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Geneva Peace Week 2021

Geneva Peace Week (GPW) is a leading annual forum in the international peacebuilding calendar, and the flagship event of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. GPW 2021 will be held totally online from 1-5 November and aims to galvanise leadership, build trust and contribute to transforming international cooperation.

Interpeace is proud to partner with the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform and co-host the following events for this year's edition.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is increasingly recognized as an essential element of the humanitarian response. People suffering the consequences of natural and human-made disasters often face severe forms of trauma that can even extend to future generations. MHPSS can be a powerful tool to address these challenges at the individual level but can also foster larger positive outcomes at the collective level, contributing to trust, resilience, social cohesion and ultimately peace. However, the crucial link between MHPSS and peace remains underexplored and underused.

Examples from Interpeace’s work on collective trauma healing in Rwanda underline the positive effects MHPSS can have on societies that have been torn apart by wars, genocides, and other atrocities. Beyond the individual improvements, former enemies, victims and perpetrators, start to slowly trust each other again and develop ways to engage in a dialogue. These positive tendencies are also reflected in increased socioeconomic gains by participants of such programmes. An important tool in MHPSS is storytelling, which can provide people that have suffered traumatic experiences with a way to confront and express their suffering and being heard and listened to by others. Storytelling can also inspire wider parts of society to change certain behaviours to contribute to peace in smaller and bigger ways.

This session has as a key objective to demonstrate how MHPSS can be a powerful tool not only in humanitarian and emergency settings but also to build peace. Starting from the examples of collective trauma healing in Rwanda, other potential countries and regions for this type of work will be explored. The session will also highlight how storytelling is a key approach that can be used to maximize the peace outcomes of MHPSS and similar processes. We will hear testimonies from people who have participated in collective trauma healing programmes, local MHPSS practitioners, peacebuilding experts and policymakers to explore how mental health, peace and inspiring stories can work together and reinforce each other to create positive change. The session will also seek a collaboration with the Peace Talks, featuring video testimonies and extracts that demonstrate the value of using storytelling to advance MHPSS and peace objectives.


Opening remarks:

  • Ambassadeur Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations Office at Geneva
  • Ambassador Nicola Bellomo, Head of Delegation of the European Union in Rwanda 


  • Ms. Marriêt Schuurman, Director of Department for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Bishop Deogratius Gashagaza, Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Rwanda 
  • Ms. Laurence Mukayiranga, Director of Unity and Reconciliation Promotion Unit at Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC)
  • Mr. Ananda Galappatti, Medical Anthropologist, MHPSS Practitioner and co-director of the MHPSS network
  • Ms. Rurangirwa Nelly, Deputy Executive Director, Rwanda We Want Organisation
  • Mr. Frank Kayitare, Great Lakes Regional Representative, Interpeace

Closing remarks:

  • Mr. Scott Weber, President, Interpeace


  • Abiosseh Davis, Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager, Interpeace

In partnership since 2017, Interpeace and Fondation Hirondelle put dialogue and trust at the core of building sustainable peace in fragile settings. Through inclusive dialogue processes at all levels and trusted media and communications spaces both organizations aim at reinforcing links between citizens and between citizens and their state authorities, hence reinforcing the overall social contract.

In a global context deeply affected by the COVID-19 crisis, peacebuilding efforts are further challenged by false information, rumors, lack of cooperation and weak leadership. These new challenges need new ideas and innovative discussions between all actors operating in conflict-affected contexts but also in developed countries.

The Geneva Peace-Cast is a collaboration between Interpeace and Fondation Hirondelle, in coordination with Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, on the production  of a podcast series during the 2021 Geneva Peace Week to amplify the discussions happening throughout Geneva Peace Week.