International Religious Youth Organisation Seminars

IRYOS Project 1996-1999 - Report to Executive Committee of WCRP/International February 20, 1997

Project Description

Even though there is a growing cooperation between a variety of youth organisations worldwide, there does not yet exist any mechanism for religious and multi-religious youth organisations, as well as other interested youth organisations, to: a) raise awareness about their respective existence; b) exchange information about each other on a regular basis; c) support and facilitate on-going cooperation among each other.

Such cooperation is necessary for at least four reasons:

  1. develop respect across individual and organizational identities, especially religious ones;
  2. increase effective use of human and material resources to serve better the needs of young people;
  3. learn skills of communication and cooperation across traditionally divise lines;
  4. help the younger generation of religious people participate more effectively in broader youth and multi-generational structures, such as the United Nations.

Since 1984, the Youth members of WCRP/International have gained considerable experience at the process of multi-religious cooperation for peace and justice. Although this experience has been mostly between individuals, and in some cases organisations (especially in Japan and Korea), our cumulative experience around the world enables us now to lead a process exploring the possible creation of a new platform where partnership between various religious, multi-religious, and other interested youth organisations can be promoted.

In order to find out what the specific needs for such cooperation may be and to find the best structure to respond to them, the International Youth Committee (IYC) of WCRP/International has embarked on the IRYOS Project (International Religious Youth Organisations Seminars). This project is defined as a two-phase process. The first phase is to organize local and national consultations between a variety of religious, multi-religious, and other interested youth organisations. The second phase is to coordinate regional international seminars to take place over the next three years in preparation for the 1999 WCRP Seventh World Assembly. At every IRYOS, WCRP Youth would lead a training component in non-violent communication skills (one of many approaches to conflict resolution).

The aim of IRYOS is to make WCRP Youth effective on at least two fronts: as a platform for multi-sectorial youth cooperation and as an educational and data-base resource for conflict resolution. In this process, we will explore the possibility of establishing a permanent WCRP/International Youth Commission which would reflect and empower the grassroots nature of youth work in a spirit of multi-sectorial cooperation.

Progress Report

The IRYOS project was first circulated among the IYC during September and October 1996. Over two-thirds of the IYC members responded to it and supported the initiative. No negative reaction was received. For the moment, Patrice Brodeur is coordinating IRYOS under the request of several members of the IYC, who have pledged different forms of support to this project. For example, subsequent to a WCRP/UK & Ireland youth meeting (Dec. 6-8, 1996), Mr. Thierry Jeanne agreed to coordinate the non-violent communication skills training component for every IRYOS. More WCRP Youth members need to be trained in this respect so as to play leadership roles during the various IRYOS.

On a more national level, a number of developments have taken place recently. In the UK, Nersey Rastan, Daniel Tetlow, Shaleen Milu, Aneel Sharma, and Clare McMahon, among others, have agreed to coordinate a consultation on March 9th, which will bring together over 30 people from about 20 different religious youth organisations. There are talks of dupplicating the UK model to Bosnia, Germany and Belarus, where interest has been expressed. Funding through the European Union is beeing sought for those four IRYOS.

Update on UK Project

In Lebanon, under the leadership of Ziad Mousa, a process of forming a WCRP/Lebanon with a strong youth organisations component is well under way. They are presently studying WCRP documents in order to formulate their needs for multi-religious cooperation in Lebanon, Middle-East, and beyond.

In Egypt, Magdy Makram Gad, Dr. Ahmed Abdallah and Dr. Ossama El-Kaffash, among others, are coordinating efforts to establish a WCRP/Egypt national chapter with a strong youth organisations component too. Under the leadership of Mr. Makram Gad, director of the Youth Desk for the MECC (Middle East Council of Churches), a Middle-East Youth Conference is being organized in Alexandria for this September, under both MECC and YAP (Youth Action Program) auspices. Ziad Mousa is actively involved in the planning of this conference. There are hopes that WCRP/IYC can also be involved: this conference could possibly become the first IRYOS.

In South Africa, at the Bi-annual General Assembly on January 17-18, 1997, the WCRP National Executive Committee has welcomed the IRYOS Project as a means to focus more attention on youth within the chapter as a whole. They will examine the possibility of hosting an IRYOS for Southern Africa sometime in 1998 or 1999, after first strengthening their own WCRP/SA Youth branch.

In Namibia, under the leadership of Abu Bakr Francis and Danie Botha, a youth group has been formed to explore the relevence of WCRP to Namibian society and the possibility of joining the IRYOS project for Southern Africa.

Finally, interest has been expressed for similar consultations to be held in Peru, India, and the USA. It is hoped that other chapters of WCRP will join in, especially where there are youth members already.

To go back to The WCRP-Youth Home Page click on the Dove