Peace work that works
Peace and reconciliation in conflict areas
The Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue is built on unique experiences from Norway, the Balkans and the Middle East that together makes our work what it is today. For 15 years we have, through the Nansen Dialogue Network in the Western Balkans, developed methods for peaceful conflict resolving with many and lasting results. We have worked with reconciliation in ethnically divided societies, still troubled by internal conflicts after the Balkan wars of the 90s, using dialogue seminars as our most important tool. The Nansen Peace Center is the coordinating body for the dialogue centers in the network. We arrange dialogue seminars for politicians, religious leaders, parents and students of different religions, ethnicity and languages.
We do not know best how to create peace around the globe. The solutions are with those involved in the conflict. What we can contribute are tools and experiences that can make a difference for a lasting peace in a variety of places and situations.
One of these is our work with the diaspora in Norway. Refugees and other immigrants from more than a hundred countries live in Norway. Quite a few of them are strongly connected to their home countries and wish to contribute to peace work there. Combining knowledge of their language, their nation and the Norwegian democracy, these people have experiences that put them in a unique position for doing so.
The NCPD also maintain an active student network. Many participants have been travelling the last few years, helping, among others, young Kurds getting positions as interns in organizations in Kurdish Iraq and a group of young Norwegian Afghans to see possibilities for contributing to the rebuilding of their home country.
The center’s work might seem less measurable than traditional peace work. We do not build schools, hospitals or other institutions, declare “mission accomplished” and travel on to the next place. Patient work with local population and politicians is required to make them ready for building bilingual schools and multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. As all our dialogue centers are locally based, they will continue supporting the reconciliation projects and work for new ones in the area. When the Nansen Dialogue Network and Steinar Bryn got the Livia Prize in 2010, one of the reasons given by the jury was that “... they went into the eye of the storm – and stayed there.”
An important part of the NCPD’s work is peace education. We have regular courses and seminars for different groups, nationally and internationally, in addition to the dialogue seminars for groups from the West Balkans. Through the years, thousands of participants have attended our courses and seminars. We also have an active network in the diaspora that contribute to the lectures and courses.
Reception center education
“Safe in the uncertainty” is an educational program for employees and residents of asylum seeker reception centers. The backdrop for the program is that these groups live together in a multi-ethnic mini-society that is ripe with potential for misunderstandings and conflicts. Based on their experiences and knowledge, the program gives participants awareness of and methods for acting in areas such as communication, dialogue, identity, conflict solving and cooperation. One of the goals is to give the residents a meaningful education that might relieve the psychological stress connected to living in a reception center, and be useful to them whether they are granted the right to stay in Norway or not.
In addition to the courses, documentation and dissemination are important parts of our work. We have for many years taught and held lectures, and will focus more on documenting our experiences in the future. Articles, booklets and books are to be written about our method and our work. Two Norwegian documentaries about the dialogue projects have been made.
Open meetings and conferences
Throughout the year, the NCPD has a lot of open meetings and subject-oriented seminars with relevant speakers, the Nansen Seminar being one of them.