The Peace House – a short history

The Peace House – a short history

It all started in 1969 when Jean Van Lierde(1), who through determination and courage, had secured a legal statute for conscientious objectors in 1964. He wanted the pacifist organizations to have their own building in Brussels. He was able to rally the trust of two extraordinary personalities who funded the project. Paul Carette(2), a priest in Charleroi, heir to textile manufacturers, and Antoine Allard(3) member of a rich banking family and founder of Oxfam Belgium. These means were given to the non-profit organization Paix sur Terre whose statutes were inspired by nonviolence and the respect of human rights.

As efficient as ever, Jean made sure the building was occupied as soon as it has been bought.

He installed The African Book, a bookshop, following on from his commitment in favour of the Congo’s independence. War Resisters International (WRI) and International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) were based there for several years. The ‘Confédération du service civil de la jeunesse’ and the ‘Burgerdienst voor de Jeugd’ renamed ‘Tumult’, organizations founded to help conscientious objectors, both started out in the Maison de la paix. The MIR, the Belgian branch of IFOR, renamed Agir pour la paix, and Internationale van Oorlogstegenstanders, renamed Vredesactie, and the International Peace Brigades also sojourned there. Many COs carried out their civilian service in the house. The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and other peace movements have their registered office within its walls. Since the end of military service and alternative service, many other organizations are based there, including Service Civil International (SCI) which sends volunteers throughout the world, and a dozen other movements which are presented on this website. All these work together in a warm and militant atmosphere towards a pacified and environmentally friendly world.

(1)(1) Cf. Wikipedia and university websites of social history, in particular those of ULB and UCL. Also : Jean Van Lierde by Rik Hemmerijckx.

(2)(2) Cf. inter allia : ‘Vatican II and Belgium’ by Claude Soetens, ARCA, UCL Louvain University Press.

(3)(3) Cf. Wikipedia and Inventory of Baron Antoine Allard Papers, ARCA, UCL