As 2019 starts, we take the opportunity to look back at some of our activities and highlights from the past year.
2018 was an eventful year for our organisation. Our online portal for children in German frieden-fragen.de won a “Kinder-Online-Preis 2018”, awarded by the MDR broadcasting board. The portal answers children’s questions around conflict, violence, war and peace. 11-year-old Eva asked recently: Why is it so difficult to build peace? You can read our answer to her here.
Throughout the year, we promoted strategic exchanges between local and international stakeholders, for example on how to strengthen National Dialogues as participatory tools for conflict transformation. In April, we co-hosted a roundtable discussion on the lessons learnt from Yemeni National Dialogue process, bringing together representatives from the United Nations and its member states, international experts and practitioners, as well as local stakeholders.
In May, our Executive Director Hans Joachim Gießmann met Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, alongside other members of the European Peace Building Platform (EPLO) to advocate for strengthening the involvement of civil society in EU external action. During the meeting, the High Representative emphasised that in an environment, which has become more unstable and conflict-prone, policy makers should focus on mediation, reconciliation and conflict prevention. A hard security approach cannot deliver peace. Mogherini also called on the participating organisations to highlight more frequently successful case stories of conflict prevention and conflict transformation in order to create positive, public narratives of nonviolent change.
In the past year, we supported numerous Syrian volunteers working for various international organisations in refugee camps in the fields of education, child protection and psychosocial support in their hugely challenging work. We co-organised training courses in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps in Jordan combining methods from peace education, theatre pedagogics, mindfulness and self-care. This proved to be a viable approach that seems, for now, to be unique among offers of international support programmes for Syrian refugees active in the camps.
Our work to support Afghan-driven efforts to resolve the protracted conflict and restore sustainable peace included strategic workshops in Nepal and Afghanistan this year. In December, we invited a delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council, led by its Chairman and Former Second Vice President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Karim Khalili, to Berlin to discuss key issues related to the peace process. We used the opportunity to sit down with him to get his view why despite the challenges ahead, he is optimistic that he will witness peace in his lifetime. You can read our interview with him here.
After two years of informal mediation and talks, which we supported, a pre-negotiations agreement for Darfur was signed in December between Darfur rebels and the Sudanese Government. The agreement serves as a basis for the resumption of peace talks for Darfur that will be part of the broader Sudan peace process. Talks were agreed to begin in January in Qatar.
Finally, an internal milestone: we spent the last days of 2018 packing boxes. Our staff size outgrew the house in Berlin’s quiet Dahlem district that hosted Berghof Foundation projects since 1971. From now on, you can find our new headquarters in the vibrant heart of central Berlin here.