A few years after the foundation of EVID when the work had foremost consisted of dialogue between indiviudals belonging to different faiths, we wished to make our version of the dialogue known to the public and show that it may contribute in a constructive way to topics that are important to public life.

Soon we chose to focus on holy sites. This is something all religions have in common and holy sites are of great importance to men if they are to be able to live their faith. At the same time, holy sites, originally intended to be places for community, reconciliation and peace between men, often become places for conflicts and even wars. In our opinion there was a need for a code on holy sites that describes why they are of importance to men, lays down some fundamental human rights related to them, describes way of avoiding conflicts related to them and establishes mechanisms for reconciliation when conflicts appear.

With this point of departure, in 2008 and 2009 One World in Dialogue, together with the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights organized two large international conferences in Trondheim with participants from religious and political leaders from Norway, Great Britain, USA, The Balkans, Turkey, Armenia, Israel and Palestine. The conferences ended in an unanimously accepted “Code on Holy Sites” that internationally became known as “The Trondheim Code”.

This The conferences were covered by international and Norwegian media like The Economist, Zaman, Hürriyet, NRK, Aftenposten, Vårt Land and Adresseavisen. For further information about the text of the code and the process that resulted in it, look to the report down to the right.

The last conference also agreed on an action plan and mandated One World in Dialogue and the Oslo Center to set up a working group to follow through on this.

To make these aims real, One World in Dialouge and the Oslo Center invited two international organisationsto a partnership on this. They are Search for Common Ground in Jerusalem, and Religions for Peace that is seated in New York. The last organisation is world-wide and advisor to several UN-organisations.

The Action Plan consisted of:

  • Seek support for the Code from religious leaders and authorities from Christian churches and Jewish and Muslim communities and hold a signing ceremony with religious leaders from Europe and the Middle East at an appropriate time and venue.
  • Seek support and initiate dialogue with other religious traditions, with a view to developing a universally shared code on holy sites
  • Invite a UN body to take note of the code and to consider adopting its contents as an international convention.

Participants of the 2009 conference Report from the conference

The work with The Code has received great international attention and has developed fast.

Consequently, already in 2010 and 2011 the working group chose to consult all large religions on expert level to find out whether some aspects of The Trondheim Code might be an obstacle to the signing or endorsement of it. The necessary adjustments turned out to be negligible. Therefore, the work culminated in 2011 with a generally accepted text, the so called ”Universal Code on Holy Sites”. This universal code has now been translated into 12 different languages and given a graphic design that has been developed here in Trondheim.

After this, the work as developed along two different tracks.

First, the partners have worked to seek support for, and signing or endorsment of The Code. Till now, several organisations and religious leaders have done so. Amongst others they are:

  • The Trondheim Conference on Holy Sites 2009
  • Religions for Peace Executive Committee and World Council
  • Religions for Peace - European Council of Religious Leaders
  • Religions for Peace - The Executive Committee of the African Council of Religious Leaders
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC)
  • World Sikh Leadership
  • Lutheran World Federation
  • Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate
  • World Council of Religious Leaders (WCORL)
  • The Bishops Conference of The Church of Norway
  • Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land
  • The Muslim Council of Britain
  • European Women of Faith Network
  • The Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
  • The Elijah Institute
  • The Hindu Forum of Europe
  • The Council of Heads of Religions in Israel
  • The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway
  • Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed, President of the Interfaith Harmony Foundation of India
  • Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, President of the All India Imam Organization
  • Imam Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Founder of the Al Risala Islamic Centre
  • Swami Madhavpriyadas, President, SGVP and Member of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha
  • Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed, President of the Interfaith Harmony Foundation of India/li>
  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder and Spiritual Leader, The Art of Living Foundation
  • Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh

The Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites and the work with it has been presented in several contexts, amongst others:

  • UN: to the Presidency of the General Assembly, diplomatic missions, UN officials and faith related organisations
  • EU: to officials, diplomatic missions and faith related organisations in Brussels OSCE
  • KAICIID: as an example of “best practice” at the inauguration of the international dialogue center in Vienna in november 2012

Secondly, we have organized pilot and field projects to test the The Universal Code and develop it as a tool to solve concrete conflicts. The former pilot in Bosnia Herzegovina is now into its fourth year and the local organisations are intent on keeping up their work on the basis of the Universal Code as a permanent process. In 2013 a pilot started in The Holy Land which is still running. In 2014 new field projects were inaugurated in Indonesia and Nigeria and in 2015 in Sri Lanka. In addition to this, we are exploring the possibilities for starting field projects in a number of other countries.

From 2012 the administration of this process has been situated at OWID in Trondheim which has received funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue the work with the Universal Code.