The Global Covenant of Religions

On Tuesday 26th May the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme hosted a symposium of distinguished panelists and an invited audience to discuss pressing issues of the role of religion in statesmanship and international relations, and the role of religions in addressing religiously motivated violence.

The Global Covenant of Religions

The Global Covenant of Religions is a commitment among religious communities to draw on the depth of their traditions to prevent violence in the name of religion and enable peace. It works to strengthen cooperation among religious organizations, governments and civil society in order to protect civilians, mediate conflict, educate youth, and serve neighbours.

The Symposium featured two distinguished panels:

The first, discussing the question ‘Statesmanship in the Twenty-first Century: What about Religion?’ was chaired by Francis Campbell, Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and former UK Ambassador to the Holy See, and Head of the Policy Unit in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Director of UKTI.

Panellists were:

  • Lord Martin Rees, former President of the Royal Society and recipient of the Templeton Prize
  • Mr Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
  • Rabbi Harvey Belovski, Rabbi of Gloders Green Synagogue, and a regular broadcaster on the BBC
  • Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, who served on the Joint Committee for Human Rights 2010-2015, and is the founding Chair of the All Party Group on International Freedom of Religion and Belief
  • Baroness Sayeed Warsi, the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet
  • Dr. Georgette Bennett, President and Founder of the Tanenbaum Center for Ineterreligious Understanding, and founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, and serving in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative working group on conflict mitigation.

The second panel discussed the question ‘The Global Covenant of Religions: A Path to Peace?’, and was chaired by Prof. David Ford, OBE, Regius Professor of Divinity and the Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme.

Panellists were:

  • Professor Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia, and co-founder of the Society for Textual Reasoning and The Society for Scriptural Reasoning. He served from 2012-14 at the U.S. Department of State as Academic Consultant on Religion and Violence, where he co-authored a training manual on religion and conflict
  • Professor Chinmay Pandya, Pro Vice Chancellor of Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya University (DSVV), and an academic psychiatrist
  • Mr. Jerry White, Executive Co-Chair, Global Covenant of Religions, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and former Deputy Assitant Secretary of State, having launched the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations created by Secretary Hilary Clinton
  • Ms. Barbara Walshe, chair of the Board of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in the Republic of Ireland, a leading international centre for peacemaking
  • Dr. Zaza Johnson Elsheikh, a leading expert and practitioner in mediation, conflict resolution, and restorative justice
  • Dr. Sayed Razawi, Director General of the Ulama Council in Europe, founding member of the Muslim Forum in the British Armed Forces

The Churchill 21st Century Statesmanship Programme

2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and the seventy-fifth anniversary of his “finest hour” in 1940 when he became Prime Minister. To commemorate this anniversary the aim of this 21st century statesmanship programme, with Sir John Major as the Patron, is to provide a fitting tribute to Churchill’s memory and his legacy as a world statesman and to identify and respond to today’s top level strategic issues. World class organizations are gathering eminent international panels to examine big global strategic issues, to produce recommendations for leaders, future leaders, policymakers, academics, and global citizens, and to sponsor networks and activity that will reach beyond this anniversary year.

Find out more about the programme here.