International Seminar 2013

International Seminar on Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
25th October 2013
Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace,
199 Preston Road, Brighton, BN1 6SA UK.

Background..
Healing, Forgiveness, Reconciliation. These concepts are often used interchangeably in discussions, for example about post-conflict peacebuilding. The distinctions between the terms is not clear by nuance, how they relate to each-other, and how such relationships are played out in the dynamic of interventions towards peace. It is therefore necessary to develop an appropriate clarity of understanding of these terms to help shape our work in fostering harmonious relationships and in analyzing the task of rebuilding communities in divided societies.

Furthermore, for peace-building processes aimed at healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, there may be a whole range of contiguous analytical factors to identify and understand.  For instance, in looking at the nature and roots of conflict, it is necessary to acquire a workable comprehension of the local cultural norms, power relationships, historical narratives and memories, politics, social policy, and religious and spiritual practices. All these invariably affect the individual and large group identities, which could further determine people’s perceptions of and attitudes towards the other, and the ways they related to each other in post-conflict societies.

Additionally, the dimensions of moral and ethical principles must also be considered in framing any emergent culture of peace, and in working towards underpinning relation-formation within the society, including the perennial tension between justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. So, showing with clarity how all these factors are interrelated can help us to determine actions and interventions aimed at healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.

There is, moreover, a wide diversity of perspectives and disciplines from which and through which a professional practitioner on the ground could approach post-conflict situations. These can be simultaneously psychological, therapeutic, socio-political, educational, communal, theological, spiritual, legalistic, or rights-based. These all require deliberation, contextual understanding and professionalism.

While such terminological and analytical complexity may fascinate us, it can also serve to obscure our ideas in theory and our practice. The complexity challenges us to reach for more profound insights into post-conflict peace processes and to work on developing deeper understanding to guide our practice.

The GHFP Seminar on Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation
For over a decade, the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) has been exploring some key concepts in peacebuilding, including those mentioned above. Throughout, for example, our ‘Garden of Forgiveness’ project, the ‘Healing the Wounds of History’ programmes, as well as the narrative strands in our work, we have been concerned with seeking new understanding and clarification. We would like, at this time, to explore these notions through discussion with distinguished colleagues.

So the aim of the seminar is two-fold:

a. To develop a shared understanding and observation of these concepts.
b. To explore how this understanding can be translated into practices and actions on the ground, and what challenges and opportunities are involved.

Questions explored were:

1. Why are these three concepts important in post-conflict peace-building? Does one need to come first before the others can follow?
2. What kind of intervention work well and what doesn’t with a focus on healing, forgiveness and reconciliation help transform conflict and develop trusting relationships amongst individuals and communities?
3. Are there ways in which the same transformation could take place in a conflict situation before violence breaks out?
4. What shared understanding do we have of the three concepts for post-conflict reconstruction, and peacebuilding in general?

It is very unusual for a national government to initiate a nationwide campaign aimed at reconciliation, so the nearly twenty years of accumulated experience of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) is unique and has a global importance. This is why we have invited Dr Jean Baptiste Habyalimana to give the opening presentation. At the same time, we hope that Jean Baptiste’s reflection on the Rwandan journeys could also provide a nudge to help us expand our thinking and to initiate a conversation around the key questions.

Read the notes from the seminar

Rwanda HWH Conference 2012

International Workshops on ‘HEALING THE WOUNDS OF HISTORY: ADDRESSING THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE’ were proposed jointly by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in collaboration with the Mizero Foundation and the Rwandan Professional Dreamers, and with support from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide and the National University of Rwanda.

It was held at Hotel Rwanda in Kigali on June 13-14 2012. The event was opened by Bishop Dr John Rucyahana, the President of Rwanda National Unity & Reconciliation Commission.

The main aim of the event was to explore the psychological roots of violence in recent Rwanda, and to identify new modalities of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness, between both individuals and groups.

To learn more about the conference, please visit the official Healing the Wounds of History RWANDA page.

International Symposium 2012

International Symposium on Religion Spirituality and Education for Human Flourishing.
24-26 FEBRUARY 2012, Dar Moulay Boubkar, Marrakech, Morocco.
Co-Convened by Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace and UN Alliance of Civilizations ‘Education about Religions and Beliefs’ Project.

An edited book of papers, ISBN 978-1-137-37389-2 is published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book is entitled: RE-DEFINING RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: SPIRITUALITY for HUMAN FLOURISHING. Please visit the Official publication page.

INTRODUCTION : For a large proportion of the people in the world, spirituality is an important part of being human and often thought to be an essential element of a flourishing life. Today’s world is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities, and so there is a pressing need to educate in order to develop a deeper awareness of the spiritual dimensions of our lives. In this context, we are interested specifically in exploring the part that religious education can play in cultivating human virtues and spirituality. Under various names, such as ‘education about religion’, ‘faith education,’ ‘religious studies,’ and ‘religious education,’ the teaching of religious beliefs has already been integrated into the national curricula of many countries. However, the focus of religious education is generally to impart knowledge about religions, and perhaps gesture towards some inter-religious understanding. This way of approaching religious education tends to regard religion as an academic subject, and because such education is at arms-length, the spiritual and experiential aspects of religion are not made directly available to students.
The Symposium will aim to go beyond the current knowledge-centred approaches to religious education and offers a space to discuss and debate the following questions:

In what ways can education of/from religions better contribute to young people’s spirituality and to the flourishing of their lives?
How can these contributions of religions be better integrated in schooling?

OBJECTIVES : The objectives of the Symposium are:

To establish a common platform or framework for understanding the positive contributions of religions towards spirituality;
To identify the ways in which educational systems can facilitate or nurture such spirituality;
To examine the pedagogical implications and challenges of such educational programmes;
To identify a set of good questions for further inquiries and possible research.

METHODOLOGY and PROCESSES : Prior to the Symposium, each of the participants will write a scholarly paper to address some aspect of the main questions that the Symposium aims to explore. These papers will be circulated to all the participants before the event and will serve as resources for the discussions/conversations during the event. The Symposium is envisaged to last three days. Each day, there will be plenary sessions, group discussions, and optional sessions of religious and spiritual practices offered by the participants from their own traditions.

Visit the Official UNAoC/ERB site for Education About Religions

Lebanon HWH Conference 2011

Healing the Wounds of History conference 2011 was the major launch event please refer to the official website or follow the community on facebook.com/hwharv


Under the High Patronage of His Excellency, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr Najib Mikati, the Centre for Lebanese Studies and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in partnership with the Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation, have organised the International Conference on ‘Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence’. The Conference was hosted by the Lebanese American University on 11-13 November 2011 at its’ campus situated in the beautiful ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon.

The Conference explored the innovative psycho-social approaches to addressing the deeper roots of violence. The goal was to establish constructive relations between the people and communities in present-day Lebanon. Read the Concept Paper

Click here to download a Summary of the Keynote Address and the Power Point Presentation given by Professor Vamik Volkan.

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focus
to raise awareness about the need to resolve historical grievances as a step towards social harmony in Lebanon and beyond

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resource
to help people learn more about the diverse approaches to addressing the roots of conflict and cycles of violence in our society

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vision
to catalyze a process that will implement the key insights and methods from the Conference through a series of nationwide projects that touch all communities

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh

Museum of World Religions

Welcome to the Museum of World Religions, and introducing to you this planning and co-ordination phase of a Project to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham, England.
The project was inspired and initiated by the Dharma Master Hsin Tao who founded the first Museum of World Religions in Taiwan.

The focus of the project is to establish a Museum of World Religions in Birmingham. This may alternatively be named the ‘UNESCO Centre of World Religions’ or the ‘UNESCO Centre of Inter-Religious Understanding’. It is envisaged to be a world-class institution, probably in a multi-storey, purpose-built building, along the lines of the great museums of the world.

The Museum is intended to be a shared space for dialogue and understanding between people from different faith communities as well as for people of no religion or faith. It will serve as an educational resource for learners of all ages, and provide an opportunity for individuals to explore the part that religion plays in contemporary life.

Many partners are contributing both creatively and financially to this project in order to help develop its concept, content and direction.In November 2010, the MWR (UK)’s workgroup convened a one-day symposium to discuss the project’s Concept Paper, in consultation with scholars and leaders from the diverse faith communities in Birmingham.


Please refer to the Concept Paper.

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Museum of World Religions
UK Charity registration number 1134301