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A variety of recommendations to promote intra and interreligious dialogue in West Africa

Niger’s Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Assoumana Malam Issa, welcomed the recommendations of the 1st edition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Forum on Education of the Culture of Peace through Intra and Interreligious Dialogue which ended on Wednesday 23 November 2016 in Niamey, Niger.


“This forum is a turning point and will forever demonstrate the desire of (ECOWAS) States to undertake a new approach, which is non-violent fight against terrorism and violent extremism with their vices and vicissitudes” the Minister said in his address at the end of the meeting.

The fact that all the communities came together to work in tranquility for two days is a positive achievement, Mr. Issa stated, saying that this indicates the willingness of everyone to open their minds to share what is dear to them as social beings, that is, peace and love for one’s neighbour.

Assoumana Malam Issa was confident that from the recommendations adopted at the end of the meeting, ECOWAS Member States will be eager to create a framework for their implementation.

The recommendations are the result of the group work that focused on the causes of religious intolerance in the Community, the issue of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as well as the role of education in conflict prevention and the establishment of a culture of peace.


Some of the recommendations relate to the resolution of the issue of ignorance, injustice and unemployment; the promotion of values of education at the grassroot, the creation of interreligious councils in Member States where they do not exist and, the strengthening of their capacity to enable them carry out more exchange, knowledge-sharing and peace promotion activities.

Other recommendations relate to more active involvement of endogenous religions in the cooperation, the refusal by Member States to grant authorisations to preach to vicious religious leaders; the integration of the culture of peace in the training of religious leaders; the creation of organisations that promote interreligious dialogue, from local to national level, as it is the case in Ghana, Gambia and Nigeria.

Other resolutions include the strengthening of intra and interreligious dialogue in West Africa; the education of West African youth on the culture of peace through the distribution of UNESCO handbooks and ECOWAS reference manuals; the promotion of education regarding regional, continental and global citizenship; the integration of indigenous knowledge into curricula both in official and national languages and, the responsible and positive use of the media in different denominational communication channels.

For the Niger’s Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Arts and Social Modernisation, Assoumana Malam Issa, the quality and relevance of the decisions constitute a perspective on issues relating to peace in the Community.


Through the so-called Niamey declaration, adopted at the end of the meeting, participants approved, inter alia, all the recommendations of the Forum and called for their effective implementation by Member States.

About one hundred stakeholders from various religious groups from ECOWAS Member States, notably religious and political leaders, representatives of civil society organisations, and resource persons participated in the Forum, organised by the Commission of the regional organisation and the Government of Niger.

The objective of the Forum was to come up with mechanisms for dialogue between different religious communities in order to facilitate mutual understanding and cultivate the spirit of tolerance and peaceful co-existence through education of the culture of peace in ECOWAS region.

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