EP Research Service Briefings are prepared for, and addressed to, the Members and staff of the European Parliament as background material to assist them in their parliamentary work.

“The role of religious groups in conflict and conflict resolution is at the centre of lively academic debate on the definition of religion, and of conflict, and on the link between intra- and inter-faith conflicts. Understanding these issues is key, as the number of people professing a religion in the world is set to increase in the next 40 years and the population share of the world’s different religions will be affected by major demographic changes. Studies show that, in recent decades, the number of civil wars with a religious dimension has increased significantly. Nevertheless, many religious organisations are active in the field of conflict resolution and reconciliation, in Mozambique, Burma, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and at a more global level. International organisations, states and think-tanks are giving increasing consideration to the religious dimension of conflict resolution. In 2016, the European Union appointed its first ever Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union. The European Parliament is meanwhile attentive to freedom of religion and belief in its resolutions. In recent years, the subject of engagement with local religious leaders has grown in importance for think-tanks, universities and governmental agencies in the USA.”