An Taoiseach Micheál Martin
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin launches DCU’s new Centre for Religion, Human Values, and International Relations

The new Centre for Religion, Human Values and International Relations was launched virtually today by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

The new centre aims to become a recognised centre of excellence in the field of religion, diplomacy, and peace and on the concepts, values, and organisational principles that can encourage a mutually beneficial engagement by policy makers and other stakeholders with religious actors. 

The Centre is hosted by two schools of the university, Law and Government and Theology, Philosophy, and Music, and its members are drawn from across the university. In the spirit of the ‘shared island’ initiative, the Centre has already established an innovative partnership with the Irish Council of Churches/Irish Inter-Church Meeting. 

The book On the Significance of Religion for Global Diplomacy, also launched today, forms an important part of the background. A team of six experts, including the four co-authors of the book, delivers a module on religion, human values, and international relations as part of existing MA programmes at DCU.  

An Taoiseach was joined at this event by Archbishop John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

Also speaking were Dr Kishan Manocha, Head of the Tolerance and Non–Discrimination Department, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions & Human Rights, Philip McDonagh, director of the new centre, Nicola Brady, General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches and Joint Secretary of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting, and President of DCU Prof. Daire Keogh.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said

“The Centre for Religion, Human Values and International Relations will be an important location where academics can support the dialogue between religious communities, political leaders and public authorities.

It reflects DCU’s commitment to cross-border dialogue, with our Shared Island initiative putting a strong focus on dialogue involving all communities and traditions on this island.

I am also pleased to launch an important new book on this subject, On the Significance of Religion for Global Diplomacy.

The authors identify the challenges of finding global consensus, COVID-19 and climate change, and argue for a new dialogue with religion to help build long-term peace.”

Archbishop John McDowell said

“One of the churches’ aims is to equip our members and our spokespeople to be able to contribute to the public realm in pluralist democracies like Ireland.

We the churches, will never have, nor should we have sought to have the first word or the last word on any matter but we still have a word to say, one that can be spoken in solidarity with others, the solidarity of social friendship.

We the church must give up the idea that we will be the hosts and learn to become visitors again, observing the courtesies that visitors should observe. And perhaps now there are no hosts at the table of public discourse, perhaps just temporary ones depending on the occasion.

A helpfully plural world that is to be sustainable needs to involve not only individuals but also institutions, because institutions are the way we stay together over time and the way we pass wisdom.”

Prof. Philip McDonagh, Director of the Centre said

“Our new centre focuses on new ways of looking at religion, diplomacy, and peace, and new approaches to multi-stakeholder engagement. Religions cross borders and boundaries. Their concern with community and collective responsibility fits the needs of our time. 

Our centre will contribute, we hope, to a 'culture of encounter' inclusive of the religious perspective. To give us hope, we need spaces for dialogue in which the most consequential issues are addressed and our most deeply held human values are part of the equation.”

Prof. Daire Keogh, President of Dublin City University said

“This new centre reflects DCU’s mission to ‘transform lives and societies’. Universities like DCU have a critical role to play in facilitating new frameworks for dialogue that re-focus international relations on the creation of common ground.

At a time when isolationism and xenophobia are increasingly negative factors in global politics, this new DCU centre aims to bring vision and values to the sphere of diplomacy.”

About Professor Philip McDonagh, Director of the Centre for Religion, Human Values and International Relations 

Philip was previously at the Department of Foreign Affairs, where he worked on the Good Friday Agreement and in several multilateral frameworks (EU, UN, OSCE) and developed a strong interest in the intersection of religion and diplomacy as Head of Mission in India, Russia, and the Holy See. Philip is Distinguished Global Fellow at the Centre of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Economics and Peace (Sydney), and a member of the Steering Committee of the OSCE Academic Network (Hamburg).

He was recently made a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions (Barcelona).

On the Significance of Religion for Global Diplomacy by Philip McDonagh, Kishan Manocha, John Neary and Lucia Vázquez Mendoza is available open access from Routledge.

Click here to visit the centre's website.