Commonwealth Secretariat and Khalili Foundation launch youth-led peace ambassadors initiative

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, the Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and Professor Sir Nasser David Khalili, Chairman of the Khalili Foundation, recently launched the Commonwealth Faith Festival  in London.

Together, they outlined the benefits of this Commonwealth-wide initiative to an audience of representatives from youth, peacebuilding, faith and community groups, academia, civil society and advocacy organisations. The programme’s emphasis will be on scaling up results by creating a strong network of groups, fostering productive dialogues, and amplifying peace-building projects.

Throughout 2024, the festival will encourage and nurture new projects and initiatives engaging youth, civil society, and peacebuilding organisations that harness the power of understanding and collaboration to address community and societal issues.

The Commonwealth Faith Festival is part of a multi-year partnership between the Khalili Foundation and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Khalili Foundation has internationally recognised projects that use the power of art, culture, and education to bring people together.

In her inspiring speech, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC underscored why a project leveraging the power of faith in the values of the Commonwealth resonated so powerfully. She said:

“But why faith?  Your faith in humanity matters. It binds us together; it is the essence of who we are.”

“We believe in the power of the Commonwealth’s youth, we believe in our shared Commonwealth values, we believe that we can together reduce tensions and build a better world, and we believe in and want to harness the energy of youth to help us build peace. We have faith in our Commonwealth.”

The launch included panels of world-leading experts both present at Marlborough House and joining online from across the Commonwealth.  The experts and attendees participated in lively and interactive discussions. The themes included:

  • Faith in our Commonwealth values as a pathway to peace,
  • Youth networks and opportunities for peace,
  • Leveraging youth, community and faith groups for conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution, and
  • The power of partnerships in peacebuilding.

In his address at the launch, Sir David Khalili, Chairman of the Khalili Foundation, encouraged all to see faith as more than a religious concept:

“If you have an accident somewhere and you are taken to hospital, aren’t you going to put your faith in the hands of a doctor?  You’re flying in a plane from A to Z, don’t you put your faith in the hands of the pilot? You would, you cannot say that you have no faith.”

He added: “Everyone has faith – faith is putting your trust in something or someone.” Sir David suggested that having faith is a precursor to mutual respect, going beyond mere tolerance to work together for the good of humanity.

Project lead, Professor Michelle Scobie from the Commonwealth Secretariat outlined activities and opportunities for youth to participate in the year-long project. These include in person and online training for which certificates of participation will be awarded.

The training themes include alternative dispute resolution, project design and delivery, and youth and peacebuilding. Young people will be encouraged to develop peacebuilding projects in their communities.

The best projects will be chosen by a panel of judges and the teams will be invited to come together and receive awards when the Commonwealth Faith Festival culminates in early 2025.

There are two award streams with five prizes each. Five community awards will be given to the best peacebuilding projects and the secondary school awards will highlight the innovative peacebuilding done through teams of students.

The Commonwealth Faith Festival harnesses the energy of young people, community groups, and all those who are committed to peacebuilding across the Commonwealth. The projects, training, and initiatives aim to inspire and nurture the next generation of youth peace ambassadors.

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