The Weltfriedensdienst is a non profit organisation which embraces the principles of reconciliation, understanding between peoples and dialogue. Since its foundation the WFD has formed part of the peace movement in West Germany.
The Weltfriedensdienst (WFD) was founded in 1959 under the umbrella group the ‘Service for Reconciliation’ as a reaction to the decision to engage in rearmament in the Federal Republic of Germany. Rather than plans for weapons and deterrents, the founding members were convinced that reconciliation, understanding between peoples and help with reconstruction in countries destroyed by the German Army was necessary to make the world a safer place.
The first WFD project was to send a group of young people to help rebuild the town of Servia in Greece that had been destroyed by German ‘Wehrmacht’ troops during World War II. In the 1960s, the WDF began working in southern European countries. The members view their work as a campaign against the unequal division of society’s wealth and resources, caused by an imbalance in the international economic order. In this sense, the improvement of living conditions of disadvantaged demographic groups is peace in action.
No peace without development, no development without peace
The WFD has been recognised by the German government as a development cooperation partner since 1971. Trained development and peace professionals have since supported partner organisations in Africa, Latin America, Palestine and South Asia. The main focuses of their cooperation are education and training, incorporating women’s rights and human rights, protecting renewable resources, health, and civil conflict resolution. An equivalent level of cooperation between project partners is therefore desirable.
Convinced that changes in the north are also required in order to achieve global justice, the WDF extended their political development work to within Germany. Through political development education, lobbying and publicity work, the WDF campaigns for the problems os southern states to be recognised in a global context, simultaneously promoting an increasing awareness of the responsibility of the northern hemisphere and helping to reduce prejudice in German society.
The work of the WDF has contributed fundamentally to furthering the understanding of peace, and continues to include the correlation of peace and justice to the debate on development policies.
Food for thought: Which role do north-south relations and global power arrangements play in your understanding of peace?