EDIN – Empowering Dialogue and Interfaith Networks

Peer-to-Peer Capacity-Building Training Between Young Religious Leaders and Young Media Makers

EDIN – “Empowering Dialogue and Interfaith Networks” is a pilot project launched in January 2021 by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center (UNOCT/UNCCT).

Through this project, UNAOC and UNOCT/UNCCT aim to provide young religious leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations and young media makers with a peer-to-peer learning space and build their capacity to prevent sectarian violence and counter terrorist narratives, using efficient communication tools and strategies to reach their community. A series of capacity-building activities enhances participants’ competencies that help to debunk hateful discourse and promote inter-religious understanding as key to social cohesion.

Participants work on creating and implementing social media campaigns targeting various audiences across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Their campaigns aim to highlight positive examples of peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony among three Abrahamic faiths, and celebrate diversity, promote inclusion and tolerance, address radicalization, hate speech, prejudices and biases, extremist views about ‘the other’ and related violence. They offer counter narratives that will help build respect and mutual understanding, and celebrate shared values between the faiths, fostering social cohesion within societies.

As one of the outcomes of the project, young religious leaders and media makers will become better equipped to advocate for stronger collaboration between media professionals, religious leaders, and policymakers in the field of interfaith and interreligious dialogue.

EDIN’s participants are 11 females and 9 males of the ages of 20 to 35 from Europe and MENA regions (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Saudi Arabia, UK and Ukraine). The first edition of the pilot project focuses on Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Subsequent iterations of the project may expand to other religions, faiths or regions of the world.

UNAOC logo

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is a United Nations initiative, launched in 2005 by the United Nations Secretary-General. The special status and mandate of UNAOC have been recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolutions A/RES/64/14 of 10 November 2009 and A/RES/69/312 of 6 July 2015.

UNAOC serves as a soft-power political tool of the United Nations Secretary-General for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. It aims to improve understanding and cooperation among nations and peoples across cultures and to reduce polarization at local and global levels. It helps develop more inclusive societies, in which diversity is experienced as an asset.

The UNAOC Plan of Action 2019-2023 defined three strategic priority areas for UNAOC – prevention, mediation, preventing and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism. In each of those priorities, UNAOC implements targeted projects that will have an impact on the ground and new approaches and initiatives that are measurable and results-oriented.

In addition, UNAOC coordinates the implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, launched in September 2019, in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies and departments, as well as other stakeholders. In February 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General designated the UNAOC High Representative as the United Nations Focal Point to monitor antisemitism and enhance a system-wide response.

“The campaigns implemented by EDIN participants take the social media users on a journey to peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony, fulfilling UNAOC’s motto, ‘Many Cultures. One Humanity’.”

Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for UNAOC

UNCCT logo

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) provides its capacity-building support to Member States through the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and the Special Projects and Innovation Branch (SPIB).

UNCCT was established by an initial contribution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Counter-Terrorism Trust Fund in 2011 and has an Advisory Board composed of 21 Member States plus the European Union (EU) as a Guest Member. On 15 June 2017, the General Assembly established UNOCT through resolution A/RES/71/291 and decided to transfer UNCCT, together with its staff and all associated resources, to the new Office.

Since its establishment, the Centre has steadily evolved, both in strategic orientation and technical capacity, to its current programme consolidation phase. With the overall programmatic experience and expertise garnered over the past five years, 2020 saw UNCCT at the pinnacle of technical assistance programming delivered to Member States as for number of projects, organized capacity building activities, and engaged beneficiaries.

More than ever, UNCCT is at the forefront of the global response to the transnational threat of terrorism by supporting Member States and international and regional organizations, and working with civil society organizations and other counter-terrorism actors in the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant Security Council resolutions.

“These young people are already contesting terrorist ideologies on these new communication platforms and sharing messages of peace. They are building coalitions and communities of young people online and offline to provide alternatives to terrorist narratives of hate and division. We have much to learn from their experience.”

Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism