Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is an unarmed, professional civilian peacekeeping force that is invited to work in conflict zones worldwide. With international headquarters in Brussels, NP has worked in the conflict areas of Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Guatemala, South Sudan, and the South Caucasus, as well as monitoring for potential election violence in Palestine. Among other activities, NP has monitored ceasefires, and has created space for local groups to enter into diaplogue and seek peaceful resolutions.NP staffincludes veterans of conflict zones and experienced peacekeepers.
In the 20th century, the international community was unable to respond in a timely or effective manner to crises that led to devastating armed conflicts, brutal violence, and genocide--Kosovo and Rwanda being two examples. Sometimes the world chose not to respond, and sometimes, after a long delay, it responded with bombs and troops. Both of these responses led to untold human misery and destruction. The formation of Nonviolent Peaceforce and its standing peace teams represent a new and powerful alternative to stop violence and human rights abuses before they reach crisis levels by quickly deploying trained, nonviolent peacemakers.
There are several phases to international civilian peacekeeper's (ICP's) training. Initially there is either a Core Mission Preparedness Training (CMPT) of 10 days, or an Extensive Mission Preparedness Training (EMPT) of 21 days. The CMPT is for more experienced candidates (those with previous experience in conflict situations and/or extensive and relevant international experience); the EMPT is for those with little or no conflict experience and limited professional experience yet are viewed as having clear potential to be strong ICPs once fully trained. Both levels of MPT focus on NP's practices and values and how these translate into protection activities in the field. There is strong emphasis on the development of team awareness, communication and problem-solving skills, deepening the understanding of nonviolence and practice of the skills in the core areas of presence, observation, and accompaniment.
Once deployed all new ICPs go through an in-county training, which consists of introductions to local partners, the specific programme and conflict contexts for NP's work in the country, and an introduction to culture and language.
UN peacekeepers are not trained in nonviolence and frequently act as an armed force to restrain civil disorder or violence at the request of the UN Security Council. They are not trained to resolve underlying tensions or conflicts. By contrast, Nonviolent Peaceforce is preventive, not reactive in nature, and is comprised of civilians trained in nonviolent techniques. Its mission is to prevent warfare and violence before they occur by enabling conflicting groups to enter into a discussion where all parties are heard and real solutions can be found.
A major challenge for Nonviolent Peaceforce is non-alignment or non-partisanship in a conflict area. Nonviolent Peaceforce must tread carefully to avoid being unduly influenced, to hold to its mission, and to cooperate with other groups without compromising its principles. Field team coordinators are trained to be aware of and deal with these complex issues, and diverse funding sources and personnel help prevent alignment with power structures.
Yes. Deliberate, third-party nonviolent intervention is a historically proven technique used successfully around the world. Nonviolence has changed policies and governments and been effective in popular movements that confront power and injustice, resist terror, and defend human rights. In many situations, it is the only action that works.
NP applies proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. Among these strategies are:
Protective presence- Maintaining a peacekeeping presence in conflict areas
Interpositioning- Unarmed civilians placing themselves between warring parties
International monitoring- Visibly documenting and reporting activities in conflict zones
Accompaniment- Round-the-clock accompaniment of peaceworkers who are under specific threat of violence or assassination
NP peacekeepers also connect vulnerable communities and local peaceworkers to national and international resources, provide safe places for conflicting groups to meet, and facilitate dialogue, resolving conflicts at the lowest levels to prevent an escalation into violence.
Unarmed civilian peacekeeping (UCP) refers to the use of unarmed civilians to do ‘peacekeeping’. Peacekeeping is about preventing, reducing and stopping violence.
It is a common assumption that only armed military or police can do the work of peacekeeping, however unarmed civilians have been successfully ‘keeping the peace’ in situations of violent conflict all over the world, and their numbers are increasing.
Unarmed civilian peacekeeping is a generic term that gives recognition to a wide range of activities by unarmed civilians to reduce violence and protect civilians in situations of violent conflict. There are many non-governmental as well as governmental organisations that engage in UCP, using a variety of methods and approaches. NP is engaged in what we call ‘third generation’, or 3G UCP.
There is nothing new or surprising about using unarmed civilians to do peacekeeping as such. Parents, teachers, social workers and community leaders have been successfully intervening to stop violent behavior and to protect children and adults from hurting each other from time immemorial.
The first international peacekeeping interventions by the United Nations were also unarmed ‘observer missions’, using military officers but without weapons. Some of the most successful peacekeeping of recent years has been carried out by unarmed civilians deployed by the European Union (EU) and by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Civil society organisations such as Witness for Peace and Peace Brigades International have been engaged in UCP since the early 1980s and there are now dozens of international civil society organisations doing this work in conflict zones around the world.
All forms of peacekeeping, whether military or civilian, involve the use of various kinds of pressure and influence to change the behavior of armed actors.
These range from the pure coercion that comes from the barrel of a gun to the much more subtle (and generally more effective) influences that convince and/or assist armed actors to behave differently. In between these extremes are a range of strategies that seek to influence those who are engaging in violence or abuse of civilians.
Simply by being present at a military checkpoint or in a village that is under attack, unarmed civilian peacekeepers invariably affect the dynamics of the situation and can change the behavior of armed actors. With a more sophisticated analysis of who is causing the violence and why, unarmed civilian peacekeepers can use additional pressures and influences to affect the behavior of those actors, including moral pressures, peer pressures, economic, political, legal and many other pressures that can be brought to bear on the situation. These include being condemned by the international community or indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
NP’s approach to UCP, by contrast, relies solely on dialogue with the armed actors themselves to help them behave in ways that will reduce violence and protect civilians. This approach depends on building relationships of mutual trust and understanding that preclude the kinds of ‘naming and shaming’ that other forms of UCP may involve.