Press Clip Source: Gurtong.net Date: November 1, 2015Written by: Mabor Riak MagokRead original article: Here
The Nonviolent Peaceforce South Sudan a non-profit organisation last week trained 50 women on peace keeping in Rumbek Lakes State.
RUMBEK, 30 October 2015 [Gurtong] - The organisation brought together participants from affected communities of Rumbek Centre and Rumbek East Counties.
Addressing the participants during the workshop the Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agency, Samuel Will Machiek urged the women in Pandor to refrains from instigating and inciting violence in their respective communities, saying that the community is losing potential youth for no good reason.
He urged the women to embrace and adopt a culture of peace dialogue or discussion starting from the family level between their husbands and children at home and extend this spirit up to the group level in the Payams and villages where revenge killings and cattle raiding is imminently experienced.
A message from Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director
November 14, 2016
It has been a struggle for us at Nonviolent Peaceforce to decide if and how to talk about the US presidential election. As a nonpartisan organization, we do not take a position on the politics of any country. We do, however, respond and react to situations where hate, fear, isolation and misunderstanding may lead to violence. It is this concern that drives us to speak up now.
Like you, we are deeply troubled by the escalation of division that is resulting in hate speech, acts of intimidation and violence across the United States ̶ a country that is looked upon to be a standard bearer for equality and justice.
The Southern Poverty Law Center received reports of more than 200 election related hate crimes between last Tuesday night and Friday afternoon. These are incidents reported to one place only, suggesting this number may be just the tip of the iceberg. Public insults, physical attacks, burning of property, hate messaging through graffiti, speech, and social media have the potential to fuel outbreaks of violent conflict, if left unchecked.
John Noltner interviewed NP's Mel Duncan for his first book, "A Peace of My Mind." The book consists of interviews with people of all backgrounds on the subject of peace and what it means to individuals in different contexts. He's now working on his second book, which focuses on interviews that he's gathered through traveling across the US over the last three years.
Check out Noltner's book, website, and podcast for Mel's interview, beautiful photography, and a unique view on what peace means to Americans. Click on the following links:
"A Peace of My Mind"
John Noltner's new project
Podcast with Mel's interview
Press Clip Source: Pax Christi Peace StoriesDate: November 30, 2016Written by:Bishop Kevin Dowling, Co-President of Pax Christi InternationalRead original article: Here.
I begin with the well-known text from Micah (6:8): “... this is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God...”
Who will ever forget the witness of over 1 million Filipinos, accompanied by priests and nuns kneeling on the ground in prayer (and soldiers who refused to intervene or act against them) – a peaceful protest leading to the downfall of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986? How did this happen? Firstly, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, an ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to nonviolent social change, led dozens of nonviolent action workshops across the Philippines. After attending a workshop, Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila joined with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in calling for a “nonviolent struggle for justice.” These training workshops, along with a sophisticated election-monitoring mission led by nuns and priests, paved the way for the mass “people power” movement that prevented Marcos from stealing the 1986 presidential elections. The people challenged violence with nonviolent resistance – and won, and Marcos and his wife left the country.
Fast forward to 2014. In mid-2014, women living in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians area in South Sudan alerted the Nonviolent Peaceforce team living there that women were being raped and sometimes gang-raped by soldiers when they went out to gather firewood and water. The women reported that sometimes the soldiers would describe the assaults as part of their job.
Often older women took on these jobs to protect the younger ones, and hopefully to decrease the likelihood of attack. So these women had to choose between their personal safety and providing for their families’ basic needs. Nonviolent Peaceforce began accompanying the women when they left the camp, sending 2 or more trained civilian protectors along with them. In the year after this accompaniment was offered to the people, no woman was attacked when accompanied. Instead, the soldiers looked the other way.
By Corrie Cron, Project Coordinator for Civic Engagement for Nonviolent Peaceforce in South Sudan
An internship during graduate school can be incredibly important. It can be your first entry into the actual field of where you want to work. Whichever organization you join can influence who you meet, what kind of work you'll do and, often, what jobs you'll be considered for in the future.
I began an internship with Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in December 2014 at the head office, located in Brussels, Belgium. I had never heard of the organization before I saw the posting for a Communications Intern. I went to the interview trying to manage my expectations, but what I found out was that the things I was passionate about and the things that drew me into the humanitarian field were mirrored in this organization. They were passionate about peacebuilding, community dialogue, empowering women, but not trying to radically change a host country’s culture. They built relationships with all sides of a conflict and believed in sharing information and equipping others. Before the end of the interview I was hooked. Thankfully, they offered me the position.
Press Clip Source: Common WondersDate: April 19, 2017Written by:Robert C. KoehlerRead original article: Here.
Sometimes our tame and compliant media upchucks a piece of truth. For instance:
“American officials had predicted that the missile strike would result in a major shift in Assad’s calculus, but the U.S. attack appeared to be symbolic in reality. Within 24 hours of the strike, monitoring groups reported that warplanes were again taking off from the bombed Shayrat air base, this time to attack Islamic State positions.”
This paragraph in a Washington Post story refers, of course, to the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles Donald Trump earned such plaudits for launching against Syria on April 7. Suddenly he was our commander in chief, waging war — or, well . . . waging “symbolic reality,” whatever that means, at a cost (for the missiles) of maybe $83 million and change.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed on 27th March 2014 between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a stepping stone towards the creation of a peaceful government in Mindanao. Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in the Philippines was also present at the signing of the CAB. The theme for this year’s commemoration of the signing of the significant step was: "Stand up for Peace! Long live the CAB!"
July 23, 2015
Congressman 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.
Press Clip Source: ReliefWebDate: April 19, 2017Written by:Us Agency for International DevelopmentRead original article: Here.
Insecurity and displacement increase needs for all conflict-affected populations; however, children are uniquely impacted by violence and protection concerns.
In January 2017, USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) partner Nonviolent Peaceforce began efforts to support vulnerable conflict-displaced populations sheltering in Unity State’s Leer town. With few secure spaces in the temporary displacement sites, significant child protection concerns arose, including movement restrictions, insufficient food, lack of a safe space to play, and a lack of post-trauma support.
Press Clip Source: Midland Daily News Date: October 27,2015Written by: Ralph E. WirtzRead original article: Here
Suppose for a moment that your mere presence in a room or a field or at a campground could save a life, stop a rape or prevent an abduction.
The globe-trotting Mel Duncan was at Delta College Monday night, telling those in attendance that this supposition is true, and that there are people in more than 50 organizations from 35 nations around the world doing those things, protecting civilians just by being in areas where violence is occurring. Unarmed Civilian Protection is a new phenomenom, a one-generation method of responding to violence, he said.
Duncan is co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce, one of those 50 organizations, and he offered proof that the idea is working. He said the primary work of his organization is to “protect civilians from imminent violence.” Teams of unarmed, trained professionals respond in areas where they are wanted. They are nonpartisan and nonviolent and they “live and work in the communities where conflict is,” Duncan said.
“While we are there, our specific and only job is the protection of civilians, to work with local civilian society to deter violence and to help strengthen the peace infrastructures,” he said.
The need for finding ways to resolve conflicts peacefully is growing, Duncan said, citing a report from the United Nations Panel on Global Climate Change that stated “the worst is yet to come.” Duncan said climate disruption exacerbates violent conflict.
“Today, more people are affected by conflict and disaster more frequently and for longer periods than in previous decades and that number in need of humanitarian assistance and protection has nearly doubled in the past decade,” Duncan said. “We now have 60 million of us who are in direct need of shelter and refuge because of violent conflict and persecution.”
One example he cited was NP’s work in South Sudan. There, in the midst of civil war, more than 4 million people are displaced and many live in “protection of civilian areas.”
Over the past few months, the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) Bor team in South Sudan has been working with a group of adolescent girls in Bor Town. The NP Bor team efforts focus on supporting them in addressing protection challenges they face in their community.
A couple of protection issues the girls face relate to gathering water from the borehole in the community. At times, the girls need to gather water from the borehole at night and they are at risk of being abused by men drinking in the area. Secondly, a very large community is sharing just one borehole, giving rise to conflicts. For instance, one girl was slapped when she politely told another woman not to jump the queue. The girls recently requested an opportunity to present their protection concerns in the bi-monthly chiefs meeting. The bi-monthly chiefs' meeting is an NP-sponsored forum that hosts many of the leaders in Bor Town. For the past year, the NP team has been convening local government officials, humanitarian partners, and the block leaders/chiefs of Bor Town for bi-monthly meetings to create a regular forum for dialogue.
Celebrate International Day of Peace on September 21st by changing your Facebook profile.
When 24 people a minute flee their home due to conflict, you know responding to violence with more violence isn't working.
When you show support for Nonviolent Peaceforce by changing your profile, you show your belief that everyone deserves peace and that conflict can be resolved through nonviolence.
In September 2015, Nonviolent Peaceforce South Sudan conducted a Capacities and Vulnerabilities Assessment (CVA) in Wau Shilluk, Malakal County, Upper Nile State. This assessment is an important first step to identify the site’s security so Nonviolent Peaceforce can effectively design a new targeted protection program to maximize positive impact for local populations.
The mission led by Nonviolent Peaceforce's Britt Sloan (Area Program Coordinator, Border Region) and Yannick Creoff (Protection Officer) was conducted as a protection assessment in advance of proposed NP programming on the west bank of the Nile. NP had previously visited Wau Shilluk in May 2015. The CVA aimed to further investigate changes in the local context of the village, deepen understanding of community dynamics, and update NP information regarding protection threats, vulnerabilities, and capacities of the local community.
With the outbreak of South Sudan’s civil war at the end of 2013, Malakal and the surrounding areas of Upper Nile State witnessed massive fighting, displacing tens of thousands of civilians across the Nile River to villages along the west bank. Wau Shilluk, previously a small Shilluk community of some 4,000 residents approximately 12 kilometers north of Malakal, became the main Shilluk internally displaced persons (IDP) settlement. As of May 2015, the community had reached an estimated population of 40,000 individuals.
CONTEXT and History of NP in Myanmar
“This is not just the longest running civil conflict in the world but probably the most complex. The result is the most complicated peace process we’ve found anywhere. Trying to corral all these groups—18, 20 of them — with their different interests and identities into a single unified peace approach is extraordinarily difficult.”
-Derek Mitchell, former US ambassador to Myanmar
After more than 60 years of civil war, Myanmar has embarked on a path towards peace. In 2011 and 2012- the Myanmar government signed a series of bilateral ceasefire agreements with 14 out of the 17 largest ethnic armed groups.
Though these agreements increased security in parts of the country, they were not followed by meaningful peace talks to address the root causes of conflict.
In an attempt to negotiate a more meaningful multilateral ceasefire agreement various armed groups got together and formed the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) in November, 2013
October, 2015- After two years of negotiations, eight armed groups signed the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Myanmar government.
One month later, the country welcomed its first democratically elected civilian-led government since 1962!
November, 2015-In line with the agreements in the NCA, a process towards the establishment of a formal ceasefire monitoring body, Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committees, was initiated in five States and Regions where EAOs and Government signed the NCA.
August, 2016- The newly elected government made the peace process a top priority and brought nearly all armed groups together at the first 21st century Panglong Peace Conference to initiate the long-awaited peace talks.
Despite signs of progress, there are major challenges ahead. Many armed groups chose not to sign the multilateral ceasefire agreement in 2015, they didn't feel that the process was inclusive enough. Civil society groups, and women in particular, have felt largely underrepresented.
Meanwhile, fighting in many parts of the country has picked up, making peace talks and additional ceasefire negotiations more difficult, eroding trust in the peace process, and impacting the lives and livelihoods of already vulnerable civilians.
Since 2011, armed conflict and inter-communal violence in Myanmar have displaced more than 240,000 people. Myanmar is also one of the countries at highest risk of natural disasters in Southeast Asia, with approximately 460,000 flood-affected people in need of humanitarian aid as of November 2016.
Agreement on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, 2015
As Myanmar opened up and embarked on a peace process, state and civil society actors started to look for examples and models in neighboring countries. In 2010 and 2011 they visited the Philippines to learn more about the monitoring of the ceasefire agreement in Mindanao and had the opportunity to engage with Nonviolent Peaceforce.
In August of 2012, Nonviolent Peaceforce was invited by the Government of Myanmar and civil society organizations to support the country's peace process.
Since 2012 NP has supported local communities in establishing networks that monitor the impact of ceasefire violations and armed clashes on vulnerable civilians. By working with local partners, NP is able to provide training and technical assistance to civilian monitors in their own communities to:
Nonviolent Peaceforce also:
NP facilitates dialogue between civilian monitors and representatives of armed groups about the nationwide ceasefire agreement, Hpa An, Kayin State, 2015
STRATEGIES AND THEORIES OF CHANGE
Nonviolent Peaceforce envisions its application of Unarmed Civilian Protection to contribute to Myanmar’s peace process through the reduction of violence, the building of healthy relationships, and the mobilisation of grassroots initiatives. Nonviolent Peaceforce believes in:
Violence reduction: The participation of civilians in the ceasefire monitoring process encourages combatants to minimize violence against civilians. In the long run, we believe that the actual reduction of violence will increase confidence in the peace process and provide safer spaces for dialogue.
Healthy relationships: NP builds healthy relationships with all parties and encourages conflicting parties to address their needs without harming civilian. This models and promote the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace and nonviolence in the early stages of a peace process. It allows for a smoother transition towards reconciliation.
Grassroots mobilisation: Mobilising civilians to monitor ceasefire agreements and responding to civilian protection concerns builds confidence among civil society and increases local ownership. A bottom-up, community driven initiatives will not only compliment top-down peacemaking initiatives, but influence them in a meaningful way. Civilian-led grassroots initiatives can increase the attention to civilian protection concerns among decision makers and create opportunities for the voices of vulnerable communities to be heard.
The spectrum of civilian ceasefire monitoring as presented by NP Myanmar
“To reiterate, it is important to highlight that perhaps the greatest contribution of this work will be the many civilians who have changed their beliefs and behaviours. They are becoming less governed by a ‘culture of fear’ and less limited by traditional roles. They are more accepting and promoting women’s leadership, and actively engaged in civilian protection. These are easy words to write, and very hard shifts to accomplish.”
Ellen Furnari, PhD, Transforming Matters, in her paper on the projects implemented by Nonviolent Peaceforce with the Karen Women Empowerment Group and the Gender and Development Institute Myanmar (Furnari, 2016, p.28).
Nonviolent Peaceforce's in Myanmar has:
External project evaluators have judged the efforts of NP and its partners to be a ‘highly relevant contributor to the peace process in Myanmar’.
"Before the training, we did not know how to engage actors, especially like Tatmadaw and KIO. But the training from NP helped us learn the ways to engage them and build our confidence. It is because of the skills and confidence we got from the trainings; we can now intervene and respond to cases of violence in our communities. I hope NP continues building our capacity and we in return continue protecting our communities"
– Township Coordinator, Momauk Township, Kachin CCM.
“In the past 3 days we learned a lot about the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. This is very important for peace. Before I attended this workshop, I felt like playing chess without knowing the rules of the game. But now I understand which way to go.”
- Liaison Officer of Ethnic Armed Organisation
Nonviolent Peaceforce in Myanmar has currently 10 staff members, coming from the Netherlands, Kenya, the USA, Nepal, and Myanmar.
NP staff members and local partner Karen Women Empowerment Group discuss the protection of women, Hpa An 2016
OUR LOCAL PARTNERS
NP has been working with the following local organizations:
Map of local partner organisations of Nonviolent Peaceforce that have established and are currently managing, overseeing, and/or supporting civilian monitoring networks in Myanmar (2016).
The European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) held their bi-annual General Assembly meetings in April and October of this year. The independent civil society platform is composed of European non-governmental organizations (NGOs), networks of NGOs and think tanks committed to peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict. Nonviolent Peaceforce has been EPLO member for years and is actively participating in EPLO working groups.
EPLO aims to influence the European Union (EU) so that it promotes and implements measures which lead to sustainable peace between states and within states and peoples, and which transform and resolve conflicts non-violently. EPLO wants the EU to recognize the crucial connection between peacebuilding, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development worldwide, and the crucial role NGOs play in sustainable EU efforts for peacebuilding, conflict prevention and crisis management. EPLO’s strategy advances the interests of its 32 member organizations from 13 European countries through common policy positions and advocating for those common positions.
Press Clip Source: The Star Online Date: November 1, 2015Written by: Dariusz DziewanskiRead original article: Here
A WIDE, infectious smile spreads across Rocky George Ambago’s face when he talks about his work. Through his role with the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) in South Sudan, Ambago helps to champion an innovative model of peacekeeping called unarmed civilian protection (UCP). The non-profit organisation trains civilians to play a role similar to that of peacekeepers.
Ambago is committed to bringing peace to his native country. Before joining the NP, he spent almost 10 years fleeing conflict in his homeland. After long periods of exile in the Central African Republic, Democratic of Congo, and Uganda, he was offered resettlement in Canada but refused to leave.
“What am I going to do outside, when my country needs me?” he explains. Instead, he returned to South Sudan.
Ambago and his team work to save lives largely by monitoring warring groups and using their presence to exert social pressure so that would-be perpetrators of violence are more likely to act peacefully. NP-trained personnel also act as protective escorts for individuals – for instance, the displaced or those seeking medical attention – who might be threatened by violence.
Press Clip Source: Post BulletinDate: September 24, 2016Written by:Emily CarsonRead original article: Here.
To every problem, there are a variety of possible solutions. The people willing to imagine those solutions are possibilitarians.
The word possibilitarian was first coined by author and minister Norman Vincent Peale. It describes someone who recognizes and creates new possibilities. Peale thoughtfully advised, "Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them for they're always there."
I recently encountered two possibilitarians. First, Perry. Justin and I met Perry while checking out the downtown Rochester PlaceMakers Prototyping Festival. Perry and his PlaceMakers team identified several creative solutions to deal with the city's excess rainwater.
Perry, an engineer, showed Justin and I how small, inexpensive parts can lead to cost-effective solutions for existing water-related concerns. His enthusiasm for solution-finding was contagious. It was as if he saw the whole world through a lens of limitless possibilities. As he spoke, I began to imagine myself as an idea engineer, too.
The next possibilitarian I encountered was Mel Duncan. Mel gave a 1-hour presentation on the Nonviolent Peaceforce at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in town. The evening event was co-sponsored by Assisi Heights Spirituality Center, the First Unitarian Universalist Church, Pax Christi Peace Group, and Southeastern Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Today, on Human Rights day, I would like to reflect on our mission and diligence in our work in the field. From holding trainings on humanitarian law in the Philippines, to preventing gender-based violence in South Sudan, Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) fights for human rights every day in our mission to:
1.) Protect civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies,2.) Build peace side-by-side with local communities, and3.) Advocate for the wider adoption of these approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity.
This is the trailer for A la poursuite de la paix - the French version of In Pursuit of Peace. This riveting 86-minute feature documentary film makes the case for unarmed civilian peacemaking and mediation as a response to violent international conflict.
We follow four Canadian peacemakers as they take us inside the drama of their work in some of the word's hottest conflict zones – land disputes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the civil war in South Sudan, IDP camps with displaced minorities in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq and stories of mediation in Darfur, Nepal and Aceh. As we follow our protagonists, we share their challenges and their hopes as they work to create alternative responses to war and violence.
The English version will be released in the spring of 2016.
As an intern in the Nonviolent Peaceforce office in Minneapolis, Rachel Beecroft dreamed of being part of an NP field team. Now as Rotary Peace Fellow and graduate student at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, that dream will come true. She will join the NP Myanmar team for three months as she fulfills requirements for a degree a Master of International Relations majoring in Peace and Conflict Resolution. The Rotary Peace Center program emphasizes development of practical skills, including mediation and project development. The program explicitly explores the relationships between peacekeeping and peacemaking. Both of these fields involve not only what happens after a conflict, but also what happens before a conflict breaks out. Creating lasting peace requires developing a culture of peace, and in war-torn societies, entire generations know only violence. Changing those cultural norms requires a multi-pronged approach, and this program is helping her to develop and implement those multi-faceted solutions.
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