Global Consensus recognizes importance of religious leaders in the fight against violent extremism

Nov 09, 2015, 09:00 ET from KAICIID

MADRID, Nov. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Global Consensus on preventing and countering violent extremism - reached on Wednesday, 28 October, by high level experts and policy makers from around the world - includes a section on the importance of religious leaders in the efforts to put an end to this current scourge. The document acknowledges that "religion can be a force for good" and that religious leaders have the responsibility to be role models, promote interfaith dialogue and engage with disenfranchised youth.

The Global Consensus calls on religious educators to "offer people a firm grounding not only in their own religious tradition but also in universal human values and tolerance," and argues that when they fail to promote tolerance within and amongst religions, they are contributing to "radical and narrow mind-sets that make extremist ideologies resonate".

The Global Consensus is the main outcome of the conference "Madrid+10: The Policy Dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism," which gathered over 250 global policymakers and high-level experts in Madrid from 27 to 28 October 2015. The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), together with the European Commission, the US Department of State and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other partners, supported the two-day meeting organised by the Club de Madrid and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King's College London.

At the opening plenary on new approaches towards preventing violent extremism, KAICIID Secretary General, Faisal Bin Muaammar, called on the participants to involve religious leaders in peacebuilding and to use dialogue to end violence on the name of religion. "Dialogue is one of the best tools to solve problems and it is not an expensive one," he said. The SG emphasized the need of joining forces internationally to fight radicalisation and urged policy makers to address the root causes of extremism: "We have chosen to use military solutions, but blood brings only blood."

The Centre contributed to the Global Consensus through the participation of its experts in the Working Groups on "Faith and Values" and "Politics and Identity". KAICIID Deputy Secretary General for External Affairs, Amb. Alvaro Albacete, and the Senior Adviser, Prof. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, submitted and discussed proposals that were later reflected in the policy document, such as the importance of interreligious dialogue and the role of religious leaders. The Global Consensus can now be subscribed by individuals around the world and be used by countries and civil society groups as a benchmark and an authoritative guidance for the prevention and countering of violent extremism.

During the Madrid+10 Policy Dialogue, the Centre hosted two workshops on building peace through interreligious dialogue. They included interviews with former Prime Minister Magne Bondevik (Norway) and former Presidents Rexhep Meidani (Albania) and Luis Alberto Lacalle (Uruguay) on the role of religious leaders in peacebuilding. The sessions - centred on the Central African Republic and Iraq and Syria - brought together policy makers and religious leaders from those countries to discuss their contributions to conflict prevention and resolution.

During the conference, many speakers referred to the importance of dialogue in the fight against violent extremism. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo discussed the need of working on different fronts, including interreligious and intercultural dialogue and, more specifically, referred to KAICIID's work. Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid, said: "we should always keep our hopes in dialogue, for that will allow us to have people educated for peace."

Important speakers also advocated for the inclusion of non-traditional actors in the efforts against extremism. King Felipe VI of Spain called on the inclusion of youth, women and civil society. "Military means are not enough. A strategy with non-conventional measures is necessary," he said. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, addressed religious leaders: "Please be courageous and do your work. When your followers use religion in a wrong way, you must speak out." Jorge Fernandez Diaz, Minister of Interior of Spain, also urged to "work with religious communities, since only from the grassroots it is possible to counter violent radicalization".

More information on KAICIID's participation in the Madrid+10 Policy Dialogue can be found here.


The International Dialogue Centre is the intergovernmental organization that uses dialogue to build peace in conflict areas. The founding states of the Centre are Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain. The Holy See is the Founding Observer. Prominent representatives from five major world religions make up the nine-member Board of Directors. The Board designs and supervises the Centre's programs.

About Club de Madrid

The Club de Madrid is an independent non-profit organization composed of more than 100 former presidents and prime ministers from 70 democratic countries. The Club de Madrid responds to a growing demand for support to address a number of challenges in democratic governance by providing the experience and valuable leadership of its members.

About ICSR

ICSR's mission is to bring together knowledge and leadership. Producing first class, rigorous research, our aim is to educate the public and help policymakers and practitioners find more intelligent solutions in dealing with radicalization and political violence.