Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interfaith dialogue is key to strengthening communication rights

Interfaith dialogue is key to strengthening communication rights, says WACC general secretary

News Release, 14 March 2011

Mombasa, Kenya ­ Interfaith dialogue can play a key role in strengthening the right to communicate and tackling questions of social justice, General Secretary of the World Association of Christian Communicators (WACC) said on 12 March.

Rev. Karin Achtelstetter was speaking at the 5th Commission meeting of the Interfaith Action for Peace (IFAPA) in Mombasa, Kenya, where representatives of the main faith traditions have gathered to discuss peace and the issues that threaten it.

She said communication for peaceful co-existence supported the emergence of tolerant and well-integrated societies at local, national and global levels.

"Peaceful societies are founded on political, economic, social and gender justice. Faith communities, as well as other civil society organisations and groups are uniquely positioned to advance mutual understanding, peace and justice, and the integrity of creation," said Achtelstetter in the presentation titled: Communication for Peace - A Task for Faith Communities.

IFAPA is a group that brings together Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha’i and the African Traditional Religion (ATR). It hopes to make the faiths cooperate and work together to promote peace. Nearly 75 participants are attending the meeting which is convening from 11-14 March.

Achtelstetter said communication for peace was an ongoing process that created understanding and consensus among communities, while building and strengthening sustainable human relationships.

"One way of contributing to this process, is 'peace journalism.' … Peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices ­of what stories to report and about how to report them­ that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict," she said.

In Northern Kenya, WACC, which promotes communication for social change, has been supporting the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network (KPJN) carry out a peace education and awareness in the area. The project addresses cattle rustling, direct marginalization, resource competition, prevalence of small arms and light weapons. The network carried community outreach in 16 hotspots, imparting skills on peace education and conflict resolution to women pastoralists, pastoralist men, elders, rehabilitated ex-combatants at the village levels and specifically in grazing areas and watering points in the region. The project has helped establish relationships among clans reducing conflicts.

Still, Achtelstetter told the conference communicators played a significant role in reshaping the world and helped empower communities.

"Accessing and distributing relevant information, knowledge and tools will increase people's capacity to promote peace," said Achtelstetter.

She said WACC shared that vision of a society in dialogue, which deepens knowledge of diversity while affirming and respecting the integrity and distinctiveness of every religion, society, and culture.

"Its purpose is to strengthen communication partnerships and alliances that emphasise and promote common values, collaboration, and peaceful co-existence," said Achtelstetter.

**Read full presentation here...


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