NPP Pikit North Cotabato CaptionBy Doris Mariani, NP CEO

I recently visited our field programs in the Philippines and Myanmar to review our operations and meet with staff and stakeholders. NP has been in the Philippines since 2007 but our Myanmar program is relatively young, having been established in 2013. In fact, it was our work in the Philippines as the experts in civilian ceasefire monitoring and verification that instigated the invitation to Myanmar where the government and ethnic armed organizations were working on establishing their national ceasefire mechanisms.

Despite historic agreements that have been signed in both countries in the last year and a half, the journey toward peace is wrought with challenges. In the Philippines, the current debate is about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which embodies the government’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. During my visit, the draft law was undergoing debates at the House and Senate. In Myanmar, following the signing of the March 2015 draft peace deal between 16 ethnic armed groups and government, the debate centered on whether and when and what kind of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be reached. Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement is viewed as a doorway to political dialogue, shaping political settlements and autonomy for various ethnic regions. At the moment, both BBL and NCA are delayed but hopes are high that agreements will be reached.

Read more: NP CEO Visits the Philippines and Myanmar

“Out beyond war there is a field and many men and women are meeting there.” -Jeanne Lound Schaller, Rotary Peace Fellow

Jeanne with hosts field studies 2Jeanne Lound Schaller recently shared her story with the Midland Michigan News. In this quote, she is referring to the thousand Rotary Peace Fellows sponsored by Rotary Clubs and Districts across the world. Jeanne and Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) South Sudan Deputy Country Director Florington Aseervatham (Flori) are both attending the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

There are one hundred scholarships awarded every year to Rotary Peace Centers around the world. Masters Programs are offered in Australia, Sweden, the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan; a short term certificate program for senior scholars is offered in Thailand. The scholars focus on studying peace and conflict resolution.

Jeanne is an active leader for peace and justice in her community of Midland, MI in the United States. Jeanne is a member of the Helen M. Casey Center for Nonviolence, heads the Midland chapter of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, and is a mediator with the Community Resolution Center.

Her story can be found here.

Read more: Rotary Peace Scholars Enjoying Adventure in Thailand

July 23, 2015

congressman Rick NolanCongressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota yesterday called for the US government to provide more support for unarmed civilian protection (UCP) through initiatives at the State Department and USAID as well as in positions at the UN.

"When confronted with such atrocities (as in Syria and South Sudan), our typical response is to send in the bombers and drones, ship military equipment, train ‘‘the good guys,’’ or even put our own troops on the ground. By doing these things, we create a state of on-going war. Is it any wonder the result is more violence, rather than less?”

Read the full speech below or directly in the Congressional Record.

 

Read more: Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota supporting Unarmed Civilian Protection

Mel Duncan with Peace Operations Review Panel member, Dr. Rima Salah after the release of the report

 

“Unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN efforts to protect civilians,” states the report of the UN High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.

The panel, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last October, was charged with reviewing all UN peace operations and to be bold and courageous in recommending how the UN could effectively respond to the changing nature of war and the increased number of civilians in need of protection. The fifteen-member panel spent the last seven months circling the globe reviewing present operations and seeking new approaches. It has been 15 years since the UN undertook such a comprehensive peace operations review.

"The Panel reviewed the excellent input by Nonviolent Peaceforce which shared with us its positive experience in protecting civilians in war torn situations. In our Report we recommend that the UN engages more of those brave people working in the field, unarmed, in protection of civilians," said Panel chair José Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Timor Leste.

They include in their report:

Many non-governmental organizations, national and international, also ensure protection by their civilian presence and commitment to non-violent strategies for protection. Missions should make every effort to harness or leverage the non-violent practices and capabilities of local communities and non-governmental organizations to support the creation of a protective environment.

“The world is changing and U.N. peace operations must change if they are to remain an indispensable and effective tool in promoting international peace and security,” observed Mr. Ramos Horta.

Read more: June 2015: UN Panel Recommends UCP

GPPACThe Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, or GPPAC (http://www.gppac.net/home), is a coalition of international civil society organizations who work for or maintain a focus in global peace-building. With local, regional and international member organizations, including Nonviolent Peaceforce, working all over the globe, GPPAC has created a voice for conflict-prevention and peace-building to be taken seriously in the international community.

Last month, CEO Doris Mariani was invited to represent Nonviolent Peaceforce at GPPAC‘s International Conference on Strengthening Peace and Security Cooperation towards Democracy and Development, held in Vienna. The conference brought together top-level regional experts and representatives from political, academic, and civil society organizations. The goals went beyond mere discussion to recommendations of policy and practice. These reccomendations concerned fostering cooperation that could prevent conflict and reinforce peacebuilding.

Read more: GPPAC Conference assembles international figures for high-level conference on peacebuilding

by NP board member and senior advisor, Rolf Carriere


This week the world was invited to pause for the Day of Remembrance (on 7 April) to honor the more than 800,000 victims of the Rwanda Genocide who were killed, in a mere 100 days in 1994, under unspeakable and near-inexplicable circumstances. It offered an opportunity to reflect on the many millions of people, anywhere in the world, who today live under the threat of imminent physical violence or even in dread of looming mass atrocities—and who are in desperate need of protection now.

Looking back at recent history, those who, after the Holocaust, thought that their outcry, their plea "Never Again!" would finally be heeded, have been proven wrong many times since. How many times did we have to repeat that phrase? Again, and again and again! Some experts say there were as many as 37 genocides since World War II. Rwanda's genocide was one of them, but, again, not the last one.

We seem to be doomed to repeat genocides—to commit them, and to allow them to be committed! Despite its 146 state ratifications, the Genocide Convention of 1948 has not proven much of a deterrent. Is there some inevitability about mankind committing mass atrocity crimes? I don't believe so.

But then, is the world today in any better position to prevent or halt another genocide?

Read more: Rwanda's genocide @ 21: a reflection

Testimony by Mel Duncan
Founding Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce
House Progressive Caucus
17 March 2015
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

I thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts and experiences with you as you consider whether or not our nation will take steps to further entrench us in a state of permanent war.

No matter what we do or not do, it is important to remember that we are talking about long-term approaches. No short-term solutions exist. Thus, we need to apply a standard as to whether or not our proposed actions are moving toward deeper militarization of a conflict and longer-term war or are our actions supporting peaceful initiatives that can lead to a long-term peace with justice.

One approach that I urge you to support is unarmed civilian protection.
For the past 12 years through Nonviolent Peaceforce, I have been involved with directing, training and deploying unarmed civilian protectors to areas of violent conflict throughout the world. Our civilian protectors only go at the invitation of local civil society. They employ nonviolent methods that effectively protect civilians and deter violence. Our civilian protection officers come from 25 countries. Our largest project is currently in South Sudan where 150 people work in 11 locations. With the support of the European Union we will start a civilian protection project in Syria in June.

Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is an emerging methodology practiced by about 10 non-governmental organizations in various parts of the world. It has grown in practice and recognition in the last few decades, with over 50 civil society organizations applying UCP methods in 35 conflict areas since 1990.[1]

UntitledUnarmed Civilian Protection practitioners (UCPs) engage with affected communities at the grassroots level for varying periods of time, usually ranging from a few months to a few years. The four main methods of UCP are (1) proactive engagement, (2) monitoring, (3) relationship building, and (4) capacity development. Each of these methods has a number of applications, which are: protective presence, protective accompaniment and inter-positioning; ceasefire monitoring, rumour control, and early warning/early response; confidence building, multi-track dialogue and local-level mediation; and training and supporting local peace infrastructure.

The UN High Level Peace Operations Review Panel has been examining UN peace operations throughout the world. They too are finding that civilians can and do play major roles in the direct protection of civilians. Please pay attention to their report that is due on May 22.

Secondly, I urge you to support Syrian civil society working for peaceful transition in Syria. Let me assure you that courageous women and men are working for peace and reconciliation inside of Syria at this very moment. They are working on peacebuilding projects and localized ceasefires. One group, led by young women has set up peace ambassadors and peace bridges throughout the country with a network of 6,000 people. In Aleppo a peace-building project focuses young men on constructive programs like building local libraries for children out of the rubble.

Syrian civil society needs to be supported across the political, religious and geographic divides whether they be opposed to the government, neutral or supportive of the government. They will be an essential element in securing a foundation for a sustainable future Syria. Violent extremists have more difficulty taking hold in communities where there is strong civil society with respected local leadership.

Read more: Authorization for the Use of Peace Force

While traveling through Thailand, Ann Frisch, an NP Senior Adviser and a former civilian protection officer in Guatemala, spent five days "in residence" at the Chulalongkorn University Rotary Peace Center in Bangkok. Here she observed the course offerings and interactive activities provided by Chulalongkorn Rotary Peace Center for senior peace practitioners.

Sjors Beenker, a veteran NP civilian protection officer in Sri Lanka, is currently a Rotary Peace Fellow at the Chulalongkorn Center. This summer two other NP leaders, Florington Aseervatham, Deputy Director of NP South Sudan, and Jeanne Lound Schaller, of the NP Chapter in Midland, MI, will study as Rotary Peace Fellows in Chulalongkorn.

Additionally, Rachel Beecroft, a former NP intern in the Minneapolis office, is a Rotary Peace Scholar at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia this year. Last year's Fellowship winner, Jeya Murugan, is currently a Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University in Tokyo.

Ann Frisch and SjorsBeenker

Read more: Rotary Peace Fellowships Awarded to NP Leaders