PATRIR is Being the Change
From its headquarters in Cluj-Napoca in the heart of Transylvania, the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania – PATRIR – is impacting the world. Recognised as one of the leading institutes in its field internationally – having been awarded both the World Vision International Peace Prize and the Luxembourg International Peace Prize — PATRIR has been engaged in peacebuilding and peace support operations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Afghanistan, Darfur, South Sudan, Colombia, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. In Romania they work across a range of programmes, from improving women’s rights and overcoming domestic and gender-based violence to youth empowerment, civic participation, peace education in schools, and working to celebrate and promote inclusion and multiculturalism while challenging hate speech and polarisation. With the world facing increasing challenges, conflicts and crisis, Romania’s first international organisation in the country’s history is making an impact at home and abroad – and transforming the way the world deals with conflicts.
“Conflicts are normal. Every single one of us has them – whether in our families and personal relationships or in our work and communities. Conflicts aren’t the same thing as violence though,” explains Kai Brand-Jacobsen, one of the co-founders of PATRIR and Director of the Institute’s Department of Peace Operations. “Violence is what happens when we systematically fail to deal with conflicts effectively. Our job is to help people, communities, governments and national and international organisations see how to deal with conflicts more effectively, both at a local level here in Cluj-Napoca and around the world. We do this through international mediation and peace support, through training government leadership, officials and conflict parties in how to do peacebuilding and deal with conflicts more effectively, but also through introducing peace education into schools so that children and youth learn more effective ways of dealing with conflicts and handling diversity and differences constructively.”
Libya Programme Nigeria Good WG
Iraq MSSP WG Iraq MSSP WG
What is an international organisation, and even more than that, a “peace” institute doing in Romania? That’s a question many people ask when they first hear about PATRIR. That is, until they discover what this organization is all about. In its 17 years, PATRIR has gone from a start-up team of three volunteers to being recognised as one of the leading centres of excellence in its field in the world – called upon by the United Nations, Commonwealth Secretariat, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), governments, and national and international organisations alike.
Working for meaningful change from Romania, in Romania
As an Institute though, PATRIR’s work starts at home. Its team are proud to be located in one of Romania’s most beautiful, culturally diverse and dynamic cities. The Institute carries out a wide range of programmes to make a real difference in people’s lives in Romania and contribute to the country’s development. They work with teachers and schools, implementing peace education, human rights, gender and leadership training in schools. They partner with government institutions and civil society organisations to contribute to real progress on women’s rights, combating gender-based and domestic violence, promoting multiculturalism and empowering youth, civil society and civic engagement.
From 2001 until today the Institute has been at the forefront of also empowering citizens to stand up for good governance and accountability in Romania. “To put it simply” says Ambassador Oana Neacșu, also from Cluj, “PATRIR is a success story. A success through its people, its programmes, its outreach and its commitment to bring about change. PATRIR’s leadership is outstanding and undoubtedly a key element in the building of its success. PATRIR is also an example of going global from the local level. Based in the university town of Cluj in Transylvania, a multicultural setting in central Romania, PATRIR has crossed boundaries and borders both geographically and mentally. The results and outcomes of its endeavours have been visible throughout the globe.” Shajjad Rizvi, Founder of the Little People, says “PATRIR is one of the best organisations in Romania. The passion and dedication of its leadership, staff and volunteers is inspiring and catching. They are a true inspiration to the organisation I represent and many other organisations in Romania.”
Transforming the way the world deals with conflicts
So what is peacebuilding? That’s not a word many people in the world are even familiar with yet. Peacebuilding for PATRIR is about finding practical and effective solutions to conflict and working to prevent violence. This isn’t easy, but as anyone watching the evening news can tell, it’s needed. PATRIR does this through its Department of Peace Operations, currently involved in peace support programming in Syria, Libya and Nigeria, and until recently heading up the largest UN-backed programming in Nineveh, Iraq, where ISIS was operating. In 2008 – 2010 the Institute’s team was engaged in Northern Ireland by the parties to the Good Friday Agreement – working a decade after the signing of the agreement to deepen the peace process. Importantly though, the Institute’s approach to this is to do it quietly. Its philosophy is that peacebuilding is best done by local people in their own communities. An example of this has been the Institute’s work in Syria since 2007. This has focused on strengthening and supporting Syrian capabilities to deal with conflicts and violence in the country. Now, as the war escalates further, PATRIR is supporting partners across the country to see how to de-escalate violence, and to lay the foundations for long-term recovery and healing. Training is also a big part of its work. The International Peace and Development Training Centre (IPDTC) is the training arm of the Institute, providing programmes at home in Romania and around the world. n the last months alone PATRIR has provided trainings in Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and Darfur. 10% of its programmes are hosted at the Global Academy in Cluj or as Executive Leadership Programmes in London. Altogether more than 4,000 people from 70+ countries around the world have taken part in PATRIR trainings – from senior ministers and government officials to grass-roots community workers, former combatants, military officers, youth and more.
Anusi Dori of the United Nations said of the Institute: “PATRIR is second to none. In their activities all over the world they blow your mind. They open your eyes to the realities of this world. PATRIR’s peacebuilding training has really helped me to turn my weaknesses into my strength. They are doing this work all over – Europe, America, Africa, Asia. In any civil society or government meetings you must count the number of people that have participated in one training or another with PATRIR. Through their programmes they are having an extraordinary impact on the world, and provide inspiration for everyone working to make real, meaningful change.”
Films with PATRIR
In Pursuit of Peace
2015 Documentary Film following the work of PATRIR Department of Peace Operations Director Kai Brand-Jacobsen and 3 other practitioners in the field. In the film PATRIR’s work in Iraq and Turkey are featured.
In Pursuit of Peace – TEDx Talk
War isn’t inevitable. It’s not even the best or a particularly effective way of dealing with conflicts. With more than 20 years’ experience working in many of the worst war zones in the world, PATRIR Department of Peace Operations Director Kai Brand-Jacobsen shares what is being done every day to deal with conflicts practically, prevent violence, and help communities and people heal after war.
See www.patrir.ro for more information
People about PATRIR
“With a small team, PATRIR has incredible depth and extraordinary global reach. They pay attention to their immediate communities but play a considerable role in training and facilitating conflict transformation worldwide. They both surf the new waves of new trends and anticipate the next ones on the horizon.”
Dr. Peter Stockdale (Canada)
“PATRIR is a visionary organization with highly innovative approaches catalyzing peace in many conflict countries around the world. It is highly deserving of top recognition, as it does so much with so little, placing local actors at the front of its processes to drive peaceful change. Building capacity of people in strategic positions around the globe through its trainings, PATRIR is advancing transformative processes at all levels and advancing global peace, by peaceful means.”
Erin McCandless, Co-Founder & Editor, Journal for Peacebuilding and Develompent, Senior International Expert
“PATRIR is ab outstanding example of what some inspired people can achieve. Starting from (almost) nothing it has become a name known all over Europe and internationally for its high standards in training as well as in practical peacebuilding activities. Its outreach is unparalleled. It has been a huge support and encouragement for the diverse local peace initiatives that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or even been suppressed by mainstream nationalism in their countries.”
Tilman Evers Co-founder, ex-chair and board member of Forum Civil Peace Service, Germany
“The Commonwealth Secretariat
The work PATRIR has undertaken with the Commonwealth Secretariat as an intergovernmental organisation engaged in high level political mediation, in building institutional capacity to better deliver holistic and more effective design and implementation of conflict prevention and resolution activities is invaluable. Helping the organisation to better link our political work with technical assistance in key development areas has helped us to deliver more comprehensive and effective peacebuilding, which addresses systemic issues and helps build domestic capacity to sustain peace and stability. The knowledge, skill and support the organisation has brought to bolster the skills and approach of individual officers like myself has enabled us to learn and apply a more rigorous approach to our work. This has been inspiring and rewarding on both a professional and personal level. I fully support PATRIR’s reputation as one of the leading organisations in the field internationally.”
Sabhita Raju, (former) Political Affairs Officer, Political Affairs Division, The Commonwealth Secretariat