Award winners 2016

H.M. King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein

H.M. King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein has been King of Jordan since February 1999. Like his father, King Hussein ibn Talal, he is highly respected in both the Arab and Western world as a mediator in various conflicts. In the so-called Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in which many Palestinians live, has a central role to play when it comes to developing a just peace solution. King Abdullah is firmly of the opinion that security and peace in the Middle East region essentially require a mutual willingness to coexist and live together. King Abdullah fears that the existing armed conflicts in the Middle East could also affect Israel and Palestine and thus plunge the entire region into an unprecedented war if a mutually acceptable peace solution between Israel and the Palestinians is not found soon. In his book "The Last Chance - My Fight for Peace in the Middle East", King Abdullah also criticises efforts to call for further military action against Iran. For him, "a just and lasting peace is one of the strongest weapons against extremism".

However, he also pleads for joint action - both Middle Eastern and Western - against the current religious fanaticism with which the so-called "Islamic State" is overrunning entire regions in Syria and Iraq and causing serious damage to the reputation of moderate and modern Islam. As a comparatively small state, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is excelling in the reception and care of refugees. While it was first the Palestinians who sought refuge here after 1948 and 1967, hundreds of thousands came after the last Iraq war, and now over 1.5 million Syrians have been cared for since 2011. Jordan, which is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, is therefore facing enormous challenges in the coming years. Mastering these challenges and securing Jordan's stability will require the support of all those who have an interest in bringing peace to the entire region.

King Abdullah himself has a Western background: he was educated at Sandhurst Military Academy in the south of England, joined the British Army and studied international politics at Oxford and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He then returned to Jordan as a professional officer. There he continued his military career, was promoted to commander in 1994 and finally to major general in 1998. In 1993, he married the Palestinian Rania Faisal Yasin, who had fled Kuwait during the Second Gulf War. Queen Rania is known for her worldwide commitment to peace, education and tolerance, among other things. She also embodies a modern image of women in a liberal and cosmopolitan Islam, which she is particularly committed to.

King Abdullah is endeavouring to open up his country to foreign investors. This includes projects in the infrastructure and energy sector - for example wind farms, solar projects, water treatment and electricity generation. New laws ensure transparency and guarantee quality standards. In the course of the "Arab Spring", there were also demonstrations in Jordan, but these were comparatively peaceful and not directed against the person of the king. The royal family reacted quickly, showed understanding and reacted prudently to ease the situation: For example, wages in the public sector were increased. As part of so-called "reforms from above", a constitutional court was set up and a new electoral and party law was introduced.

Action Reconciliation Service for Peace

Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste (ASF) is a German organisation of the peace movement. It was founded in 1958 at the synod of the Protestant Church in Germany with the significant involvement of Lothar Kreyssig. The ASF is particularly well known for its international volunteer programme and the organisation of work camps in Western and Eastern Europe.

The ASF offers long-term, twelve to 15-month international peace service programmes for young men and women. The young volunteers accompany older people (for example in Jewish institutions and organisations for Shoah survivors) and support socially disadvantaged people (such as refugees and homeless people) as well as people with mental or physical disabilities. They are also involved in anti-racist initiatives or historical and political education projects.

There are currently around 180 volunteers working in Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, the USA and Belarus. The vast majority of volunteers come from Germany. Most participants are between 18 and 30 years old.

The second important service offered by the ASF is the organisation of work camps. The aim is to encourage young Germans in particular to come to terms with National Socialism and its consequences through dialogue and direct encounters with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Three international meeting centres are closely linked to Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste: The International Youth Meeting Centre in Oswiecim/Auschwitz (Poland), Beit Ben Yehuda - House of Pax (Israel) and Foyer le Pont (France) regularly host events. Individual and group travellers are offered accommodation and educational opportunities there.

For the organisation, dealing with National Socialism and its crimes is an obligation for concrete action in the present. In this way, the ASF aims to raise awareness of the consequences of history today and counter current forms of anti-Semitism, racism and the marginalisation of minorities.

Well-known former ASF volunteers include the SPD politician Thomas Oppermann and the columnist Harald Martenstein. The organisation has been awarded the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal (1993), the Marion Samuel Prize (2001) and the Hans Ehrenberg Prize (2006), among others.