ICERM’s mandate and approach to work are based on the fundamental belief that the use of mediation and dialogue in preventing, managing and resolving ethnic, racial and religious conflicts in countries around the world is the key to creating sustainable peace.
Below is a set of beliefs about the world by which ICERM’s work is framed.
- Conflict is inevitable in any society where people are deprived of their fundamental human rights, including the rights of survival, government representation, cultural and religious freedoms as well as equality in all its meanings; including security, dignity and association. Conflict is also likely to occur when the action of a government is considered to be contrary to the ethnic or religious interest of a people, and where government policy is biased in favor of a particular group.
- The inability to find solutions to ethno-religious conflicts will have political, social, economic, environmental, security, developmental, health and psychological consequences.
- Ethno-religious conflicts have high potential to degenerate into tribal violence, massacres, ethnic and religious wars, and genocides.
- Since ethnic and religious conflicts have devastating consequences, and knowing that affected and interested governments are trying to manage them, it is paramount to study and understand the preventive, management, and resolution strategies already taken and their limitations.
- The various responses of governments to ethno-religious conflicts have been temporary, inefficient and are sometimes not organized.
- The major reason why ethno-religious grievances are ignored, and early, urgent and adequate preventive measures are not taken may not be because of the attitude of negligence that is often noticed in some countries, but because of the ignorance of the existence of these grievances at the early stage and at the local levels.
- There is a lack of adequate and functioning Conflict Early Warning Systems (CEWS), or Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARM), or Conflict Monitoring Networks (CMN) at the local levels on the one hand, and a lack of Conflict Early Warning Systems professionals carefully trained with special competencies and skills that will enable them to listen attentively and become alert to the signs and voices of the time, on the other hand.
- Adequate analysis of ethno-religious conflicts, with a focus on the ethnic, tribal and religious groups involved in conflict, the origins, causes, consequences, actors involved, forms and places of occurrence of these conflicts, is very crucial in order to avoid prescribing wrong remedies.
- There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in the development of policies that are aimed at managing, resolving and preventing conflicts with ethno-religious issues and components. This paradigm shift could be explained from two perspectives: first, from retributive policy to restorative justice, and second, from coercive policy to mediation and dialogue. We believe that the “ethnic and religious identities now blamed for much of the unrest in the world can actually be tapped as valuable assets in support of stabilization and peaceful coexistence. Those who are responsible for such bloodshed and those suffering at their hands, including all the members of the society, need a safe space within which to hear one another’s stories and to learn, with guidance, to see each other as human once again.”
- Given the cultural diversity and religious affiliations in some countries, mediation and dialogue could be a unique means for the consolidation of peace, mutual understanding, mutual recognition, development, and unity.
- The use of mediation and dialogue to resolve ethno-religious conflicts has the potential of creating lasting peace.
- Ethno-religious mediation training services will help participants acquire and develop skills in conflict resolution and monitoring activities, early warning, and crisis prevention initiatives: identification of potential and imminent ethno-religious conflicts, conflict and data analysis, risk assessment or advocacy, reporting, identification of Rapid Response Projects (RRPs) and response mechanisms for urgent and immediate action that will help avert the conflict or reduce the risk of escalation.
- The conception, development and creation of a peace education program and mechanisms for ethno-religious conflict prevention and resolution through mediation and dialogue will help strengthen peaceful co-existence among, between and within cultural, ethnic and religious groups.
- Mediation is a non partisan process of discovering and resolving the underlying causes of conflicts, and inaugurating new avenues that ensure sustainable peaceful collaboration and cohabitation. In mediation, the mediator, neutral and impartial in her or his approach, assists the conflicting parties to rationally come to a solution to their conflicts.
- Most of the conflicts in countries around the world have either ethnic or religious origins. Those that are thought to be political often have ethnic or religious undercurrent. Experiences have shown that parties to these conflicts usually manifest some level of distrust in any intervention that is susceptible to being influenced by any of the parties. So, professional mediation, thanks to its principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, becomes a trusted method that could win the confidence of the conflicting parties, and gradually leads them to the construction of a common intelligence that guides the process and the parties’ collaborations.
- When parties to a conflict are the authors and key constructors of their own solutions, they will respect the results of their deliberations. This is not the case when solutions are imposed on any of the parties or when they are coerced to accept them.
- Resolving conflicts through mediation and dialogue is not alien to the society. These methods of conflict resolution had always been used in the ancient societies. So, our mission as ethno-religious mediators and dialogue facilitators would consist in reigniting and revitalizing that which had always existed.
- Those countries in which ethno-religious conflicts occur constitute an integral part of the globe, and whatever impacts on them also impacts on the rest of the world in one way or another. Also, their experience of peace adds in no little measure to the stability of the global peace and vice versa.
- It would be practically impossible to improve economic growth without first of all creating a peaceful and nonviolent environment. By implication, wealth creating investments in a violent environment are a simple waste.
The above set of beliefs amongst many others continues to inspire us to choose ethno-religious mediation and dialogue as suitable conflict resolution mechanisms for the promotion of peaceful coexistence and sustainable peace in countries around the world.