Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre, a collaborative effort of the City of Reykjavik and the University of Iceland, is a forum for international multidisciplinary cooperation, with an emphasis on the role of small states, cities and citizens in promoting peace. Höfði is the name of the house where Reagan and Gorbachev met in Reykjavik in 1986 and refers to the role Iceland played as a small non-militarised state in the conflict between two superpowers.
Reykjavik has placed great emphasis on human rights and peace in its work and policies. The launching of Höfði Reykjavik Peace Centre at the University of Iceland is thus an important step in Reykjavík's mission of becoming a city of peace. The Peace Centre promotes non-violent communications, the eradication of interpersonal violence and peaceful relations between states and organizations. Additionally, it promotes peace through research and education, including the development of a graduate programme in peace and conflict studies at the University of Iceland.
“We will promote non-violent communications and peaceful relations between states and organizations”
Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre is run under the auspices of the Institute of International Affairs (IIA) at the University of Iceland, a multidisciplinary organisation, housed within the University of Iceland’s School of Social Sciences but with close links to the School of Humanities. The Institute of International Affairs runs two research centres, the Centre for Small State Studies (CSSS) and the Centre for Arctic Policy Studies (CAPS). The role of the Institute of International Affairs is to provide education, promote research, and carry out service projects in the field of international relations. One of the most recent projects carried out by the Institute, on behalf of the Ministries of Interior and Welfare, is a survey on possible improvement to the service provided for immigrants and refugees and an analysis of their integration into Icelandic society. A summary of the report can be found here.
The creation of Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre provides the Institute of International Affairs with the opportunity of expanding its research areas, which has lead to a greater emphasis on the challenges now facing modern societies, such as climate change, immigration and refugee issues, increased diversity, as well as rising nationalism and populism in the mainstream discourse. Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre also organises open seminars at the University of Iceland, focused on the role of cities and citizens in promoting peace. Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre organizes an international conference on 10/10 each year under the theme The Imagine Forum: Looking Over the Horizon, bringing together different actors in a dialogue on youth, peace and security. Furthermore, the Centre established a summer course in peace education for children of diverse origins in June 2016, in collaboration with the with the Youth Committee of the City of Reykjavík, the Icelandic Red Cross and the Education and Youth outreach programme at the University of Iceland.