Idea of creating European Interfaith Youth Network (EIYN) dates back to 2006 when the process of establishing and developing the Global Youth Network of Religions for Peace reached Europe. The main incentives came from Religions for Peace, faith-based (youth) organizations, secular organizations and individuals active in the field of inter-religious dialogue (IRD).
In 2006 there were two subregional meetings in Europe as parts of a way of religious youth towards Religions for Peace World Youth Assembly in Japan (Hiroshima and Kyoto, August 2006). The meeting for Central and Eastern Europe took place in Bakuriani (Georgia) in April 2006 followed by Western European meeting in Geneva (July 2006). Youth representatives on both meetings expressed their will to create a European Interfaith Youth Network for sharing information and enhancing inter-religious cooperation among faith-based youth organisations and other stakeholders in IRD in Europe. Some participants of the regional meetings were invited to participate in the World Youth Assembly and to be present at launch of the Global Youth Network of Religions for Peace and to elect its governing structure: International Youth Committee. The International Youth Committee gathers together representatives of all regions keeping in mind regional, religious and gender balance; there were three Europeans elected: Daniel Barton (Christian – Protestant, Czech Republic), Khatuna Tsintsadze (Christian – Orthodox, Georgia) and Elise Wong (Buddhist, United Kingdom).
Since 2006 there has been exchange of information via various email lists and discussion groups. This has helped to share information about what has been going on in Religions for Peace on different levels and in the field of interfaith dialogue, particularly in Europe. From the reactions received it could be assumed that this has been quite successful, although mostly one-way, process.
In June 2007 short and small meeting was organized in Prague to move forward the process of establishment of the Network and prepare the way for youth pre-assembly of Religions for Peace – Europe Encounter in Rovereto (Italy, May 2008).
The whole process of establishing and developing the EIYN has been slower then expected on the first meetings, especially due to lack of personal capacities and finances. This has been particularly reflected in Rovereto where youth delegates adopted an “EIYN long term strategy – a roadmap to the future” dividing itinerary into three phases: first focused on getting EIYN support staff with help of Religions for Peace, enhancing ways of communication and fundraising towards sustainability of the Network; second phase promoting joint projects of the Network members; third phase going as far as thematic cooperation. The phases don’t have precise time-frame, however should be marked by meetings of European Youth Assembly.
The EIYN by its members was not expected to become a rigid organisational structure but rather loose network coordinating efforts of faith-based youth bodies in the field of IRD so that resources and project outcomes are shared and unnecessary duplication of work avoided.
However the meeting in Rovereto addressed lack of coordination and activists involved in the process by electing a Core Group that was supposed to supervise work done currently by Program Officer, Youth and Network Coordination (by then Kinza Ghaznavi at New York Secretariat of Religions for Peace) and EIYN support staff once the person is contracted. The Core Group is to act as political decision-making body leading the Network according to the agreed roadmap.
The first composition of the Core Group was following: Lama Azab (Muslim, France), Taoufik Hartit (Muslim, Germany), Julia Maria Koszewska (Christian – Roman Catholic, Poland), Daniela Malec (Jew, Poland) and Nirankar S. Bansal (Sikh, United Kingdom).
In the past as the members of the Core Group served also:
- Ms Daniela Malec of Poland- Jewish; Member of the Core Group from 2008 to 2010 when she took the position of Program and Development Consultant of the EIYN.
- Mr Nirankar Bansal of UK – Sikh; Member of the Core Group from 2008 to 2011.
- Mr Pranav Bhanot of UK – Hindu; Member of the Core Group from 2011 to 2012.
- Ms Lama Azab of France – Muslim; Member of the Core Group from 2008 to 2012, served also (as EIYN’s representative) as member of the RfP International Youth Council.
- Religions for Peace – Europe
- since 2009: Mr Taoufik Hartit (member of the Executive Committee) and Ms Julia Maria Koszewska.
- RfP European Council of Religious Leaders
- since 2011: Ms Julia Maria Koszewska.
- RfP- European Women of Faith Network
- 2007-2011 Ms Julia Maria Koszewska has served as member of the Coordinating Committee of RfP EWFN.
- since 2012: Ms Nataliya Pylypiv.
- RfP International Youth Council (IYC): Mr Daniel Bartoń (since 2006), Ms Nataliya Pylypiv (since 2012), (vacant).
- 2006-2010: also Ms Khatuna Tsintsadze-Amin and Elise Wong.
- 2010-2012: Ms Lama Azab.