Forums for human rights and peace education in Eastern Slavonia – and elsewhere

By Jan Oberg

October 11, 1998

Originally published here.

“This is a modest proposal for institutionalisation of peace-related teaching in regions of conflict. It’s a Citizens Forum for Human Rights and Peace Education, HR&PE. It mentions Croatia but is equally relevant for, let’s say, Kosovo or Macedonia, or any other trouble spot. You may think that this is relevant only after war, but I strongly believe that forums like this should be created wherever the situation threatens to erupt into violence. If the trigger-happy international “community” had invested in such projects – both in their own ministries of foreign affairs, in international organisations and in trouble spots such as Kosovo – 5 or 10 years ago, people on all sides would begin to realise the utter futility of using weapons to achieve their goals,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“You see, there are no limits to what can be done to help people coexist in postwar communities. The international community has no specialised competence or organisations in this field. Post-war reconciliation is the most important measure to prevent future outbreaks of violence – and we must focus particularly on children and youth,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“TFF has been working for more than one year with reconciliation issues in Eastern Slavonia, Croatia. We have analysed problems of co-operation in many schools, served as resource persons at three UN/Council of Europe seminars for principals and teachers, helped about 120 Croat and Serb gymnasium students to see a better future together and we’ve supported local Serb media in their wish to contribute to reconciliation. Just a couple of weeks ago, TFF conducted a seminar with CINES – the Citizens Initiative Network Eastern Slavonia that we helped create in June, an effort to bring mixed groups of teachers, media people and all NGOs together as they are all educators.” [Read more…]

Post-war reconciliation – who has got a clue?

By Jan Oberg

October 28, 1997 – TFF PressInfo 28 originally published here.

“It’s easy to militarise societies and start wars. Powerful people know how to do it. The world has accumulated all the needed intellectual and material resources.

Preventing, handling and stopping conflicts and wars is more difficult. We know less about what it requires, and only tiny resources are allocated by governments. The UN – humanity’s leading conflict-management organisation – has been sidetracked, exhausted and denied the minimum funds for peacekeeping. The OSCE has a “conflict prevention centre” so small that it stands no chance to adequately meet the challenges ahead,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“In the fields of post-war reconstruction, reconciliation, peacebuilding where human beings and societies move from violence to sustainable peace and development, the global society is virtually without a clue. It lacks adequate research, organisation, professionals, funds, philosophy and strategy. Only a handful of small research centres work with these tremendously complex processes – such as the War-Torn Society Project in Geneva and UNESCO’s Peace Culture programme.

The global system is deplorably immature: it knows how to fight wars within hours but lacks about everything it takes to handle conflicts, to prevent violence, to settle conflicts and reconciliate. Top-level decisionmakers often lack knowledge about social, psychological and cultural dimensions of conflicts – vital for the noble UN norm of creating peace by peaceful means.” [Read more…]