Peace Conference - Peace Building in the 21st Century
FAITH-BASED REGENERATION NETWORK, THE CORDOBA FOUNDATION, AND LONDON PEACE NETWORK
MEDIA RELEASE AND EVENT REPORT
16 September, 2014
London Peace Conference – no topics off limits
Faith-based Regeneration Network (FbRN), The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) and London Peace Network (LPN) convened a peace conference on Monday 15th September at the historic St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, in London. Nearly 100 people, leaders and activists from diverse faith and belief backgrounds, engaged with scholars, experts, faith and community leaders to discuss the limits and challenges of grassroots peace endeavours, as well as learning peace-building skills, and exploring conceptual frameworks governing peace and dialogue.
Steve Miller, FbRN's Executive Director and a co-organiser of the conference says,
“My own tradition teaches that we ‘pursue peace’ which means we can’t just sit at home hoping for peace, but we must actively work for peace in the world. Bringing people together from different backgrounds and, often, different political perspectives, is not easy, but we can’t shirk from this. As a diverse group we need to recognise those differences and listen to each other.”
From the crises in the Middle East, to reducing conflict in our homes and streets, the conference combined a mixture of skills-based workshops, thematic panel discussions, MUJU Crew (the Jewish-Muslim theatre project) and a performance by school students from the Khalsa (Sikh) Secondary Academy.
Opening the conference Imam Shafiur-Rahman, Director of Jibreel Institute in London, talked about developing a framework for peace-building. Jo Berry relayed her personal trauma and awakening following the killing of her father in an IRA bomb by Pat Magee and her preparedness to try to understand Magee opened a path to empathy that continues to develop today.
Lord Michael Bates, the Patron of the London Peace Network, who was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office in August 2014 and is currently on his Walk for Peace to Berlin, sent a special message,
“It is all too easy to look around the world and get depressed about the cause of peace, but it is said it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness: that is exactly what this conference is seeking to do and I applaud it’s efforts and would encourage all those who care about peace to join in.”
Other notable contributions came from Chani Smith, Secretary, Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum; Rt Hon Clare Short, Former Secretary of State; Rabbi Natan Levy, Board of Deputies of British Jews; Revd Nadim Nassar, Director of the Awareness Foundation; Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain; Keith Kahn-Harris, Sociologist and Author; Aliya Azam, Al Khoei Foundation; Jehangir Sarosh OBE, Religions for Peace UK; Dr Anas Altikriti, Chief Exec of The Cordoba Foundation; Rosalind Parker, Kings College London; Angharad Thain, St Ethelburga’s; and Julian Bond, Christian Muslim Forum. The closing address was delivered by Marigold Bentley, Assistant General Secretary, Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
The organisers proposed a draft statement of practical intent and commitment to peace-building in the 21st century, which stated the following,
“We recognise that peace is not just an absence of conflict but is about building a world where all can flourish without fear.
We know that fear and violence prosper in a world of ignorance and mistrust where we demonise the ‘other’ and mistakenly elevate ourselves as superior; whether that is across nations and peoples, in our streets and communities, or even in our own homes.
Disputes exist, injustice exists, exploitation exists – we know that these things are real in the world and words alone cannot solve these problems.
But, coming together today, we dedicate ourselves to find peaceful ways to pursue justice, to stand up and be active, and to use our joint energies and influence for creative and not destructive outcomes”.
Bringing the conference to a formal close, Abdullah Faliq, Head of Research at The Cordoba Foundation thanked all for making the conference a success and highlighted its significance:
“unlike other conferences that tend to avoid serious and important issues because of political correctness, fear and intimidation, in this conference no issues are off limits. However this conference is only the start, its success depends on how it is followed up”.
The conference marks the United Nations International Day of Peace and is the start of a week of activities culminating in the Flights for Peace – conversations with people from different backgrounds on the Emirates Air Line (cable car) across the River Thames on Sunday 21st September. The conference was supported by a number of prominent organisations representing a broad spectrum of religious, specialist and community organisations, including the Christian Muslim Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, Religions for Peace, Al-Khoei Foundation, The Quakers, Peace One Day, and the UNA Westminster.
The conference is just the beginning of a longer peace-building and relationship building process. Look out soon for the full report and next steps
Notes to editors:
1. Pictures from the conference available here: (Click to access album). All photos are available in high res on request.
3. Media and interview requests, contact: