Finn Church Aid selected unanimously to host the Peacemaker’s Network secretariat

Finn Church Aid (FCA) and The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers have shown that the time of elitist diplomacy is over. Peace processes often leave large parts of populations outside negotiations.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) continues to host the secretariat of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers after 2017. The selection for the period of 2018–2020 was unanimous.

The Network’s core group, consisting of Religions for Peace, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, International Dialogue Center (KAICIID) and FCA, made the decision on Tuesday in the United States.

The Executive Director of the Network, Mr. Antti Pentikäinen, saw the decision as a sign of trust.

“We have managed to create new ways of peace building with religious and traditional peacemakers”, Pentikäinen concludes.

FCA has a long history of working in the most fragile states, such as South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Somalia. Peace processes often leave large parts of populations outside negotiations, particularly youth, women, religious groups and people on the move. Sustainable peace is therefore difficult to achieve.

FCA has specialised in helping these groups reconcile with each other and connecting them with high level talks. As a result, UN asked FCA to establish the Network in 2013.

The Network and its partners have lately brokered peace in for instance Libya. The country lacks governmental structures, but the country’s powerful tribes have maintained relative peace in most of Libya after reconciling with each other through this work.

Tribal structures hold power in about 60 percent of Libya and are therefore vital for a sustainable peace. The tribes have also accepted the participation of women in reconciliation, and supported by the Network, the tribes have now been linked to the UN-led national peace process.

“Several peace practitioners acknowledge that we have passed the time of elitist diplomacy. They want to learn how to negotiate with groups, which are usually excluded from the negotiating table”, Pentikäinen says.

The Network’s and FCA’s work has also been recognised for collecting rare first hand data. Findings based on an unprecedented sample of interviews with former Boko Haram fighters were published last autumn, and the results raised interest in international media and among researchers. It was preceded by similar research conducted with Al Shabab fighters in 2014.

The Network has close to 50 members, including states and state-based organisations, regional bodies, academic institutions, and international and national non-governmental organisations.

Read more about the results of FCA’s work in our newly published annual report 2016 (pdf).