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Conflict Sensitivity for Multi-Faith Religious Leaders in Mindanao
December 22, 2015

Author: The International Peace Research Association Foundation
Publication Date: June 2009

Description: This project explores the applicability of conflict sensitivity, an organizational planning approach originating in the humanitarian aid sector, for improving the social impact of religious associations operating in multi-faith societies that are experiencing or at risk for destructive inter-group conflict. The project adopts a unique action research approach, collaborating with a local partner, the Davao Ministerial Interfaith, Inc. (DMI), to address the social impact dilemmas faced by religious workers in Mindanao, Philippines, with broader implications for Southeast Asia and international contexts. Data collection has explored the relevance and usefulness of the Do No Harm (DNH) conflict sensitivity tool (Anderson, 1999) through participatory social analysis workshops, surveys and interviews. DNH has contributed significantly to individual change, by establishing awareness of unintended negative impacts and overcoming deeply held biases, as a pre-requisite to organizational change. Nonetheless, DNH’s impact analysis patterns need to be contextualized to reflect the nature of religious work, and the framework may also require a more explicit consideration of issues of structural violence. In contrast to existing associational theory (including Putnam, 2000; Varshney, 2002), the participating organizations display a multifaceted mix of positive and negative social impacts, resulting from both organizational structure and non-structural factors, and profoundly influenced by religious beliefs.

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