Spain: Civil Society and peace efforts

At the turn of the eighties, at a time when the world was still divided by an Iron Curtain and under siege of a possible catastrophic Cold War explosion, the Aragon province in Spain was one of the zones with the highest military concentration, including the US Air Base in Zaragoza. It was at this very time and in this same place that, in 1984, the Permanent Seminar on Peace Studies (Seminario de Investigacion para la Paz – SIP), an independent peace research centre, was set-up in the Centro Pignatelli, a Jesuit centre in Zaragoza, Aragón. On the occasion of the SIP?s twentieth anniversary, the Spanish Press Agency on Religious Life, IVICON, cites this as an exemplary response by civil society. Today, twenty years on, the Iron Curtain has gone, the nature of warfare changed and the battleground moved. But the Seminario por la Paz continues to work for a culture of peace through rigorous research and by reaching out to public opinion. Besides its excellent library and documentation service, SIP has published several books. 

A founding member of the Spanish Association for Peace Research, SIP has, over the years, gathered around its conference tables some of the most prominent and well-known experts in the field. Roundtable talks, yearly courses, and special workshops on a wide range of peace issues (conflict transformation, peace processes, and education for peace targeted at educators) have been highlights, bringing recognition as well as numerous awards and prizes to the centre and its long-time director, Fr Jesús María Alemany SJ. With all this, it is hardly surprising that SIP recently gained a new formal status as a Foundation.  

Fr Jesús María Alemany SJ, Director, Fundación Seminario de Investigación para la Paz. To learn more about SIP, visit its website at: http://www.seipaz.org