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Important Historical Landmarks

1990: The first members of the Centre, recognising the need for a deeper understanding of the connotation of ‘Peace’, looked for educational sources abroad. Soon, they started a self-study program on understanding ‘Peace’ using the ‘Exploratory Project on the Conditions of Peace’ (ExPro) based on the book ‘Building a Peace System by Robert A. Irwin. These groups were composed of Greek Cypriot members alone. Physical or telephone contact with Turkish Cypriot counterparts living in northern half of the island was not possible because of restrictions imposed by the Turkish Cypriot administration.

1991: One of the two Cypriot academic women living in the U.S., who introduced to the Centre the new-to-Cyprus concepts of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, suggested to Dr. Louise Diamond, an American Peace Studies scholar, from The Institute of Multi-track Diplomacy in Washington (IMTD), that it would be a good idea to consider exploring the possibility of organising Conflict Resolution Workshops for Cypriots. Hosted by the Centre for a number of visits, she and her colleagues from IMTD, worked very methodically to secure the support of whoever could help in the realisation of that vision. They had many meetings with Cypriot state and non-state actors on both sides of the dividing line, the UN Agency officials on the island and in New York, as well as officials in the US Embassy in Cyprus and the State Department in Washington.

With time and lots of patience, the first Conflict Resolution Workshops, separate for each of the community groups, were put together on the island. Months later, in November 1992, the first joint bi-communal workshops took place. They were hosted by the UN Peacekeeping Force on the island (UNFICYP) at their Ledra Palace Hotel, head office in the buffer zone. Often, however, these scheduled workshops could not take place, because for one reason or other, the Turkish Cypriot participants were not allowed to cross to the buffer zone.  The Peace Centre and the informal group from the Turkish Cypriot community formed a Bi-communal Steering Committee (BSC) to coordinate bi-communal peacebuilding activities. Soon, this committee became the local contact for other Peace Scholars who visited the island on their exploration trips. Later in 1994, this committee was given an office and workshop space at the Ledra Palace Hotel for joint Conflict Resolution workshop and other peacebuilding work.

1993: In July 1993, the first 10-day bi-communal workshop, funded by the American Peace Institute took place in Oxford, England. The participants were ten persons from each side. Two of them were the daughter of the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the son of the leader of the Turkish Cypriot administration. It was described as a most empowering experience by all participants. Although the event was announced to the media, no attention was given. On the return of the group to Cyprus, the press ‘exposed’ a ‘conspiracy with the Americans to solve the Cyprus problem behind the backs of the politicians’. Strong condemnation by the majority of the Greek politicians followed, which in some cases bordered on the hysterical. The UN Secretary General  found it necessary to intervene to condemn this behaviour.

1994: By this time, the legitimacy of the Peace Centre with the UN and the foreign delegations in Cyprus was established. Board members of the Centre visited the State Department and the UN Headquarters in the States, and participated in peace workshops in Turkey, Israel and Palestine. It was soon realised that large funds were needed to meet the cost of bringing trainers from abroad, or for Cypriots to be taken for workshops away from the local unstable militarily environment. The Peace Centre worked to cultivate the idea of diverting the American scholarship aid given through the Fulbright Commission to peace education and the development of a peace culture instead. With the invaluable support of the Ambassador of the US in Cyprus and the local representative of the UN Secretary General, this request soon became a reality. 

Given the political problems related to the transfer of funds and the immaturity of civil society, the Fulbright Commission was the natural administrator of those USA funds. Consequently, the Fulbright local office became the central authority with which the Peace Centre and their T/C counterpart were now to work in their effort for breeding a Peace Culture through the transfer of know-how and human expertise from overseas. Later, the management of these funds was handed over to UNOPS and later with their successor on the island, the UNDP. An international consortium of peacebuilding scholars was created and substantial amounts from …………..were made available to fund their training activities. After this it was a matter of time for a number of peace professionals to start flooding the island.

This was the beginning of a flourishing era with a variety of training programmes related to the development of a Peace Culture, and carried out by world famous international peace scholars. Hundreds of people from both communities went through empowering workshops in Conflict Resolution, Dialogue, and other Peace Education methodologies. These were the potential Change Agents of the Cypriot conflict habituated culture. They were representatives from all social actors, ranging from young students, trade unionists, right through up-to second level of party politicians.

The participants in the workshops were taken through the powerful experiential conflict transformation processes unknown at the island up to that moment. The most intensive programme involved the transfer of trainer skills to about thirty local participants who formed the Local Trainers Group. This series of programmes carried on until 1998. In the years that followed, a number of other peace scholars were funded for a number of projects involving different peacebuilding skills. This activity continues to this date without a break.

1997–2006:  A multitude of peace groups proliferated from the Peace Centre and they continued their peacebuilding work either independent from the Centre or, with the Centre’s support. This proliferation and the maturity of trainer skills by members of the Centre have marked the third phase of its work.
A number of Research Projects were undertaken and Conflict Resolution workshops have been organised for Cypriot, Turkish and Greek nationals, as well as Israeli and Palestinian youth. Trainers from the Centre have played a significant role in the design, organisation and facilitation of many bi-communal training workshops in the skills of Conflict Resolution, Communication, Negotiation, and Mediation. The Centre has often co-operated with local, regional and international organisations with peacebuilding as their agenda.

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