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Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites

Search for Common Ground’s (SfCG) Universal Code maps out a practical code of conduct and policy for sacred places worldwide, aiming to improve the protection of holy sites and promote inter-religious reconciliation.

Completed in 2011 after a three-year development process, the SfCG’s Universal Code is now endorsed by senior religious leaders from over ten faiths and numerous religious institutions. Field projects implementing the Universal Code in local contexts are being implemented in several countries around the world.

The Code defines holy sites as places of religious significance to particular religious communities. They include, but are nor limited to, places of worship, cemeteries and shrines, incorporating their immediate surroundings when these form an integral part of the site.

The implementation is based on interreligious cooperation and collaboration with relevant authorities leading to the institutionalization of activities in one, or across several countries for the protection of sacred places. SfCG encourages religious leaders, interfaith bodies and other faith organisations to implement the Code, in particular by creating pilot projects in their countries for the protection of sacred places.

Implementation can take varied forms according to the local needs of different communities. It can include education, monitoring, documentation, joint visits and condemnations by religious leaders in regards to attacks on holy sites, among other activities. 

One of the projects implemented is the People for Peaceful Change (PPC) in Jerusalem. With support from the British Government, the project leads a pillar of activities with local youth from the 3 Abrahamic faiths. Partnerships were formed with local Israeli and Palestinian high schools, and inter-cultural organisations specializing in Jerusalem’s Old City. The PPC’s goal is that religious platforms will educate youth on understanding differences and acting on commonalities. This is achieved through visits to shared holy sites such as Mount Zion and through dialogues and workshops on inter-religious learning & reflection. 

Find out more about SfCG’s approach here.