Brussels, novembre 2007
NP in action: how future projects are planned
Perspectives about projects in Uganda, Colombia and the future for NP
Building on the lessons from previous projects, and trying to meet some of the demand for protective presence, Nonviolent Peaceforce has started planning projects in Colombia and Uganda, the introduction to them is an example of how Nonviolent Peaceforce will develop in the future.
The internal armed conflict in Colombia, which has its roots in the political violence of the 1950s, has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced countless more throughout its 50-year history. But local and indigenous communities are coming together to implement peaceful alternatives to violence. They are struggling to maintain a neutral stance between government and the armed groups, having organised themselves as “Peace Communities”. They face physical aggressions, psychological pressure, military violence, and juridical threats.
The presence and accompaniment by internationals such as those proposed by NP reduce these threats by providing an “international eye” that helps to raise their visibility and thereby increase the negative consequences of actions taken against them.
The mandate will be:
Support local individuals, communities and organizations that defend human rights. Through its protective presence, NP will link local peace workers to an international peace community dedicated to monitoring their human rights and protecting their safety.
The project has the following objectives.
1. Prevent the outbreak of, or mitigate new violence through the deployment of international unarmed civilian teams that assure protective presence to human rights defenders in vulnerable rural communities or “peace communities.”
2. Enhance the work of local peace and human rights activists through accompaniment and safe space for their work and an international early warning system reporting to international key actors about what happens on the ground.
3. Facilitate the local networking among peace communities so to get increased national visibility and to contribute to a just peace.
The implementation strategy in Colombia is that NP will establish a team of up to 16 international field team members in its first phase with offices in Cali and Bogotà. They plan activities including:
Peacekeepers living in communities up to 20 days per month, regulating their presence according to the risk analysis made by NP along with local communities and organizations.
Accompaniment of local leaders and/or organizations in their journeys and activities.
Accompaniment / observatory periods within different communities, visiting for 2 or 3 days, returning to the base, followed by a 2 or 3-day visit to another community within the region.
Accompaniment to meetings between communities and assemblies when the processes involved affect more than one community.
Specifically, NP will accompany Proceso de Comunidades Negras - Black Community Process based in the municipality of the Buenos Aires communities (La Alsalcia, La Balsa and Palo Blanco) in the Cauca Region, and Asociación de Cabildos Indigenas del Norte del Cauca - Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca especially in the communities of Jambalo and Toribío in the Cauca Region. The team in Bogotá will work with the ”Peace and Justice Organization” that works together to support the “CIVIPAZ” Peace initiative of a Humanitarian Zone in the Meta Region (Alto Ariari).
Through the protective presence, NP will enable local peace groups to achieve these outcomes:
1. Improve the security of national and local NGO leaders and human rights activists so they can protect their cultural and social norms and develop sustainable economic and social institutions.
2. Enhance communication among these leaders so they can build their capacity to develop civil society organizations and preserve human rights.
3. Secure the safe return of Internally Displaced people (IDPs).
In Uganda there is also an urgent need for security and protection, Nonviolent Peaceforce has been working with local groups to develop a project in northern Uganda.
Since 1986, northern Uganda has been plagued by rebellions, with the longest and most devastating by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Furthermore, overlapping conflicts with ethnic and socio-economic undercurrents exist: for example in the Karamoja region between cattle-raiding Karamojong and the other settled agriculture-based tribes of the region; in the North, involving Langi people and Acholi people, which has been recently revived following an LRA attack on the Barlonyo camp in 2004; and nationally, between the tribes in the Southwest and those in the North.
Trans-national connections with other conflicts, such as those in Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, complicate the intervention framework. A ceasefire and consequent negotiations between the government of Uganda and the LRA were interrupted in early 2007.
Northern Ugandans have had no respite from violence for two generations and community structures have shattered. Throughout the region, about 1.4 million people are displaced, often forced into camps by the government. The LRA’s campaign has been characterized by the forced abduction of thousands of Ugandan children–possibly over 25,000 children. In late 2003, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) issued a request for international intervention. As OCHA documents state, timely and credible security-related information from the ground is essential for correct aid delivery.
The major goal of the NP Uganda project are to protect and support local civil society as they promote reconciliation and build a strong foundation for a lasting peace. Additional goals are the protection of vulnerable groups and aid deliverers so as to increase the development chances of the local populations.
Activities that NP might engage in are:
1. Facilitating communal dialogues and mediation by supporting local structures to help address land wrangles, reintegrating returnees given amnesty by government. This can be achieved by working with local council of elders, local government agents and local partners. This would go along way to build relationship and improve trust among community members.
2. Accompany returning IDP population to their original homes for a “go and see visit” before they can make a voluntary decision to return home. The target would be those IDP population that are traumatized and are afraid to go back. This activity will be for confidence building and can offer some psychological preparation to individuals to start reconnecting with their homes areas mirroring that cosmic vision of their native place.
3. Monitoring of return trends and identifying gaps as many INGOs are unable to reach to remote and furthest return villages due to over stretched resources or due to negligence of those areas due to unpleasant terrain and distance. NP’s niche has been to work among those people who have been not reached with resources by bringing their case on the table and linking them with resources.
The expected outcomes for the project include,
Strengthened local instruments of justice and peace.
Empowered and entrusted local community structures to handle crisis at grass root level, especially in solving land disputes.
Enable returnees to find a role in their communities.
Decreased risk of violent outbreaks.
New relationships built, mutual trust and hope increased among and within communities.
Increased numbers of IDPs willing and able to return home.
Increased likelihood of successful returns.
IDP’s better psychologically prepared for return /connected to their ancestral homes.
Provide more data and information to agencies to help identify communities requiring resources and support.
Otherwise isolated communities have access to international resources for reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation.
The government of Uganda has put in place an elaborate document dubbed Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for northern Uganda (PRDP), which is a national strategic frame work upon which all INGO,s working in the north operates within.
The time at the moment is conducive to begin a civilian peacekeeping project in Uganda. Given the fact that the peace process is taking place in Juba in southern Sudan, the government of Uganda has requested development partners in the north to shift operations from emergency to recovery and reconstruction in terms of intervention.
Nonviolent Peaceforce held an international assembly in Nairobi in 2007. At this event, the Member Organisations endorsed a new strategic plan, still with the aim of organising a large-scale civilian intervention, which focuses the energy primarily into deployment projects, whilst maintaining the capacity building efforts around the world. Nonviolent Peaceforce has learnt a huge amount in it’s short period of development, has gathered the support of many, and been present in places where people are vulnerable, but the learning and implementation of those lessons must continue if nonviolent conflict resolution is going to be used on a widespread basis and with the large numbers of people required.