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10th Anniversary Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs—Human Rights and Dignity: Towards a Just, Peaceable and Inclusive Future

23 January @ 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM UTC-5

10th Anniversary Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs

Human Rights and Dignity: Towards a Just, Peaceable and Inclusive Future

Tuesday, 23 January 2024
8:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Hybrid (Register here for online participation)

                                       Physical Venue: 8th Floor Conference Room, Church Center for the United Nations                                      (777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017)


Sponsoring Organizations:

ACT Alliance, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, Islamic
Relief, Religions for Peace, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Soka Gakkai International, United
Religions Initiative, World Council of Churches, UN Women, UNFPA, UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide

In partnership with:

UN Inter-agency Task Force on Religion and Development

The 2024 Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-based Organizations in International Affairs marks a significant milestone as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. A decade ago, faith-based partners initiated this symposium, which coincided with Martin Luther King’s birthday and aimed at fostering dialogue on the intricate interplay between religion and international affairs. With a deliberate inclusion of UN member states and entities, the symposium sought to create a platform for collaborative policymaking and constructive engagement.

In 2016, the second symposium established a strong partnership with the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development, creating an annual policy dialogue involving UN entities, member states, faith-based actors, and civil society to address pressing global challenges. Past themes have included a wide range of critical issues related to human rights, the prevention of atrocity crimes and their incitement, the promotion of peace, inclusion, and combating systemic injustice. The upcoming 10th Symposium will reiterate commitment to human rights and dignity. It aims to inspire collective action for a compassionate society and aligns with World Interfaith Harmony Week that will take place from 1 – 7 February 2024 to promote understanding among diverse religious communities worldwide.

See Full Concept Note

See program




Speaker Bios



Ms Simona Cruciani, OSAPG

Simona Cruciani serves as a Senior Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office on the Prevention of Genocide (UNOSAPG) where she is the Head of Programs and the focal point for the implementation of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on hate Speech.  Before joining the UNOSAPG, Simona served in United Nations field operations, respectively from 2004 to 2006 in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Burundi as an Electoral and Civil Affairs Officer, and from 2006 to 2008 at the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan as a Civil Affairs Officer. 

Simona’s focus has primarily been on preventing and responding to atrocity crimes as well as supporting human security, democratization and human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations.  Simona owns a master’s degrees in Contemporary History, International Affairs and Public Health. 


Mr Rudelmar Bueno de Farcia, General Secretary, ACT Alliance

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria (Brazil) is the General Secretary (CEO) of the ACT Alliance, an international coalition of 140 churches and faith-based organizations working together in humanitarian, development and advocacy work in over 125 countries.  Prior to this, he served as the World Council of Churches Representative to the United Nations and Deputy Director for the Lutheran World Service. He has over 30 years of experience working with national and international faith-based organizations. His education embraces business administration, international relations and foreign trade.  He has post-graduation studies on Diakonia and Community Development and several specialization courses related to international, humanitarian and human rights laws. 

Rudelmar is the former co-chair of the United Nations Multi-Faith Advisory Council, member of the UN Steering Committee for the Implementation of the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence, Commissioner of the UN High-Level Commission of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up and member of the COVAX Facility AMC Engagement Group. Rudelmar has extensive expertise in areas such as Gender Justice, Climate Justice, Peace and Human Security, Migration and Displacement, and Humanitarian Response and Disaster Risk Reduction. He is a member of the Steering Committee on Humanitarian Response (SCHR), member of the Advisory Board for the Humanitarian Encyclopedia, and member of the NGO Working Group on the UN Security Council.



Ms Alice Wairimu Nderitu, OSAPG

Alice Wairimu Nderitu of Kenya is Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Ms. Nderitu is a recognized voice in the field of peacebuilding and atrocity crimes prevention. As mediator of armed conflicts, she served as a member of the African Unions Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (Fem-Wise), the Women Waging Peace Network and Global Alliance of Women Mediators. She contributed to defining the role of women mediators, as one of the few women who are signatories to peace agreements as a mediator.

 She previously served as Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) in Kenya; Director, Education for Social Justice at Fahamu; Head of the human rights education department of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and was a Commonwealth Exchange Fellow at the South African Human Rights Commission. She was also a member of the Concerned Citizens for Peace, a group of Elders facilitating peace confidentially between African leaders at the highest levels. 

Ms. Nderitu holds an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Keene State College, a Master’s Degree in Armed Conflict and Peace Studies and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Nairobi. 


Ms Diene Keita, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Executive Director (program), UNFPA

Ms. Diene Keita is the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. Prior to this, she served as Minister of Cooperation and African Integration of the Republic of Guinea, and brings to this position nearly 30 years of experience including senior leadership with the United Nations. 

Ms. Keita first joined to the United Nations System in 2006 as UNDP Program Officer in New York. Subsequently, she served as UNDP Deputy Representative in Africa and the Caribbean, and Representative to the African Union in Addis Ababa. 

During her tenure at UN System, Ms. Keita served as UNFPA Representative in Mauritania, Benin, DRC and Nigeria (two of UNFPA’s largest programs worldwide). Concurrently, she was the UN Resident Coordinator in Mauritania, Benin and DRC. During this period, Ms. Keita led with success large and complex public health programs, expanded strategic partnerships and mobilized critical resources to support efficient delivery at local and global level. 

Throughout her career, Ms. Keita has worked extensively on women and youth empowerment, inclusive growth, demographic issues and sustainable human development, sexual and reproductive health, as well as gender-based violence issues in the context of humanitarian crises. 

Dr Keita holds a doctorate in law, summa cum laude, a DEA in international economics and development law, and a DESS in international relations from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and is fluent in English, French and Italian, among other languages. 


Rev Prof Dr Jerry Pillay, General Secretary, World Council of Churches

 Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay is the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Pillay was previously dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria. A member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, he is from South Africa.

When he became part of the leadership of the Uniting Presbyterian Church, he was appointed to serve on the WCC central committee, and was also appointed to the board of trustees of the Council for World Mission. He also served on the National Executive of the South African Council of Churches for many years, and was the first President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches from 2010 – 2017.

His first formal engagement with the WCC was at the WCC 9th Assembly in 2006, where he served as a delegate from his denomination. He brings to the general secretary position his desire for the churches to come together. With church unity as one of his absolute priorities, he also believes that churches need to offer guidance and direction to a suffering world.


SESSION 1: Upholding Human Dignity: Respecting Rights, Flourishing Humanity 



Ms Audrey Kitigawa, President/Founder, International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation

Audrey E. Kitagawa, JD, is the President/Founder of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation, President of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family, and the former Advisor to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations.

She is the Chair of the Anti-Racism Initiative, and Gender Equality Working Group, and a member of the Advisory Council of the G20 Interfaith Forum.  She is a United Nations Representative for the United Religions Initiative, a board member of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and a member of the Advisory Council of Global Security Institute.

She has been listed in Who’s Who Of American Law, Who’s Who Of American Women, Who’s Who In America, Who’s Who In The World, and Prominent People of Hawaii. She is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor which celebrates diversity, and the importance of immigrants to the economic and social success of the United States for her work in multiculturalism, Asian women’s history and empowerment, and spiritual leadership. She is the recipient of the Medal “Pride of Eurasia” and a Diploma from the Republic of Kazakhstan Ministry of Education and Science L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University for her outstanding contribution to the development of spiritual culture and education in Eurasia. 



Dr Ganoune Diop, Director, Public Affairs and Religious Liverty, Seventh-day Adventist Church

Ganoune Diop, PhD, is the Director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department (PARL) at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. He is the Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association. He is also the Secretary of the Conference of General Secretaries of the Christian World Communions.

Dr. Ganoune Diop was the director of the United Nations Relations of the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.

Previous to his current functions, he was the Director of the Five World Religions and Philosophies Study Centers (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Secularism and Postmodernism).

He regularly trains leaders in capacity building in reference to peace, justice, and human rights: the pillars of the United Nations. In the ecumenical world and interfaith partnerships, Dr. Diop participated as advisor to the Public Issues Committee at the WCC General Assembly in Busan, Korea. He was also invited as advisor to the work of the reference Policy Committee of the Central Committee of the WCC.

Dr. Diop was granted a doctorate Honoris Causa for his work in helping promote a culture of human rights grounded on human dignity. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Thomas Kane Religious Freedom Award, from the well-known J. Rueben Clark Law Society in Philadelphia, United States of America. In 2019, he received the Award of Excellence: Ambassador for Liberty and Peace – Jean Nussbaum & Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations in Geneva. In 2020, Dr. Diop was one of four recipients of the Charles Elliott Weniger Society for Excellence Award of Excellence, Loma Linda University. 

Bio adapted from: 


Ms Elisa Gazzotti, SGI Representative to the UN, Human Rights Education Focal Point and Chair of NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education

Elisa Gazzotti works as programme coordinator for Human Rights Education at Soka Gakkai International Office for UN Affairs. In 2018 she was appointed as the chair of the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning, a coalition of non-governmental organizations that advocates for human rights education at the United Nations, to ensure implementation at the national and local level. 

From 2020-2022 Elisa served as the co-chair of the Human Rights Engagement Task Team of the Global Protection cluster led by UNHCR. Before joining Soka Gakkai International Elisa was working with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy and UNDP in Amman, Jordan. Elisa holds an Executive Master in International Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts with a thesis on ‘Women’s protection in Syria and Iraq’ from the Geneva Academy in Geneva, Switzerland and a Master in International Relations from ‘Università degli Studi di Pavia’ Italy. 


Mr Atallah Fitzgibbon, Faith and Partnership Adviser, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Atallah FitzGibbon has worked in local economic and social development both in the public and voluntary sector in the UK and overseas. Most recently over the last 20 years he has served at Islamic Relief Worldwide as International Programmes Director, Head of Policy & Strategy and Head of Global Advocacy.  Currently as Faith & Partnerships Advisor at Islamic Relief Worldwide, he currently leads IRW’s engagement and partnerships on faith-based approaches to tackling the major challenges of our time.

Atallah has led the development of Islamic Relief’s last two global strategies between 2009-21, which has involved leading on the drive to improve faith literacy and localisation within IRW’s work and the development of IRW’s conceptual framework and theory of change on human development. This included developing our policies on Islamic social financing and approaches.  As Global Advocacy Manager Atallah focussed heavily on faith community contribution to the SDGs and refugee protection.  Atallah leads IRW’s work on faith-based approaches to peace-building and has been active in recent initiatives and research that has focussed on the role of faith-based actors in refugee protection and conflict transformation. He is active both in the World of Neighbours initiative in Europe as well as KAICID’s Network for Dialogue which explores the role of interreligious and intercultural dialogue for the social inclusion of migrants and people seeking refuge in Europe.


Mr Michael Wiener, Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva

Michael Wiener has been working since 2006 at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including for five years supporting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and now working in the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-discrimination Branch. He was also part of the core team organizing the expert workshops that led to the adoption of the Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Since 2017, he has been working on the design and implementation of the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”. In addition, he has been a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College at the University of Oxford since 2011. During his UN sabbatical leave in the summer of 2022, he was also a Senior Fellow in Residence at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. 

SESSION 2: Gender Equality, Peace, and Eradicating Violence 



Ms Dawn Minott, Advisor, Gender and Gender-Based Violence with Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus focus at United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

With over 20 years of progressive experience at the United Nations, Dawn Minott has dedicated her efforts to advocacy for sexual reproductive health, gender equality and youth empowerment working with UN Women, United Nations Development Program and currently UNFPA. Her current role involves setting normative standards from a gender perspective to guide how UNFPA’s work, with a particular focus on gender-based violence, can be strengthened by working across the continuum of humanitarian, development, and peace-responsive actions. 

Dawn’s career has spanned diverse roles from Head of Office to Special Assistant to the UNFPA Executive Director. She’s served at the country, regional, sub-regional and headquarters levels across duty stations in Barbados, Jamaica, South Africa, and Nigeria, and the UNFPA Headquarters in NY.

Dawn is also committed to cultural diversity and social justice. She serves as Diversity Equity and Inclusion Corporate Advocate for UNFPA and holds certification for that function. She also holds a MA degree from York University, Canada. She actively engages in nurturing young professionals and team members through mentorship and professional development. Outside of work, Dawn wears many creative hats. As a published author, poet, blogger, and motivational speaker she channels her creativity to inspire and connect with diverse audiences. She also serves as a ministry leader within her church community testimony to a holistic approach to her personal and professional life.  



Ms Karen Volker, Director of Partnership and Violence Prevention, United Religions Initiative

Karen Volker was born and raised in California before starting her international journey of diplomacy and violence prevention. She joined URI in January 2023 after a ten-year stint at Cure Violence Global (CVG), a community-based violence prevention nonprofit, and a 26-year career at the U.S. Department of State as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. At CVG, Karen specialized in adapting the model to different social and cultural contexts and different types of violence.  

While at the State Department, Karen spent over a decade overseeing the implementation of U.S. foreign assistance programming in a variety of regions undergoing transition (including Central & Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East).  Other areas of focus include countering violent extremism and multilateral diplomacy, especially vis-a-vis the European Union. At URI, Karen focuses on expanding URI’s partnerships and brings intentionality and effective practice to sharpen URI’s mandate to reduce religiously motivated violence worldwide. Karen represents URI at the United Nations, seeking to strengthen and expand relationships with partners as well as influencing global policies to advance interfaith cooperation, prevent violence, and promote cultures of peace, justice, and healing.


Rev Dr Elaine Neuenfeldt, Gender justice Program Manager, ACT Alliance

As a Gender Program Manager at ACT Alliance, Elaine Neuenfeldt leads the development of the work on gender justice and mainstreaming across the global network of faith-based organizations. Elaine has a PhD in Theology and she has academic research and teaching exploring the ethical and transformative implications of religion and faith in the intersection of gender justice and human rights. Elaine has also developed expertise in cross-cultural teamwork, policy development, and networking with multiple stakeholders at different levels and regions.

Elaine has acquired experience and knowledge in advocacy for women human rights, participating in designing curriculum for training and capacity sharing for faith actors, jointly with other ecumenical and interfaith organizations.

In a challenging time when religion and faith (institutions, movements and leaders) are becoming major actors in public space, to be agents of change or, sometimes, strong impediments for implementing women human rights and gender justice, Elaine has been dedicating time and knowledge sharing on developing methodologies with faith-based organizations developing critical narratives and practices on faith, religion, and theological understandings.


Mr Jimmie Briggs, Co-Founder and Director, Man Up Campaign

Jimmie Briggs has more than two decades of experience as a journalist, author, and activist. He was a co-founder and executive director emeritus of Man Up Campaign, a global initiative to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. This led to his selection as the winner of the 2010 GQ Magazine “Better Men Better World” search, and as one of the Women’s eNews ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’. Jimmie has served as an adjunct professor of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research and was a George A Miller Visiting Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana. 

For a decade, he has been an adjunct teacher of documentary journalism at the International Center of Photography. As a journalist, he has written for scores of publications following staff tenures at The Washington Post, The Village Voice, LIFE magazine and others. The recipient of honors for his work as a journalist and advocate, he’s been a National Magazine Award finalist, recipient of honors from the Open Society Institute, National Association of Black Journalists, the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism, the Congressional Black Caucus, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, among many others. His 2005 book Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War took readers into the lives of war-affected children around the world in half a dozen countries. His next book project is an oral history of Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014. He currently contributes to Vanity Fair, AARP, and other publications. Jimmie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors, in Philosophy, from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as a Medal of Distinction from Barnard College. He lives in New York City.


Dr Azza Karam, President, Women’s Learning Partnership

Dr. Azza Karam is the President and CEO of the Women’s Learning Partnership; serves as a member of the United Nations’ Secretary General High Level Advisory Board on Multilateralism; and also as a Professor of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). She is Secretary General Emerita of Religions for Peace International.

She served for nearly two decades in the United Nations (in UNDP and UNFPA), where she Coordinated the Arab Human Development Reports, co-founded and Chaired the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion – with over 20 UN system bodies – and founded and convened its Multi Faith Advisory Council, as part of the 750 global NGO database she coordinatedDuring her tenure at the United Nations, Azza was a Lead Facilitator, Coordinator and Coach, for a methodology she pioneered: peer to peer “Strategic Learning Exchanges”, on religion, development and diplomacy. 

Apart from the work in the United States, she has worked with other intergovernmental and international organizations such as the OSCE, the EU, and International IDEA in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and East and Central Asia, where she created and managed global programs on Women and Politics, Democracy and/In the Middle East, and Applied Research on Democracy. She has lectured and taught in various universities, including West Point Military Academy (from 2002 to 2018). She has published widely, and was translated into several languages (on political Islam, gender and women’s rights, Human Rights, democracy, conflict, peacemaking, and education). She has received multiple awards, including for her work on/in the United Nations, as well as in/on Interfaith work and Culture. She was awarded an honorary Degree by John Cabot University in 2022. Born in Egypt, Azza is also a citizen of the Netherlands. 

SESSION 3: Key Learnings for a Just, Peaceable and Inclusive Future



Rev. Dr.  Liberato Bautista, President, Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship wirh the United Nations (CoNGO)

The Rev. Dr. Liberato C. Bautista is a civil society leader whose professional life has been dedicated to working with faith-based, ecumenical and non-governmental organizations worldwide, spanning the last four decades.  He serves as President of CoNGO, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. He is an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church. He has served for 27 years to the present as Assistant General Secretary for United Nations and International Affairs of the General Board of Church and Society.  

Bautista represents CoNGO and UMC-GBCS as an NGO representative to the United Nations worldwide. He previously chaired the Council of Organizations of the United Nations Association of the USA (COO UNA-USA) and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN (CRNGO). Bautista studied political science, history, and international studies at the University of the Philippines and religion and social and political ethics at Drew University (USA) and was awarded in 2016 a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, by Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Bautista is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS). He received the 1996 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from Drew University and recognition in 2017 by the Korea Democracy Foundation for his contributions to the democratization and struggle for peace and justice in the Korean Peninsula. Bautista has taught in university, college, and seminary settings and has published on varied subjects, including international affairs and multilateralism, NGO and civil society, social and political ethics, theology and religion, ecumenism, religious liberty, human rights and human dignity, Indigenous peoples, global and forced migration, and peace, justice, and social transformation. For more information about Bautista, including his publications, visit and



Mr Anwar Khan, President, Islamic Relief USA

Anwar Khan, a distinguished humanitarian leader, holds a Master’s Degree in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University. As the co-founder and current president of Islamic Relief USA, he brings over 30 years of invaluable experience in the field of humanitarian and development assistance. He has served on the boards of Inter Action and US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA). He has also served in the U.S. State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, where he advised on humanitarian issues and the intersection of faith and development. 

Currently, he serves on the board of World Food Program USA, Joint Learning Initiative and the Alliance to End Hunger. He is on the Advisory Council for the Muslim Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University.  

As President of IRUSA, Anwar has prioritized programs that elevate human dignity and advocates for strengthening resilience to climate change and natural disasters. He also helped ensure that the organization continues to hold governments accountable for their commitments under the Paris Agreement and fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to climate change.   Throughout his work, he always emphasized community security through peacebuilding activities, behavior change campaigns, and youth empowerment and involvement. The organization is involved in strengthening food security, famine prevention, climate change, and increasing advocacy.


Ms Emily Kenney, Policy Specialist, Rule of Law, UN Women

Emily Kenney is a Policy Specialist on Rule of Law and Transitional Justice at UN Women headquarters, where she works in the Peace, Security and Resilience Section on women’s access to justice in conflict-affected countries and accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Emily holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, an M.Phil from the University of Cape Town in Justice & Transformation Studies, and a B.A. from Tufts University. 



Mr Peter Prove, Director, International Affairs, World Council of Churches

Peter Prove, Director, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) at the World Council of Churches (WCC) since 2014 (responsible for WCC programs in the fields of human rights, peacebuilding and disarmament, and for relations with the UN system). Previously Executive Director, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), 2010-2014; Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), 1997-2010; and a lawyer in private legal practice in Australia, 1986-1996.

Extensive experience of interfaith networking for human rights, peace and development. Numerous leadership roles in UN and civil society contexts, including as President of the NGO Special Committee on Human Rights (Geneva), 2000-2008; member of the UN International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions, 2008; member of the UNCTAD Expert Advisory Group on Promoting Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing, 2009; member of the UNAIDS International Advisory Group on Universal Access, 2011; member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils network 2012-2014; member of Steering Group of International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD), 2018 to date; founding member of the International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment (INCHRITI); and founding member of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN).


H.E Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, Grand Mufti, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council; Co-Moderator, African Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace; Co-President, Religions for Peace

Sheikh Mubaje was born in Bungokho in Mbale district. He became familiar with Islamic affairs early in his life, thanks to the years spent in a Madras Islamic Primary School in Natete Kayunga district and Namatembe Islamic Institute in Namutumba. Sheikh Mubaje later joined Bugembe Islamic Institute in Jinja, where he completed senior six in 1976 in Islamic studies. In 1977, he went to Riyad in Saudi Arabia for a bachelor’s degree in Sharia (Islamic law). In 1981, he became the Imam of Madinah Mosque, Mbale and founded Mahdi Noor Islamic Institute.

Months later, he became the Mbale district khadi, while pursuing a post-graduate diploma in philosophy at Mbale Islamic University. Mubaje later enrolled at Makerere University for a master’s degree in religious studies. After graduation, he returned to Mbale University as a lecturer in religious studies.

In 2000, Sheikh Mubaje was unanimously elected Grand Mufti of Uganda and was instrumental in founding of Religions for Peace‘s Interreligious Council of Uganda. In 2001, he helped form the African Council of Religious Leaders-Religions for Peace. He continues to hold the position of Co-Chair of the Council and is an ex-officio member of Religions for Peace World Council.


Ms Amani Aruri, Karama Network

Amani Aruri is a human rights activist, committed to supporting youth, women and girls in Palestine and the MENA region. Amani brings 10+ experience advancing gender justice, human rights and peace and security agendas working with civil society organizations, collectives and networks, public and private foundations, and UN agencies. Being results driven, Amani has utilized her skills in managing innovative programs that serve marginalized groups especially youth and women, in addition to designing and implementing capacity-building programs for youth. 

She is currently a member of Generation Equality Global Youth Task Force, served as member of the taskforce of the Generation Equality Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, a panelist at Global Resilience Fund, YPS/WPS ambassador of Karama Network and a council member of the International Peace Bureau.