How can we promote peace during war?

For us, peace is more than the absence of war

Children and young people around the world want to live in peace. They want to live with their siblings, their family and their friends in a peaceful world, discover it, learn, play and laugh. Children and young people have a right to personal development and development and the experiences that come with it.

Therefore, when dealing with the conditions for a more just and peaceful world, the search for answers to questions such as: What conditions do we need for a successful peace? How can war and displacement be prevented?

Peace Education and Policy

For us, peace is more than the absence of war, coercion and violence: Our vision is a world order in which children and young people can live without fear of war. Peace is and remains the goal towards which we work through peace education and politics. Social justice is always a necessary component of peace.

The aim of peace education is to enable and promote individual, social and international learning processes for non-violent and peaceful resolution of conflicts. The basis and goal is the establishment of a culture of peace that implies non-violence and just peace in its values ​​and attitudes as well as outwardly in behavior and actions. Peace education is about holistic concepts that are characterized by a great variety of methods and can be divided into three basic areas: peace competence, peace ability and peace action.

Active members of youth associations and groups take part nationally and internationally in social and political processes and decisions that contribute to the implementation of human rights and the overcoming of violence as well as the promotion of participation and democracy. This is lived in youth encounters and exchanges that take place around the world, international work camps and joint committee work both at European and international level.

Peace competence means the technical knowledge about war, violence and conflicts as well as their overcoming. Specifically, this can mean dealing with issues such as peer violence, escalation mechanisms, the military or armaments, poverty and exploitation, domination and power. In addition, individual prerequisites for peace as well as social and state framework conditions are taken into account. Children and young people in youth associations and groups know non-violent options for action and constructive conflict management methods.

Peacefulness describes the social skills of children, adolescents and young adults: a strong self is the best prerequisite for securing peace. Gender-sensitive offers also play an important role in peace education because, due to gender-specific socialization, violence on the one hand and non-violence on the other hand play a different role for girls and young women as well as for boys and young men. Often a different background of experience can even be assumed depending on gender. Depending on the situation, this requires age- and gender-sensitive measures. The first two areas are holistic so that learning through experience is implemented in the third area, peace-building.

For us, a good state and social peace policy is also the recognition of peace education, as well as its structural and project-related support before, during and after an (armed) conflict. In concrete terms, this means that civil crisis prevention and conflict management take precedence over any use of force.

Therefore we demand

  • the non-violent handling of conflicts in the sense of an active peace policy, which is characterized by civil conflict prevention and conflict management. This is particularly true for national and international conflicts;
  • a good state and social peace policy, the recognition of peace education, as well as its structural and project-related support before, during and after an (armed) conflict;
  • the priority of civil crisis prevention and conflict management over any use of force.

Escape movements and causes

Many children and young people around the world have to live in strife, which threatens their lives. Some have the opportunity to flee together with their parents and often alone.

For us as youth associations and rings in the German Federal Youth Association (DBJR), 2016 was also marked by work for and with refugees. We also observe how young people who have fled are increasingly assuming responsibility and participating in society in the work of youth associations. At all levels of the youth associations and rings there were projects, joint seminars and, above all, the (youth) political commitment to good living conditions for young refugees.

As youth associations and rings, we also deal with the causes of flight and displacement. National and international conflicts are and have always been the cause of increased and concentrated migratory movements in the last few decades. Most of the refugees are either so-called internally displaced persons who remain within their own national borders, or they flee to neighboring national territory for several years [1].

Refugee movements have become globalized since the end of the 20th century. According to a report by the United Nations, around 65 million people worldwide were on the run in mid-2015 [2]. In addition to armed conflict, there are also other reasons why people are leaving their homes. Every flight is based on an aspect of strife. Conditions such as poverty, hunger, environmental disasters, the consequences of climate change, land grabbing, a lack of prospects for life and interventions in nature repeatedly lead to flight. Likewise, the globally unequal distribution of resources and unjust trade policy [3], which is associated, for example, with food exports by large corporations from the global north to countries in the global south and destroys important livelihoods there. It is important to take a holistic view of politics towards countries in the global South: Individual interventions - be it through politics or business - must not be viewed in isolation, but must be viewed as coherent or mutually dependent. In particular, the role of industrialized nations such as Germany and globally operating corporations must be taken into focus.

The security policy, shaped by the major economic and military powers, repeatedly provides for violent solutions to conflicts. Be it in the form of arms and ammunition deliveries, the dispatch of "security advisors" and "trainers" of security forces or military interventions. Each of these options has long-term and far-reaching consequences that cannot be overlooked.

Not least through exports and, above all, arms exports, the industrialized nations contribute to an exacerbation of national conflicts and a further destabilization of states and societies. Germany is one of the world's largest arms exporters. The uncontrolled spread of small arms (handguns, assault rifles) plays a particularly problematic role. The spread of these weapons usually begins as a legal arms export approved by the federal government. However, their whereabouts can hardly be checked. They reach conflict areas almost unhindered via a variety of routes and lead to an escalation of violence there. Export decisions, once made, often have undesirable long-term effects, especially in regions with high political dynamism. This can mean that the weapons are later directed against internationally mandated forces or the civilian population. Particularly problematic is the spread of military-technical know-how and the possibility of weapons in license production, which otherwise only reluctantly supplied countries are in a position to upgrade themselves through their own production.

We therefore demand:

  • that foreign and security policy is based on the maxim of a more peaceful world and focuses on people and their perspectives rather than on economic profits.
  • an end to all German (small) arms and ammunition exports and the corresponding licenses.
  • a considerable tightening of export controls on goods that can be used for civil and military purposes (dual-use goods).
  • the creation of structural prerequisites that guarantee a decision based on criteria of peace ethics and not based on economic or industrial policy interests in future arms exports.
  • anchoring the ban on small arms exports in the Basic Law.
  • a fairer distribution of resources between the global north and south and a correspondingly designed trade and development policy in line with the decision of the DBJR General Assembly “We are fed up with hunger” (2011).
  • to make development cooperation more conflict-sensitive. Establishing and securing political and social framework conditions in which civil conflict management is possible must be promoted and always have priority over military forms of conflict management.

Unanimously decided at the 89th General Assembly on 28/29. October 2016 in Berlin.

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[1] see for example Dadaab, Kenya. The camp has existed since 1990 and is currently inhabited by over 400,000 refugees.

[2] UNHCR Global Trends 2015 www.unhcr.org/statistics/unhcrstats/576408cd7/unhcr-global-trends-2015.html

[3] see resolution of the DBJR General Assembly “We are fed up with hunger” (2011)