German Guiding and Scouting awarded international peace prize

German Guiding and Scouting has been awarded the International Peace of Westphalia Prize, Youth Prize, in recognition of the Movement’s common values and its contribution to mutual understanding and peace.

The Ring Deutscher Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinderverbände, the Federation of Guides and Scouts of Germany (rdp), which represents four Guiding and Scouting associations in the country, received the award at a special ceremony last month attended by the country’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"As the world's largest youth movement, (Scouting) aims to contribute to the peace-oriented development of young people so they can engage as responsible citizens in society," said Benedikt Hüffer, Deputy Chair of the Economic Society for Westphalia and Lippe, which awards the prize. "With shared values ​​such as coexistence, tolerance of others, and respect for the environment, finding the path to the ideal that all human beings can live together in peace."

“We feel very proud,” said Ylva Pössinger, chief commissioner of WAGGGS and a member of board at rdp. “It shows our work is being recognised. Furthermore, it shows us how important the engagement of every Guide and Scout in the world still is, and that Guides and Scouts are important policymakers themselves.”

The four associations, which are open to all children regardless of ethnic, social or religious background, work together to develop programmes that tackle racism and extremism, and promote a more tolerant society, and also co-operate closely with the German Muslim Scouts and Guides Association.

German Scouts have taken part in the Peace Light initiative, where a flame is brought from Bethlehem to Vienna and distributed around the world in time for Christmas, since 1986. The German group travels back home from the Austrian capital by train passing on the Peace Light to people waiting with candles at stations along the route. The flame is seen as a symbol of hope and peace.

“Differences are no boundary,” said Fett. “Everyone follows the same goal: to spread the symbol of light and warmth to as many people as possible.

The German Movement also plays an active role in the U18 mock election; a youth democracy project designed to stimulate interest in politics among young Germans who aren’t yet old enough to vote officially (voters must be at least 18 years old). The mock election takes place before each federal poll offering the same candidates and platforms and provides a gauge of young people’s engagement with the country’s politics.

The Westphalia peace prize commemorates the accord ending the Thirty Years War that devastated Europe in the 17th century. The main prize this year was given to the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in recognition of their commitment to European integration. It is awarded every two years.

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