"1914-2014": The President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr Didier Burkhalter, launches competition for young people

Bern, 31.03.2014 - Young people are at the heart of the presidency of the Confederation in 2014. The First World War began 100 years ago and destroyed the future of millions of young people in the years after 1914. To mark this anniversary year, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr Didier Burkhalter, is inviting young people to take part in a competition that offers an opportunity for constructive dialogue. Post-compulsory-school classes are invited to submit projects about the First World War in a format of their choice. The class with the best project from each of Switzerland's linguistic regions will win a three-day trip to Ypres in Belgium. The registration deadline for the competition is 31 May 2014.

One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is launching a competition for post-compulsory schools (e.g. upper-secondary vocational schools, cantonal schools/Matura schools, upper-secondary specialised schools) in order to engage in a dialogue with school students about conflict prevention, peacebuilding, disarmament and respect for international humanitarian law.
Young people are one of the priorities of President Burkhalter, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in 2014.

Goal and themes of the competition
The goal of the competition is to raise awareness and stimulate reflection among young people and to encourage them to engage in a fruitful exchange of ideas. The school projects can focus on concrete aspects that shed light on this critical period in modern world history. The students are free to choose both the format and theme of their project. Possible formats include text, blogs, film, audio recordings and painting. The projects may deal with themes such as a specific event, a speech, an image, a literary work, a piece of music, a newspaper article, a plan, the personal story of a family member, etc. For example:

• Food supply for the population. What was on the menu?
• What was the status of the law of war and international humanitarian law?
• What role do educational institutions and youth organisations play in indoctrinating young men and whipping up enthusiasm for war among them?
• What social consequences did the war have on everyday life?

The prize
A jury of experts will judge the projects submitted by the deadline under exclusion of the public. In each of Switzerland's linguistic regions, the class that submits the best project will win a three-day trip to Ypres in Belgium.  The city of Ypres in neutral Belgium was drawn into the conflict against its will and became one of the most important theatres of the First World War. Much of the city was destroyed and half a million people lost their lives. Chemical weapons were first used in Ypres. The trip will take place from 13 to 15 November 2014. On 14 November, the winning classes will have an opportunity to exchange views about the First World War with the President of the Swiss Confederation and a group of experts.
In addition to the main prize, lots will be drawn to select up to ten classes – irrespective of the project they submitted – to take part in a visit to international Geneva (Palais des Nations, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum). During this visit, which will probably take place at the beginning of September, the students will meet the President of the Swiss Confederation and talk with FDFA and UN employees about issues related to war and peace, conflict prevention and humanitarian responsibility.
Participating schools undertake to ensure that their classes will take part in the trips in the event that they win one of the prizes. A further condition is that each school class may submit only one project. The results will be communicated directly to the schools and published at www.unesco.ch.

Registration and information
Participating school classes may register for the competition by 31 May 2014 and submit their projects with an accompanying letter by 10 October 2014. The letter may not be more than 10 pages long and should provide information about the approach chosen for the project, how it was carried out, and the lessons learned. Numerous information resources are available on the internet for teachers supervising participating school classes. Further information about the competition is available at www.unesco.ch .

Contact information to teachers and registration:
Lukas Schifferle
Email: info@unesco.ch
Tel.: +41 31 32 31236

Address for enquiries

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs