Launched in 2016
Focused on building agreement among key religious leaders that holy sites should be safeguarded as sites for peace and not targets for destruction
Resulted in a consensus statement on the need to protect holy sites
In Nigeria, holy sites have been in the crossfire of conflict. In the northern regions of the country, holy site have suffered damage during clashes between farmers and herders. Though this conflict is rooted in competition over natural resources, some have used religious narratives to mobilize support for their side. In the North East, worship centers have been destroyed as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency as well.
In 2016, Search for Common Ground Nigeria launched Building Consensus on the Protection of Holy Sites in Northern Nigeria, a program aimed at creating dialogue between key religious leaders to work on a common agenda to protect the holy sites of all religions.
As part of this program, Search held three zonal strategy conferences that brought together faith leaders who might not have otherwise engaged in dialogue. At the conferences, they addressed the factors causing religious violence and tailored their responses to specific regional drivers.
Search also hosted a national feedback and consensus building conference. This resulted in a consensus statement with 64 religious leaders agreeing to support the protection of holy sites. As part of this statement, leaders committed to spreading the idea of holy site protection through media and agreed to reach less accessible populations who are crucial in protecting holy sites. Additionally, they committed to strengthening their networks across religious lines, organizing town hall meetings, and creating school engagement programs, all with the focus on protecting holy sites.
The Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites guided all program activities and was referenced in the final agreement. By the program’s end, all participants were knowledgeable about the Universal Code.
WATCH this short documentary produced by Search for Common Ground: