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Proposal No.1 'Deeds no word'

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Research Proposal "Deeds not words"


The Service Civil International and the peace movement of the twenties


The purpose of this subject is to throw light upon the circumstances of the beginning of SCI in connection with the international peace movement.


The activities of Service Civil International (SCI) started in 1920 with a peace service in the war damaged region of Verdun (France). The Swiss Pierre Ceresole and other pacifists organised a relief service in order to create reconciliation after First World War.
Soon the services got other purposes in terms of social policy: e.g. promotion of alternative service for conscientious objectors (since 1924), development work (since 1934/1950) or east west exchange (since 1955).
Over the years a network of 35 branches worldwide grow up. SCI organises nowadays about 500 short term social service in order to promote peace, international understanding and solidarity, social justice, sustainable development, and respect for the environment.

Bilthoven 1919

IFOR Congress in Bilthoven 1919

Subject : Bilthoven -IFOR (1919) - SCI (1920) - WRI (1921)

The roots of SCI goes back to the second international conference of International Federation of Reconciliation in Bilthoven (Netherlands). The Swiss radical pacifist Pierre Ceresole, who became secretary of IFOR on the first conference in 1919, initiated the first peace service of SCI in Verdun. Only a half year later another international conference began in Bilthoven out of what another international peace organisation into being : War Resister International.

In reaction of the First World War three international peace organisations were created, which have the same starting point in Bilthoven. Behind of this conferences was the work of the Dutch pacifist and pedagogue Kees Boeke.

Unfortunately no study was made up now which clarifies the beginning of SCI in connection with other peace organisations. It's very important to know more about this because the first generation of SCI activists came from this peace network. It was only in the thirties when SCI was formally founded as organisation with a own volunteer recruiting structure.


Preliminary studies & research sources

Are you interested?

The proposal is meant for historical reappraisal. But it's possible to link it to the present day by taking part in the North/South programme of SCI.
There are possibilities to publish about the subject in SCI publications and to present it at meetings and seminars.

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