BY MUSA SIMON REEF
In recognition of its role in the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Africa, The United Religions Initiative (URI) recently awarded the 2018 Africa Peace Award to the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID). The URI is an interfaith peace organisation that shares consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is engaged in the promotion of enduring daily interfaith cooperation with the aim of ending religiously motivated violence, and create cultures of peace, healing and justice for the Earth and all living beings. It comprises 204-member organizations in 31 African countries.
The Africa Peace Award
The award was established 11 years ago and recognizes the commitment of winners in evolving effective leadership for sustainable peace, development and reconciliation for inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony in the continent. The award celebrates and honours the accomplishments of individuals or organizations engaged in exhibiting extraordinary leadership in building peace, reconciliation and harmony among different religions and cultures and promote human dignity as enshrined in the universal declaration of human right.
Presenting the award to KAICIID International Dialogue Centre, URI’s Regional Director for Africa, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, noted in a statement that the award to the Vienna based organisation is an “appreciation and acknowledgement of the work of KAICIID as intergovernmental organisation in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Africa and the rest of the world to prevent and resolve conflict and to enhance understanding and cooperation.
“The award is also in recognition of the contribution of KAICIID for reviving the African Union Interfaith Dialogue Forum in partnership with the African Union and fostering dialogue among people of different faiths and cultures that bridges animosities, reduces fear and instils mutual respect.”
The Secretary General of KAICIID, Faisal bin Muammar, is upbeat on the award: We are proud and happy to receive this international award, which reflects the centre’s prestigious international stats and its achievements in implementing successful interreligious and intercultural dialogue initiatives and promoting the role of international organisations and their partnerships with the centre. This award is an important recognition of our work supporting peaceful co-existence and common citizenship in Africa, especially through KAICIID supported dialogue platforms for religious leaders and policy makers in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
Expanding Frontiers For Peace
The works of KAICIID International Dialogue Centre in the African continent have left indelible footprints in the promotion of peaceful co-existence among diverse followers of faiths and cultures and leading to the creation of dialogue platform for constant engagements. In Nigeria, KAICIID has assisted in the formation of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) that encourages Muslims and Christians to embrace dialogue as means of achieving peace. In Central African Republic, KAICIID is working with partners like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers to foster dialogue among the diverse religious communities in the country.
Beyond engaging critical stakeholders in promoting peaceful co-existence, the International Dialogue Centre in collaboration with the Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) of the African Union Commission organised two summits to rally continental support for peace. At its 2nd AU Inter-faith Dialogue Forum that held in Abuja from November 10-11, 2016, African scholars, religious leaders and officials of the African Union advanced various views for promoting interfaith unity for sustainable development in the continent.
At the end of the two-day conference, delegates approved a Declaration and a Plan of Action on their joint work in education, partnerships, media and development, including the “need to build partnerships between African Union, interfaith and faith-based organisations, as well as religious and traditional leaders to effectively implement the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.
The Action Plan adopted by the summit also called for the promotion of peace and reconciliation “through the teachings of the different holy books in all places of worship and to enhance media coverage.” In achieving the objectives of the summit, delegates elected a 12-member steering committee to ensure the realisation of the AU Agenda 2063 that calls for closer collaboration of all stakeholders towards attainment of sustainable development in the continent As part of the Action Plan, the Steering Committee is to pursue a 10-year interfaith development agenda for all African Union member states.”
KAICIID Secretary General Muammar at the 2nd Interfaith Summit in Abuja underscored the relevance of the steering committee elected for interfaith development agenda, when he declared, “The steering committee launched today is a vital instrument in that endeavour. It fosters, among other relations, Interreligious dialogue, which is an integral component in achieving the Africa Agenda 2063, global strategy to optimize use of Africa’s resources for the benefit for all Africans.”
The steering committee membership, representing the different regions, religions, including African Traditional Religions, is committed to a plan of action anchored on building partnerships among Africa’s interfaith and faith-based organisations to prevent religious extremism and promote harmony in the continent.
Mandated to partner with the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other peace-building organizations, the committee is expected to develop an interfaith development agenda for all African Union member states based on Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 and five-year strategic plan; create an evaluation strategy for the Steering Committee; strengthen community resilience through advocacy and awareness, among others, based on Sustainable Development Goals as agreed by the AU.
There is no doubt that URI’s 2018 Africa Peace Award on KAICIID International Dialogue Centre is in recognition of its tremendous works in the promotion of peace across diverse religious and cultural groups in the continent. It is hoped that the various peace-platforms being established by KAICIID in various African countries would serve as torchlight for further peace initiatives that are community-driven and tailored to meet peculiar challenges in combating violence and hate speech among various religions and cultures.