Press Clip Source: Midland Daily News
Written By: Jeanne Lound Schaller
Date: August 16, 2015
Read Original Article: Here

“Conflict is an essential dimension of human relationships. Violence is not.”

I don’t know who first spoke this truth, but I believe it and also believe that humankind is making progress towards understanding it. Practicing it is a challenge, personally and globally. However, the overall picture inspires hope. Children are learning to handle conflict in creative ways. Adults are understanding that empowerment is far more life-giving and productive than holding life-draining power over others.

At Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University during our final three weeks, Peace Fellows will study Conflict Transformation and Building Sustainable Peace as part of Rotary’s commitment to this cultural transformation.

“What draws people to peace studies is more than an intellectual level. It is a genuine concern for problems of violence and injustice and a desire to find ways of acting on these concerns.” — Carol Rank

Recent decades have seen a marked increase in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building training on all levels involving, among others, elementary through higher education students, local activists and professionals at the state, national and international levels.

In the Great Lakes Bay Region, there are several opportunities to obtain degrees in this field. Delta College’s Global Peace Studies program prepares students for the opportunity to understand the complexity of global issues and become agents of positive change. They can earn an associate of arts degree or a certificate of achievement. I am one class short of receiving a master’s certificate in conflict resolution in the workplace from Saginaw Valley State University, which also offers peace studies abroad, as do Central Michigan University and Northwood University.

Read more: Rotary Peace Centers -- creating a better world

Press Clip Source: Alliance for Peacebuilding
Written By: Kathleen Laurila
Date: July 30, 2015
Read Original Article: Here

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“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 released on June 16.”

The panel, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon last October, was charged with reviewing all UN peace operations and to recommend how the UN could effectively respond to the changing nature of war and the increased number of civilians in need of protection.

The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in their annual report entitled World at War observes:

Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere... during 2014, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere.

Read more: UN Panel Recommends Unarmed Civilian Protection (Summer 2015)

Press Clip Source:Political Violence @ a Glance
Written By: Oliver Kaplan
Date: July 28, 2015
Read Original Article: Here

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Did you hear about the scandal involving nonviolent accompaniers who sexually abused refugee children in a camp in the Central African Republic? I didn’t either. It’s probably because it didn’t happen — because that kind of thing almost never happens at the hands of nonviolent activists. Unfortunately, it does happen when violent force is introduced into conflict settings. When weapons and armed actors are involved, there is a greater susceptibility to harmful abuse compared with nonviolent action during armed conflict. What’s more, the blowback from arming and armed actions gone wrong also tends to be far worse than from nonviolent action. Here are some reasons why:

  • Armed actors of various stripes are more prone to abusing each other and civilians. The unfortunate combination of coercive force, poor accountability, and poor incentive structures create moral hazards and can lead to prisoner abuse scandals (think Abu Ghraib), rape within the ranks of militaries, and targeting of civilians (e.g., the body count-driven false positives scandal in Colombia). Armed actors are also prone to attracting “opportunists” to their ranks as armed coercion can be employed for profiteering. Opportunists are less ideologically-committed, show less restraint, and are more prone to pillage and plunder. Not limited to rebels and paramilitaries, these kinds of individuals are also found among peacekeepers and militaries as well. Among nonviolent movements, there are generally deeper ideological commitments (to nonviolence) and limited means for using coercion to generate revenue.
Read more: Nonviolence Means Less Abuse

Press Clip Source: RotaryPeaceChula
Written By: Florington Aseervatham
Date: July 1, 2015
Read Original Article: Here

Working in Conflict Affected Regions – Sri Lanka to South Sudan with my Organization & Rotary...

floris picI was born and grew up in a small village called Pottuvil in Ampara District in Sri Lanka. Growing up in the conflict in Sri Lanka played an instrumental role in shaping who I am today. War was a horrible thing to live though and to remember, the smell of death, the vivid colours of fire and blackness of destruction, the sounds of cries and gunfire. The war resulted in separating me from my parents and I ended up in a religious institution where I had my basic and secondary education.

After working in various roles in media, politics, teaching, and movie production, I finally had the opportunity to join the humanitarian sector, which eventually led to joining Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) as an unarmed civilian peacekeeper. I joined NP in my home country of Sri Lanka and now in South Sudan where I have been serving for the past 4 years. Working with marginalized communities in Sri Lanka, I transferred the skills and unarmed civilian strategies to South Sudan where I have been blessed to be able to support the most vulnerable who are affected by armed conflict violence.

Nonviolent Peaceforce is an international humanitarian organization established in 2002 with the idea that there is an alternative to either doing nothing or going to war. We believe in the concept that strategic international presence would contribute to deterring violence and to protecting civilians. Over the years what started out as protection through presence has developed into comprehensive violence reduction and protection programming. We are able to work with conflict-affected communities to strengthen their own capacity to protect themselves and to engage in nonviolent conflict reduction. And when the need is there, we are able to provide direct presence to increase the immediate security of civilians. In South Sudan colleagues have been able to protect women and children from attackers with guns and knives because of international presence. Similarly, in Sri Lanka by providing threatened human rights defenders with international presence, we have been able to create space for them to continue their work while remaining safe.

Read more: Working in Conflict Affected Regions – Sri Lanka to South Sudan

Press Clip Source: Peace & Collaborative Development Network (PCDN)
Written By: Craig Zelizer
Date: June 29, 2015
Read Original Article: Here

reform pan01Thanks to

Mel Duncan from the Nonviolent PeaceForce for passing this along to PCDN. As Mel wrote "This is the most prominent recognition of Unarmed civilian protection actors in history! The report provides us with a strong platform on which to build."

The report says:

Unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN efforts to protect civilians.

Humanitarian organizations play essential roles in protecting civilians. Where appropriate, timely coordination between missions with humanitarian actors is indispensable in pursuing unarmed strategies as these partners often work closely with communities, especially internally displaced persons. 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.

And says:

With respect to protecting civilians, the Panel recommends that:

In view of the positive contributions of unarmed civilian protection actors, missions should work more closely with local communities and national and international non-governmental organizations in building a protective environment.

Read more: New Report from the High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations

Press Clip Source: Taylor & Francis Online
Written By: Ellen Furnari, Huibert Oldenhuis & Rachel Julian
Date: May 8, 2015
Read Full Article: Here


While large multilateral peace operations arrive with agendas extending into governance, economics and other reforms, unarmed civilian peacekeeping (UCP) interventions focus on contributing to sufficiently safe space for local efforts at peacebuilding to proceed at the request of local partners. They use a variety of non-violent methods to increase the safety for local leaders and everyday people to engage in (re)building peace infrastructures and governance, within their own culture and contexts. This paper examines the potential for international interveners to support local efforts based on local invitations, local staff, conflict and context analysis, and living in conflict affected communities, followed by a case study of the Non-violent Peaceforce South Sudan project. This project helps to revitalise or create community peace infrastructures in coordination with local partners, other peacekeepers and humanitarian agencies, local government, army and other armed actors. This has protected civilians, saved lives, contributed to improved policing, improved relations between ethnic groups, supported local peace actors and increased the effectiveness of multilateral peace operations and humanitarian aid work focused on physical safety.

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Press Clip Source: Metta Center for Nonviolence
Written By: Stephanie Van Hook
Date: April 30, 2015
Read Original Article: Here


gandhi 21"The Congress should be able to put forth a non-violent army of volunteers who would be equal to every occasion where the police and military are required."

–Gandhi (Harijan, 3-26-1938)



If we can train people in violence to serve in fighting and war, does it seem so impossible that we can train them equally well in nonviolence and unarmed peacekeeping? The Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is one of the most well-known organizations in the world working to respond directly to Gandhi’s call for a Shanti Sena, or Peace Army, offering a kind of nonviolent parallel institution to the military. At time of this writing they have trained field teams in four countries, where they work with local groups to protect human life, provide good offices like rumor abatement and in theory are ready, in the extreme case, to interpose themselves between conflicting parties.  Yes, it’s been done here and there, mostly spontaneously, as in a dramatic example decades back in the Western Sahara where men and women, some of them wheeling baby carriages, just plain stopped a war.  In every way, in fact, the track record is inspiring, for NP and the twenty or so organizations already doing this kind of work — closer to fifty if you count domestic peace teams or ‘hybrid’ organizations like Meta Peace Team that do both domestic and cross-border interventions.  There have been almost no casualties and the cost, compared to any kind of military intervention, as you may imagine, is ridiculous.  NP has taken the lead on waking up the UN to this kind of peace work, the name of which, by the way, is Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping, or UCP.  Why haven’t we heard about it??  Because of the general disorientation of our present culture.

Gandhi was assassinated before he had the chance to build up his “army” in good earnest, but not before he planted the seed and ringingly declared: “That non-violence can be practiced by people but not by nations, which consist of people, is blasphemy.”