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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?
The city’s Office of Peace Culture has registered a very positive development in the area of peace work on a communal level. The parameters for this are:
· consistently large and increasing numbers of participants in projects which have been developed by citizens of Osnabrück
· new social and cultural groups have been won to take part in such projects
· mostly very positive feedback from cooperation partners and visitors to events in regularly completed questionnaires
· continually increasing numbers of visitors to events
· self-initiated sponsoring and promotional offers for peace culture projects
· national and international recognition of Osnabrück’s peace work and an increase in interest from organizations throughout the whole world
· national requests to present Osnabrück’s peace culture work
· increasing regional and national feedback from the press
· positive development of the budget
· the creation of new jobs
· since 2005 strategic management has been introduced, whereby goals are defined and can then be tested using indicators and figures (numbers of consultations, visitors and participants, etc)
OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?
Obstacles to our work are lack of interest from the media and difficulties explaining our peace culture work to the general public.
ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?
· Osnabrück Peace Culture
The City of Osnabrück’s Office of Peace Culture is a unique institution in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its work is based on the “Concept for the Promotion of Peace Culture in Osnabrück” which was ratified by the City Council in 1992 and, since 2001, has been further developed and expanded by more than 60 people from the areas of science, society and politics. This remarkable concept forms the substantial basis for the broad inclusion of civilians in decision-making and organization, and has, for many years, guaranteed lively and varied peace-cultural work in Osnabrück. On the one hand, this has the effect of acting in a “peace-mongering” and stabilizing way in Osnabrück itself, but also shows a responsibility for global developments. The most important guide-lines for the Concept of Activities are the promotion of tolerance, the equalization of the disparity between the poor and the rich countries as well as in our own society and the ecologically responsible management of resources. For those in the city actively involved in the realization of these guide-lines it has become a goal to make their effect felt beyond regional or even national boundaries. Due to the historic background of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, which was agreed upon in Osnabrück and Münster in 1648, the city’s history is seen as a commitment to work through and enliven such topics as understanding between cultures and religions, international partnerships, human rights policies, peace research, integration work, prevention of violence and conflict management for the present time.
· Intercultural Weeks
Osnabrück’s Intercultural Weeks in September and October each year stand for the self-assured presentation of the many cultures which are at home in the city. Professionals and amateurs both offer the chance to sensually experience foreign cultures and to discuss topics of world culture and politics. The two month-long program of music, dance, literature, theatre, film, information events and get-together evenings is developed during the whole year with the broadly-based involvement of citizens.
Multicultural societies, social-political and renowned cultural institutions, people with an active interest in culture and artists are invited to planning work-shops. Adverts in the papers attract other interested citizens. Targets and agreed rules for fair discussion make for a climate in which creativity and interaction can grow. There are now 95 groups, institutions and individuals taking part – and the numbers are on the increase. The different migrant groups work together more and more on joint projects or in cooperation with established cultural institutions. It is the aim of all those involved to set new thematic focal points each year and to develop ideas which will have a sustainable impact. The organizing group, which works autonomously, is supported by a committee of representatives from society and religion. Together with the civic Office of Peace Culture they are responsible for directing the process. The overwhelming cultural and integration-political importance of the Intercultural Weeks in the cultural landscape of the City of Osnabrück is underlined by the patronage of such persons as the Chairman of the Federal Foreigners Advisory Council (Bundesausländerbeirates) Memet Kilic, the Federal Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration Marieluise Beck and the renowned actress and authoress Renan Demirkan.
· Inter-religious understanding
During the last few years and in close cooperation with religious institutions and the work-group of the religions in Osnabrück, the Office of Peace Culture has developed and promoted a series of events which serve to increase inter-religious exchange. Amongst these events are “Inter-religious Tours” where at least three religious institutions in the city (always including a mosque) are visited, guided church tours for Moslem women, meetings between confirmation classes and Koran scholars, events in the synagogue to introduce people to the Jewish religion and culture, lectures and discussion forums. All Osnabrück mosques take part in Lower Saxony’s Day of the Open Mosque on 3rd October, which the Office of Peace Culture coordinates within the framework of the Intercultural Weeks.
· Development Partnership “Intercultural Competence Centre” (“Interkulturelles Kompetenzzentrum – iKK”)
Regional job market data from Osnabrück has, for years shown that migrant groups have a much higher proportion of jobless than the native German population, even if the they speak the German language perfectly and job or academic qualifications are available. Female migrants are even more adversely affected by the downward trend in the job market than are male migrants. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Osnabrück but can be found throughout the republic. Nevertheless, a local network of regional partners was set up in 2001 to help fight the discrimination against migrants seeking employment on the one hand, and on the other, to actively strengthen the specific capabilities of migrants for the job market and therefore for the economic development of Osnabrück.
The EU program “Equal” was used to initiate the development partnership “Intercultural Competence Centre” (iKK) (http://www.equal-osnabrueck.de/). A network of local High Schools and educational institutions, business firms, migrant organizations and the City of Osnabrück was set up.
The aims and measures of the Intercultural Competence Centre in Osnabrück are focused on different target groups, always taking into consideration the improvement of equal opportunities for migrants:
· the integration of migrants in the job market through language tuition, the development of personal competence and job qualifications
· to sensitize administrations for customers with migrant backgrounds
· to improve migrants chances of promotion within the city’s administration
· to sensitize German workers committees to the concerns of migrants within the work process
· the qualification of migrants in the areas of self-employment and foreign trade
· management training for highly qualified migrants
Since various partners with differentiated profiles participate in the intercultural Competence Centre, all these differing topics can be dealt with competently and used synergistically.
· Intercultural Competence Training
Within the framework of the development partnership “Intercultural Competence Centre” training programs are successfully carried out for workers in the service sector (health, transport, culture, leisure). For example, 250 drivers from Osnabrück’s bus company will complete an intercultural training program. During these trainings, workers can increase their intercultural knowledge and skills and exchange their intercultural experiences with staff from other service sector firms in Osnabrück. Workers with migration background learn how to put their often unused skills to good use.
· Mentoring for Migrants
An outstanding project is the Mentoring Project for Migrants in the City of Osnabrück – IQ (Intercultural Quality). This is an internal integration measure within the city’s administration. The project’s short-term goals are the early furthering and integration of workers with migrant background in the city’s corporation and to create conditions under which migrants can increasingly be given the opportunity of taking up management positions. This will secure the integration, the equality of prospects and the professional further development of migrants in the administration of the City of Osnabrück. At the same time, the aim is to improve the quality of service to the city’s intercultural customers by increasing the intercultural competence of council staff on the basis of mutual learning. This sustainable project gave rise to the idea of developing and establishing an intercultural quality circle, whose role it is to get to grips with inter-culturally relevant topics in the City of Osnabrück and to develop new impulses and visions.
Prevention of violence
· “Culture of ‘looking’ ”
Strong social movements, intercultural, cross-party and inter-religious, have, in Osnabrück, developed a culture of ‘looking’. Racist and discriminatory tendencies were immediately countered with a sort of public code which included the Action Courage, telephone chains and a declaration against racism. Important figures from politics, the administration, business, science and religious institutions were always to be found at the head of this movement. They had a defining influence on public opinion. It was, and still is, important to create an enlightened spiritual climate of mutual respect.
A topical example is the action “Gesicht zeigen” (“Show your face”) which was a reaction of solidarity caused by the destruction of a photo-project showing portraits of asylum seekers during the Intercultural Weeks last year. Citizens of Osnabrück – supported by the Lord Mayor, the Bishop of Osnabrück and other representative figures – were quickly mobilized for this action.
Culture of Remembrance
An important building block of Osnabrück’s culture of peace is the work done to remember those who suffered under the Nazi reign of terror.
Every year a ceremony of remembrance is held for the “Reichskristallnacht” of 1938, when the Nazi pogroms against the Jews took place, and since 2001 the ceremony has been organized each year by a different school class. It is an avowal against anti-Semitism, racism and political persecution in the present day. Numerous initiatives and clubs in Osnabrück participate in the planning and running of the ceremony.
· Memorial “Alte Synagoge”
On 9th November 2004 a memorial, which was designed and created by students of Technical Colleges and apprentices, was inaugurated at the site of the former Osnabrück synagogue. Two hundred young people were involved in the realization of the memorial. The project was generously supported by various social and religious institutions and by Osnabrück’s trade and industry. The project and the concept of the “citizens’ memorial” has since been presented at national conferences to great acclaim.
· 60 years since the end of the war
Thirty five initiatives, institutions and individuals developed over 40 projects and events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War on 8th May 1945. A program-group, made up of representatives from Osnabrück’s Peace Forum and other specialist organizations, accompanied the planning. At the centre of the series of events, which has been coordinated by the Office of Peace Culture, are commemorative events with our partnership and friendship cities in Europe, Russia and Turkey.
Peace and Environmental Pedagogic
· Project “mus-e”
From 2001 to 2004, the multi-cultural social school-project “mus-e” was run at four Osnabrück primary schools which had a large proportion of migrants. This project, which was run in cooperation with the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation Germany, showed in an impressive way how it is possible, through the creative work with artists and by promoting the development of each school child’s individual personality, to counteract racism, intolerance and violence. An evaluation by the University of Osnabrück confirmed the successful approach of the project.
· Osnabrück Peace Day
Every year on 25th October, the City of Osnabrück celebrates Osnabrück Peace Day. On this day in 1648 the Peace of Westphalia was proclaimed from the Town Hall steps. The treaty was the result of five years of negotiations between 150 representatives of the protestant and catholic powers based in Münster and Osnabrück and formed the basis for a new order in Europe. After 30 years of war, freedom of religion and conscience was anchored in the constitution. Osnabrück derives its heritage as Peace City from this peace treaty.
Osnabrück’s Peace Day is celebrated each year with a varied program, whose centre-piece is an occurrence which took place in Osnabrück: The Hobbyhorse Ride to “Praise Peace”. It symbolizes the ride of the Peace Envoys, who in 1648 carried the message of Peace from Osnabrück’s Town Hall to all parts of Europe. All 4th year school children from Osnabrück’s primary schools take part in this important children’s peace festival. The event is accompanied by all-year-round peace-pedagogic work in projects at all the schools involved.
Since 2003 the program of Osnabrück’s Peace Day has been increasingly dedicated to the founding day of the United Nations on 24th October. Lectures, podium discussions and a Peace Talk deal with international themes which are of topical importance for the United Nations.
· Erich Maria Remarque Peace Centre
“Independence – Tolerance – Humor” were the three determining factors in the life of the author Erich Maria Remarque who was born in Osnabrück. A long-term exhibition with the same title gives visitors to Osnabrück’s old city centre a detailed and inclusive insight into the life, work and global influence of the author of “All quiet on the Western Front”.
However, the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Centre has much more to offer. An archive contains the most extensive collection of material on the subject of Remarque in the whole world. Under the web-address www.krieg-film.de the Centre presents something quite exclusive: the first online data-bank for war and anti-war films. At the moment the collection contains information on over 800 international productions of all genres from more than 40 countries.
A changing exhibition on art and politics of the present reflects Remarque’s themes such as war, resistance, persecution and migration.
· Town Partnerships
When, in 2004, citizens from the Dutch city of Haarlem, Angers in France and Osnabrück met, they had a special anniversary to celebrate: 40 years earlier, in the Peace Room of Osnabrück’s Town Hall, the contract of partnership between the cities was signed. To commemorate this anniversary, conferences were held in each of the three cities. The cities jointly exchanged their experiences on the subjects of “Young European cities” (Angers), “Multi-culture and integration policies” (Haarlem) and “Soil ecology” (Osnabrück). Alongside numerous cooperation projects on the cultural, political, social and economic level, the partnership is distinguished by a unique tradition: A diplomatic corps of a special kind is exchanged between Angers, Haarlem and Osnabrück – the town envoys, young adults who represent their home town in one of the partner towns for a year and are the contact person in the Town Hall there for exchanges between the towns. These town partnerships have since been extended: Envoys are also exchanged with Derby in England and Twer in Russia.
Ten years of intensive friendly relationships with the Turkish town of Canakkale were sealed in 2004 with a partnership contract. Since April 2005 town envoys are also supporting this exchange. This town-friendship and the connection to the Portuguese town of Vila Real were brought about by the cooperation of migrants living in Osnabrück. This Osnabrück model of integration work with partners from the native countries was Germany’s contribution for the 1980 European Parliament Project “Cultural Policies in the Cities”. The City of Osnabrück also has town-friendships with Greifswald (Germany), Gmünd, (Austria), Afula (Israel), Evansville (USA) and Kwangmyong (South Korea).
· Peace Chain Osnabrück-Münster
On 29th March 2003, 40,000 people protesting against the war in Iraq and for the observance of international law formed a 50 km-long human chain between Osnabrück and Münster. The peace chain was formed between the two cities of the Peace of Westphalia along the “Peace Rider Road” of 1648, which was used by messengers on horse to relay the results of the negotiations.
The global coverage of the event not only aided its success, but also made known to an international audience the preparedness for peace, and the peace culture of those people who wish to uphold the inheritance of the Peace of Westphalia. After this event, the President of the German parliament and patron of the German Foundation for UNO Refugee Relief Wolfgang Thierse was presented with more than 5000 Euros in donations.
The “Peace Forum Osnabrück-Münster” which was formed as a result of this action, continues its work and is today active with its information events and the call for “Right before Might!” for a strengthening of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in den Haag, as well as for the international control of all weapons of mass destruction.
· Conference of Young People in Europe
In 2004, for the fourth time, the Office of Peace Culture, together with a local initiative group held a “Conference of Young People in Europe” with a view to European understanding and integration. The conference offers young people a forum to discus obstacles to understanding and peaceful, democratic co-existence, to exchange individual experiences and to develop new ideas and instruments for a peaceful Europe. Apart from this, activities are also agreed upon, which will continue the exchange and networking of young people in Europe. Youths from 20 European countries are assisted during these conferences in regard to the content and also socially, by “sponsors” from their home countries. These sponsors are migrants who live in Osnabrück and the town envoys. This not only leads to a dialogue between the participants of the conference from all over Europe, but also to communication between migrants of different origin in Osnabrück.
· Africa Festival
The African Culture Festival, which has taken place biennially since 1997, is also an intercultural project. This festival is planned and run with the participation of a large organizing committee. A program group made up of representatives from the Office of Peace Culture and independent cultural institutions decides on the items to be included in a varied program. The main focal points are exhibitions, concerts, theatre productions and recitations, film contributions and lectures, as well as an African market and intercultural presentations for schools.
· Japanese Culture Festival
With the Japanese Culture Festival in 2002, attention was placed on a country whose values and ways of thinking and acting are very different from those found in Europe. The various program points such as concerts, performances, literature and films contained artistic and cultural traditions as well as contemporary developments and thus offered insights into a completely different culture. With the support of local business it was possible to hold the exhibition “Japan zum Anfassen” (Tangible Japan) at a venue where people would not feel ill-at-ease. It therefore attracted a wide spectrum of the public and many people were brought into contact with Asian culture.
Science and Research
With the support of the city, the University and the partner towns are taking part in the project OsnaMUN, in which proceedings of the United Nations are simulated and trained. In 2004 a group of students received an invitation to the United Nations in New York and acted as envoys for the Friedensstadt (City of Peace) Osnabrück. On 27th January 2005 a follow-up conference with international participation was held in Osnabrück under the patronage of the Lord Mayor.
· Osnabrück Peace Talks
The Osnabrück Peace Talks – a series of public lectures and talks which have taken place yearly since 1993 - serve to educate politically, ethically and culturally and are especially dedicated to the propagation of the idea of peace and the strengthening of peace potential. Relevant topical themes are presented on a scientific level, yet in an easily understandable way to a broad local and regional audience. Internationally acclaimed personalities from science, culture and politics are guests at the Osnabrück Peace Talks. So far, more than 75 events with guest speakers such as Henry Kissinger, Johannes Rau and Alfred Grosser have been realised.
Closely following the intention of the local peace concept, this series serves not only to direct the postulate of peace promotion and readiness at politicians and scientists, but also to make it an essential task for the public and social decision-makers no matter what their heterogeneous stamp.
In cooperation with the city's university, an independent scientific council consisting of scientists from local High Schools has been formed, which is responsible for the Peace Talks and the various resulting publications. Under the leitmotif "Dialogue: Science – Society - Politics – Culture", the following goals have been set:
· the promotion of a critical dialogue between science, society, politics and culture
· to make the results of scientific investigations in the field of peace and conflict research available to the general public
· to encourage local university members to take part in peace research with special reference to communal concerns
· to thematicize not only basic aspects of peace but also those problems which are topical and of great public interest
· to reach as many people and social groups as possible.
· Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize
Every two years, the University and the City of Osnabrück award the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize for a notable written work on the subject of human rights and peace or for outstanding social engagement in this field. Past winners of the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize include amongst others Lew Kopolew, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Uri Avnery.
Development Cooperation with 3rd World Countries
· International Conferences on Children's Rights
In May 2001 the children's relief organization terre des hommes and the City of Osnabrück’s Office of Peace Culture invited participants to take part in the three day conference "exit – Ways away from Violence for Children and Youths". Politicians, scientists, social workers, teachers and legal experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, including amongst others the Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, discussed the reasons for violence between children and youths.
In various work-shops other topics such as preventing violence and perpetrator-victim-settlements were also dealt with.
The conference "STOP – International Conference against the Trafficking of Children" which took place in November 2004 was directed at officials, law-makers and international bodies. The aim of the 200 participants from more than 30 countries was to create and improve the conditions on the administrative side for the fight against this global crime.
The regularly held conferences aim to make clear the global dimension of the UN Children’s Rights Convention as a task for the future. Parallel to the conferences, the City of Osnabrück invites institutions and initiatives to draw up a regional program which will create room for exchanges in order to come up with new and innovative ideas.
The German UNESCO commission included the conference “exit” and the regional program 2001 in its list of official German contributions for the “International Year for a Culture of Peace”.
· Communal Development Cooperation
In cooperation with the children’s relief organization terre des hommes and the Osnabrück Action Centre 3rd World, the City of Osnabrück supports a series of educational and school exchange programs in Africa, especially in South Africa.
On the occasion of the first school day for Osnabrück’s primary school children, terre des hommes, together with the City of Osnabrück, collected donations for educational projects in the developing countries. Similar collections are held for children in acute emergency situations, such as for example after the flood wave in southern Asia in 2004.
Cooperation, Build-up of Networks in Organisations which are internationally active
· Osnabrück Forum of the German Society for the United Nations
In November 2003 the German Society for the United Nations held its AGM at the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) in Osnabrück. Pursuant to this event the Office of Peace Culture, together with the German Foundation for Peace Research and the University of Osnabrück called into being a Regional Forum of the German Society for the United Nations in order to bring the profile and the goals of the United Nations more strongly into the consciousness of the city.
· Cooperation Projects with Peace-cultural Institutions
The City of Osnabrück cooperates to a tremendous degree with the local peace-cultural institutions such as the international children’s relief organization terre des hommes, the German Federal Environmental Foundation which has dedicated itself to promoting innovative ecology, and the German Foundation for Peace Research which supports projects in peace and conflict research. All three institutions meet the guidelines of Osnabrück’s Concept of Activities for Peace Culture in the most impressive way. Their activities are primarily national and international, but their presence in Osnabrück also has effects which are impulse-giving for the city.
ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?
Communal peace work should be given a more important focus in the United Nations, as it is the germinal seed for all peace work. The United Nations lacks concrete promotional concepts in this area.
PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?
· Build up of a network of German peace-cities in cooperation with Nürnberg (City of Human Rights) and Chemnitz (candidate for “Friedensstadt” - Peace City)
· Cooperation with the Korean Peace Island of Jeju in concepts to develop communal peace work
· Intensive town partnerships also involving the exchange of envoys (see 3.)
· Communal development cooperation with partners in Africa - in cooperation with terre des hommes and the Osnabrück Action Centre 3rd World
PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?
· Intercultural Advisory team
In the course of the intercultural trainings which have so far taken place, it was found that there was a great need for situation-relevant advice in the service sector. Work was started to put together an intercultural advisory team, which will organize itself autonomously in a work-group.
· Voluntary Integration Pilots
Together with the State of Lower Saxony and the Osnabrück rural district measures were introduced to intensify the amount of voluntary activity in the area of integration work. On 2nd May 2005 a specialist seminar will be held on the subject in Osnabrück.
· Genia – Qualifications for the culture job-market
From July 2005 onwards the City of Osnabrück will be taking part with the project “Qualifications for the Culture Job-Market” in the development partnership “Genia” (Gemeinschaftliche Entwicklungspartnerschaft für Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation im Arbeitsmarkt – Joint development partnership for sustainability and innovation in the job-market). This project will give especially migrants the chance to qualify for an occupation in the culture and leisure areas, in order to subsequently take up a paid or voluntary position.
· Peace Envoys
The City of Osnabrück wishes to invite young people from conflict areas to come here for a year to experience the possibilities which democratic structures and civil involvement offer and to teach them skills in moderation and mediation. After returning to their home countries, the Peace Envoys would then use the knowledge and skills they have acquired and pass them on to others.
· Marketing for Peace Work
The Friedensstadt Osnabrück is starting a nationwide marketing concept in 2005 to make the city’s communal peace work known and to invite partners for new cooperations and networks.
· Feast of the Cultures with Peace Codex
In 2007 the citizens of Osnabrück from all cultures will be invited for the first time to a “Feast of the Cultures”, where the whole of Osnabrück’s old town and the pedestrian precinct will be turned into one enormous feast table. Based on Osnabrück’s “Festival of the Cultures”, migrant organizations, parents associations, schools from twin towns, etc. will offer specialties from their respective countries. In addition, each guest should bring along a small dish from their own country for another guest – this will be their entry ticket. Each street will be given a festival ambience, and the decoration, by migrant organizations, firms and artists from Osnabrück and its partner towns, will give the street a national flair. The feast will begin – in an analogy to the “Osnabrück Handshake” – with a symbolic handshake of all participants, with which they will signify to each other their agreement to a Codex of Tolerance. This Codex is to be developed beforehand by Osnabrück schools and their international partner schools. The “Osnabrück Handshake” was used during the negotiations to the Treaty of Westphalia to signify the immutability of an agreed settlement. It symbolizes the endeavor to bring about the peaceful coexistence of the various religions, beliefs and cultures and is a plea for tolerance.
Postal address of organization
Büro für Friedenskultur
Fachbereich Kultur der Stadt Osnabrück
E-mail address of organization
Website address of organization
Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace
Understanding, tolerance, solidarity
Second priority action domain of a culture of peace
Education in the area of peace culture
Highest priority country of action (or international)
Second priority country of action (or international)
The region round the City of Osnabrück and internationally.
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