Nonviolent Peaceforce

In November, 2002 September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows founding members Kelly Campbell and Barry Amundson were present at the creation of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Surajkund, India, with peace advocates from a total of 49 countries in attendance. One year later, in fall 2003, Nonviolent Peaceforce had its first team in Sri Lanka.

Nonviolent peacekeeping is a common vision that has flowed through Gandhi, Maude Roydon, Badshah Khan and so many others. It has occurred and recurred to enough people for generations that now many focus their lives and resources on making it real. As an unarmed, paid civilian peacekeeping force, Nonviolent Peaceforce fosters dialogue among parties in conflict and provides a protective presence for threatened civilians.

With its headquarters in Brussels, Nonviolent Peaceforce peacekeeping teams are presently deployed in Sri Lanka, in the Mindanao region of the Philippines and in Sudan. Its peacekeepers include veterans of conflict zones, experienced peacekeepers, and those new to the field with the right combination of experience, skills, aptitude and attitude.

Within every combat zone it enters, and throughout its work worldwide, Nonviolent Peaceforce works to achieve four overarching goals:

To create a space for fostering lasting peace.

To protect civilians, especially those made vulnerable because of the conflict.

To develop and promote the theory and practice of unarmed civilian peacekeeping so that it may be adopted as a policy option by decision makers and public institutions.

To build the pool of professionals able to join peace teams through regional activities, training, and maintaining a roster of trained, available people.

Nonviolent Peaceforce’s co-founders are David Hartsough and Mel Duncan. Hartsough had long been committed to creating a better world through nonviolent means. The Quaker activist protested racial segregation in lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s, demonstrated against the Vietnam War and nuclear proliferation, and trained civilians in Kosovo in nonviolent strategies during the 1990s.

Duncan’s vision began when he went to Nicaragua with the coffee/cotton brigades during the Contra war in 1984 and saw that villages were not attacked when foreigners were present.

Hartsough and Duncan met at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace, each seeking support to make his vision an organized entity. After hearing Hartsough’s presentation, Duncan shared his ideas with him. Hartsough and Duncan immediately saw the powerful symbiosis.  By the end of the event, they, along with others who caught the vision, were organizing to lay the foundation for Nonviolent Peaceforce.

As they and others began organizing NP, they talked to people around the world.  Amid the fiercest violence, they met courageous and creative peacemakers who told them time and again that isolation was lethal and international accompaniers extended their lives and amplified their work.

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