ACRL-RfP as an idea started in the late 1990’s following the appointment of a Special Envoy for Africa by the Secretary General of the then World Conference of Religions for Peace (now Religions for Peace International) to look into possibilities of establishing a pan- African interfaith organization. From then, religious leaders expressed desire for a pan- African multi-faith platform.
In 2002, about 100 senior religious leaders convened in Nairobi, Kenya and called for an establishment of a pan-African multi-faith organization. The African Council of Religious Leaders—Religions for Peace (ACRL-RfP) was conceived. It was inaugurated a year later in Abuja, Nigeria on the occasion of its 1st General Assembly. H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, alongside the religious leaders, gathered to inaugurate the new body, the African Council of Religious Leaders — Religions for Peace.
Five years later, in December 2008, 180 senior religious leaders and high profile participants from over 40 countries convened in Tripoli, Libya for the 2nd ACRL-RfP General Assembly. This was a landmark event in the history of multi-religious dialogue and cooperation in Africa. The participants included senior religious leaders, representatives from Religions for Peace International, government officials, New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), women of faith, religious youth, and notably the former Heads of States from Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.During the 2nd General Assembly, religious leaders affirmed their role in preventing and transforming conflicts in Africa, and pledged to cooperate and work closely with the governments, intergovernmental organizations and partners. An urgent call to prevent, end and transform violent conflicts in Africa was made. Equally, an appeal to eliminate extreme forms of poverty, and a pledge to contribute to the millennium development goals’ (MDGs) efforts was made. This was realized through the vast networks of faith-based organizations in Africa and the interfaith networks that have been formed thereafter.
Religious leaders gathered in the 2008 Assembly in Tripoli, Libya declared that they will strengthen multi-religious collaboration and increase efforts to cooperate with partners, including intergovernmental organizations, in addressing the challenges that Africa faced. They committed to, and mandated the ACRL-RfP Secretariat, to initiate discussions with the pan African body – the African Union Commission and the sub regional bodies, and find ways in which Religious Leaders and faith communities in Africa could work closely with these bodies to confront the challenges of intractable conflicts, endemic diseases and severe under-development in the continent.
At its formation ACRL-RfP was affiliated to the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP), which is affiliated to the UN. This affiliation lent the organization notable weight and provided sound leadership. ACRL-RfP has been working very closely with Religions for Peace International since its inauguration. The organization is unique since it was the first one in the continent to bring together different faiths in working for a common goal. By doing this, the organization sought to consolidate and institutionalize interfaith and multireligious cooperation in Africa. The focus has been on continental and sub-regional programmes on conflict transformation, sustainable developments and networks development, among the religious leaders, communities, women and the youth.