Willy Brandt ©SEF
Willy Brandt

"The globalisation of risks and challenges – war, chaos, self-destruction – requires a kind of “world domestic policy” that extends not just beyond the parish pump, but also far beyond national borders."

"Development, in the broadest sense, is another word for peace."

Willy Brandt, founding chairman of the Development and Peace Foundation

The Development and Peace Foundation was founded on the initiative of Willy Brandt. The key impetus was provided by his work as chairman of the North-South Commission, whose report – entitled North-South: A Program for Survival, published in 1980 – set out a vision for partnership between North and South. The Brandt Report highlighted the interests common to all people and nations, and called for a new definition of North-South relations and the globalisation of politics. Since then, the need to give political shape to the "One World" concept has permeated the world’s consciousness. In 1985, Willy Brandt was honoured in New York for his commitment to the Third World. At the award ceremony, he declared that national attempts at crisis management were no longer an adequate response to the global dimension of the problems. It was this award ceremony which prompted his initiative to establish the Development and Peace Foundation. 

The Foundation’s establishment

Johannes Rau ©SEF
Johannes Rau

"Development and peace are bound by indissoluble links. To seek these out by academic enquiry, to expose them to public view, and to open them up for public debate, is the purpose of this Foundation."

Johannes Rau 1986

Already prior to the award ceremony, Willy Brandt contacted Johannes Rau, then Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia. Brandt proposed combining the long view and the world view (Weitsicht mit Weltsicht) and, together with Rau, using the Third World Prize awarded to him to establish an independent forum, whose aim would be to develop ideas and information on global interdependences and link East-West and North-South issues in a constructive way.

Johannes Rau responded positively to this initiative and was able to secure financial support from the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Development and Peace Foundation was established on 10 September 1986. Its founder members were Willy Brandt, Johannes Rau, Kurt H. Biedenkopf, Ralf Dahrendorf, Friedhelm Farthmann, Uwe Holtz, Klaus Dieter Leister, Dieter Senghaas and Carola Stern.

Willy Brandt was appointed chairman of the Executive Committee – a post which he held until his death in 1992 – with Kurt H. Biedenkopf and Ralf Dahrendorf as his deputies. Johannes Rau assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees, while the peace researcher Dieter Senghaas became chairman of the Advisory Board.


Kurt H. Biedenkopf, Willy Brandt and Johannes Rau ©SEF
Brandt, Biedenkopf, Rau

When the Cold War and the East-West conflict ended in 1989/90, many people hoped that a fairer and more peaceful world was now within reach. Willy Brandt was among those who saw this as an historic opportunity. In 1991, at his initiative, a meeting took place in Stockholm under the chairmanship of Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson. The outcome of the meeting was a document entitled Common Responsibility in the 1990s: The Stockholm Initiative on Global Security and Governance (Vol. 5 in the ONE World series). A year later, Willy Brandt was successful in recruiting Ingvar Carlsson and Shridath Ramphal as the co-chairmen of the Commission on Global Governance, whose report – entitled Our Global Neighbourhood – was published in 1995. Global Governance has been the guiding theme of the Foundation’s work ever since.

In 1991, the Land of Berlin joined the Foundation. On 1 July 1993, the SEF – previously a registered association – became a non-profit-making incorporated foundation under civil law. In addition to North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin, Brandenburg, and Saxony were now also donor states.

For the Development and Peace Foundation, the election of Johannes Rau, the chairman of its Board of Trustees, as President of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1999 was a great event. His work on behalf of the Foundation has greatly enhanced its profile and stature. As the chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee, Johannes Rau made a major contribution to the Foundation's development, agenda and objectives.

As the Development and Peace Foundation (SEF) celebrates its 25th anniversary, Brandt’s vision of a without borders and without prejudice, without hunger or fear of destruction is more relevant than ever. The objectives set out by the founding Executive Committee in 1986 still apply today:

"We are united by the vision of a world without borders and without prejudice, without hunger or fear of destruction. We know that this vision will not become a reality today or tomorrow. But we wish to commit ourselves to making our way, step by step, towards that goal. The future of humankind depends on regarding ourselves as world citizens and on our acting with a sense of global responsibility."


Peace must grow from within – but how?


On 8th February 2018, we invite you to a public evening event at the famous Frauenkirche Dresden. The keynote on "Peace must grow from within – but how?" will be given by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. Furthermore, Vera Baboun, former Mayor of Bethlehem, Tanja Gönner from GIZ and Hajer Sharief, Extremely Together Young Leader from Libya, will speak about their experience on the long and winding road to peaceful coexistence.

:further info here

sef: Bonn Symposium 2017

Local partnerships to implement Agenda 2030 worldwide


On 5th and 6th December 2017, sef: hosted, together with the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) of Engagement Global gGmbH, the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and other supporters, its annual Bonn Symposium. More than 120 experts discussed good examples of partnerships within and between municipalities worldwide. You will find all speakers’ presentations here. A conference report will be published soon. 

:further info here

sef: Policy Lunch 2017

Possible UN-Treaty on Business and Human Rights


At the end of October, the third negotiations on a UN-Treaty on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva. Goal of the negotiations is a legally binding instrument for States and Businesses. With a sef: Policy Lunch, sef: and CIDSE informed the Brussels community on the outcome of the negotiations on 20 November, and discussed the European positions. Our short conference report provides an overview.

:further info here

First Parliamentary Breakfast

sef: in dialogue with Members of Parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia

On 20 December 2017, sef: welcomed nearly 20 Members of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia to a Parliamentary Breakfast. The Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Renate Hendricks, provided  an overview of the history of sef: and its current projects. The subsequent discussion focussed on possible links to the one world and sustainability policy of the federal state.

:further info here

“Sustaining Peace” – Current challenges for democracy


2018 will be the start of a new high-level sef: series called Dresden Forum for International Politics. On 8/9 February 2018, international experts will convene to discuss current challenges for democracies. What are possible pathways towards lasting peace and nonviolent societies? Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, and Steve Killelea, Publisher of the Global Peace Index, have already confirmed their participation.

:further info here