Brussels, novembre 2007
History of Nonviolent Peaceforce
Developments and growth since 1999.
Nonviolent Peaceforce a recent manifestation of the concept of unarmed peacekeeping.
In 1999, at the Hague Appeal for Peace, a meeting took place at which several people committed themselves to developing the Nonviolent Peaceforce. Over the next few years there were many discussions with people in areas of violent conflict about what they most needed from an unarmed peacekeeping force, and a large research project to learn from all previous projects and to assess the feasibility of forming the Nonviolent Peaceforce.
Over the time the mission was agreed as:
To build a trained, international team of civilians committed to third-party nonviolent intervention. In partnership with local groups, NP peace teams apply proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work.
The first International Assembly (the Convening Event) was held in 2002 in Delhi, India. At this Assembly Nonviolent Peaceforce was officially launched and it was decided to start the first project in Sri Lanka.
It took 6 months to start the Sri Lanka project from the decision in 2002. By the end of the year there were 20 people working in four offices across Sri Lanka.
Since then NP has demonstrated the effectiveness of unarmed, professional civilian peacekeeping through the project with up to 50 staff working in 4 districts. This work has been with local, national and international organisations, including UNICEF and UNHCR, and has been highly regarded in its ability to reduce violence and tension, and provide protection to individuals and small groups.
Following evaluations and additional requests from other groups, Nonviolent Peaceforce did explorations and started work to begin additional deployment projects in Mindanao, Philippines, Uganda and Colombia. In September 2007 there has an international gathering bringing together many of the peace and human rights activists from around the world, including from Nonviolent Peaceforce projects, to further discuss how this work can be developed.
The international network, organizational structure and governance structure have allowed NP to create a global organization with staff, advisors and board members who are experts in the history, theory and best practices in the field of nonviolent third-party intervention.
The tactic of accompaniment in our peacekeeping practice provides a visibility—not only a positive visibility for the human rights advocates we protect but for the international team. This visibility demonstrates to those who might commit violence that there is an international concern as well as repercussions for what happens with the accompanied human rights advocates and their work.
NP presence makes the costs of violence against civilians more apparent to those who threaten violent action. Deterring and deescalating the threat of violence, providing confidence to human rights advocates to carry out their work, providing confidence for the civilians for whom they advocate, and protecting and encouraging an important element of civil society is the main part of the work.
NP is an international federation of over 60 Member Organizations that represent peace and human rights constituents on six continents dedicated to increasing the scale, scope and professionalism of civilian unarmed peacekeeping. We are endorsed also by leaders including eight Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Our member organizations, in addition to being partners in developing the Nonviolent Peaceforce, elect the governing leadership of NP.
The International Governing Council
The NP network of experienced NGOs is the first of its kind to be truly international and working towards projects in the field; it meets every three years to review the core goals. It was at the first of these meeting in India in 2002 that NP’s International Governing Council (IGC) of fifteen members was democratically elected from its Member Organizations. The IGC is NP’s primary policy and overall decision-making body, it meets ‘face to face’ on an annual basis with ongoing work and decision making undertaken through e-mail and phone conferencing.
The IGC has developed a working method to allow for such geographically diverse oversight and elected an Executive Committee and co chairs who, along with the Executive Director, have the ‘day to day’ responsibility for the management of NP, the Executive Committee meets monthly and undertakes the overall direction and management of NP internationally. The IGC itself works through three committees (Management, Policy & Strategy, and Program) that meet monthly inviting key staff to participate in the discussions related to the development of the organization, finances and fundraising, project development, working group developments, policy proposals and the overall monitoring and evaluation of NP and its project work.
NP has built an international staff team working from offices in Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, India, Sri Lanka, England, Germany and the USA. This team is headed by an Executive Director, with a team of Directors and regional coordinators in Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.
From 2002 NP’s funding has been raised mainly from foundations, trusts, religious communities and individuals but also governments (German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Catalan Local Authorities), development agencies (CORDAID, Christian Aid) and UN agencies (UNICEF Sri Lanka). Financial management is the responsibility of staff and overseen by the treasurer with all accounts being subject to annual external audits that are published in the Annual Reports.
NP recognizes that gender is an important issue in conflict transformation and human rights protection. Therefore NP seeks to ensure that half of our elected representatives and personnel, at all levels, are women. Gender analysis and gender-related training is included in all the stages of project development ensuring that the ‘gender dimension’ is considered during our work in the field. The latter will happen, for example, by ensuring women and women’s groups as local partners, awareness of specific needs of local men and women, and awareness of specific roles women might play on the ground in conflict transformation.