Jan Passion

This is a “Capstone Paper” submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of International and Intercultural Management at the School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont

15 May 2000 Capstone Seminar

Dr. John Ungerleider, Advisor

The author hereby grants and encourages distribution of this paper, but requests clear attribution.

Copyright 2000, Jan Passion.  All rights reserved.

Table of Contents (TOC)


Expanded Statement of Research Question/Introduction



Context: Why this topic?  Why me?  Why now?  

Research Methodology    

Literature Compilation     

Historical Findings  

      Shanti Sena      

      Peace Brigades International          

      Witness For Peace      

      Christian Peacemaker Teams             

      Gulf Peace Team       

      Summary of the Historical Findings            

Proposed model for a Sustainable  Intercultural Nonviolent Peace Team                 

Analysis of a Proposal in Process: The International Peace Force and how it relates to The International Peace Team             

Conclusion and Further Research     


Building Nonviolent Intercultural Peace Teams

Jan Passion - 15 May 2000 Capstone Seminar

Capstone Abstract

                Using violence and coercion to control and contain violent individuals, groups and nation states raises deep ethical and philosophical questions.  How can one use violence while at the same time condemning violence? 

                This moral dilemma is not a new one -- yet, humanity has thus far not achieved an effective, large-scale nonviolent conflict transformation capacity.

                There is a persistent idea that violent conflicts can be transformed by third parties, who help change the dynamic -- from violence and domination to mutual engagement, cooperation and dialogue.  This Capstone Paper, “Building Nonviolent Intercultural Peace Teams,” aims to contribute to this idea. 

                The question I wish to pursue is: “How do we, as peace activists, bring the peace team concept to a new level of possibility?”

                Utilizing a literature review, and historical examination of peace team efforts made thus far, an analysis of problems that have plagued peace teams in the past, and interviews with peace team activists and theorists, I propose a model for effective and sustainable peace teams.

                In the first part of the paper I explore the research question in further depth.  Next I review and analyze many of the efforts made towards creating nonviolent intercultural peace teams, using a literature review.  Subsequent to that I propose an organizational1 and programmatic “blueprint” of an effective and sustainable intercultural peace team, aiming to address some of the key areas that heretofore have proved problematic in the various attempts at creating a sustainable intercultural nonviolent peace team. 

                In the last part of the paper, I review a current proposal to create an “International Peace Force,” analyzing what the current effort is doing well, what problem areas it may likely encounter, and thoughts for enhancement in this effort.

Expanded Statement of Research Question

                In the last century, there have been many attempts in many parts of the world to bring about nonviolent conflict transformation through the use of peace teams (brigades, guards, armies etc.).   These efforts are, understandably enough, reflective of the fact the last century has been the most violent century in the history of humankind. 

                With a few isolated exceptions, these nonviolent efforts have achieved marginal success -- and yet the desire to build a model for an effective nonviolent intercultural peace team persists in the hearts and minds of peace activists around the world.  I believe that the reason this question has remained persistent is because of a belief that, as a species, we have the capacity to dramatically reduce our use of violence and coercion -- and move to a place of increased understanding and cooperation -- to move beyond war. 

                I wish to explore how to expand, enhance and, nurture the possibility and viability of International Peace Teams (IPTs) in transforming conflicts.  Given that the previous attempts to build effective peace teams have generally not been successful (that is, not able to build and sustain their initial vision), I wish to consider the question of what kind of model might be both effective and sustainable in the development of nonviolent, international, intercultural peace teams. 

                Problems that have plagued previous teams were many -- primarily centering on issues of funding, organizational ambiguity, cultural ethnocentrism, internal intercultural conflicts, lack of clear goals and objectives, leadership issues and the lack of an effective ongoing vision.   While some of these tensions are somewhat inevitable (e.g. intercultural issues and funding), others are less so (e.g. mission and vision and cultural ethnocentrism).   These problems are not insignificant, but it is my hope that with increased international commitment, cooperation and sensitivity, and a strong clarity of purpose, they can be mitigated.        

                The question I wish to pursue is: “How do we, as peace activists, bring the peace team concept to a new level of possibility?”  The world has changed so much in the last hundred years, and the violent inter- and intranational conflicts have changed as well – becoming more lethal, more common within states, more prolific and more expensive (environmentally, financially and spiritually) -- and as a global community, we have not achieved particularly constructive means to address these conflicts.  Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. brought the concept of nonviolence to a global consciousness -- resulting in significant numbers of people who know about and subscribe to a nonviolent approach (or at least are open to the possibility of an effective nonviolent approach).  Nonviolence as a tool for large-scale social change has been demonstrated well in this past century (notably in India and in the U.S. civil rights movement).  As the basic peace team intention is to move beyond war and violence in addressing the conflicts that confront us, nonviolence thus becomes the essential new medium -- both to confront combatants engaged in violence, and to model alternatives to violence in addressing conflicts.   

                The challenge of peace team activists and theorists is to explore how to create a model of international, nonviolent, intercultural peace teams.  These peace teams would provide a substantial infusion of energy, support and encouragement to local nonviolent peace activists when violence appears imminent or has already broken out, and prevent, de-escalate and transform violent conflicts, setting the stage for long-term peacebuilding. 




                In this paper, when I refer to “peace teams” I am primarily referring to international, intercultural, nonviolent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that choose to go to areas experiencing impending or actual violent conflicts.  Peace teams work with local nonviolent peace organizations to stop the violence and create the space for nonviolent paths to conflict resolution.  The difference between peace teams and traditional humanitarian organizations is that the peace teams go specifically to address the conflict itself, and actively transform it.

                The difference between peace teams and traditional United Nations (UN) or military forms of third-party intervention is that peace teams bring no weapons -- not even for self-defense.  Their only authority is the moral authority of peace, nonviolence, encouragement, and the act of bearing witness. 

                I also differentiate between “peacekeepers,” “peacemakers” and “peacebuilders.”  The three categories are all essential aspects of creating peace, and build upon each other, yet they are distinct from each other, and are worthy of brief explanation.

                Peacekeepers are defined as people who are in the center of the confrontations, violence, fighting etc.  Typically these individuals do little to create lasting peace -- their mission is simply to stop the violence.  The work of the peacekeeper is generally short term, dangerous and generally reactive.

                Peacemakers are the people who assist in forging agreements to maintain “the peace.” Mediators, diplomats, and citizen activists engaged in “multi-track” (that is, not just at the upper echelons of government, education and the military) diplomacy are all examples of peacemakers.  Their intervention might take the form of creating the space for dialogue between groups or serving as election monitors and/or providing international accompaniment to local activists and/or communities whose lives have been threatened.  This work is the next step in shifting the dynamic towards a lasting peace, and requires a greater time commitment, and (hopefully) begins to rebuild a sense of trust and cooperation.

                Peacebuilders are people who work towards making lasting peace.  They are the folks who help establish the norms of a democratic civil society.  They assist by building trust and cooperation for the long term -- through fostering a strengthening culture, cooperation, and an appreciation for (or at least a tolerance of) other cultures in the society.   


Context: Why this topic?  Why me?  Why now?

                Being a part of an intercultural nonviolent peace team is what I have been dreaming about since I was a child.   Some of my personal history may provide some explanation as to why I am drawn to such a calling.  Growing up in a chaotic and occasionally violent household left a longing in me that some outside group or individual could have been present that wasn’t caught up in the chaos and violence in our house, some entity to hold out a vision of stability and peace and an alternate way to process the overwhelming feelings experienced by the “combatants” and the "bystanders."  I was looking for someone to “transform” the conflict(s) in the midst of the chaos.   So here I am at age thirty-six, returning to the calling from years past, to build paths for peacemakers to go into places of chaos and violence, and bring about peace and transformation.  

                My work in the last fifteen years provides a strong foundation to step into this new path.  As a peace and justice activist, psychotherapist, volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT), group leader for batterers, self-defense course instructor for women and girls, parent, psycho-spiritual retreat leader, war tax resister, student leader, refugee host family and mediator, I have built a broad experiential base (vocationally, emotionally and spiritually) to support the transition to intercultural peacekeeping, peacemaking and/or peacebuilding.   Additionally, returning to college at the School for International Training to complete my master’s degree provides a solid bridge to embark on this transition.   And finally, securing an internship assisting in the development of a new graduate certificate program in conflict transformation – Conflict Transformation Across Cultures or “CONTACT” at SIT, working in the field of conflict transformation, and working with experts in the Conflict Transformation field: SIT professors Dr. Paula Green and Dr. John Ungerleider provides a remarkable opportunity to begin working in my chosen vocation. 

                Participating in Dr. Green's class on Conflict Transformation, assisting in the SIT Summer Institute "Intercultural Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding" with thirty-seven peace activists from fifteen countries, and assisting with John Ungerleider's program at SIT working with Catholic and Protestant youth from Northern Ireland has provided me with multiple opportunities to learn and deepen my understanding of the dynamics of conflict transformation -- in addition to building my professional network and foundation.


 Research Methodology

                The methodology I have utilized was to complete a literature and video review and to engage in interviews with peace team activists.  The purpose of the interviews was to collect first person impressions, feedback, personal stories and insights to assist my understanding of the history of peace teams and to improve the peace team model I propose later in this paper.


Literature Compilation:

Weber, T. Gandhi’s Peace Army, The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

                Thomas Weber has done an excellent job compiling a history of peace teams, developing an analysis of each team and its action, and coming up with multiple theories as to what the problematic dynamics are that limit the success and ongoing sustainability of the peace teams attempted thus far.  Recently published, it includes a wealth of material in both an historical and contemporary context.  In this work, he does not focus much of his work and attention on where we go from here. 

Duncan, M. and Hartsough, D. "Proposal for an International Peace Force," unpublished essay, revision III, October, 1999.

                Mel Duncan and David Hartsough have drafted a well-thought-out proposal to form an International Peace Force (see Appendix).  This draft is the closest contemporary work that relates to this Capstone paper, offering a proposal to develop an International Peace Force (which is very close to the model presented later on in this paper).  This proposal will be critiqued and discussed further, later in the paper.

Mahony, L. and Eguren, E. Unarmed Bodyguards, International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights, West Hartford, Kumarian Press, 1997.

                Liam Mahony and Luis Enrique Eguren have chronicled one of the most effective and sustainable peace teams created to date: Peace Brigades International (PBI).  This book is invaluable in developing a theoretical analysis as to what PBI did well, where it went astray, and how it created a model of intercultural peace presence that has proved both effective to its mission, and viable in the long run.  What PBI did extremely well was to narrow and focus their mission (through trial and error), and create a sustainable new model of intercultural support to local peace and human rights activists through protective “accompaniment.”  In limiting their scope, they addressed one of the key hurdles of an overly broad or undefined mission experienced in other attempts at peace team creation.   PBI has broken new ground on how to create sustainable intercultural peace teams, while keeping true to their nonviolent mission, and has provided critical support to organizations, communities and individuals working for peace and social justice throughout the world. 

Lederach, J. Building Peace, Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, Washington DC, United States Institute of Peace, 1997.

                John Paul Lederach writes with persuasion about how, as a global community, “we need to move beyond ‘traditional’ diplomacy … toward a holistic approach that stresses the multiplicity of peacemakers …” This book, while not speaking directly to peace teams, offers a contemporary analysis of how to change the way the world interprets and responds to conflict, and supports both the efforts and the essentiality of non-governmental intercultural peacekeepers, peacemakers and peacebuilders. 

Sharp, G. The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973.

                Gene Sharp’s work, while quite dated, provides a remarkably comprehensive compilation of nonviolent strategies and actions which have been attempted -- some with great success and others not.  His contribution is particularly valuable because of the breadth of inquiry and analysis.  Through documenting such a vast array of nonviolent conflict transformations, he demonstrates the viability of such an approach and lays the groundwork for building new models of nonviolent intercultural peace teams.

Reconciliation International, August 1999. 

                This issue of Reconciliation International, centered the theme of peace teams, with multiple articles by a variety of authors.   This journal provides some of the most recent work that I have found on the current thinking and planning for nonviolent intercultural peace teams and provides links to individual authors and activists, which will prove an invaluable resource in my question.


Historical Findings

                In reviewing the various peace team efforts, it is my intention not to engage in a thorough analysis of each effort, but rather to focus on a short narrative of what the organization was about, what it did well and where it struggled.  The list will not be completely exhaustive, but the major efforts will be represented and bring to bear the experiences which will help to formulate a model which will ideally have an increased chance of long-term viability and success.


The Shanti Sena

            Mahatma Gandhi had for many years sustained a vision of  “... a band of workers who would devote themselves ... to the maintenance of peace among people.” (Harijan, 4 Apr. 1948).  Unfortunately, this idea of a Shanti Sena, or “Peace Army,” did not come into being during his lifetime.  Ironically, he had called together a conference to take place in January 1948 to bring “... together those engaged in constructive work to plan for future activities”  (Weber, 1996, 69), but he was assassinated just before he was to leave for the meeting.   Following his death, the conference was rescheduled for March, and over 500 people (including Jawaharlal Nehru, Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash Narayan and many other central leaders) gathered to address the questions Gandhi had raised.   It was decided at this conference to create the Shanti Sena, whose mission would be 1) to work to prevent communal tension by encouraging peace and cooperation, and 2) if violence did occur, to place themselves in the middle of the combatants to prevent or reduce the violence (Harijan).   The Shanti Sena would be different from the police or an army in that their mission would not be to repress violence, but rather to prevent and/or transform it -- and to do so nonviolently. 

            By July 1950, several Shanti Sena units had been established in different localities around India.  Thus was formed the largest nonviolent peace army in the history of the World.  The Shanti Sainiks (peace soldiers) were trained in nonviolence, peacebuilding, first aid, Gandhian thought, community work, physical fitness, meeting facilitation, and much more. 

            By 1959 there were about 1,000 sainiks -- and with Martin Luther King, Jr. in attendance, the Shanti Sena was officially inaugurated in the Indian city of Ajmer.  

            One story of the Shanti Sena's success was in 1965 when the Sena responded to the "language riots" (fighting along linguistic divisions) in the city of Gujarat.  Through training’s, patrols, rumor fighting, pamphlets, community presence and listening, the Sena was able to play a significant role in ending the rioting.  In fact, they had such a strong impact that when they felt it was time to leave, the police and the political leaders requested that they remain (Weber, 118).                           

            The Shanti Sena was at its strongest in the late 60s and early 70s. 

Despite their many successful peacekeeping and conflict-transforming missions, problems plagued the Shanti Sena from the beginning.  According to Thomas Weber, author of Gandhi's Peace Army, The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping, the primary reason for the demise of the Sena was due to the philosophical differences between Gandhi's political heir, Jayaprakash Narayan, and his spiritual heir, Vinoba Bhave.  Issues which stemmed out of the leadership divergence had to do with the amount of centralized control over the local Shanti Senas, and whether or not to work within the political system or to stay out of politics all together (Narayan wished that the Shanti Sena would use its members and influence to have a direct impact on Indian politics and Bhave felt that this directly diminished the Sena's impartial status). 

            In the Shanti Sena we have an example of an organization, which was on the one hand remarkably successful -- establishing itself, and creating structures (organizational, financial, programmatic) to facilitate the work of the Sena as well as its expansion.  But on the other hand, the Sena didn't last.  Additionally, as mentioned earlier, it was primarily focused intranationally (although there were visions of joining an international nonviolent peace army, as well as a small effort in Cyprus).  Again, my intention here is not to do an exhaustive inquiry into the Sena, but rather to take stock of its success, its limitations, and to learn what we can from its many achievements and ultimate demise.


Peace Brigades International | TOC

                In 1981, at Grindstone Island in Canada, an international group of nonviolent peace and justice activists convened to form Peace Brigades International (PBI).  The group was comprised of members from Asia, the Americas and Europe.  Their founding statement reveals much in common with the recurrent vision of an international peace team (IPT):

                        We are forming an organization with the capacity to mobilize and provide trained units of volunteers . . . in areas of high tension, to avert violent outbreaks.  ...  Peace brigades, fashioned to respond to specific needs and appeals, will undertake non-partisan missions, which may include peacemaking initiatives, peacekeeping under a discipline of nonviolence, and humanitarian service.  ...  (A) brigade may establish and monitor a cease-fire, offer mediatory services, or carry on works of reconstruction and reconciliation.  ... Those who undertake these tasks will face risks and hardships.  ...  We are building on a rich and extensive heritage of nonviolent action.  ... We are convinced that this commitment of mind, heart, and dedicated (sic) will can make a significant difference in human affairs.

            (Peace Brigades International Founding Statement, issued at Grindstone Island consultation, Ontario, Canada, 1991).

                While the founding statement was very broad, encompassing more of the "traditional" definition of peace teams, what PBI ended up doing was to refine their vision and mission and create a model for sustainable, effective, nonviolent accompaniment.  This refinement of vision and mission appears to have set the stage for their long-term success.

                PBI initially directed its efforts in Central America, which was a hotbed of both repression and international focus.  Arriving in Guatemala in 1983 without a particularly specific mandate, PBI established an office and began to provide the safety for Guatemalan activists to organize under the protective witness of international eyes.  At the time, nearly all Guatemalan activists had either been "disappeared" or were paralyzed by the reign of state terror, and nearly all human rights and civil society organizations had been quashed by the military and paramilitaries (also known as “Death Squads”).  PBI assisted in building both the political and the psychological space necessary to organize in the face of such terror.

                In 1985 two of the directors of the Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo or GAM (Mutual Support Group formed to build support for families of the “disappeared”) were assassinated in two separate incidents, along with one member's brother and infant son.  At that point it became quite clear that the international accompaniment (unarmed, international bodyguards) was a deterrent factor to violent assaults (as the murders happened to members when they were without international accompaniment, and the murders didn’t happen to members with accompaniment), and rather than disband GAM, as many were inclined to do (and indeed many left the organization), PBI agreed to provide full-time international accompaniment to the two remaining directors (Mahony, Eguren, 1997, 26).  Thus PBI shifted its focus away from the broad vision of its founding statement (which more closely resembled the vision of the Shanti Sena), and became instead very good at providing international, intercultural, nonviolent, protective accompaniment for threatened human rights activists and groups.

                This "organic" strategy of unarmed, nonviolent accompaniment (or unarmed bodyguards) became the hallmark of PBI, which, since its formation in Guatemala, has operated projects in Sri Lanka, Haiti, Colombia, the United States, El Salvador and East Timor.  Their vision -- born of nonviolent conflict transformation, and further refined in the field -- creating a model of nonviolent, international protective accompaniment in support of human rights and civil society.  PBI has developed a model for something new, and has done a very good job documenting its effectiveness in the book Unarmed Bodyguards, International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights by Liam Mahony and Luis Enrique Eguren.  Through the process of having a clear, defined mission, PBI has been especially successful at creating an effective and sustainable nonviolent intercultural peace team.  PBI's work has not been without risks and setbacks; however, they have done something extraordinary -- opening the door for other groups to follow, expand, refine and improve the PBI model.  Central beliefs to PBI's work have been the principles of non-partisanship; nonviolence; independence; and non-interference.   They have found a way to say, "We will be at your side in the face of injustice and suffering, but we will not take sides against those you define as enemies"  (Mahony, Eguren, 236).   Their commitment to nonviolence has been unequivocal.  PBI also recognized that to remain credible, they needed to remain independent of governmental associations.  And their policy of non-interference stems from the goal to simply create the space for the local people to do the work they need to do -- and to resist the temptation to become "experts" and "advisors" and thus perpetuate an unequal relationship between the local activists and their international supporters.  Having such well-defined limits and a clearly articulated mission has greatly assisted in the long-term viability of PBI. 

                Problematic areas that PBI has encountered center mainly on securing adequate funding and volunteers (capacity building).  Some of the factors which, while understandable and in many ways essential, that limit PBI’s ability to expand are: the minimum age of 25 for volunteers; a general requirement that volunteers be fluent in the local language; and the lack of sufficient resources to financially compensate volunteers. 

                PBI is also struggling with global issues of racism (white skinned volunteers are often thought to be more effective deterrents than volunteers of color) but to submit to such a strategy (even when it originates from local activists) perpetuates a global racism, which is contrary to PBI's values.  This dynamic is one that any peace team would be wise to consider and address explicitly. 

                PBI is one of the oldest and most effective examples of a nonviolent, international, intercultural presence to deter violence and promote peace.  They have done a remarkable job staying focused, thinking strategically, addressing race dynamics both internally and externally, keeping if not adequately at least minimally funded, and building the space for people to rise out of fear and into constructive action for social change. 


Witness for Peace

                Witness For Peace (WFP) was founded in 1983 “by clergy and lay people outraged by the Reagan Administration's policy of  ‘low intensity warfare’ directed toward Nicaragua's civilian population.”   (, 12/26/99).  

                WFP’s initial action was in placing volunteer “witnesses” (also described as “accompaniers”) in villages in Nicaragua along the Honduras border.  Nicaraguan Counterrevolutionaries (Contras), based in Honduras, were bombing the Nicaraguan border towns. 

                WFP activists believed that the contras (largely funded with U.S. dollars) would be averse to killing U.S. nationals, and thus began a 17-year presence in Nicaragua, which is still active today.

                In addition to providing a “human shield,” WPF was especially successful in organizing delegations to come to Nicaragua for two weeks, see the U.S.-funded war firsthand, see and feel the pain of the war, and return home to both educate and organize -- through slide shows, informational meetings, letter-writing campaigns, congressional visits, letters to the editor and the like.  Over 1,000 delegates went to Nicaragua from 1983 to 1985.  Thus WFP expanded its mission to include more than accompaniment.  They became peacebuilders in addition to peacekeepers and peacemakers.

                Almost as old as PBI, WFP shares PBI’s roots in Central America, as well as its commitment to nonviolence, political independence, and facing the threat of violence directly.  Said one WFP volunteer, "We held candles.  We were always surrounded by Nicaraguans.  There was a sense of solidarity, of standing up to an immense power that was wrong.  And you did it by love, not shaking a fist.  It was a message of love"  (Griffin-Nolan, 1991, 73).

                As the U.S. had recently invaded Grenada (in October, 1983), another hope for WFP was to keep the U.S. army out of Nicaragua.  (There was widespread fear that Regan would use the U.S. military to intervene in Nicaragua).  While it is difficult to prove the likelihood of invasion (or that a WFP presence had a deterrent effect), it is clear that the WFP delegates made the Nicaraguans feel safer.  Sixto Ulloa, a Nicaraguan Baptist leader, was convinced that “Witness For Peace . . . made the counterrevolution move away [from the areas where WFP had a presence]”  (Griffin-Nolan, 74).

                While inclusive of all religious faiths, WFP has a strong history of Christian orientation.  In Nicaragua, this may have been a useful bridge between U.S. Americans and the people of Nicaragua, who are primarily Christian.  However, in an attempt to have a greater impact for coalition building, recruitment and financial support in the U.S., WFP felt that decreasing the strong Christian specific association would be a wise direction (Griffin-Nolan, 60).

                WFP has experience in both interpositioning (as on the Nicaraguan border) and in accompaniment (as in with returning refugees to Guatemala), and has established itself as a solid leader in the emergence of nonviolent peace team NGOs in the past two decades.  As the violence in Nicaragua and Guatemala subsided, WPF has transitioned itself into less of a peacekeeping organization to more of a peacebuilding one: broadening its work to other countries (Mexico and Haiti); expanding its mission by focusing on related issues like poverty, U.S. foreign policy, and the declassification of human rights and related documents; and publishing reports, including their most recent, A Crude Awakening: The World Bank, US policy and Oil in Guatemala. 

                WFP has established itself as a strong nonviolent NGO in the Americas, and while it has its roots in IPTs, it has broadened its original mission to focus on a multiplicity of issues and campaigns, moving away from peace team work per se, and into areas of peacebuilding and more general social justice and social change efforts.   


Christian Peacemaker Teams

                “In 1984, Ron Snider gave the keynote address at Mennonite World Conference, calling for the Christians of the world to band together and form a Christian peacemaking army that would intervene nonviolently in situations of conflict” (Moser-Puangsuwan, Weber, 2000, 175).  Using WFP as an example, the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) was founded in 1986. 

                Sending volunteers to Haiti, Iraq, Los Angeles, Canada, Hebron, Israel, and Washington, D.C., the CPT has created another model for nonviolent peace teams and peace activism.  The CPT is unique in that it is clearly aligned with a specific religious orientation.   Self-described as "an organization committed to ‘Getting in the Way’ -- challenging systems of domination and exploitation as Jesus Christ did in the first century" (CPT web site,, 12/26/99), the CPT provides a vehicle for radical Christians to come together under their common faith to build and promote peace.  

                A short success story of the CPT occurred in Hebron in a volatile area between Jewish settlers and local Palestinians.  Palestinians who lived in the border areas were unable to obtain municipal water because the town was afraid of sending trucks too close to the settlements because of violence (usually in the form of rocks to windshields).  When the CPT agreed to accompany the water trucks, the town was willing to send the water trucks.  However, there followed a confrontation between the CPT volunteers and Israeli soldiers, which ended up with the arrests of some of the CPT volunteers.  This proved beneficial, because the international press brought the problem of the water shortages in Hebron to the attention of both the Israeli citizens, and the rest of the world, and local families were supplied with water. (Moser-Puangsuwan, Weber, 00).

                While CPT has established itself as a viable, effective and sustainable nonviolent peace team, I believe that an effective global model of peace teams must be multi-denominational.  I do think that there is a place for the CPT and other peace teams defined by a specific faith; however, I don't think a faith-specific organization can have the large-scale impact that a trans-denominational organization could have.  Of course the broader it gets, the broader the organizational challenges; that will be discussed more later.

The Gulf Peace Team

                The Gulf Peace Team (GPT) was an idea that occurred to many different people from many different nations in response to the imminent threat of war in 1990 in the Persian Gulf.  In October of 1990, Pat Arrowsmith gathered together a group of people in England to see what kind of support there was for this bold idea (Moser-Puangsuwan, Weber, 00).

                What followed was sort of a grand patchwork quilt of 73 peace activists from 15 countries converging in Baghdad and creating an encampment on the Iraqi/Kuwait border (on the Iraqi side), with initial Iraqi governmental permission and minimal support.  However, the GPT was not particularly successful in accomplishing their initial vision.  Because the GPT was so interwoven with a complexity of problems -- it is admirable that they survived as long as they did.  There was the lack of a clearly articulated strategy; minimal organizational support; inconsistent or no required training or selection processes; and no common language. 

                According to Mary Ellen Britt, U.S. Coordinator of the Gulf Peace Teams, what the GPT ended up being was a handful of activists who felt the need to place themselves on the border between the warring sides.  Courageous, admirable and committed, these activists were ready to die to promote peace -- but they were not truly effective at having a dramatic impact on the war. 

                I am impressed with the action of the GPT, and I think we have much to learn from their efforts.  That such a diverse group of people managed to get themselves to Iraq, and secure an appropriate site upon which to form the peace camp, is commendable.  However, according to Robert J. Burrowes, a GPT volunteer and author of “The Persian Gulf War and the Gulf Peace Team, (Moser-Puangsuwan, Y and Weber, T), a significant amount of energy went into internal processing, attempting to develop an effective group "culture," and into some individuals who had special psychological needs, as well as into such essential issues as securing adequate food and water.  The GPT is remarkable because considering the almost impossibly stressful conditions that they were under (living in a war zone, 73 individuals from 15 countries, no common language, not enough food, not a clear mission, volunteers with special psychological needs, no ability to communicate with families or home countries), their dedication to their collective vision of stopping the war held strong until they were evacuated by the Iraqi Government about a month after their arrival.

                In the GPT there exists a recent example of the kind of courageous commitment that would do well channeled into a more organized peace team.  In the GPT there was devotion and dedication, but ineffective planning, structural support and organizational cohesion.  The GPT was a reactive response to the war.  Had an International Peace Team been established previous to the Gulf War, it is conceivable that many of the obstacles encountered by the GPT would been negligible, with structures and support systems in place, and that the probability of their having a greater impact would have been significantly enhanced. 


Summary of the Historical Findings

                In the examples of the Shanti Sena, PBI, WFP, CPT and the GPT, there is a common thread of a grand vision of some kind of large-scale brigade (force, army, etc.), which can move to areas of actual or impending conflict and transform the conflict through interpositioning themselves between the combatants, while simultaneously supporting local peace efforts.  This initial dream is a monumental one, deeply visionary, requiring great courage and organization.  Despite a common thread of a vision, these organizations have not been able to build the breadth and depth of their initial vision.  This is the question I hope to address in the next part of this paper.   We should, however, be careful not to judge the efforts as “failures” because of the very important work that these groups have achieved, and continue to achieve, in saving lives, promoting peace and justice, and modeling different paths of third-party peace intervention.  But we can learn much from their shortcomings and their achievements, as we contemplate building something very similar to the imaginations of these early visionaries.

Proposed Model for a Sustainable Intercultural Nonviolent Peace Team

Envisioning New Paths To Peace For A New Millennium: An Experiment In International Peace Promotion and Intervention

                As a planet, we are reaching our carrying capacity in our ability to sustain the increased environmental destruction caused by war.  As our ability to build increasingly effective and destructive weaponry expands, so does our ability to cause increased environmental damage.  In centuries past, the consequences of war were much more limited.  Now those same consequences threaten our ability to continue to survive at an entirely new level.

                It is time to come to terms with the spiritual, economic and environmental folly in spending so much money on weapons, violence and war.   It is time to build new models to transform conflicts and to promote cooperation and understanding throughout the world. 

                In this section I am interested in developing the little known and little used idea of the peace team as a path to building a new model of conflict transformation. 

                From the earlier parts of this paper, we know that the peace team concept isn’t especially new -- but as a tool for large-scale, international conflict transformation, the vision has not been achieved.  Despite many noble, useful, and effective (though "scaled down") creations, the world has yet to build a large-scale, sustainable, effective nonviolent intercultural peace team.

                This is a very exciting time, rich with possibilities.  As we stand at the edge of the new millennium we have the opportunity to build upon the various nonviolent, social change strategies developed and promoted during the last fifty years -- working for peace, working for justice, adhering to nonviolence in all contexts, and demonstrating new possibilities for successful coexistence.  This model comes from my own thinking and imagining over the last fifteen years -- although more fully developed in the last 18 months while pursuing my degree at SIT.  This model was developed prior to finding the model being proposed in the “International Peace Force” (see next section and appendix), although the two models are quite similar.  The model of the International Peace Team (IPT) has been influenced and enhanced through my research and interviews conducted over the last 18 months -- however, the basic framework has been relatively consistent.  Some of the changes in my vision of the IPT try to reflect what I have learned about peace teams -- building on the successes and avoiding the mistakes and errors of previous attempts.

                Organizational Structure: The International Peace Team (IPT) would need to be independent of any government, with the one possible exception of the United Nations, or other group of nations (e.g. the Organization for African Unity).  The obvious reason for this would be to sustain and maintain political autonomy from any particular nation state. 

                In all of the work of the IPT, nonviolence shall be a cornerstone practice.  The IPT Central Committee would need to be intercultural, international, and inclusive of diverse representation (gender, age, culture, north/south), and would be the governing body of the IPT.  The Central Committee would need to be constantly alert and sensitive to issues of structural, financial, cultural and racial domination within the IPT. 

                Mission:  The IPT is formed to promote new methods of conflict transformation, conflict de-escalation and conflict deterrence in both inter- and intranational conflicts.  The IPT will strive to aid and assist local peacemakers in transforming their own conflicts, and will need to recognize the essential inherent value of the local peacemakers -- both for short- and long-term peace promotion.  The IPT will do this work by sending unarmed volunteers into volatile areas.  The specific mission well be well-defined prior to entering into a volatile area and will include local peace groups’ support, involvement and leadership.  The Peace Team has the primary mission of sending well-organized, well-trained, well-supplied and well-supported peace teams into conflict areas, war zones and other tense areas to transform the conflicts and build peace -- from the very center of the conflict.  

                Preparation: Prior to leaving for service, the IPT shall: have established themselves as a cohesive unit; have had extensive nonviolence training; have clearly defined roles; and have a clearly defined mandate for the particular conflict that they will be entering.  Mandates may include peacekeeping, peacemaking and/or peacebuilding.  Specifically, the peace teams may provide: pre-conflict deployment to minimize the possibility of an outbreak of violence; mid-conflict interpositioning; support of local peace and justice activists; diplomacy; mediation; communication; providing "international witness " to both deter and to document atrocities; and peace and nonviolence training when invited and appropriate.  The IPT might also provide post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation.  The IPT will strive to provide both encouragement for de-escalation as well as to provide human deterrents to war and violence.       

                Goals: The initial foundational belief (as yet only sparsely tested -- see earlier section on PBI and WFP) is that an intercultural international peace team response unarmed and in the middle of areas of conflict, will have a de-escalating effect on the combatants.  The underlying belief that deterrence would be effective is based on the assumption that most warring entities, however irrational their behaviors may appear, are strategic enough to recognize that if they start killing internationals, the international response will increase exponentially.  Thus the peace team shall aim to provide both a calming and a deterring effect on the combatants, and an encouraging and supportive effect on the local nonviolent and peace efforts.

                Organizational Ownership: The International Peace Team shall be a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with a board of directors representing the diversity of leadership necessary to be clearly unaligned with any particular ideology, religion, class, nation-state, continent, language, race or ethnicity.  The common language of the IPT would be English.

                Management Team: The management team shall be comprised of several different individuals from several different nationalities with extensive skills and competencies.  The management team shall strive to model the Peace Team concept in the world -- demonstrating how a group of international, intercultural, inter-ethnic, multi-gender, inter-religious, multiracial and economically diverse people can find ways to achieve relative harmony working and living together.   The IPT will need to have excellent skills on multiple levels, such as strategic planning, public relations, leadership, fundraising, crisis intervention, finance, nonviolence, group dynamics, communication, intercultural understanding and sensitivity, flexibility, languages, technical and logistical details.

                Volunteers and Organizational Structure: Volunteers would commit to two years of full-time service.  Initially the volunteers would need to commit to a four-month intensive training program: three months to learn basic skills, and an additional month to learn specific skills (communications, logistics, emergency medicine, etc.).  In the first three-month training the volunteers would learn skills in nonviolence, group dynamics, conflict theories, and interdependence and would practice simulations of how to function well in high-stress, war-like environments.  They would learn how to respond to a multitude of situations and challenges.  They would find ways to internalize nonviolence, and experience and practice effective group interdependence and cooperation.  All volunteers would need to have fluency in English and be at least 21 years of age.

                Recognizing that the structure will need to be fluid, but offering a template from which to work from, I propose the following model: Volunteers would be organized into 10-person intercultural “front-line” groups.  Each group would have: two co-leaders; two members skilled in technology and communications; two skilled in logistics, finance and transportation; two skilled in attending to the survival needs of the team (food and shelter, hygiene and emergency medicine); and two others who would have different skills and "float" as needed.  Role selections would be designated/chosen during the training process.  At least four members of each team would speak the local language, and all would be skilled in group dynamics and internal conflict transformation processes.  Each group would be guided and directed by their two co-leaders, and both the co-leaders and the group itself would be attentive to traditional power dynamics of race, gender, people with more traditional education, people from affluent countries, age issues, etc., and would be organized to distribute power in an equitable fashion.  Of the two co-leaders, one would focus primarily on internal leadership and one on external leadership.

                Each group would develop a very strong degree of trust and internal cohesion, while remaining flexible enough to have individual members leave and enter the group as needed.  Norms would need to be established that all group members felt comfortable with (e.g., punctuality, level of direct expression of feelings, interpersonal conflict strategies, etc.).  Agreed upon processes for resolving internal conflicts would need to be well developed and well practiced.

                At the next level up, would be another group of 10 members.  These mid-level groups would be comprised of the external co-leaders from 10 front-line groups.  The purpose of this mid-level organization layer would be to achieve communication (horizontally and vertically) and coordination within the IPT.  Among this mid-level group of 10, there would be two designated co-coordinators, selected by the 10 mid-level group members.

                If there were more than 100 people deployed to a given situation, then the organizational structure could keep going up a level.  For example, if there were 1000 people, there would be 100 front-line groups each with 10 members, and for each 10 groups there would be a mid- level group of 10, and above that, another group of 10 representatives of each of the mid-level groups.  This would provide for effective communication from each volunteer to the central group as appropriate.                  This entire structure in many ways resembles a military model -- e.g. strong discipline, tight organization, clear roles and protocols for decision-making and internal processes.  However, it is different from a military model in many important ways.    Nonviolence, of course, will be both a central value and practice -- but other values would be stressed, including a stronger investment in group harmony, some degree of democratic decision-making, and a diminishment of the polarization between the designated leaders and the regular volunteers.

                Tasks and Decision Making: The in-country Coordinating Committee in a given conflict situation would have direct representation from the mid-level groups, direct connection with, and representation from, local peace organizations, and also have direct access with the IPT headquarters, providing information exchange, support-needs identification, public education, etc.

                Both the difficulty and the importance of effective intercultural communication issues cannot be underestimated.  Creating such an organization within a culture would be a tremendous challenge -- and trying to do this in an intercultural environment is an enormous undertaking.  Prior to deployment, the IPT would have had extensive communication with the local peace and justice organizations, to identify the needs articulated and mechanisms for IPT support, and would have developed a clear mandate for what the IPT aimed to accomplish. 

                The relationship with the local peace organizations would be clear, and the goals of the mission would be transparent, quantifiable, and understood by all.  The actual work of the IPT would vary greatly from situation to situation, but would always be consistent with the mission.


                Let me experiment with a hypothetical case study.   In this example, I will explore how the IPT could be useful in a "vertical" conflict (where there is an aggressor and, by most international perspectives, a "victim").  I wish to use the current conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  As I am only minimally knowledgeable about this conflict, I shall make many assumptions in order to experiment with the peace team intervention idea -- and I hope my assumptions are neither too indicative of my ignorance, nor too unconsciously racist, imperialistic or ethnocentric.  Let us also assume, for demonstration sake, that the conflict has dramatically escalated.

                As mentioned above, I see this conflict as a vertical one.  The geographically larger, more populous, better resourced and more armed country of Ethiopia is demonstrating aggression towards Eritrea and is the provocateur of the conflict.   I believe that Ethiopia would have a different description -- but it appears that the general international consensus supports the gist of my assumptions.

                If (for the moment anyway) we accept my assumptions, then we can consider the question of how an international peace team might effectively prevent and/or deter violence, war and aggression in this conflict. 

                In cooperation with, and support of, the local nonviolent peace and justice activists, and in this case with at least the tacit support of the Eritrean Government (by virtue of allowing the IPT volunteers into the country), what if we were able to organize, fund and train 1,000 people into 100 different teams?   What if we send 1,000 IPT volunteers to Eritrea and place them along the boarder in small groups, in strategic places -- areas that Ethiopia has been previously bombing?   What would happen?  

                Having the consent of the Eritrean Government would be very complicated.  It would on the one hand be immensely useful, but clearly would destroy, or at least significantly diminish any possibility of nonpartisan status.  But if this is a vertical conflict, and that is part of our analysis, than perhaps this is a logical consequence anyway.   Certainly it is a dilemma worthy of thoughtful consideration, a dilemma that becomes further complicated if the Eritrean Government was bent on a military solution themselves.

                At any rate, we now have 1000 volunteers in Eritrea, with the goal of making themselves human shields in designated villages, bridges, airports or other targeted areas.  Well-trained, well equipped, well organized, and well funded -- what would happen next?

                The IPT Central Committee would have notified Ethiopia of the arrival of the Peace Teams, and would have predetermined the location of each team and have shared those locations with the Ethiopian Government.  Ethiopia would then have a strategic and moral dilemma.  They would likely be furious at the IPT for intervening in the conflict which heretofore had little international attention and which now would hopefully have significantly increased attention (reflecting the IPT’s media and Internet sophistication).  But would they change their military strategy?  Would they choose to bomb anyway and kill some of the internationals?  Ignore their presence entirely?   Back up and regroup?  This is a central question for those of us placing hope in the IPT being an effective peacekeeper and conflict transformer. Additionally, even if the IPT stopped the immediate violence, how will the IPT support long-term peacebuilding?

                The probability of some of the volunteers being killed is high, either by mistake or by intention.  This then must be a cause for which the volunteers are prepared to die.  But we must remember the track record of previous attempts, and look critically at the data that exists, to see if the assumptions of deterrence and de-escalation and (relative) safety are correct.

                I have a belief, buttressed by the work of previous peace teams, that there are sufficient numbers of people who are prepared to take such risks to promote peace.  As part of an orchestrated intercultural coalition I would be willing to take such risks.  But these risks would certainly bring up recruitment and retention issues. 

                Large questions remain to be addressed: How to interface with the local peace organizations both Eritrean and Ethiopian and how to relate to the Governments?  In the Gulf Peace Team action (though not identified as a vertical conflict by the peace team) they refused to be formally allied with Iraq (which Iraq had wanted) although they did receive Iraqi support.  They were ignored by Saudi Arabia, despite a desire to establish a peace camp on the Saudi side as well.  This dilemma appears to be a delicate tightrope to walk, especially in horizontal conflicts (horizontal meaning conflicts where each side has relative equal power).                   What about the cultural issues?  What would it mean to have an outside group intervene in a context where few people had much awareness of the cultural or the deeper implications of the conflict?   Certainly part of the pre-deployment training would include a significant training on the culture(s) that will be encountered.  (This is something the UN doesn’t currently do for its peacekeepers!).  Is this cultural imperialism?  Perhaps in this case if the Eritrean Peace Movement invited the Peace Team members (or the Eritrean Government) it would be less complicated ... but what if there was no invitation?  Would an international intervention be appropriate?   What if the conflict was a horizontal one? 

                I believe that a nonviolent intervention, as opposed to an armed intervention (using the threat of force as its primary authority) would be a better choice -- largely because of my own belief and commitment to nonviolence, but also because I believe it would build a more lasting peace.  When people stop fighting because someone with a larger weapon or larger numbers is telling them to stop, it is paternalistic and coercive.  If people stop because they have been persuaded to stop, (perhaps still being  “coerced” but using a very different type of coercion), I think their impetus to stop will be more solid, not necessarily a personal transformation, but at least compelled by a depth of analysis which goes deeper than through armed “persuasion.”  I also believe a nonviolent response will be cheaper -- both in loss of life and in dollars.  Lastly, modeling nonviolence as a method to resolve and transform conflicts leaves a demonstration of something newer and more positive, whereas a military intervention leaves an impression that the biggest, strongest and most armed entity always prevails.

                In the case study described above, having an international nonviolent intervention would have a significant effect.  Ethiopia would have a much more difficult time waging this war if the eyes of the world were watching (and thus enduring the subsequent political consequences).   And if Ethiopia started killing Brazilians, Australians, Indians, Japanese and U.S. Americans, the global reaction would be much more dramatic (although based in part, on the racism of the world, which raises more moral questions...).   The costs for such an intervention would be not so expensive.   The largest cost would be the possible/probable loss of lives, and the training, travel and logistical support, which would be dramatically small compared to a military intervention.  Am I correct in my assessment?  Could we recruit volunteers to such an endeavor?  Would anyone fund this kind of operation?   There are so many questions -- yet such a strong pull to explore, create and innovate.

                Clearly there is much for me to learn about the peace team concept and movement.  What parts of my dreams are overly Western or problematically racist and patronizing?  Is it reasonable to think that enough people would volunteer to put their lives on the line? 


Analysis of a Proposal in Process:

The International Peace (and how it relates to The International Peace Team)

                The International Peace Force (IPF) is a bold, timely, exciting and thrilling proposal that is in its developmental infancy.  At the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace Conference, peace activists came together to discuss this idea, and to see what was possible. 

                To provide a deeper context for this section, it may be valuable for the reader to review the IPF proposal (see Appendix).

                My analysis has at this time been limited to reading the initial IPF proposal document (see appendix), several e-mail and telephone exchanges with the co-authors, and several e-mail exchanges with one of the researchers.  Overall, the vision I have articulated in the form of the IPT and the vision of the IPF are remarkably similar -- summarized as an international, unarmed, nonviolent group of peace force volunteers, who, in support of the local peace and nonviolent efforts, go to conflicted areas of the world to assist in preventing and/or transforming the violence and/or rebuilding and healing the divisions  (Hartsough/Duncan, unpublished essay, 1999).

                The biggest area of possible difference between the two models is whether or not the teams will be intercultural.  In my thinking, this is central to the vision.  For the IPF proposal, the authors have received significant feedback that it would be too much to attempt to build intercultural teams, and are considering a model that more closely resembles an international military force -- with separate divisions divided by country lines.  The concern is that intercultural teams would become too drained by intercultural issues, be less effective and less able to be focused on the job at hand, and possibly that the intercultural nature would potentially sabotage the mission. 

                While I understand the rationale for wanting monoculture teams, it saddens me greatly and feels as though it would be a tragic compromise.  I believe the IPF should exemplify intercultural peace and cooperation.  Most of the violent conflicts of the last decade have been along cultural lines.  If the IPF can demonstrate effective interdependence and cooperation within its peace teams, I believe it will be in a better position to encourage cultural pluralism and cooperation.  If the IPF teams are monocultural, then I see the message being conveyed is "interculturalism is too hard for us -- but we expect you to be able to figure it out with our help."  This is somewhat like the saying, "Those who can't do, teach."  Clearly this is a tremendous concern of mine.  I hope I shall be able to contribute to this discussion in the IPF proposal prior to its resolution.       

                In PBI (as in countless other NGOs), we have examples of effective intercultural peace teams.  I believe the IPF could replicate this example as well.  This would necessitate a lengthier training to address intercultural issues, but I believe this would be a worthwhile effort.

                Another major concern I have with the IPF (which they themselves share as well) is that of U.S. American and/or Euro/American domination.  Currently the two co-authors are both U.S. White males.  Additionally, the majority of those currently quoted in support of the IPF idea are from Europe or the U.S. 

                I believe that in order to insure global authority and lasting impact, we must make the IPF truly international, developing significantly increased involvement from the Global South, as authors, as part of the "Initiating Group" and in all stages of leadership and development.  This is imperative and I suggest that this happen in the very near future.

                The IPF is moving forward with surprising speed.  I think that attention to forming a structure (even a temporary one) needs immediate attention.  The vaguely defined Initiating Group needs to be both defined and developed as soon as possible.  And, while sustaining the momentum generated thus far, significant responsibility for leadership should be transferred, or at least shared, with this Initiating Group within the very near future -- ideally by July 2000.

                I would also suggest the immediate formation of an Internet listserv for any and all who wish to participate in a dialogue about the IPF idea, so that anyone with Internet access can join in on the discussions.  This would harness appropriate technology, require no financial commitment, provide a global forum to create, debate, ponder and vision, and require minimal staff time.  I would also suggest forming a second listserv, with members selected by invitation -- to facilitate a dialogue of increased depth and focus. 

                Additionally, I believe that an exploratory conference needs to be planned to bring together the hearts and minds of the peace team activists in the world to take this proposal to a deeper level.  I would have two primary goals for this conference: 1) to shift the "ownership" early on to a more truly international level and 2) to bring the collective wisdom of IPT activists together.  This may require two conferences -- an initial conference to follow up on the Hague Appeal for Peace preliminary meetings and begin to develop a collective vision, and then a follow-up conference to share thinking, research, and to formulate the IPF.  I think that this first conference should be planned within the month, and occur within one year.  I believe the conference should be held in the Global South.

                Special attention needs to be placed on long-term thinking for the IPF.  How can an organization be built that will have adequate funding, effective long-term leadership, and breadth and depth of vision?  What structures can be built that will endure the inevitable internal (many of which will probably be intercultural) conflicts?  How will the vision be defined and refined to keep it relevant, focused, achievable, and compelling?  What role might the UN play in the IPF? 

                The vision contained in the IPF Proposal is remarkably well thought out, well defined, and comprehensive.  It is (with the exceptions noted above), attentive to cultural sensitivity, profoundly visionary, grounded in reality and full of possibility and inspiration. 


Conclusion and Future Research | TOC


                Is it just an accident that as we cross into this next global era, that this increase in movement for an International Peace Force is happening?  I would like to think not.  I would also like to think that it is not an accident that I have chosen this time in my life to return to the calling of years past.  We shall see. 

                Using Kosovo as an example of what "we could have done" had the IPF been in existence a mere five years ago, the IPF becomes increasingly compelling.  Think of what we could have done to prevent the tragic structural, physical and spiritual damage; the tremendous loss of life; the huge sums of money spent on the air war; the huge sums of money spent on reconstruction; and the dramatically increased animosity between the Serbs and the Kosovars?  All of which will take years, if not decades to heal.

                Analyzing Kosovo and other recent conflicts and the potential application of peace teams, is a critical next step.   Where and how might peace teams have made a positive impact?  And where might they make a positive impact in the future? 

                Given the solid foothold the nonviolence movement has achieved in the last fifty years, and the recent experiments in peace teams around the world, I believe the time is ripe for the establishment of an International Peace Team (IPT).  We must be very mindful to build something strong, solid, inclusive, effective and sustainable. 

                Certainly there is much hope for the future of IPTs.  With decades of experience in both nonviolence and international third-party interventions, and with the development of the Internet to keep our global community more easily linked, I believe the time is rich with potential for the future of peace teams.  Through the experiments over the last fifty years we have learned much about the essential nature with regards to involving local peace and justice activists and organizations -- and of the unconscious cultural arrogance international activists can easily slide into. 

                We have also experienced many concrete successful examples using nonviolence as a tool for large-scale social change (e.g., in India and in the U.S.  Civil Rights Movement), of the empirical confirmation of an international presence as a deterrent to violence (e.g., PBI and WFP), and of an increased capacity for national forgiveness and reconciliation (e.g., in South Africa).  There is a lot of reason to be optimistic that the world is ready to undergo a paradigm shift in how we respond to, and change, violent conflicts. 

                Clearly many, many questions remain.  Creating sustainable and effective nonviolent intercultural peace teams is such a radical idea that it needs one part stubborn idealistic faith and one part pragmatic realism in order to succeed.  Where exactly will we find the millions of dollars necessary to fund this kind of peace work?  The total amount required would be more than the combined budgets of the world's peace and justice groups, although considerably less than many individual humanitarian and relief organizations, and monstrously less than the world spends on war (in any given day).  Will the teams be able to be intercultural?  This is a very significant question and worthy of much more research.  Can we use current examples of violent situations and extrapolate how a peace team might positively impact the situation?  How would we establish structures that adequately address the power differentials in the world?  How would we recruit volunteers?  What kind of training would we need to implement?  Has humanity really risen to a new capacity for conflict transformation?  Will the increase in technology really make a substantive difference?  Will we continue to be able to recruit volunteers if volunteers become victims of violence themselves?  These are just some of the questions that warrant future investigation and contemplation. 

                But it is time to move beyond the antiquated notion that killing people who are killing people, shows that killing people is wrong.  As Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind."  Let us work together to expand this vision.


Griffin-Nolan, E.  Witness for Peace: A story of Resistance, Louisville, John Knox Press, 1991.

Duncan, M. and Hartsough, D. "Proposal for an International Peace Force," unpublished essay, revision III, October, 1999.

Harijan, 4 April 1948.

Kooke, A, “The Courage to Create Peace,” Reconciliation International, August 1999. 

Lederach, J. Building Peace, Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, Washington DC, United States Institute of Peace, 1997.

McManus, P, “Peace Teams: Challenging Violence, Building Bridges,” Reconciliation International, August 1999.

Mahony, L. and Eguren, E. Unarmed Bodyguards, International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights,

West Hartford, Kumarian Press, 1997.

Moser-Puangsuwan, Y and Weber, T, editors.  Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision, University of Hawaii Press, 2000.

Sharp, G. The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973. 

Weber, T. Gandhi’s Peace Army, The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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