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Organization: House of Erasmus of Rotterdam
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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Postal address of organization/institution

Bergweg 279-B, 3037 EM Rotterdam, The Netherlands

E-mail address of organization/institution


Website address of organization/institution


Telephone of organization/institution

+ 31 10 2439496

PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

- Platform Vredescultuur (Platform for a Culture of Peace), about 20 organizations
- Humanistische Alliantie (Humanistic Alliance), about 50 organizations
- People Building Peace Netherlands, about 35 organizations

For the realization of its projects House of Erasmus constantly seeks cooperation with partners that are active in corresponding fields, like NGOs, political parties and public authorities, and groups and organizations of citizens.

Furthermore House of Erasmus has endorsed the Earth Charter Initiative and continues to promote their values and principles for a sustainable future.

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.

As of 2005 the website www.huisvanerasmus.nl (in Dutch) provides detailed information on the activities that are undertaken by House of Erasmus. Besides giving information on current projects and activities and those in the past the website has a “News Section” displaying information on several news items, not only related to House of Erasmus, but also to other organizations and people in- and outside the Netherlands.
The website also has an “Agenda” announcing events like conferences and lectures that are organized by House of Erasmus and by partner organizations.

Through the website anyone can subscribe to the “Nieuwsbrief Huis van Erasmus” (in Dutch). These newsletters are sent through e-mail to a mailing list that currently has some 1,500 subscribers. Until now some 10 newsletters were sent (on an irregular basis).

During the second half of the decade 2001-2010 the following activities were organized in Rotterdam by House of Erasmus (overall title of the series of activities: “Around Erasmus”):

2006: Debate on “Lof der Zachtheid. Democratie in de geest van Erasmus” (Praising Softness. Democracy in the Spirit of Erasmus). Central theme of the debate was the statement of publicist Dick Pels that societal problems should be dealt with in a soft way instead of in an aggressive way. Several politicians and representatives of societal organizations discussed this statement.

After the debate Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and former UNHCR, offered the book “Earth Charter in Action” to a local alderman.

2006: Nelson Mandela Festival. House of Erasmus was asked to contribute to this annual festival because of the similarity of thoughts between Mandela and Erasmus: both promoting a culture of peace and non-violence, showing respect and an open attitude to other religious and cultural groups. Such an attitude of tolerance and acceptance of differences are significant values in multicultural Rotterdam, a city that severely suffered from the 2nd World War.

On behalf of House of Erasmus two young rappers presented a rap song on a culture of peace and non-violence.

2006: Peace Market. During the International Peace Week House of Erasmus organized expositions, a debate on Mayors for Peace, and several poetry performances in the central library of Rotterdam. The event was entitled “In het licht van Erasmus. Veiligheid in de stad, Vrede in de wereld” (In the light of Erasmus. Safety in the City, Peace in the World) and aimed to make people aware of causes of violent conflicts and of possible solutions. Several organizations in the fields of peace and non-violence, integration and participation, etc. presented themselves at the market.

2007: Symposium on World Citizens and Cosmopolitans, entitled “Kosmopolis: Het Ei van Erasmus” (Cosmopolis: The Egg of Erasmus), co-organized with Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Foundation for Peace Sciences. The symposium was held in the national Book Week that was concentrated this year on “Lof der Zotheid” (Engels?), a famous book of Erasmus.

Erasmus already advocated the importance of world citizens promoting dialogue, critical thoughts, tolerance, respect and responsibility for other people and the environment. At the symposium several younger and older experts discussed these features, putting them in a nowadays perspective of a globalized world and translating them into modern citizenship.

2007: Nelson Mandela Festival. As in 2006, House of Erasmus contributed to this annual festival that is dedicated to Nelson Mandela, being one of the Nobel Prize Winners who called for promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence.
On behalf of House of Erasmus the Rotterdam hiphop group BLOX sang on “Peace and Understanding”.

2007: Seminar on Peace Education, entitled “Bruggen van Erasmus” (Bridges of Erasmus), in the Rotterdam Library Theater. The theme of peace education was linked to the promotion of citizenship and was discussed by a panel of experts together with the audience. A video on a public lesson (“The Bridge”) was shown demonstrating how children learn to deal with differences and people thinking otherwise.
After the seminar the first copy of “Erasmus voor de Klas” (Erasmus in the Classroom) was handed over by Erasmus himself to the Rotterdam Youth Mayor (Andrea Moreira Santos). This book, written by Louise Langelaan, board member of House of Erasmus, contains exercises for young children bringing them into contact with the thoughts of Erasmus.

2008 (European Year of the Intercultural Dialogue): Presentation of House of Erasmus on the “Square of Solidarity” during the annual Dunya Festival which had as a central theme: “Culture for a better World”, where artists and poets showed their commitment and solidarity with the less fortunate people in the world.
House of Erasmus invited children to make pieces of art on peace and informed the visitors of the festival on its activities.

2008: On World Humanism Day (21 June) the project “Brieven aan Erasmus” (Letters to Erasmus) was launched: People were invited to share their ideas on the thoughts of Erasmus. Their letters are published on the website and will eventually be bundled in a booklet.

2008: On the International Day of Peace, 21 September, the 1st “Seeds of Change Festival” took place in a Rotterdam movie theater. The festival was a co-production of House of Erasmus with several Rotterdam organizations (Erasmus Podium, Kosmopolis Rotterdam, COS Zuid-Holland, Hub Rotterdam) and offered an all-round program:
- a debate on the four principles of the Earth Charter
- a presentation (“Seeds of Change”) by course members on ecological integrity
- the “Garden of Erasmus”: films and shows by musicians and poets
- the Rotterdam “Peace Kit”: a toolbox with 20 creative ideas about a culture of peace in the fields of communication, education, local activities and politics. The first copy was handed over to a Rotterdam alderman
- a dialogue between the audience and a panel of experts
- an exhibition (“Seeds of Change”) on the four principles of the Earth Charter
The festival was opened by Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and UNHCR and Commissioner of the Earth Charter, and was attended by some 200 people.

2008: On the birthday of Erasmus, 28 October, a symposium entitled: “Erasmus en Gülen: Inspirators voor Vrede en Dialoog” (Erasmus and Gülen: Inspirers for Peace and Dialogue) was organized by the Dialoog Academie together with House of Erasmus. The ideas of Erasmus were compared with those of Fethullah Gülen, a contemporary muslim scientist and peace activist, and four speakers talked about how the thoughts of Erasmus and Gülen could contribute to a harmonious future, offering perspectives for the further development of a multicultural society.
After the symposium the audience could enjoy a lovely Turkish dinner and continue the discussion.
The lectures have been bundled in a booklet and can now be ordered at House of Erasmus.

2009: On 25 March Leo Molenaar (board member of House of Erasmus) participated in the art project of Bas van Vlijmen, called Reboot. This project deals with living and acting in an artificial world. Erasmus was a central thinker in a time called “the first birth of modernity” and therefore had a big influence on the contemporary society.

Standing in front of Erasmus’ statue on the Grotekerkplein Leo talked about “Wat is het beeld van Erasmus” (The True Image of Erasmus) and convinced the audience that Erasmus was a true advocate for peace.

2009: On the last day of the International Peace Week, 27 September, the 2nd Seeds of Change Festival was held in the Laurens Church and on a large outdoor square, the Grotekerkplein. The festival was organized jointly with IKV Pax Christi and was opened by Jan Pronk, former Special Representative Secretary General UN in Sudan at United Nations and Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation and Environment. Also this year the festival was based on the four principles of the Earth Charter and knew several elements like:
- a debate on Rotterdam Peace City
- world music, peace poetry and a peace rap by children
- an interactive theater play on Erasmus and Rumi Mevlana
- a expositions on the Earth Charter and a “peace carpet” in the Laurens Church
- games like Millennium Challenges and Toolbox
- a children’s program, contest peace flags and prize for the winning school
- an information market with several organizations in the fields of peace issues
- a street table dinner: some 100, known and unknown, Rotterdam people participated in this open air event. The dinner was meant especially for a selection of Rotterdam "heroes": people who, in one way or another, had unselfishly devoted themselves to the promotion of a peaceful and sustainable city. People from different cultural organizations enjoyed the delicious (Turkish) food. The dinner, opened with several (religious) blessings, served as a perfect symbol of mutual feelings of global solidarity.
The festival was attended by some 800 people.

            "Peace Carpet" at the Laurens Church

2009: On 7 October some board members of House of Erasmus met with David Adams and representatives of several societal organizations. During this meeting topics and ideas were discussed on the promotion of the culture of peace on a local level by cooperation between civic society organizations and representatives of the municipality, especially the establishment of culture-of-peace-commissions. There was a fruitful exchange of thoughts and experiences.

2009: On 2 November representatives of the international World March for Peace and Non-Violence visited Rotterdam. The city council hosted a welcome reception and the delegates were addressed by the vice mayor. Then the group walked to the Zadkine monument “The ruined town” that represents the horror of the bombardment of Rotterdam during the 2nd World War. Peace poet Jana Beranova had a performance and after that the group walked to the statue of Erasmus on the Grotekerkplein. There they contributed a special salute to the great humanist thinker and Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and former UNHCR, talked about the necessity of disarmament. Participants formed a life peace sign on the square and another peace poet Menno Smit read some poems.

In the evening the group was invited for a special ceremony in a Hindu temple, where they were offered a special meal as well.
The day before the delegates had visited Amsterdam and after Rotterdam they visited the city of The Hague as well, before leaving to Brussels where the delegation visited the European Parliament.

The World March started off in New Zealand on 2 October 2009 and will end on 2 January 2010 in Argentina.

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

After the establishment of the foundation “Huis van Erasmus” in March 2005, we have, besides developing plans and strategies and executing activities, also built up a network of contacts with other peace centers in Europe and with other organizations and institutions not directly linked to the peace movement.

With the installment of a new mayor in Rotterdam (Ahmed Aboutaleb who is from Marocan origin) at the beginning of 2009 a series of intercultural dialogues has been initiated by the city of Rotterdam, a city with about 180 different nationalities. Although House of Erasmus was not directly involved in the organization of this series it was good to see that such events start taking place in Rotterdam as they can be considered complementary to the activities of House of Erasmus.

In 2005 the chairman of House of Erasmus, Rein Heijne, joined the Advisory Board of the Dutch Platform for a Culture of Peace in which about 20 peace organizations are participating. This is seen as another step towards the promotion of the culture of peace on the national level. One of the main topics is peace education through the establishment of an Expertise Centre for Peace Education.

Also the coalition People Building Peace Netherlands (PPB) has been very active during the second half of the decade. They launched an “Action Program 2006-2016” with nine concrete action points. House of Erasmus is participant of PBP right from the start. Since 2009 Rein Heijne is member of the steering committee of PBP.

In general it is becoming clear that each year a growing number of organizations wishes to contribute to the celebration of the International Day of Peace and/or the International Peace Week. In 2009 there were major events in all four larger Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht) and among the Dutch public there seems to be a growing awareness on the importance of a culture of peace and non-violence.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

• The poor example to handle conflicts in a non-violent way given by most political leaders.

• The national and international political climate: there is still a growing fear for etnic minorities and people from different cultural backgrounds. This development seems to be worsened by the growing unemployment.

• Obtaining serious media attention that goes beyond reporting of commotion.

• Difficulties to obtain sufficient financial support from local goverments, funds, business world. The growing crisis will even worsen this.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

In March 2010 there will be elections for a new Rotterdam city council. Before these elections House of Erasmus will bring the topic of a culture-of-peace-commission in Rotterdam to the attention of the various political parties and their candidates. The outcome of these elections will influence the scope and possibilities of House of Erasmus. Depending on the willingness of the new aldermen and several political parties to give (financial) support, House of Erasmus intends to organize in the short term (2010) the 3rd Seeds of Change Festival (in September during the International Peace Week).

By May 2010 the new version of “Erasmus in the Classroom” will be presented. Hopefully this will be a co-production with representatives of the city council with support of the Mayor of Rotterdam.

And around 21 June 2010, World Humanist Day, the booklet of “Letters to Erasmus” will be presented.

In the mean time the board of House of Erasmus will endeavor itself for finding financial support by setting up a fundraising campaign and it will continue seeking cooperation with related organizations in the field of peace and non-violence: locally, nationally and internationally.

In the medium term House of Erasmus will continue spreading the idea of “Rotterdam Vredesstad” (Rotterdam Peace City) by remaining in constant dialogue with all other organizations in Rotterdam who are also active in the field of peace and non-violence.

In the long term House of Erasmus hopes that Rotterdam will become a city with responsible citizens, a city known worldwide for its multicultural character and open atmosphere!

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

House of Erasmus thinks that creating “global networks” is the key word in this development, like

• networks of peace education institutes (for instance the University for Peace)

• networks of peace centers (for instance like the International Network of Museums for Peace)

• networks of peace cities: Educating Cities, Mayors for Peace, installment of local peace councils

Local governments and authorities in all nations should substantially support bottom up initiatives by NGOs and civil society who devote themselves to promote a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence. And play a coordinating and facilitating role.

International leaders should make true efforts for disarmament, fight against poverty and prevent climate disasters.
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Organization: House of Erasmus of Rotterdam

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