Board Member, Church & Peace
Co-Founder, Regional Address for Nonviolent Action (RAND)
A native of Croatia, Ana Marija Raffai is a peace activist, Catholic theologian, and professor of French and German. In 1991, she graduated with a degree in theology with her work on the feminist theologian, Katharine Halkes. And in 1992, during the Balkan Wars, she and her husband, Otto, created an organization called the Regional Address for Nonviolent Action (RAND) in Croatia. Since 1996, she has worked as a coordinator, program leader, and educator for nonviolent action, actively committed to promoting nonviolence in education and civic action, focusing primarily on the interreligious peace work that links nonviolent action and interreligious coexistence. She serves on the boards of the Ecumenical Women's Initiative and the European ecumenical network, Church and Peace.
In 2005, together with a thousand women around the world, Raffai was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Together with her husband, Otto, she received the 2003 International Fellowship of Reconciliation as well as the 2012 Kruno Sukić Prize for the Promotion of Peacemaking, Nonviolence, and Human Rights. Then, from 2013 to 2017, she and Otto coauthored a monthly column on nonviolence in the Croatian magazine, Svjetlo riječi (Light of the Word), and since 2018, they have regularly collaborated on the column, “Revolution of Tenderness,“ on the Autograf.hr web portal. Along with translations of French and German peace articles, their writing serves to popularize nonviolent action.
Currently, her most important projects involve nonviolent training sessions, MES Interreligious Educational Encounters organized by RAND, and the initiatives of RAND's Believers for Peace network which she coordinates and which holds regional interreligious conferences under the title, “By Building Peace, We Celebrate God.” She has published several theoretical and popular peace articles in Croatian, German, and French as well as several training manuals such as the "Volunteers in Peace Building“ (2004); "Tool on the Path to Nonviolence“ (2007); and "Interreligious Dialogue as a Way to Social Reconciliation“ (2010).
Conference Topic—"Believers for Peace: Christians, Muslims, and Nonviolent Peacebuilding in Europe"
In this talk, I will begin with a discussion of the initiative, "Believers for Peace," which has been active since 2006 in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Macedonia. This initiative is an example of a good practice through which believers, who are relevant for the sociopolitical context of the western Balkans, can contribute to nonviolent peacebuilding. In the second part, I will discuss the nonviolent education offered by the organization RAND, which is part of Believers for Peace. I will try to show how, based on our experience, education about nonviolence and nonviolent action needs to address these key points: encounter, nonviolent competence, and awareness of structural violence.