Builder of peace, engaged in the formation of international networks for the demilitarization, the disarmament, the reconciliation and the rights of the peoples
Mr. Etienne De Jonghe grew up in Belgium in a Europe immersed in the uncertainties of the Cold War. After studying political science, international relations at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), and the sciences of peace and conflict at the Polemological Institute of the University of Groningen (the Netherlands, 1968-1970), he directed his professional life towards peace education. For thirty years he was Secretary General of Pax Christi International where he worked to consolidate and develop this movement born in 1945 for Franco-German reconciliation. When he retired in 2008, the movement has a hundred member organizations spread across worldwide.
Endowed with a strong contact capacity and a deep sense of justice, he has patiently woven links with citizens of Central and Eastern Europe who have engaged in civil society to advance respect for human rights. In critical years when Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo appeal to Pax Christi, Etienne helps to organize a continental network of groups and organizations that mobilize for peace and reconciliation. At the call of Archbishop Oscar Romero, El Salvador, and other circles in Colombia, Peru and Brazil, a continental network is taking shape in Latin America, in defense of communities affected by violent conflict and the mining industries.
Since retiring, Etienne has been participating in seminars, symposiums and conferences alongside people eager to create a world free from violence, for a lasting peace. His extensive knowledge of European institutions and East-West relations is thus used to create and organize new forums for dialogue to combat intolerance and the effects of populism. For more than thirty years, he has been interested in the role that major religions can play in promoting the conditions for a just and lasting peace, for example by participating in dialogues between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Also, he has regularly been involved in the CCADD, Christian Approaches to Demilitarization and Disarmament to organise annual gatherings.
Currently, he is active at the European Council of Religious Leaders; he sits on the boards of directors of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) based in Berlin and Brussels, the European Network on Religions and Beliefs (ENORB), and VIRA, a Dutch-Flemish association which organizes conferences on international affairs and brings together a large group of diplomats, journalists and academics in Brussels. Since 2018, in the name of Pax Christi International and with the leaders of Dutch civil society and two Polish faith-based organizations, Etienne has set up a four-year project (2018-2022) which is developing a network with faith-based civil society groups active in Central and Eastern Europe. The aim is to promote pluralistic democracy, dialogue and cooperation, in particular because of the rise of populism and authoritarianism on the European continent.
In short, by his faith, his convictions, his action, and with the constant support of his wife Magda Van Damme, Etienne De Jonghe is a true builder of peace. He is well deserving of this recognition by the Public Peace Prize.
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