rn: We Need a Nonviolent Peace Force (not more bombs and sanctions)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Hopefully by now most of you will remember "meeting" Hans Sinn (on this
list), who has worked for many years to make unarmed defence and
peacekeeping a reality.

Hans' letter to the organizers of the Millenium Forum (below) asks them to
include discussion of a Multinational Nonviolent Peace Force at the upcoming
event. I have also written to the organizers and urge you to do likewise.
(copy of my letter below)

all the best, Jan

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 10:19:49 -0400
From: Hans Sinn <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Millennium Forum, working group #1,3 


Dear Cora Weiss, Jonathan Dean and Vernon Nichols,

I would like to suggest that Working group #1,3  discuss on Tuesday May 23,
 the below proposal for an International Peace Force by David Hartsough and
Mel Duncan from the California Peaceworkers. I believe it is worthwhile to
discuss the creation of a Nonviolent Peace Force and recommend it to the
UNO for its moral (if not financial) support because:

- the German government has recently introduced at Civilian Peace Service
(CPS) at the national level, which in its objectives is more or less
identical with what is being proposed below,

- Rolf Carriere of UNICEF recently discussed the Peaceworker proposal with
Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury who, while approving of the concept,
recommended the Millennium Forum as an important place for its discussion.

With best wishes,

Hans Sinn

                          A Proposal for an International Peace Force
                            by  Mel Duncan and David Hartsough
                                       September 1999

    "The concept of war is now irrelevant, the concept of violence is out of 
date,"  announced the Dali Lama to thousands of people jammed into New York's 
Central Park in August.  The same message is emerging all over the world as 
we come to the end of history's bloodiest century.  People have grown tired 
of blood and bombs sustaining hate.  They are demanding and creating new ways 
to resolve differences.
    At the same time thousands of well armed multinational troops are 
assaulted and shot at as they attempt to keep hatred at bay in the 
irradiated, blood soaked landscape of Kosovo.  Gangs of thugs backed by the 
Indonesian army tried to torture and intimidate people out of voting for an 
independent East Timor.  US/UN imposed sanctions kill thousand of innocent 
Iraqi citizens each month.  And the two newest members of the nuclear club 
continue a five decade old war in the snowy peaks of Kashmir.
    This century has also witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of 
nonviolent strategies.  The people of India achieved their independence 
through active and sustained nonviolent struggle.  Significant civil rights 
gains in the United States were forged through an array of nonviolent tactics 
including boycotts, sit ins, freedom rides, marches and massive 
demonstrations. South Africans threw off apartheid through largely nonviolent 
means.  A subsequent truth and reconciliation process has avoided a civil 
war.  Phillipinos overthrew the brutal Marcos regime through nonviolent 
means.  The people in most of the nations of the former Soviet block 
overthrew their communist dictatorships through nonviolent means.  In 1991 
thousands of unarmed Russians surrounded the White House in Moscow to thwart 
a military coup attempt.  Gains secured by the labor, womens, disability 
rights and environmental movements have come primarily through nonviolent 
    Third party nonviolent intervention has also progressively escalated 
during the latter part of this century.  Peace Brigades International, the 
Balkan Peace Teams, Witness for Peace, Peaceworkers, the Helsinki Citizens 
Assembly, Christian Peacemaker Teams, SIPAZ, the International Fellowship of 
Reconciliation and others operate in numerous countries including Colombia, 
East Timor, Guatemala, the Balkans, the U.S., Israel/Palestine, Mexico and 
Nicaragua.  Most are doing small scale, highly specialized activities 
designed to be an active presence to lower the potential or current levels of 
violence and support local peace makers.  They are creating an invaluable 
knowledge and experiential base of nonviolent tactics and strategies.
    Yet when faced with the brutal aggression of Slobodan Milosevic 
throughout the last decade, the peace movement has lacked a credible, 
coherent and comprehensive response.  The Nation editorialized about this 
quandary in April.  "This crisis creates a profound dilemma for principled 
anti militarists who do not want to turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing but 
do not embrace the NATO air war."  While some international activists bravely 
carried out nonviolent strategies with  people of the Balkans and still are, 
many others didn't know what to do and, in some cases, reluctantly shrugged 
their shoulders and supported the NATO response.
    Kosovo presented a need for a substantial, well organized, international 
nonviolent response.  Kosovar Albanian President, Ibrahim Rugova was asking 
for an international peace presence in Kosovo as early as nine years ago.  
David Hartsough, executive director of Peaceworkers and a Balkan veteran, 
believes that 200 international peace workers in Kosovo two years ago could 
have played a significant role in averting the violence of the past year.  
Their activities could have included  accompaniment, active support of local 
nonviolent actions, training, and organizing international support and media 
attention for the local nonviolent movement and the possibilities for 
peaceful resolution.
    Building on the important peace team work throughout the world we need to 
bring our peacemaking activity to a dramatic, new level.  We need to develop 
a strategic, efficient and effective response to brutality, violence and 
genocide when actions focused on the root causes have either failed or are 
ineffective in stopping current slaughter.  
    The world needs institutions and collective activities that encourage 
large numbers of people to engage in peaceful actions that inspire hope and 
call them to higher values.  We need to develop an international, multiethnic 
standing peace force that would be trained in nonviolent strategies and 
tactics and deployed to conflicts or potentially violent areas.  The Peace 
Force would have to include a significant number of trained volunteers 
committed to act strategically to prevent or defuse violence and create the 
space for peaceful resolution of conflict.  
    Last spring over 8,000 activists from 100 countries converged on the 
Hague asserting that "peace is a human right" and that "it is time to abolish 
war."   This concept was drafted as a consequence of a series of formal and 
informal discussions during the Hague Appeal for Peace conference.  It has 
since been reviewed, discussed and critiqued by over 100 nonviolent activists 
from various parts of the world.  It truly is a work in progress that will 
continue to unfold based on the wisdom and experience of many co-creators.  
The Peace Force advances the experiments with
nonviolence and helps bring life to the Dali Lama's proclamation of the 
irrelevance of war and violence and Gandhi's earlier vision of Shanti Sena 
(Nonviolent peace army).     

    During the meetings at the Hague conference, there was basic agreement on 
three initial points:
        1.  Most people doing peace team work, conflict resolution and/or
            nonviolent training had shared the vision at some point in their
work of building a standing nonviolent, peace force of significant size.  
Some still entertained the idea. Usually the idea had been abandoned 
            a.  Lack of resources, especially financial, to build and sustain 
                such an operation,
            b.  The important peacemaking work in a particular area had
        become so consuming and/or specialized that the vision of a
        larger scale operation was lost.  
        2.  Most people thought that the idea was worth exploring and
    developing.  Some were very enthusiastic.  Others were more cautionary.
        3.  While this project is very early in development, people 
representing organizations doing peace team work did not try to 
protect their group's  domain even when directly considering the 
prospect that a new organization might compete for funds.  
There was an amazing lack of turf  protection.

The GOAL is to create a well trained, standing, multicultural, nonviolent 
peace force that would be deployed to conflict areas.  The Peace Force would 
be equipped to carry out strategies and tactics in cooperation with local 
groups committed to peaceful change.  Such strategies would be designed to 
lessen violence or its potential and create the space for peaceful and just 
resolution to occur.   
    The Peace Force would most often be deployed at the invitation of a local 
organization or nonviolent movement working for peaceful change/resolution.  
There are, however, some situations where deployment will still need to be 
considered by the steering committee despite the lack of such an invitation.. 
    Strong preference would be given to early intervention.  As one woman 
from Kosovo said at the Hague Conference, "Peace workers need to be at the 
right place at the right time before violence escalates.  Otherwise, we are 
just counting our mistakes."    
    Deployment decisions would be made by the Steering Committee.  Make up of 
the particular teams deployed will depend upon the needs of the given 
situation.  Criteria considered for involvement would include:
        1.  Invitation by a local organization working for peaceful
        2.  Clear role and contribution that the force could make.
        3.  Reasonable chance of success.   
        4.  Organizational and logistical backup.
        5.  Media backup.
        6.  Evidence that combatants and/or governments are sensitive to
        international pressure.
        7.  Sufficient funding and commitment for duration.
        8.  Analysis that deployment would enhance local peace efforts.   

                    STRATEGIES AND TACTICS  

    A clear mandate with a specific strategy and precise objectives tailored 
to the conflict area will be established before deployment.  Strategies and 
tactics will be designed to lessen violence or its potential, create space 
for peaceful and just resolution and empower local peace and justice 
activists.  The strategies will be flexible and focus on these outcomes, not 
just on providing witnesses or documenting human rights abuses.  
     While in the area the Peace Force will also serve as international eyes, 
ears and conscience.  The tactics, developed and carried out in conjunction 
with local nonviolent activists, will be decided upon by the Peace Force 
leadership team in the area in consultation with the Peace Force Steering 
Committee.  Strategies and methods could include:
        1.  Accompanying (activists, leaders, returning refugees)
        2.  Facilitating communication between conflicting parties
        3.  Monitoring (elections, cease fires, treaties)
        4.  Training and training trainers in conflict transformation 
        5.  Patrolling (borders etc.)
        7.  Interpositioning between conflicting sides   
        8.  Nonviolent direct actions including demonstrations and strikes
        9.  Capacity building for local nonviolent groups.
        10.  Modeling alternatives to violent behavior.
    Each engagement as well as the overall operation of the Peace Force will 
require considerable logistical support including business managers, public 
relations specialists, medical workers, conflict resolvers, team builders, 
travel coordinators, cooks, fund raisers, regional experts and governmental 
and organizational liaisons.  While we will attempt to have volunteers fluent 
in the local languages in the conflict areas, we will also employ language 
interpreters for each engagement.   This may seem like a lot of people but as 
one activist pointed out, the military employs ten support staff for every 
soldier in the field.  

                      CONCLUSION (The Start actually)

    The use of active nonviolence is on the rise throughout the world.  We 
can build on the experiences of nonviolent peace teams and others to bring 
this activity to a dramatic new level, a level required by conflicts around 
the globe.  We have reached a level of maturity where this is possible.  We 
have the capacity to make it happen in our lifetimes.  The ingredients 
abound: there are many veterans of nonviolent movements, thousands of 
citizens have demonstrated their willingness to courageously stop violence 
and oppression, hard lessons have been analyzed and learned, our 
organizational abilities have increased, highly qualified trainers are 
available, the World Wide Web, already used to advance the campaigns for 
banning land mines and establishing an International Criminal Court, is 
available as an organizing tool, funders are expressing an interest, and, 
most importantly, people are demanding an alternative to the highly 
militarized responses to conflict.     
    Profound questions remain.  Yet, we live in a time when we are called to 
be troubled by these questions.  Questions haven't stopped NATO.  As 
evidenced last spring they are still plagued with problems of decision 
making, turf, logistics and effectiveness.  
    We need to trouble ourselves with the development of institutions that 
manifest hope and lead us to a world that honors all life.  We need to 
entertain these ideas and challenge each other.  So for now talk, write, 
reflect, pray, paint, dance, meditate.  Please share your thoughts, critiques 
and inspirations with us as well as ideas of others with whom you share this 
     Together we can make the Peace Force a reality.  There will be no better 
way to commemorate the United Nations Decade of Nonviolence than to do so.


    We need help with:
        *Organizational development and decision making
        *Outreach to key organizations and individuals
        *Fund raising
        *Training development
        *Identifying general and expert volunteers
        *Recruiting supporters
        *Developing a web page for the Peace Force
        *Putting an article on the Peace Force in your newsletter or on your 
Web  Page.
    Would you or your organization be willing to endorse the concept of the 
Peace Force and make a tax deductible donation to further the work?

    "During the darkest periods of history, quite often a small number of men 
and women, scattered throughout the world, have been able to reverse the 
course of historical evolutions.  This was only possible because they hoped 
beyond all hope.  What had been bound for disintegration then entered into 
the current of a new dynamism."                     Brother Roger Schultz, 
Prior of Taize

                Mel Duncan          David Hartsough
                1355 Albany Ave.    PEACEWORKERS
                St. Paul, Mn. 55108 721 Shrader St.
                U.S.A.              San Francisco, Ca. 94117
                (651)644-1651       U.S.A.

Summary of comments on this proposal are available on request from Mel.
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 10:16:13 -0400
From: Hans Sinn <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: UN Endorsement

Hi Jan,

To follow up on Anwarum Karim's support of the idea to create a
Multinational Nonviolent Peace Force and his suggestion that we try to get
the proposal on the agenda of the civil society Millennium Forum.

I have located some of the people, who are organizing the Millennium Forum,
to which Anwarum Karim referred, and suggested to them to include the
Peaceworker proposal in one of their discussion groups.  Specifically, it
is the discussion group 1,3 on Conflict Prevention and Resolution;
Humanitarian Intervention; Peacekeeping on Tuesday, May 23. 2000.  Better
still, I shall send you a copy of my email to the Co-Convenors of the
Forum's  "Peace, Security and Disarmament Theme":

Cora Weiss <•••@••.•••>
Jonathan Dean <•••@••.•••>
Vernon Nichols <•••@••.•••>

You will find the section I am referring to under: 

If you think it is a good idea, please email the above convenors, who are
asking for input, your ideas on the subject and encourage others to do the



Brooke Valley Road 687
Perth, Ontario
Tel: 613 264 8833
Fax: 613 264 8605
Civilian Peace Service <http://www.superaje.com/~marsin/cps.htm> 
Jan's letter to Cora Weiss (similar letters to others)

Dear Cora Weiss,

I very much doubt you will remember me, although I remember when you came to
speak to the WILPF group at the WILPF UN office in New York last year. I was
the only Canadian in that group and found your dedication to the Hague
Appeal for Peace inspiring.

I'm writing to you now to ask that you ensure that the Peaceworker proposal
for a Multinational Noviolent Peace Force be discusses in the discussion
group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution on May 23, 2000.

I hope you will agree that it is high time that we found ways to use the
powr of love and nonviolence to bring an end to violence.

I would be very pleased if you could find time to reply to this letter to
let me know what you think.

Sincere best wishes, Jan Slakov, Box 35, Weymouth, NS B0W 3T0
(902) 837-4980