Nonviolent Peaceforce

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Staff (2009)

Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping organization with the goal to protect civilians and reduce violence in areas affected by armed conflict. In partnership with local groups, NP teams of Unarmed Civilian Peacekeepers aim to apply proven strategies to protect threatened individuals and communities, deter violence, and help to create space for local civil society actors to build sustainable peace.



Mission and Vision / Alternative to military intervention

”The mission of Nonviolent Peaceforce is to promote, develop and implement unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a tool for reducing violence and protecting civilians in situations of violent conflict..” Its Vision is “a world in which large-scale unarmed civilian peacekeeping using proven nonviolent strategies is recognized as a viable alternative in preventing, addressing, and mitigating violent conflicts worldwide. Our primary strategy for achieving this vision is the creation of space to foster dialogue.” [1] It is a common assumption that only armed military forces or the police can do the work of peacekeeping. However, unarmed civilians have been successfully ‘keeping the peace’ in violent conflicts all over the world. And their numbers are increasing. All forms of peacekeeping, whether military or civilian, involve the use of various methods of exerting influence and pressure in order to change the behaviour of armed actors. These range from pure coercion that comes from the barrel of a gun to the much more subtle (and generally more effective) methods that convince and/or assist armed actors to behave differently. Between these two extremes lies a wide range of strategies which seek to influence those who are engaging in violence or abuse of civi-lians. For NP military interventions in violent conflicts may do more harm than really help protecting the lives of civilians.[2] Therefore NP prefers to implement the concept of ”Civilian Peacekeeping” defined by Christine Schweitzer as ”the prevention of direct violence through influence or control of behaviour of potential perpetrators by unarmed civilians deployed on the ground.” [3]

Professional preparation and on-site explorations before deployment

The concept of NP is based on the belief that civilians in areas of violent crisis are entitled to and require highly qualified assistance. To train its peacekeepers, NP developed an elaborated curriculum, initially based on the trainers manual ”Third-Party Nonviolent Intervention / Opening Space for Democracy” by George Lakey and Daniel Hunter. With time, training experiences and respective evaluation led to an even more concentrated qualification model to prepare women and men with a sound knowledge of civil rights and nonviolence for their deployment in a particular region.[4];. Applicants have usually completed different training courses before, such as those of the Academy for Conflict Transformation (Germany) or courses by Training for Change (USA), by Peace University Stadtschlaining (Austria), by Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding (Switzerland), by International Alert (UK) or by PATRIR (Romania).[5] Recent ”Mission Preparedness Trainings” of 15 days duration have taken place in Asia and South America. Regarding the personnel, NP is the only organization working in this field that has peacekeepers not only from Western and/or industrialized countries, but also from Latin America, Africa and Asia.[6][7] When receiving a request for unarmed civilian peacekeeping, NP sends an exploratory team to the respective region. This exploration mission might be completed in a few weeks as in Guatemala 2007 for a rapid deployment, but might last longer than a year as in South Caucasus 2011/2012.[8][9]

Corporate ethos

The joint disposition of the organization as defined in its By-Laws: “NP relies on the engagement, creativity, constructive participation, reliability and nonviolent communication of everyone working with the organization. NP regards it as normal that internal conflicts will arise. NP believes these can positively help us to grow individually and as an organization. NP therefore strives to resolve its own conflicts nonviolently and encourages everyone within the organization to take an active part in the development of suitable working modes and processes of the organization. NP welcomes criticism and suggestions for improvement on all levels of work and invites advice, assistance and empowerment.”

The Making

Background / Organizational development

In the last century, people in several countries repeatedly called for a Nonviolent Army or Peace Army to replace military interventions in violent conflicts and to protect vulnerable civilians. Especially renowned pacifist organizations as well as humanitarian groups, most of them being engaged in anti-war activities, felt the need to complement their efforts by developing constructive alternatives to the military. They explored nonviolent and reconciliatory instruments of conflict transformation and conceived respective models with effective structures, even though they found it hard to win donors, endorsers and volunteers. The best known of these new organizations, Peace Brigades International, concentrated successfully on the protection of individuals. During the 1990s, David Ray Hartsough, an US-Quaker and civil rights activist, trained civilians in Kosovo in nonviolent strategies and travelled around the globe to discuss the possibilities of large scale nonviolent interventions in regions where a violent conflict was looming or had already broken out. Seeking support for his vision, he got the opportunity to address a greater audience during the Hague Appeal 1999 in the Netherlands and explain what nonviolent intervention by trained teams could be like. Mel Duncan, former US-member of the Nicaragua coffee/cotton brigades during the Contra war of 1984, had developed similar ideas and was looking for allies like Hartsough. By the end of the conference, they together with other activists from the Netherlands and Germany who shared their vision were planning for a Nonviolent Peaceforce. The organization was founded near Delhi / India in 2002 with peace advocates from 49 countries attending the inaugural meeting. The pilot project of NP was started in 2003 in Sri Lanka.[10] NP was later invited to intervene in a lot of crisis regions, but concentrated, after one short-term engagement in Guatemala, on the deployment of peacekeepers in the Philippines and in South Sudan. It recently took up a new mission in South Caucasus (2011/12).[11][12] The organization has grown during the time of Executive Director Mel Duncan (who served until 2009 in Minneapolis/USA). The central office moved to Brussels / Belgium in 2010 (Executive Director Tim Wallis). Nonviolent Peaceforce is registered in the US as a 501(c)(3) organization and in Belgium as an AISBL and was given a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Prominent Supporters (according to NP terminology ”Endorsers”)

The Dalai Lama, Tibet, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, Peace People, Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor, International Peace Bureau, Oscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentina, Lech Wałęsa, Poland, Former President of Republic of Poland (all of them Nobel Peace Prize Laureates), Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, et al.

Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP): concept and practice

General frame work/ UCP in action

The work of NP is part of worldwide efforts of civil society organizations to overcome violent conflicts and to protect civilians. During the last decades, there has been a tremendous rise of non-state peace activities, either as an alternative or in addition to official state or UN ”Peace” missions, sometimes even as part of governmental strategies. Many of these civilian peace efforts aim for Conflict Transformation (Paul Lederach: “Conflict transformation is to envision and respond to the ebb and flow of social conflict as life-giving opportunities for creating constructive change processes that reduce violence, increase justice in direct interaction and social structures, and respond to real-life problems in human relationships.”) [13] Since the launch of the UN Agenda for Peace (UN General Secretary Boutros Ghali, 1992) the following distinction of various peace activities is generally accepted: Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding. All NGOs working in related fields use these terms to describe their mission. NP concentrates on Peacekeeping. For NP Peacekeeping is about preventing, reducing and stopping violence, but – according to its own feasibility study – this also requires bringing conflicting parties together. Civilian peacekeeping is a new term. It involves unarmed individuals placing themselves in conflict situations in an attempt to reduce inter-group violence and protect civilians.[14] NP specifically uses the designation Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP). There are many non-governmental as well as governmental organizations that engage in UCP, using a variety of methods and approaches. NP usually works in conflict areas where a ceasefire already exists, but reconciliation is still nowhere near. Its approach to UCP relies on dialogue with the armed actors in order to help them change their behaviour. The emphasis lies on building relationships of mutual trust and understanding and precludes the ‘naming and shaming’ that other UCP initiatives may involve.[15] NP's concept is community-based, working with local actors. Trained peacekeepers go into the conflict zone, live among the people there and try to develop trusting relationships with all parties to the conflict. They are non-partisan, but they take the side of affected, non-combatant civilians and defend their human rights, especially the right to live.,.[16][17] The concept is also focused on prevention. The peacekeepers try to follow up rumours that could cause an eruption of violence, they train local and regional groups and administrative bodies to use civil protection tools and thus help them to protect themselves. NP's work is focused, but also limited to the level of individual and community security needs. However – as the first NP project in Sri Lanka has shown – the presence of NP could not stop the on-going war between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE continuing in other parts of the island.[18]


Sri Lanka (2003-2011)

The Convening Assembly of NP- decided to launch the first project in Sri Lanka. Starting point and connecting factor was the ceasefire agreement between the main actors in then 20 year-old civil war, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that gave rise to some hope for a longer term peace agreement.[19] NP worked in a number of different fields: On invitation from a Sri Lankan organization that observes elections (PAFFREL [20] ). NP peacekeepers served as international election observers and were present at political ralleys before the pending elections when there were often violent clashes between political party militants. They were also involved in the protection of children's rights – financed by UNICEF – and the liberation of child soldiers. During this assignment, they supported relatives of abducted youths, provided safe homes for those released and transferred some of them toeducation projects of NGOs. Another focal point was providing space for meetings between antagonistic groups, giving support to local reconciliation activists by being present during their activities if necessary. Field team members also accompanied internally displaced people or collated human rights details in camps of internally displaced persons in projects financed by UNHCR.[21] The up to 30 NP professionals working in Sri Lanka could help people at local level, but they could not stop the war that reoccurred in 2008 and came to an end only when the SLA defeated LTEE in May 2009.

Mindanao/Philippines (2007-)

In Mindanao/Philippines a ceasefire was also the starting point for the invitation of NP by local peace organizations (e.g. Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus and Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society). After a short time, NP Philippines was part of the International Monitoring Team to oversee the ceasefire agreement between the Philippine Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a guerilla organization that sought independence and later self-determination for the Southern island of Mindanao. NP is responsible for the Civilian Protection Component which had its antecedents (and still relies on) the Independent Fact-Finding Committee and Bantay Ceasefire. In the meantime there are some 80 international and national professionals working either as Civilian Peacekeepers in the 'normal' assignment of NP or as Civilian Protection Officers in the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team.[22]

Guatemala (2007-2008)

The - ”rapid-response” project of NP in Guatemala focused heavily on accompaniment of human rights defenders, a method that used to be the core work of Peace Brigades International. NP was invited by the Unidad de Protección a Defen- soras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA), the Protection Unit for Human Rights Defenders led by Claudia Samaoya, then also co-chair of NP. During the presidential elections taking place in September and November 2007, violence tended to increase and especially human rights defenders were threatened. Therefore a small team focused on accompanying the human rights defenders or being present in their office day and night. As planned from the start, the project was terminated in February 2008. It was designed as a short-term project. The three field team members were volunteers and did not receive a salary, as field team members usually get. According to the NP homepage, this short-team project had a budget of less than 100.000 US-Dollar.[23]

Southern part of Sudan, now Republic of South Sudan (2010-)

After the cancellation of a proposed project in Uganda, the peace agreement between Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army as well as the planned independence referendum in South Sudan in January 2011 provided a starting point for exploring and later implementing a project in Sudan/South Sudan. Two Sudanese organizations, the Institute for the Promotion of Civil Society (IPCS) and the Sudanese Organization for Nonviolence and Development (SONAD), invited NP to assist in preventing violence before and during the forthcoming elections and referendum.[24] The more general task, also for the time after the referendum, was to build up local expertise for preventing and mediating in inter-ethnic conflicts in the region. The assignment was led by a Sri Lankan peacekeeper who was responsible for the protection of children in Sri Lanka. In South Sudan UNICEF financed a similar project, especially for Ugandan child soldiers who were recruited by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The field offices have been extended to eight teams.[25]

Southern Caucasus/Georgia

Georgia is torn apart by conflicts with Russia and – somehow connected with this – by the separatism of Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. After an intensive exploration mission in the region (now extended to Nagorny Karabach, the conflict region between Armenia and Azerbeijan), a first field site was set up in 2012 in Shida Kartli (Georgia Tbilisi-Administered-Territories), a region which is adjacent to the disputed South Ossetia.[26]

In exploration

The exploratory project in Kyrgyzstan began with an invitation from a rather different conflict party: It was extended by the new government - Fehler! Hyperlink-Referenz ungültig.- in 2010. The background is that after a revolution against President Bakiyev in April 2010 there were violent conflicts between Kyrgyz and Uzbek people with a toll of 356 deaths and nearly 300,000 internally displaced persons, especially in the Southern regions of Osh and Jalalabad.[27]

Organizational Elements

Structure / International backing by NGOs

The work of NP consists of three pillars: projects in conflict areas / lobbying, especially within United Nations as well as European Commission and European Parliament / training. The organizational and administrative day-to-day duties are carried out by the secretariat - headed by the Executive Director (at present Tim Wallis). The programmatic work {on projects, explorations, budget and policies} is the task of the international board called International Governing Council (IGC).[28]


Nonviolent Peaceforce is an international network formed by some 60 member organizations from all continents. The members - usually active peace, human rights or development organizations - try to raise awareness for the work of NP in their respective countries and elect NP representatives. In some countries, those engaged with NP form a national organization, e.g. NP Japan, NP South Korea and NP Canada (see respective websites). In the US, NP is organized in so-called chapters which are focusing on fundraising. The International Governing Council (IGC) consists of two representatives from each of the following world regions: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Middle East. There are two co-chairs, one treasurer and one secretary who form the executive management.[29][30]]

Project design and Financing

The UCP projects are usually organized as follows: There is a Project Director who is responsible for the whole project. Departments for Fundraising, Communication, Human Relations and sometimes for special tasks (e.g. Ceasefire Monitoring in the Philippines or Special Deputies for Children's Rights in South Sudan) are supporting the Director. There is also someone who is responsible for security matters. Usually there is a main office as well as field offices in selected areas of the country of intervention.[31] Regarding the financing one has to distinguish between funds for administrative and internal purposes and projects. The first area is financed by donors, most of them are from US and many have a Christian background, the second by Western governments, international organizations like the European Commission or UN-organizations like UNICEF, UNHCR or UNDP.[32]

Further reading

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ Carriere, Rolf C.: The World needs 'Another Peacekeeping', in: Schweitzer, Christine (Ed.): Civilian Peacekeeping. A Barely Trapped Resource, Wahlenau 2010, p. 18
  3. ^ Schweitzer, Christine: Introduction, in: id. (Ed.): Civilian Peacekeeping. A Barely Trapped Resource, Wahlenau 2010, p. 9)
  4. ^ Konrad Tempel (Ed.) ”Instrumente für den Zivilen Friedensdienst, Gewaltfreie Intervention durch eine Drittpartei ...”, ZFD Impuls 2, Bonn Juni 2005, with Compact Disk
  5. ^ Schweitzer et al., Feasibility Study, pp. 297-300
  6. ^ Eddy, Matthew: Freedom summer abroad: Biographical pathways and cosmopolitanism among international human rights workers, in Patrick G. Coy (ed.) Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Bingley UK 2011, p. 247, Fn. 4
  7. ^ Wallace, Molly: Confronting Wrongs, Affirming Difference: The Limits of Violence, the Power of Nonviolence, and the Case of Nonviolent Intervention in Sri Lanka, PH.D., Brown University Providence, Rhode Island, May 2010, p. 315
  8. ^ Duncan, Mel / Mark Zissman / Patrick Savaiano: Nonviolent Peaceforce: A Realistic Choice for the Future, in. Stout, Chris E. (Ed.): The New Humanitarians: Inspirations, Innovations, and Blueprints for Visionaries, Vol. 3, Changing Sustainable Development and Social Justice, Westport CT/London, 2009, p. 94f
  9. ^ (last retrieved: 09.08.2012)
  10. ^ Wallace 2010, p. 329
  11. ^ Schweitzer, Christine: Humanitarian Protection as an Additional Function of Humanitarian, Development and Peace Projects – or Rather a Task Requiring Experts?”, in: id. (Ed.): Civilian Peacekeeping – A Barely Trapped Resource, Wahlenau 2010, p. 49
  12. ^ (last retrieved: 09.08.2012)
  13. ^
  14. ^ Schirch, Lisa: Civilian Peacekeeping. Preventing Conflict, Making Space for Democracy. Uppsala 2006, p. 16
  15. ^ Schirch 2006, p. 16
  16. ^ Wallis, Tim: Best Practices of Civilian Peacekeeping, in: Schweitzer, Christine (Ed.): Civilian Peacekeeping. A Barely Trapped Resource, Wahlenau 2010, p. 26., 23
  17. ^ Lustenberger, Philipp: Civilian Protection: From the International to the Grassroots Level, in: Zartman, I.W./P.T. Hopman (Eds.): Mindanao. Understanding Conflict 2011, Washington 2011, p. 54
  18. ^ Wallace 2010, p. 325
  19. ^ Brües, Stephan: Ermutigung zum Handeln im Klima der Angst. Wie Friedensfachkräfte der Nonviolent Peaceforce in Sri Lanka arbeiten, Neues Deutschland, 29.06.2008
  20. ^ People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), e.g. PAFFREL: Observation report Presidential elections 2005, pp. 36f.; see also: N.N.: International civilian peace force for North-East, Daily News, 16.07.2003 = (last retrieved: 09.08.2012
  21. ^ Wallace 2010, pp. 317; 340-344; 347-360
  22. ^ Lustenberger 2011, p. 52ff.
  23. ^
  24. ^ see: interview with Oloo Otieno, in: Ricci, Andrea (Ed.): From Early Warning to Early Action? The Debate on the enhancement of the EU's crisis response capability continues, European Commission, DG External Relations, Brüssel 2008 [part 2: Crisis Response - Mediation and Peacekeeping] =, last retrieved: 09.08.2012])
  25. ^, last retrieved: 09.08.2012)
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Duncan et al. 2009, p. 93
  29. ^ Duncan et al. 2009, p.93 ;
  30. ^ (both retrieved: 09.08,.2012
  31. ^ Wallace 2010, p. 317f.
  32. ^ Duncan et al. 2009, p. 96f.