2015 may become known as the year that extremism went mainstream. The continuing rise of ‘religious’ terrorism has provoked new and no less extremist responses from those who feel threatened. Polarization and division are rising at a seemingly exponential rate.
Extremism is a symptom of deeper problems and cannot be answered by force nor by moderation and tolerance. A passionate inclusivity is needed which affirms the essential dignity and contribution of every single person, of whatever race, religion or background, while also demanding justice. The rising dynamic of extremism can only be countered by a rising dynamic of compassion, integrity and service.
This document outlines the strategic priorities for Initiatives of Change International for 2016 to 2018.
IOFC INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIC PRIORITIES 2016-2018
IofC International has identified three Strategic Priorities and focused on one overriding priority, namely “Addressing the root causes of extremism of all kinds.
We emphasise that poor governance and economic injustice are often among the root causes of extremism. The work that is done on these strategic priorities has a direct bearing on the first priority, and in this way we can see that we are all contributing to the same goal.
Overriding Strategic Priority 1
ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF EXTREMISM OF ALL KINDS
Extremism of whatever shape or colour not only threatens modern civilization but also runs directly contrary to the basic values of IofC. The problem of extremism as well as the solution is rooted in human nature. Fear, hate, greed and indifference perpetuate conflict, injustice, poverty and environmental destruction.
Initiatives of Change aims to foster honest dialogue across growing divides, build trust to counter stereotyping and extremism, and to seek common values on which to base new relationships and teamwork to tackle common challenges.
Key Areas of Action
- Address the growing polarization of Muslim and Non-Muslim communities, particularly in Western countries, the Middle East and Africa.
- Support IofC’s European Steering Group and Arab Regional Coordination Group in their efforts to strengthen their regional networks and promote dialogues and exchanges between Europe and the Middle East.
- Leverage existing programmes such as ‘Creators of Peace’, ‘Hope in the Cities’, ‘Initiatives for Land, Lives and Peace’, ‘Foundations for Freedom’ and ‘Education à la Paix’ (France) to give leadership on this issue.
- Encourage programmes and initiatives which educate young people in the values of participation, inclusion and peace.
- In close partnership with the Caux Foundation, develop Caux’s contribution to fostering dialogue, creating space for reflection and discerning solutions, particularly regarding issues of migration.
- Seek partnering arrangements with relevant organizations outside the IofC network.
- Support leadership development in the Arab/Muslim world, through IofC programmes both locally and in the Caux (Switzerland) and Asia Plateau (India) conference centres.
- Continue the development of an emerging initiative between India and Indonesia to come together in partnership to strengthen cohesion in their own religiously diverse societies.
- Encourage those in the IofC network who cannot directly connect with the above to give attention to countering extremism in their own localities.
Strategic Priority 2
PROMOTING INITIATIVES FOR JUST GOVERNANCE
Key Areas of Action
- Facilitate the participation of leaders with strategic influence in the Just Governance conferences at Caux and Asia Plateau, accompanying them wherever possible.
- Facilitate the deployment of the services of the Initiatives of Change Centre for Governance (India) in African countries.
- Collaborate regionally to support initiatives in South Sudan through the South Sudan Working Group.
- The International Council will continue to encourage high levels of good governance in IofC boards, as role models.
Strategic Priority 3
DEVELOPING ETHICAL LEADERSHIP IN BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC LIFE
Of the top 150 economic entities of the world, sixty percent are business organizations. IofC aims to engage with all stakeholders in business and the global economy, to inspire, connect and encourage businesses and individuals to promote ethical leadership, and contribute to an equitable society and humane world.
Key Areas of Action
- Support IofC’s international business and economy programmes such as Caux Initiatives for Business (CIB) and Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE).
- Promote a wider engagement of IofC teams with business leaders and the issues they carry, and encourage Regional Coordinating Groups to connect with existing IofC business programmes.
- Support the development and introduction of Heart of Effective Leadership training and other similar training for business leaders in Europe, Africa and the Americas.
These strategic priorities will be advanced by building on what is already in place internationally, nationally and locally in the IofC movement. IofC International will devote its main attention to priority number one, while encouraging and affirming the teams who will lead in the other priority areas.
The implementation of the three Strategic Priorities will be reviewed periodically. Where possible, and for specific actions and projects, we intend to set in place more formal evaluation processes.
The core approach of IofC, with its emphasis on global change through personal change, remains constant. Its main core practices are:
- Seeking inner wisdom, through space for reflection to unlock the creative potential in everyone;
- Starting with oneself as the basis of personal responsibility and integrity; IofC singles out values of absolute honesty, unselfishness, love and purity of heart and action as practical tests for motives and daily behaviour;
- Encouraging dialogue in diversity to build authentic relationships based on trust;
- Taking focused action to meet local and global needs.
OUR AREAS OF FOCUS
- Trustbuilding: Peace and social cohesion through trust and reconciliation.
- Ethical Leadership: Good governance by developing a leadership culture based on moral integrity, compassion and selfless service.
- Sustainable Living: Economic justice and environmental sustainability by transformation of motives and behaviour.
OUR GLOBAL CONFERENCE CENTRES
The two main centres of IofC are located at Caux in Switzerland, and Asia Plateau, Panchgani, in India. These centres were established through voluntary donations from countless people who were impacted by the ideas of Initiatives of Change. Owned and operated respectively by the Swiss Foundation CAUX-Initiatives of Change, and Friends of Moral Re-Armament (India), they host hundreds of individuals every year from around the world for programmes, events and internships.
In 2015 over 3,000 people took part in conferences and workshops at Asia Plateau, and nearly 2,000 people at Caux. These events dealt with governance, peacemaking, development and much more, and at the heart of each were the human factors. How does a person move from self-centredness to concern for others? Where do they find the courage to fight injustice? What can heal hatred? Can those who have suffered forgive? Resolving personal challenges such as these is often crucial to a person’s effectiveness in working to better their society. Asia Plateau and Caux offer everyone the space to seek this resolution.