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Partnership agreement to promote social cohesion and respect for diversity

22 June 2017

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Khalili Foundation to develop a new generation of young, grassroots leaders who respect cultural and religious diversity.

The MoU outlines the joint effort between the two organisations to deliver a project called ‘Faith in the Commonwealth’.  It will ‘improve understanding and respect for diversity and promote social cohesion amongst youth in targeted countries of the Commonwealth.’

The Khalili Foundation, led by Professor Nasser Khalili, reaches people ‘through the power of art, culture, education and environmental concerns’. Professor Khalili has also implemented projects to promote peace, respect and understanding among people of different cultures, faiths and beliefs.

The Commonwealth and the Foundation have agreed to collaborate to ‘improve global citizenship and religious literacy, address violent extremism and support the empowerment of youth to become active citizens in targeted Commonwealth countries as a contribution to their respective organisation's objectives’. These objectives are enshrined in the values Commonwealth Charter pertaining to international peace and security, tolerance, respect and understanding.

As the Commonwealth supports international efforts to counter violent extremism in all its forms and in line with the mandate given by leaders at their Malta summit, a dedicated Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) unit was established within the Secretariat in 2017 to support national efforts to address the issue.

The Khalili Foundation will work alongside the Commonwealth to provide ‘expertise on the effective integration of intercultural dialogue, religious literacy and preventing violent extremism into project activities,’ the MOU states.