Etienne De Jonghe: Builder of Peace

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The most important thing is to influence to monitor governments in their responsibility towards human rights in their own countries and in countries that have influence, and in order to do that, they have to influence public opinion because the politicians listen to public opinion.

Etienne de Jonghe is widely recognised as a peacebuilder at the highest level. After his 30-year tenure as secretary general of Pax Christi International, the movement had become an international justice and peace network of more than 100 Pax Christi member organisations spread across the world.  

His commitment to building strong international networks working is extraordinary. From the beginning, Etienne has shown a deep interest in the role that major religions can play in promoting the conditions for a just and lasting peace. 

He committed himself to many conflict areas but in his heart he was most interested in Central and Eastern Europe. There he planted seeds for an environment where peace and reconciliation can flourish and promoted transformative democracy within the framework of peace spirituality. 

What motivated me in all this is human rights, is the shock to see what people can do to each other. Think of the Shoah, the Holocaust, so that the sophisticated societies in the wrong conditions can completely wrong.

Today he’s still pursuing this remarkable commitment to justice and peace. In addition to his work with Pax Christi International, Etienne is currently serving as Board member of IPB (International Peace Bureau) and of ENORB (European Network on Religions and Beliefs). He is active at the European Council of Religious Leaders and at CCADD (Christian Approaches to Demilitarization and Disarmament). 

In this interview, Etienne traces some of the priorities of Pax Christi international through his invaluable experiences, from the first fact finding human rights missions in Latin America to the latest event organised in Poland, “Voices of Moderation”. With this 2019 event he is paving the way for the creation of a faith-based civil society network covering 17 different countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Russia in 2023. His mission in Pax Christi is not yet finished.