Religions are strong social and political forces within their societies and there are impressive examples of religiously inspired peacemaking. The Federal Foreign Office would like to make use of this potential and established the Task Force on the Responsibility of the Religions for Peace in autumn 2016.
Religions have an impact on the lives of individuals and societies and reach many people with their message. In the last few years, however, they have frequently been represented as the cause of terror, violence and repression. Yet religions aspire to be peaceable, and there are impressive examples of religiously inspired peacemaking. Many of Germany’s foreign policy objectives are the same as those of faith-based players: Building trust, finding compromises, protecting the weak, creating stability and promoting peace. Since autumn 2016, the Federal Foreign Office has therefore stepped up its efforts to make religious communities strategic partners in the work to promote peace.
This initiative is really important because religions are a resource. If you do not capitalise it you are not functioning well as a political and diplomatic entity. So it is an obvious necessity. In addition to that, political and diplomatic authorities can empower religious communities by giving them a greater visibility. So this on both scores is a really blessed initiative.
- Rabbi David Rosen
Conference in Berlin in 2017: 100 religious representatives from 53 countries
The Task Force on the Responsibility of the Religions for Peace kicked off its public diplomacy with a major conference in May 2017. At the invitation of Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who made the opening speech, 100 religious representatives from 53 countries came together. In addition to these guests, some 400 German participants from churches, religious communities and academia took part in the opening event. Subsequently, religion and the media, peace education, mediation, interfaith councils, as well as religion and politics, were examined in workshops.
The conference in Berlin marked the start of efforts to develop a global network of religious representatives working for peace in their countries and communities. Regional, as well as country and theme-specific formats are to be developed to interconnect and strengthen the peace efforts of local players. Our concrete goals are to:
- anchor the responsibility of religions for peace in German foreign policy
- build sustainable and trust-based relations with religious representatives around the world
- heighten awareness of the peacemaking potential of religions
- showcase positive examples of practical work for peace by religious communities
German foreign policy not only wants to consolidate relations between governments but also to develop ties between societies. Especially in the sphere of cultural relations and education policy, the Federal Foreign Office has many partners and mediators who are forging these contacts at various levels. The mandate of the Task Force on the Responsibility of the Religions for Peace is to intensify cooperation with religious communities around the world.
Feel free to contact us if you have any ideas for our work.