The Peace Institute – Institute for Contemporary Social and Political Studies – is a non-profit research institution developing interdisciplinary research activities in various fields of the social and human sciences (sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy, economies, law etc.). The goal of the Institute is not only to adopt a critical stance towards events in the society but also to actively intervene in these events, to link academic research and reflection with practical educational and strategic advisory activities in various fields of public policy and public action in general. Consequently, the Institute has the status of a civil society non-governmental organisation on national, EU and international level.
BEGINNINGS AND DEVELOPMENT
The Peace Institute was founded in 1991 by a group of independent intellectuals who had also been civil society activists in the post-socialist processes of the previous decade in Slovenia and Yugoslavia. In the first years of its existence, during the period of war on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Institute focused mainly on peace studies and the issues of aggression, war and security. In the following years its activities expanded to the field of contemporary social and political studies. The Institute began to tackle more intensively the problems of racism and political conflict, as well as gender studies, cultural studies and projects of political-social practice. It linked the strict academic perspective with concrete social and political engagement. During this period, a fair amount of action research and a number of research projects were initiated, which covered not only the above-mentioned fields but also issues of political extremism, democratization and equal opportunity policies in Middle and Eastern Europe, independent women’s and feminist groups in Slovenia, and problems related to sexual abuse, refugees, civil service in the armed forces, the cultural industry, and so on. At the end of 2000, three programmes of the former Open Society Institute Slovenia joined the Peace Institute: the Media Programme, the Civil Society Programme and the East-East Cooperation Programme.
Their addition broadened the Institute's scope of activities – research and other activities became oriented towards the issues of human rights, media and EU policies. From its inception, the Institute has remained dedicated to dealing with marginalized social and political themes that are usually neglected in the activities of other institutions. In the more recent period, for instance, these have included the problems related to the ‘erased’, the position of the Roma, the visibility of ethnic and other minorities in the media, the position of new, unrecognized minorities, intimate citizenship, contradictions within cultural policy, the relationship between the EU and the USA, the constitutional process in the EU, EU expansion (the Balkan states, Turkey, Ukraine), the accomplishments of the Hague War Crime Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, and other issues. The Peace Institute is ready to cooperate in partnerships and networks in the European, Balkan, Mediterranean and global arena, and this readiness can be attested to by its existing involvement in numerous international research, civil society, educational and advocacy projects and networks.