Our History

Our History

Basil Ugorji, ICERM's Founder, President and CEO
Basil Ugorji, ICERM's Founder, President and CEO

1967 – 1970

 Founder Basil Ugorji’s parents and family witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of ethnic and religious conflict during and after the interethnic violence that culminated in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.


Basil Ugorji was born and the Igbo (Nigerian) name, “Udo” meaning “peace” was given to him based on his parents’ experience during the war and the people’s longing and prayers for peace on earth.

2001 – 2008

Motivated by the meaning of his native name and with the intention of becoming God’s instrument of peace, Basil Ugorji decided to join an international catholic religious congregation called the Schoenstatt Fathers where he spent eight (8) years studying and preparing for the Catholic Priesthood.


Worried and greatly disturbed by the frequent, incessant and violent ethno-religious conflicts in his native country, Nigeria and around the world, Founder Basil took a heroic decision, while still in Schoenstatt, to serve as St. Francis taught, as an instrument of peace. He resolved to become a living instrument and channel of peace, especially for groups and individuals in conflict. Motivated by the ongoing ethno-religious violence resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, including the most vulnerable, and intent upon actualizing God’s teachings and messages of peace, he accepted that this work would require considerable sacrifice. His assessment of this social problem is that sustainable peace can only be achieved through the development and propagation of new ways of living together irrespective of ethnic or religious differences. After two years of closed novitiate, and intense deliberation, he chose a path of significant risk to himself and his family. He relinquished his safety and security and dedicated his life out in the world actively working to restore peace and harmony in human society. Fueled by Christ’s message to love your neighbor as you love yourself, he resolved to commit the rest of his life to fostering a culture of peace among, between and within ethnic and religious groups around the world.

Founder Basil Ugorji with a Delegate from India at the 2015 Annual Conference, New York
Founder Basil Ugorji with a Delegate from India at the 2015 Annual Conference in Yonkers, New York


In addition to becoming a Research Scholar at the California State University’s Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution in Sacramento, California, Basil Ugorji worked at the United Nations Headquarters in New York within the Africa 2 Division of the Department of Political Affairs after receiving Master’s degrees in Philosophy and Organizational Mediation from the Université de Poitiers, France. He is currently a Conflict Analysis and Resolution Ph.D. student at the Department of Conflict Resolution Studies, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, Florida, USA.


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Basil Ugorji and his Colleagues in New York

July 30, 2010 

The idea for ICERM was inspired during a meeting Founder Basil Ugorji and his colleagues had with the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 30, 2010 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Speaking about conflicts, Ban Ki-moon told Basil Ugorji and his colleagues that they are leaders of tomorrow and that many people rely on their service and support to solve world problems. Ban Ki-moon stressed that young people should start doing something about world conflict now, rather than wait for others, including governments, because bigger things start from a small thing.

It was this profound statement of Ban Ki-moon that inspired Basil Ugorji to create ICERM through the help of a group of conflict resolution experts, mediators and diplomats who possess strong background and expertise in ethnic and religious conflict prevention and resolution.

April 2012

With a unique, comprehensive, and coordinated approach to address ethnic and religious conflicts in countries around the world, ICERM was legally incorporated in April 2012 with the New York State Department of State as a nonprofit membership corporation organized and operated exclusively for scientific, educational, and charitable purposes as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). Click to view the ICERM Certificate of Incorporation.

January 2014

In January 2014, ICERM was approved by the United States Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt public charity, nonprofit and non-governmental organization. Contributions to ICERM are, therefore, deductible under section 170 of the Code. Click to view the IRS Federal Determination Letter Granting ICERM 501c3 Exempt Status.

October 2014

ICERM launched and held the first Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, on October 1, 2014 in New York City, and with the theme, “The Advantages of Ethnic & Religious Identity in Conflict Mediation and Peacebuilding.” The inaugural Keynote Address was delivered by Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, 3rd Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom for the United States of America.

July 2015 

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at its Coordination and management meeting of July 2015 adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to grant special consultative status to ICERM. Consultative status for an organization enables it to actively engage with ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programs, funds and agencies in a number of ways. With its special consultative status with the UN, ICERM is positioned to serve as an emerging center of excellence for ethnic and religious conflict resolution and peacebuilding, facilitating peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict resolution and prevention, and providing humanitarian support to the victims of ethnic and religious violence. Click to view the UN ECOSOC Approval Notice for International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation.

December 2015:

ICERM re-branded its organizational image by designing and launching a new logo and a new website. As an emerging international center of excellence for ethnic and religious conflict resolution and peacebuilding, the new logo symbolizes the essence of ICERM and the evolving nature of its mission and work. Click to view the ICERM Logo Branding Description.

Symbolic Interpretation of the Seal

ICERM - International-Center-for-Ethno-Religious-Mediation

ICERM’s new logo (Official Logo) is a Dove carrying an Olive Branch with five leaves and flying out from the International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM) represented by the letter “C” to bring and restore peace to the parties involved in conflicts.

  • Dove: The Dove represents all those who are helping or will help ICERM achieve its mission. It symbolizes the ICERM members, staff, mediators, peace advocates, peace makers, peacebuilders, educators, trainers, facilitators, researchers, experts, consultants, rapid res-ponders, donors, sponsors, volunteers, interns, and all the conflict resolution scholars and practitioners affiliated with ICERM who are dedicated to fostering a culture of peace among, between and within ethnic and religious groups around the world.
  • Olive Branch: The Olive Branch represents Peace. In other words, it stands for the vision of ICERM which is a new world characterized by peace, irrespective of cultural, ethnic and religious differences.
  • Five Olive Leaves: The Five Olive Leaves represent the Five Pillars or Core Programs of ICERM: research, education and training, expert consultation, dialogue and mediation, and rapid response projects.

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