In 1996, peace and human rights groups founded forumZFD. The first political success came after just two years: The German government launched the Civil Peace Service in 1998.
Today forumZFD works with peace consultants and advisers in Germany and ten other countries in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia. More than 700 people have received training at forumZFD’s Academy for Conflict Transformation. They are actively engaged in international peace work in around 70 countries.
Over 22 years, forumZFD has evolved from a voluntary discussion group with a visionary idea to become a globally active peace organisation with more than 100 members of staff.
The history of forumZFD
1996: Foundation of Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e. V.
It was in response to the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s that peace and human rights groups developed the idea of a Civil Peace Service. They wanted to challenge wars and military action by offering a peaceful alternative. In February 1996, they founded Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e. V. (forumZFD). As the “advocate of the idea”, forumZFD campaigned from then on for the introduction of a Civil Peace Service.
1997: Berlin Declaration for a Civil Peace Service & training of the first peace consultants
Numerous prominent public figures advocated a Civil Peace Service with the Berlin Declaration. The advocates included Johannes Rau, Joschka Fischer, Hans-Jochen Vogel, Hildegard Hamm-Brücher, Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Christa Wolf, Dorothee Sölle, Peter Härtling, Lew Kopelew, Hans Koschnick, Marianne Birthler, Bärbel Bohley, Hans-Peter Dürr, Klaus Staeck, Markus Meckel and Barbara Hendricks.
forumZFD received the Gustav Heinemann Citizen Award.
In the same year, the first four-month training course for peace consultants started in the Civil Peace Service. forumZFD still trains people from all continents in international peace and conflict work at its Academy for Conflict Transformation today.
1998: Political breakthrough for the Civil Peace Service
The first Red-Green German government comprising the Social Democratic Party and Green Party pledged in the coalition agreement of 1998 to establish a Civil Peace Service. Just one year later, the first peace consultants began working in conflict regions.
1999: First projects in the Western Balkans and in Israel & Palestine
forumZFD started working on projects in 1999 in the former Yugoslavia and in Israel & Palestine.
2001: First Run for Peace in Aachen
The first Run for Peace in Aachen heralded the start of a successful model for peace work. Since then, more than 10,000 students have taken part in the peace runs every year. In various cities in Germany, they run to raise funds to support the work of forumZFD. But the peace run is more than just a sponsored run: education is just as important. Here you can learn more about the Runs for Peace and the Peace Building & Education programmes.
2005: First projects in Germany
Professional peace work is also needed in Germany. This is why right from the start forumZFD also wanted to deliver the Civil Peace Service in its own country. Since 2005, forumZFD has been helping affected communities to prevent and deal with conflicts with “municipal conflict management”. Here you can learn more about forumZFD’s conflict management in Germany.
forumZFD was also presented with the Göttingen Peace Award in 2005.
2006: Recognition as a sending organisation
In the tenth year after its foundation, forumZFD was recognised as part of the Development Aid Workers Act. The recognition of forumZFD as an official sending organisation was an important political signal from the German government on the future of the Civil Peace Service, which was still in its early days.
2007: Start of the programme in the Philippines
forumZFD started its peace work on Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines. The peace consultants are engaged in the context of the conflict between the Muslim autonomy movement and the Philippine government and in conflicts surrounding the mining of raw materials.
2009: Start of the programme in Lebanon
In Lebanon, forumZFD supports the resolution of the civil war and the integration of the large number of Syrian refugees.
2011: Campaign “20 million more from the military!”
Prevention is more sensible and cheaper than military interventions – this was the rationale used by forumZFD to demand the expansion of the Civil Peace Service from the German government. The two-year campaign was successful: In October 2013 the grand coalition government of the CDU and SPD pledged to further expand the Civil Peace Service.
2012: Move to “Friedenshaus Am Kölner Brett”
The administrative office of forumZFD moved from Bonn to Cologne. The premises in Bonn had become too small for the now 30 members of staff.
2014: Awarding of the “Sievershäuser Ermutigung” Peace Prize
forumZFD received the “Sievershäuser Ermutigung” Peace Prize in recognition of its achievements in training peace consultants, practical peace work and political campaigning for a civil peace policy.
With the peace ribbon campaign, forumZFD made a real statement in Berlin: Several hundred people stretched a peace ribbon from Berlin’s Victory Column to the Federal Chancellery. Thousands of protest postcards were attached to the peace ribbon beneath the heading “A policy of peace rather than military action”.
2015: Start of the programme in Cambodia
forumZFD opened programme offices in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and in Battambang.
forumZFD is committed with a campaign to meeting the global sustainability targets which were passed by the UN member states in September 2015. forumZFD has been campaigning ever since for the implementation of what is known as Peace Goal 16.
2017: Start of the programmes in Jordan and in Ukraine
forumZFD expanded its programmes and opened offices in Ukraine and in Jordan.
For the German election in 2017, forumZFD initiated the appeal “For reasonable politics. Stop arms races – promote peace and justice”. 40 figures from the worlds of culture, media, religious groups, trade unions and civil society were the first signatories to support the appeal.