanitarian relief, development and peace (May 2006, Washington D.C.; August 2006, Kyoto; November 2007, London) to explore the viability of and interest in an ongoing forum for exploration and dialogue. Participants in these consultations confirmed the value of an informal forum for dialogue and exploration, and recommended that Religions for Peace convene an annual meeting of the FBO Forum on Multi-religious Cooperation.
The “Faith-based Organizations Forum on Multi-religious Cooperation for Humanitarian Relief, Development and Peace,” known as the FBO Forum, is a loosely structured (informal) network of organizations engaged in an ongoing dialogue dedicated to:
1. Building trust by encouraging multi-religious cooperation and providing a forum in which relationships can be strengthened
2. Creating a learning forum to share best practices of FBO collaborations to help ensure continuous improvement in the benefit delivery of humanitarian aid, community development and peace building. Case studies could be geographically or thematically focused
3. Facilitating joint advocacy at the local, national, regional or global level to change public opinion and influence government policies; and on a regional and global basis to influence international and United Nations initiatives; conduct joint research to develop advocacy positions
4. Promoting joint research that advances multi-religious cooperation including the development of principles, codes of conduct and case studies
INVITATION TO THE 2009 FBO FORUM
Religions for Peace and Islamic Relief-Canada invite faith-based humanitarian, development and peace agencies from around the globe to gather in Toronto for the third annual FBO Forum. The dialogue will consider the advantages and challenges of collaboration in multi-religious settings.
Dates: 26-27 October (with arrival 25 October)
Local Host: Islamic Relief-Canada
Hotel/Venue: Contact information will follow shortly
RSVP: Ms. Sheharbano Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org
OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSED AGENDA
A. How do FBOs define themselves and with what consequences? We have brought a number of “FBO”s around the table for discussions without specifically raising the issue of how this term – faith-based organization – is understood by different organizations. What might be some consequences of how we define ourselves as FBOs, e.g. how we relate to our respective faith communities in situations of humanitarian assistance, and how it influences the way we may work in a multi-religious cooperation approach. We have requested a representative from International NGO Training and Research Centre, better known as INTRAC, to facilitate this discussion, based on their “Praxis Paper 22: What is Distinctive About FBOs?” (www.intrac.org)
B. Working “in and on” Conflict: This session will further explore an agenda item covered at the 2008 Forum. Many of our organizations are working in conflict zones on projects that range from humanitarian interventions (working in conflict) to peace building and mediation interventions (working on conflict). The participants in Frankfurt recommended that an action research project be initiated to explore multi-religious efforts. In the Horn of Africa, a team of Christian, Muslim and multi-religious leaders have been working on conflict by supporting a peace process in the sub-region, and participating in an action research project. A report of the preliminary findings will be presented. This theme will be further explored through the lens of “The Listening Project,” a collaborative learning effort being conducted by Collaborative for Development Action, Inc (www.cdainc.com) to explore the ideas and insights of people who live in societies that have been the recipients of international assistance. The findings are relevant for FBOs and non-FBOs alike. We have requested a representative from CDA to facilitate this discussion. The session will look for principles, approaches and actions to international aid that may effectively be addressed through multi-religious cooperation.
C. Building and activating local multi-religious platforms: In previous sessions, the Forum has explored the principles of partnerships. This year we intend to explore specific examples of multi-religious partnerships engaged in humanitarian and development efforts. Inter-religious councils (IRCs) operating in two countries will serve as case studies. We will look at their structures and practices and draw some “lessons learned.” Further, we hope the Forum might identify geographical areas in which concrete actions for engaging existing multi-religious mechanisms might be taken or new structures created where they do not currently exist.
D. Multi-religious Advocacy: Advocacy related to humanitarian concerns may be relevant on local, national, regional and global levels. Participants in the 2008 Forum in Frankfurt pointed to the need to know more about relevant advocacy initiatives being undertaken by faith-based organizations. Religions for Peace has launched an initiative to systematically map the advocacy programs of FBOs. Based on the data gathered, the Forum will consider advocacy themes that lend themselves to soft coordination and ways that the FBO Forum might be an informal facilitating mechanism. Further, some attendees in Frankfurt expressed particular interest in FBO advocacy efforts aimed at the UN. Therefore, we propose to discuss advocacy themes that may be pursued with the United Nations Headquarters. Keeping in mind that many FBOs have their own UN representatives, we may explore how Religions for Peace may be helpful in facilitating and adding value to multi-faith advocacy actions. An annotated agenda and concept paper is being developed.
Organizations that have attended previous meetings include:
African Council of Religious Leaders (Religions for Peace Africa)
Al-Hakim Foundation (UK)
CAFOD Caritas Internationalis
Christian Aid Church of Sweden
Church World Service
Finnish Church Aid
Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
Humanity First Germany
International Orthodox Christian Charities
Islamic Relief International
Lutheran World Federation/World Service Muslim Aid
Norwegian Church Aid
Religions for Peace Germany
Religions for Peace Europe
Religions for Peace UK
Pax Christi International
United Methodist Committee on Relief
World Humanitarian Forum
World Vision International
PREVIOUS FORUM REPORTS
Please download below.
|Report of 2009 FBO Forum on Multi-religious Cooperation, Toronto.pdf||857 KB|
|Report of 2008 FBO Forum on Multi-religious Cooperation, Frankfurt.pdf||565.81 KB|
|Report of 2007 FBO Forum on Multi-religious Cooperation, London.pdf||283.52 KB|
2009 FBO FORUM VIDEO