NATO Declaration Condemns Attacks Against Religious Communities
08 Sep 2014
The Heads of State and Government who met at the NATO Summit in Wales from 4-5 September 2014 issued their declaration concluding the meeting, placing a much greater emphasis than in previous communiques on the role of religion and the persecution of religious minorities in conflict zones around the world.
The global threat from terrorism knows no border, nationality or religion
With the growing threat from ISIS against ethnic and religious communities in Iraq, NATO leaders in their Summit Declaration make particular reference to concerns around ISIS and the targeting of religious and ethnic communities in the country. They also state that the global threat from terrorism knows no border, nationality or religion.
The leaders also highlight the ongoing crisis in Syria, condemning the violence against the Syrian people, and particularly highlighting the need to protect against ISIS.
With the recent escalation of the conflict in Libya, the declaration notes the deteriorating situation in the country, where the conflict has become more of a struggle between patrons of political Islam and their opponents.
The declaration also reaffirmed NATO's commitment to Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan people in their efforts to build a stable, sovereign, democratic, and united country. This can be viewed by taking a more detailed look at the ongoing conflict in the country, where political forces are legitimising and expressing themselves in religious terms.
- Iraq: The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a grave threat to the Iraqi people, to the Syrian people, to the wider region, and to our nations. We are outraged by ISIL's recent barbaric attacks against all civilian populations, in particular the systematic and deliberate targeting of entire religious and ethnic communities. We condemn in the strongest terms ISIL's violent and cowardly acts. If the security of any Ally is threatened, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to ensure our collective defence. The rapid deterioration of the security situation in Iraq and ISIL's expanding threat underline the necessity for a political solution based upon an inclusive Iraqi government with cross-sectarian representation. Additionally, in light of the dramatic humanitarian consequences of this crisis and its repercussions on regional stability and security, many Allies have already provided, and are offering, security and humanitarian assistance to Iraq on a bilateral basis.
- Syria: We continue to follow the ongoing crisis in Syria with grave concern. We condemn in the strongest terms the campaign of violence against the Syrian people by the Assad regime, which caused the current chaos and devastation in this country. We call on the Syrian government to fully comply with the provisions of all relevant UNSCRs and to immediately commit to a genuine political transition in accordance with the 30 June 2012 Geneva Communiqué. We believe a negotiated political transition is essential to bring an end to the bloodshed. We highlight the important role of the moderate opposition to protect communities against the dual threats of the Syrian regime's tyranny and ISIL's extremism. More than three years of fighting have had dramatic humanitarian consequences and a growing impact on the security of regional countries. Despite possible destabilising effects on their economies and societies, NATO member Turkey, our regional partner Jordan, as well as neighbouring Lebanon, are generously hosting millions of refugees and displaced Syrians. The deployment of Patriot missiles to defend the population and territory of Turkey is a strong demonstration of NATO's resolve and ability to defend and deter any potential threat against any Ally. ISIL has, with its recent advance into Iraq, become a transnational threat. The Assad regime has contributed to the emergence of ISIL in Syria and its expansion beyond. ISIL's presence in both Syria and Iraq is a threat to regional stability. It has become a key obstacle to political settlement in Syria and a serious risk to the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. The people of Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the region need the support of the international community to counter this threat. A coordinated international approach is required.
- Libya: We are deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and the deteriorating security situation in Libya, which threaten to undermine the goals for which the Libyan people have suffered so much and which pose a threat to the wider region. We urge all parties to cease all violence and engage without delay in constructive efforts aimed at fostering an inclusive political dialogue in the interest of the entire Libyan people, as part of the democratic process. Recognising the central role of the UN in coordinating international efforts in Libya, we strongly support the ongoing efforts of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to achieve an immediate ceasefire, scale down tensions, and contribute to national reconciliation. Our Operation Unified Protector demonstrated NATO's determination, together with regional Arab partners, to protect the Libyan people. On the basis of NATO's decision in October 2013, following a request by the Libyan authorities, we continue to stand ready to support Libya with advice on defence and security institution building and to develop a long-term partnership, possibly leading to Libya's membership in the Mediterranean Dialogue, which would be a natural framework for our cooperation.
- Afghanistan: We recognise the particular importance of advancing regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations for the security and stability of Afghanistan. We remain determined to support the Afghan people in their efforts to build a stable, sovereign, democratic, and united country, where rule of law and good governance prevail, and in which human rights for all, especially the rights of women, including their full participation in decision making, and those of children, are fully protected. Working with the Government of Afghanistan and the wider international community, our goal remains to never again be threatened by terrorists from within Afghanistan. Our commitment to Afghanistan will endure.
- Terrorism: Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of the citizens of NATO countries and to international stability and prosperity more broadly, and will remain a threat for the foreseeable future. It is a global threat that knows no border, nationality, or religion – a challenge that the international community must fight and tackle together. We reaffirm our commitment to fight terrorism with unwavering resolve in accordance with international law and the principles of the UN Charter. NATO Allies are exposed to a wide range of terrorist threats. NATO has a role to play, including through our military cooperation with partners to build their capacity to face such threats, and through enhanced information sharing. Without prejudice to national legislation or responsibilities, the Alliance strives at all times to remain aware of the evolving threat from terrorism; to ensure that it has adequate capabilities to prevent, protect against, and respond to terrorist threats; and to engage with partners and other international organisations, as appropriate, promoting common understanding and practical cooperation in support of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, including in areas such as Explosive Risk Management. Building on our Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work, we will continue to improve our capabilities and technologies, including to defend against Improvised Explosive Devices and CBRN threats. We will keep terrorism and related threats high on NATO's security agenda.
- Women and Conflict: We attach great importance to ensuring women's full and active participation in the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts, as well as in post-conflict efforts and cooperation. We remain committed to preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Since our last Summit in Chicago, we have made significant progress in implementing UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and related resolutions. We are now implementing the results of the Review of the Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of Operations. A revised Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security have been developed with our partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and with other partners. The establishment of a permanent position of NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security underscores the Alliance's active engagement and commitment to this agenda. NATO's cooperation with partner nations, international organisations, and civil society has been strengthened and should be further enhanced. Our ongoing efforts to integrate gender perspectives into Alliance activities throughout NATO's three core tasks will contribute to a more modern, ready, and responsive NATO. We have directed the Council to submit a progress report on NATO's implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions for our next Summit.
This article summarises an external report, and is not to be taken as the view of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
Sign up to receive the Roundup
Sign up to the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' Roundup to receive weekly updates with the latest commentary, analysis and news on the role of religion in conflict zones. Sign up here.