The current violent conflicts have reached an unprecedented level, increasing the number of victims and strongly challenging the international humanitarian community in its mission to save lives and uphold human dignity. In this regard it is often suggested that religion is at the core of the clashes since it has been implicated in all sorts of conflicts throughout history. But the picture is much more complex than it is usually implied. The values of religion, which are the key for reconciliation and peace, are too often manipulated for pursuit of power and profit through violence.
Humanitarian relief for the victims of armed conflicts and the protection of the most vulnerable are among the Order of Malta’s traditional tasks. This induced the Order of Malta to engage in the organization of the Symposium.
The Symposium “Religions together for humanitarian action” will explore the connection between religion and conflict and will particularly focus on how religions and faith-based humanitarian actors could better assist and protect people affected by conflict and could help promote a dynamic of restraint in the use of violence and facilitate reconciliation.
Key issues, such as strengthening affected populations and local partners; protection; aligning humanitarian assistance and development; firm commitment to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian principles; improving coordination and delivery mechanisms, and others have been raised during the preliminary meetings in view of the WHS.
In addition to shared values, the Symposium should illustrate what faith-based institutions are providing to humanitarian action with relevant statistics and data from field operations. The Symposium will highlight the unique role of faith-based institutions in humanitarian action. Quite often faith-based institutions are the first on the spot, and the last to leave thus enjoying the trust of local communities.
The Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Order of Malta, expands on the 4 core humanitarian principles of the WHS on this interview: link.