Religion, politics and conflicts

A young protester at a rally in New York in April 2011 demands tolerance for all religions.
Demonstration demanding greater tolerance of all religions and peaceful coexistence. © AFP

Switzerland's peace policy pays particular attention to religion, politics and conflicts. Why? Because over 80% of people worldwide identify with a religion that influences their personal, social and political lives in multiple ways. The clash of different world views and religions can stir up tensions and play a critical role in conflicts.

The number of armed conflicts in which religion plays a role has nearly doubled in the last 40 years – from one third in 1975 to almost two-thirds in 2015. The main cause of these conflicts is not religion per se, but rather the clash of different world views. That is why Switzerland strives to integrate politically active people with different world views and a willingness to engage in dialogue in its peace policy.

In particular, influential individuals who hold political office or have de facto political responsibilities are included in the search for solutions to conflict. The focus of discussions is not on world views or principles but on concrete, practical solutions for peaceful coexistence, irrespective of religion and world view. The underlying goal is not to reconcile conflicting ideologies but rather to create and promote trust between and within groups through concrete cooperation.

Projects

In its projects in the thematic area of religion, politics and conflicts, Switzerland works closely with university institutions, foundations, religious communities and civil society.

Training course

Each year, the Religion, Politics, Conflicts desk of the FDFA's Human Security Division and the Center for Security Studies of the ETH Zurich offer a course, in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, on the topic of religion and mediation. The five-day course is aimed at people engaged in peacebuilding and mediation efforts to resolve conflicts
with a religious dimension. At the request of the United Nations, since 2015 the FDFA has also offered this course for UN staff in New York.

Training in Religion and Mediation (PDF, 544.1 kB, English) 

Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers