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."


Strengthening Local Peacebuilding. Establishing the Basis for Sustaining Peace


On 30 May 2018, international experts discussed in Berlin in what way local peacebuilding can contribute to the prevention of conflicts and to a sustainable peace. Examples from Burundi, Ghana, the Philippines and South Africa were provided to demonstrate chances and challenges of local peacebuilding. Read our short summary now.

:further info here