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06 October 2016

Berlin: Global Peacebuilder Summit unites Peace Activists

Recently, 30 peacemakers from all over the world came together in Paretz, near Berlin, for the first Global Peacebuilder Summit. The invitations were issued by the Culture Counts Foundation to take part in a 5-day programme on the role of civil society in peace processes. Among the participants was Monika Hauser, who was the sole Western European participant.

“The Global Peacebuilder Summit gave us a space to reflect together on our sometimes difficult work. We could offer each other strength. For me it was an extremely inspiring and valuable experience.”

Peacework despite threats

The summit started with the peacebuilders coming together in the rural setting of Paretz. For many of them this was a unique opportunity to slow down and take a deep breath, or to share experiences with other activists. Most of the participants work in very difficult and even dangerous conditions. At home in their countries, the peacebuilders are all too often pressured or threatened by both governmental and non-governmental forces.

The issues of peace

The summit in rural Paretz created a safe space which enabled them to discuss important questions: How can the work of civil society in conflict regions become more effective? What are the limits of civil society involvement? How can we strengthen each other? What form of support do we need from the international community? According to Monika Hauser, although most of the participants had never met before, a feeling of solidarity grew very quickly: "I am sure the contacts which began in Paretz will have an impact in the future.”

Confronting politicians with the results

After the retreat in Paretz, the participants travelled to Berlin to present and discuss the summit’s results with members of parliament, government representatives and members of Germany’s civil society. During a meeting with the German Parliament’s Subcommittee on Civilian Crisis Prevention and an event in the Foreign Office, the peacebuilders raised awareness of the German government's role in strengthening and protecting civil society in conflict regions. Above all, the Federal Government needs to ensure consequential political and diplomatic support. “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the initiators and organisers of the Global Peacebuilder Summit for all their work,” said Monika Hauser. “It would be very beneficial if this event could be held again.”