Religious worldviews, when used by extremists to promote violent conflict, threaten world peace. In his book, "Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft", Dr. Douglas Johnston writes: "Almost anywhere one turns, one finds a religious dimension to the hostilities." The PACIS PROJECT seeks to bring together the principles and practices of religion with politics in the cause of peacemaking and conflict resolution.
The PACIS PROJECT in Faith Based Diplomacy, in consultation with governments and religious leaders, addresses intractable identity-based conflicts that exceed the grasp of traditional diplomacy by effectively combining the transcendent power of religion with the practice of international diplomacy through an innovative model of faith-based reconciliation that has borne tangible fruit in the United States, Sudan, Kashmir and recently in the Arab and Israeli spheres of influence.
The PACIS PROJECT emphasizes "on the ground" intervention among polarized communities in situations of identity-based conflict. It seeks to work with leaders and emerging leaders in policymaking circles, foreign ministries, national security agencies, religious denominational communities, higher education and humanitarian non-governmental organizations who must grapple with the complex role of religion in societies and as a contributing factor in violent conflict. The PACIS PROJECT focuses on the development of the specialized field of track two diplomacy that is able to work in a collaborative fashion with official track one government-to-government diplomacy.
The PACIS PROJECT is a cooperative partnership of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy based in Washington DC. For the past seven years, the Straus Institute has consistently been ranked as the #1 Dispute Resolution program in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. The International Center for Religion and Diplomacy over the past twelve years has been actively involved in faith-based diplomatic projects in Sudan, Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East. Its team, drawn from the fields of religion, politics, law, national security, business and academia analyze, plan and implement faith-based methodologies that draw on the wellsprings of various faith traditions.
The objectives of the PACIS PROJECT are four-fold:
- To promote the Abrahamic values of faith-based reconciliation as a paradigm for 21st century societies, as an alternative to religious extremism and militancy, as a means of healing the broken family of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) and as a methodology of faith-based conflict intervention.
- To empower indigenous senior, civil society and grassroots leaders with a faith-based approach to peacemaking that seeks to "soften hearts" as a prelude to constructive joint problem solving.
- To create an academic home for faith-based diplomacy while preparing the next generation of faith-based diplomats.
- To foster and effect increasingly complementary collaboration with traditional diplomatic and nation-to-nation track one peacemaking efforts.
The PACIS PROJECT has as its core intellectual and methodological framework an innovative approach to diplomacy and peacemaking that has been developed over the past twenty years by Brian Cox who brings together a unique background in politics, theological and pastoral training and conflict resolution. This innovative approach is called faith-based reconciliation which is defined by eight core values and by a deliberative process that focuses on creating a reconciling spirit between antagonists and engaging in constructive joint problem solving as a means of not only resolving the conflict but of also addressing the need for a wider process of sociopolitical healing so as to develop a sustainable environment for peace.
The PACIS PROJECT is overseen by Timothy Pownall, The Assistant Director of the Straus Institute; Brian Cox, ICRD's Senior Vice President; and Michael Zacharia, a veteran of the White House, U.S. State Department and international corporate law.