I am doing research on mediation efforts of religious leaders within intrastate armed conflicts. The assumption is that religious leaders have a special status that secular leaders are not able to obtain. I argue that this special status within their society and/or community is based on a relationship, composed of factors such as trust, credibility, long-term engagement, familiarity with customs and traditions, and authority. These aspects in turn are thought to facilitate mediation efforts, and would thus make religious leaders more successful mediators. Background factors that would influence religious leaders mediation success could be the centrality of religion within a conflict, religious background of the conflict parties, and diplomatic level of the mediation (track I-III).

I would greatly appreciate thought and comments, especially pointing towards relevant cases, data sets, organisations and contributions.

Tags: civil war, faith, intrastate, mediation, religion, religious leaders

Views: 910

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


That is a great piece. I strongly agree with your argument. I will suggest the role religious leaders in South Sudan in promoting peace. 1) It is somehow argued that the CPA in South Sudan came as a result of the religious leader back door diplomatic efforts and mediation. 2) The famous referendum also was said to be a success to the positive role of the religious leaders and their structures. Ongoing efforts in stabilising the current young babe nation - South Sudan - squarely and smartly realises and actualises the potentila of the religious leaders in overcoming the legacies of conflict too. This would be my humble suggestion for you.

Wish you best. It sounds interesting!!

Hi Paul


Have you read any of John Burton's work on problem solving workshops.  The workshops involve community leaders, religious leaders et cetera and are quite informative and have great potential for peacebuilding and conflict solving.  Also look on the website - beyondintractability.com under 'problem solving workshops'.  Look at this news article too  http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1670291,00.html





What you appear to be talking about is known as mediator platform, the source from which any mediator draws their authority to intervene into any particular conflict. It can be described as Social, Institutional, Relational or Professional. It can also be described as residing along a continuum between contractual and emergent or through one of IMTD's 9 tracks in their model of multi-track diplomacy. I'm afraid that most of the references are escaping me at present, but I would suggest looking at Social Conflict (Dean Pruitt et al), Augsberger, Kriesberg, or Christopher Mitchell.

Dear Paul,

That is ain interesting and valuable piece of research!

I recommend that you consult the book "Golbalizing God: Religion, Spirituality and Peace" by Johan Galtung and Graeme MacQueen (TRANSCEND University Press, www.transcend.org/tup, 2008, 254 pages).

It draws together the best ideas from the major world religions, and examines their hard (sectarian, cruel) and soft (understanding, compassionate) aspects.

Best wishes, Dietrich

Dear Paul,

One case you may find of interest is that of Acholi religious leaders in trying to resolve the conflict in northern Uganda involving the Lord's Resistance Army. Quite a bit has been written about the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) and much is available on the web. Best of luck with your research.

David Lord

You would think, and I would love to think this is true.  But my experience tells me that Religious leaders like all of us come in all different ways of thought.  I tend to migrate to Religious leaders as my first attempt to get a neutral take on the situation.  It is then that I find out the level of bias of the leader.  We all have biases,  it is the level of the biases, and or the self awareness of the individuals biases, that is key to me.


I will also say from my humble experience, no one religion can be pointed out as better or worse than another.  It is the individual, not the religion that is the factor, of what they can contribute to a mediation process.

This has been my take, both in the US and abroad.



I am glad that you are taking on this understudied (I think) topic. I work with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, and we write case studies of religiously-motivated individuals who work for peace in a number of ways. Our first book of case studies, Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution, edited by David Little, may have some cases that interest you. In particular, you may be interested in the cases of Rev. Dr. Bill Lowrey, who worked with the Dinka and Neur Tribes in South Sudan to develop the People to People peace process; Prof. Ephraim Isaac, who works with an Elders group that he formed to promote peace and political reconciliation in Ethiopia; and Father Alex Reid and Rev. Dr. Roy Magee, who used their religious positions and its attendant authority to push for peace from each side of the conflict in Northern Ireland. You can see brief summaries of the work of these and other peacemakers here. I'd also be happy to discuss our observations of the effectiveness of religious peacemakers with you further, if you'd like. You can reach me at cmaring @ tanenbaum.org.

Dear  Paul, A very interesting topic for research. May be the founder of the organization I work for and the organization itself might be a really interesting case for you to study. 

Please look up Dr.A.T. Ariyaratne and Sarvodaya Movement ( www.sarvodaya.org)

Thank you,


Hello Paul, 

Off the top of my head, one person that comes to mind is Rev. Professor James Haire. He did some work in Indonesia mediating between Christian and Muslim groups. He is also on the advisory board for the centre at which I work, the Multi-Faith Centre at Griffith University. 

I'd like to follow your work and see if there are potential collaborations. 


Brian Adams

This is an interesting topic, but I am also very excited with the  rich resourcefulness of the network. Fischer's recommended book by Galtung is a must read for me. I hope to get a copy. However, check also with the role of Quakers and especially the use of Quiet Diplomacy.

This is indeed interesting and I agree with you that religious leaders have a special status that other leaders do not have, however it would be good to explore whether there are any limitations that religious leaders have while other don't have or not.

You can look up an ongoing case study in the Southern of the Philippines where the Catholic Bishop and Islamic leaders, known as Ulama join hands together to support the Peace Processes to stop the armed conflict between the Philippines State and the hardline Muslim groups which has been prolonged for ages.  http://www.bishop-ulma.page.tl/Organizational-Structure.htm

Also you may try to explore more in depth about mediation with Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue which they actually work with real mediators including religious ones and others.


Sponsored Link

Please Pay What You Can to Support PCDN

Please consider Paying What You Can to help PCDN grow. We encourage you to consider any amount from $1 and up. Read the SUPPORT page prior to making a payment to see PCDN's impact and how your payment will help.

Sponsored Link

Translate This Page


PCDN Guidelines and Share Pages

By using this site you're agreeing to the terms of use as outlined in the community guidelines (in particular PCDN is an open network indexed by Google and users should review the privacy options). Please note individual requests for funding or jobs are NOT permitted on the network.

Click BELOW to share site resources Bookmark and Share
or Share on LINKEDIN




© 2016   Created by Craig Zelizer.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service