UN side event panelist

Photo: WCC

Speakers at the report launch delved into questions of how faith actors can maximise their voice and influence to protect civic space and how others can support and engage with them. 

Le Roux shared examples of how human rights are grounded within faith systems and how faith actors contribute to protecting civic space and fundamental freedoms. The report also surfaces dilemmas around faith actor engagement, as well as opportunities and ideas on what strategic engagement can look like.

Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, said that faith actors have found common cause and special attributes to confront challenges to human rights. “What is really important from this report is to grasp the very positive experiences, where faith actors have found common cause with wider social actors, civil society actors in their own context to confront common challenges, restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and other core human rights”

“In particular the moral influence and leadership that they have, but also the demographic power, the presence in the communities, and their role in that local context, as well as national and international contexts”, Prove highlighted. 

More and more governments and the UN system are recognizing the necessity of engaging with faith actors, if we really want to make a difference. Because they are salient, they are present, they are influential and they cannot be ignored. They must be part of the equation for a better world”, he concluded. 

Le Roux described the report as encouraging and protecting civic space, and, she added we offer some guidelines for non-faith actors on how to work with faith actors. She underlined that “Faith actors are part of civil society, they`re trusted, they have authority at high levels in countries and grassroots level. And for us to really address these restrictions on civic space, faith actors need to be active around the issue” 

 The report is full of different case studies and examples. I encourage you to download it”, said Le Roux

Inés M. Pousadela, senior research specialist at CIVICUS, spoke on the significant importance of faith identities around the world for individuals and communities and the vast diversity of faith actors being simultaneously part of the problem and the solution. The need of reclaiming the human rights “language” - in its universality- for all international actors to use effectively as their own was also a key point at her panel intervention. 

Joy Anne Icayan, a senior advisor on Civic Space from DanChurchAid, offered an overview of the panel discussion, which was facilitated by Jorgen Thomsen, senior advisor on “Religion and Development” of Dan Church Aid.


Download the full report We have values that are needed: Faith Actors and their role in Civic Space” here

Learn more about the WCC work on "Human dignity and rights"

“Faith actors must be part of the equation for a better world” - Peter Prove, WCC (video)

Dr Elisabet Le Roux on Faith Actors (video)