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Online Toolkit

Part 3 - The Peace Bag Partners, Projects, and Peacebuilders

Bulgaria

United Nations Association of Bulgaria is an NGO that works to promote the high ideals and goals of the United Nations. Peace education for students has become one of their main priorities, together with the principles of Human Rights, tolerance, mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. Volunteers conduct workshops on peace related topics using non-formal education processes, trying to increase active participation among youth. Topics like peace-building/keeping and coexistence are consistently present in all of their activities and campaigns. They also organize open lectures, round tables and conferences in partnership with other NGO's and universities.

Since 2007, UNA of Bulgaria has sent 7 Youth Delegates to the United Nations, under the world programme Youth Delegate to the UN. Young people between 18 and 30 years old are motivated to become Youth Delegates, and to represent Bulgarian youth in the General Assembly of the UN annual fall session. The Youth Delegate programme is a great chance for young people to express the interests and the needs of youth, and to be its voice in the decision-making process at the UN level.

Other aspects of their work - including the annual celebration of September 21 (International Day of Peace), informational campaigns, street performances, outdoor concerts, sports tournaments and conferences - are used to create greater awareness in Bulgarian society of the importance of peace education and peace related issues.

The UNA of Bulgaria is also a member of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA); and the Bulgarian Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation.


Model United Nations

Peacebuilding, diplomacy

The globally popular "Model UN" is one of the traditional activities of UNA Bulgaria. In the simulation, participants play the role of official diplomats, tasked with finding information about the UN, the country they represent, and the theme of the simulation - then drafting an appropriate position based on facts and resources collected. Through such an activity, young people develop skills in researching and organizing information, critical thinking, and gain an ability to present information and defend a position. Topics are usually related to peace and conflict management, with a goal of performing duties in a spirit of cooperation to achieve peaceful solutions. Some of the issues discussed in recent Model UN simulations include: the Iranian nuclear program, rebuilding postwar Iraq, and the conflict in Kosovo. One successful example is "In the Name of Justice and Law: Supreme Administrative Court Mode", a simulation on refugee and human rights issues. Held at the UN school club in Satovcha, Bulgaria, students and teachers from the local school organized a supreme administrative court model responsible for making decisions about refugee status. In preparation for the simulation, the students observed a real administrative Supreme Court in Sofia. The title, "In the name of justice and law" was selected by the students themselves. Through the activity, the students learned more about the refugee problems in Bulgaria and around the world. The simulation was supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Office in Sofia, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration.

UNA of Bulgaria published a Model Kit with information about the legal procedures in Bulgaria regarding refugee status. The book, which includes various educational materials on refugee issues, was distributed to all UN school clubs, who were encouraged to enact the models within their clubs.

The United Nations Association of Bulgaria believes peace education is a vital part of the education of young people!


Meet a Peacebuilder:

Me, Mila, a peacebuilder? The people I need to thank for pushing me into this are actually my younger siblings. They "forced" me to develop skills in negotiation at very early age! The mastery of sharing limited "resources" and finding solutions to the most complicated situations in order not to be punished developed my skills for dealing with conflicts in a very creative way ? The small situations at home are actually serious case studies. In my case, I am able to analyse the behaviour of more than one party in a conflict situation! Every time I am successful in finding a solution on something, it gives me a sense of fulfilment. What's funny is that when I "solve" something, I am looking for another "problem" to work on, as if I am "addicted" to searching for different options and combinations to an issue. I mean, who wouldn't want a peaceful environment? It's more satisfying to see smiling faces than wasting time on nonsensical fights.

Even now, peacebuilding still brings me a lot of excitement and pleasure. I couldn't (and still can't) accept that people prefer to lose "the situation", closing their eyes to solutions lying in front of them. The main principle in peacebuilding should be – we will all win! Choosing peace is choosing to win - and I believe that this should be the motivation of everyone! Our aim is to show and convince people that peace is true and tangible and I hope this toolkit will be our voice in order to achieve that goal!


The country

Bulgaria has a rich and ancient history. The first civilisation of what is now Bulgaria was established 3000 years ago and Bulgaria twice ruled a powerful kingdom that covered most of the Balkan Peninsula. Since the end of the communist regime in 1989, the country has undergone a slow developmental transition: fighting against the growing issues of unemployment, inflation, illicit drugs, and related crimes of corruption.

Bulgarian youth have few opportunities to engage in being productive members of society, which has negatively affected the motivation of youth and their confidence that they are capable of shaping their own future, and contributing to the development of society. After accession to the EU, it has become easier for young people to travel across Europe and neighbouring countries, discovering different cultures, traditions and beliefs. Inspired by these experiences, young people have engaged themselves in working with different NGOs, in the name of education and promoting mutual understanding and cooperation.

The people speak Bulgarian - a Slav language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. They love yoghurt and Bulgarian cheese. BUT be careful! If you go to Bulgaria and are offered some yoghurt - nodding your head could mean "no" and shaking your head could mean "yes"!