Report of the Office and Executive Committee to the International Assembly (Conference) on Activities in the years 2010–2014
In this report, we present the work that War Resisters' International has been involved in since the international conference in January 2010 in India, and the challenges WRI faces. It describes the staffed programmes, the work in the regions and the work of the WRI bodies – executive and council. Last but not least, it deals with WRI’s finances – an issue of continued concern and worry.
In the middle of the preparations for this year’s international conference in Cape Town, WRI chair Howard Clark unexpectedly passed away in November 2013. It was a shock and cause for distress for all his colleagues and friends, and the preparations for the conference have been overshadowed by his death. We are missing him, and will pay tribute to him and his service to WRI in Cape Town.
The last four years have seen new challenges to peace and few developments that are cause for hope. As usual, the list of the first is longer than the second. The popular uprisings in North Africa while being an amazing expression of people power led to a few regime changes but also to new violence and new oppression – Libya, Egypt and the full-out war in Syria need to be mentioned here. The big international wars – camouflaged as “military interventions” – have changed at least in a superficial way their character. While there were two new such “interventions”, by France, on the African continent in Mali and Central African Republic, the larger number of international troops are being withdrawn this year from Afghanistan, and generally it seems that the big powers are reconsidering their strategy and prefer now to arm and train local forces rather than sending troops of their own. The “war on terror” with its use of drones for targeted killing of civilians continues, the use of torture is (according to a recent report by Amnesty International) on the rise on a world-wide scale, and climate change, economic crises and scarcity of resources add to a rather bleak outlook for the next decades. The recent crisis in Ukraine has had an impact which is still difficult to estimate on the relations between the US, Europa and Russia – many people fear a resumption of the East-West conflict, with a new arms race and a new Cold war in this part of the world. And also in Korea it seemed for a while that conflict in this remnant of the period of the bloc confrontation was renewed.
In many parts of the world, the struggle for the right of conscientious objection has continued unabated – Latin America and South Korea are regions/countries where WRI affiliated groups have continued their work in this field, but unfortunately without major breakthroughs. A related, new, emerging topic for WRI has been Countering the Militarisation of Youth (with the unwieldy acronym CMOY). An international conference held in Germany in 2011 brought together (mostly European) groups to compare how governments are seeking to attract youth to join their professional armies, often starting with propaganda targeted at young children.
The work of the WRI office on the Nonviolence Programme has progressed well over the past four years with several trainings for trainers taking place in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. The 'Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns' has been translated by affiliates to a number of languages, and a second, revised edition is being released this July.
Affiliates of WRI are continuing to work in their various contexts and issues. The struggle against violence and war today takes many forms – from fighting extractive industries in India or Columbia over protesting new military bases as in South Korea or India or Germany, struggling against oppressive regimes like in West Papua or Egypt, work for CO like in Israel or Eritrea, protesting NATO and the war on terror like in Belgium or the USA, to work on nonviolence, dealing with the past and peacebuilding like in South Sudan, Macedonia or South Africa. There has been no common or joint campaign uniting many WRI affiliates in the last years, but there is certainly a growing awareness of the interdependency and the linkages between the different struggles world-wide. WRI is proud to serve as one vehicle to fill such linkages and connections between people and movements with life.
2. Nonviolence Programme
Staff: Javier Gárate
The last four years have been a time of development and consolidation for the Nonviolence Programme. The two main areas – nonviolence resources and war profiteering – have continued to be shaped by needs expressed by the WRI network. Financially, the programme has not been able to transform its programmatic success in financial sustainability. This remains the biggest challenge for the continuation of the programme.
2. 1 Nonviolence resources
The work on nonviolence resources continues to centre on providing nonviolence training and sharing of resources on nonviolence, mostly through the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns.
Since the last quadrennial report, the main development regarding the programme work on training has been a clearer focus on the role and contribution that WRI can provide when it comes to training. This is to create the space and condition for trainers to meet and exchange their practices, learn from and support each other, and come up with new tools for training that work in different contexts.
2.2 Regional training exchanges
The main form such trainings have taken are through regional trainers gatherings. Since 2010 there have been regional trainers meetings organised by WRI in Africa, Europe and Latin America. In August 2012 - and as part of the build up to the 'Small Actions Big Movements: The Continuum of Nonviolence' international conference - WRI helped to organise an African nonviolence trainers exchange, which was hosted by The Ceasefire Campaign in Johannesburg, South Africa. The exchange brought together trainers in nonviolence and peacebuilding from more than twenty countries in the region. A direct outcome of the meeting was the founding of the African Nonviolence & Peacebuilding Network.
For many years WRI and Belgian affiliate Vredesactie had talked of having a European trainers gathering that could connect and support the work of the European Antimilitarist Network - but which could also help us to link up with other organisations in Europe working on grassroots training. The goal was to bring together trainers interested in exploring tools and techniques to help groups and campaigns be more strategic. Finally in 2012, WRI and Vredesactie decided to organise a trainers exchange in Belgium. For this we invited several organisations to also be part of organising the event, including European Youth for Action (EYFA), Turning the Tide (UK), SwedFor & Ofog (Sweden), AA-MOC (Spain) and Bewegungsakademie (Germany). Before the training there was a preparatory meeting hosted by Turning the Tide in London, which helped define the goals and process for the Belgium exchange. The training took place in Belgium in November 2012, with 40 trainers from across Europe coming together for a week long exchange. There have been several follow ups, including several meetings in the UK and Belgium of a small group working - particularly on the issue of personal skills for strategies. Another group that came out of the Belgium exchange - working on issues of anti-oppression and privilege - met in Berlin. There was no formal network formed at the 2012 exchange, but several sub groups continue to work together, also by using online tools to share training resources. There are plans to have a larger meeting in the near future, to bring together the different groups working on training.
In 2014, WRI together with the Latin American Antimilitarist Network organised a Latin American training for trainers in Quito, Ecuador, which was hosted by Serpaj and Acción Ecológica. First it was conceived as a trainers exchange, but after discussions within the Latin America network, it was decided that a training for trainers made more sense, to share and empower members of the Latin America network to be able to give trainings in the groups they work. In Quito there were more than 30 participants from the region. The training strengthened the commitment of the network to using nonviolence as means for social change. During the training for trainers there was a public event on the topic of extractive industries and militarism. A direct follow up of the training for trainers was a joint action and statement for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
2.3 Other trainings
The Nonviolence Programme has helped with trainings on nonviolent direct action at several European Antimilitarist Network actions, including the War Start Here action against NEAT in Sweden 2011, NATO Game Over in Belgium 2012, and actions against UK nuclear weapons in Aldermaston in 2010 and Burghfield in 2013.
The programme also led trainings in nonviolent campaigns in the 2011; in Northern Ireland, hosted by WRI's affiliate INNATE, and in 2012 in Venezuela, hosted by Human Rights organisation PROVEA and the anarchist collective El Libertario.
In 2012 the Nonviolence Programme in collaboration with Turning the Tide led a training for trainers in South Korea, which was hosted by WRI affiliate World Without War. The training was for activists campaigning against the construction of the naval base on Jeju Island and militarism in South Korea. Prior to the training, the group of participants met monthly to study WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns and after the training they have continue to meet as a trainers group, supporting each other to provide training to South Korean activists.
Focusing on regional trainers exchanges and on training for trainers has given a clearer focus for the programme and helped prioritise where the programme can have more impact.
2.4 Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns
Since its publication in 2009, WRI's handbook has been the main resource provided by the Nonviolence Programme. Since the last quadrennial report, we have printed 1,500 more copies of the handbook, and we received several more translations of it – the handbook has now been translated into ten languages. Since its publication there have been several efforts for reviewing the content of the handbook, the last one being at the 2013 WRI e-Council. The reviewing process has always been with a view to producing a second edition which would incorporate the comments of people who have used and translated the Handbook. Since September 2013, WRI has hosted a Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker – Andrew Dey – who has coordinated the production of the second edition of the handbook. At the time of writing this report the final manuscript was being proof-read, and we are scheduled to go to press in early June.
2.4 Global initiative against war profiteering
In the past four years, WRI's work against war profiteering has gone through a process of evaluation and review of its priorities. The 2010 India conference had a strong war profiteering focus, as it looked at ways local communities resist the presence of corporations and the military impacting their livelihoods. This provided a basis for re-defining the emphasis with a stronger focus on resisting extractive industries and how they are fuelling local conflicts and the militarisation of local communities.
In the past four years the main work of the initiative against war profiteering continues to be the publication of the by-monthly newsletter War Profiteers' News. The newsletter continues to report on actions against the arms trade and other forms of war profiteering. In the past years, several issues have also covered the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
2.4a International seminar: war profiteering and peace movement responses
In 2011 - and as a direct follow up to the 2010 India conference - WRI partnered with the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) to organise an international seminar that brought together activists and campaigners against war profiteering. The seminar was hosted by Centre Delas and took place in Barcelona between 29 September - 2 October. Each day there was a more internal seminar, where the central aspect of the programme were three theme groups: new developments in war profiteering, exposing the bad guys and war, and the exploitation of natural resources. In the evenings there was a public event – Trobada - organised by Centre Delas, with up to 200 people attending, where participants of the seminar spoke about campaigning against war profiteering.
The seminar brought together people from all continents and helped to strengthen the cooperation with ENAAT. The problem was that there was no clear goal for a follow up after the seminar. This has meant that there has been no direct follow up, as at the time it was unclear what direction WRI's work on war profiteering should take.
The decision has now been taken to focus on extractive industries as a form of war profiteering: having a clearer goal should help future war profiteering work.
2.4b Global Day of Action on Military Spending
Already in its fourth year, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS), initiated by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and now coordinated mostly by IPB, has been an important initiative that brings together groups and organisations working against military spending. Javier Gárate has been a member of the international steering committee since the first year of the day of action. WRI has promoted GDAMS within its network. For the past two years, a special effort was made for a joint Latin American action. In both years there has been a joint statement from the Latin American Antimilitarist Network, and in 2014 there was also a common action concept. Despite its small capacity, WRI has been able to support GDAMS and contribute to its success.
In the last four years a lot has been achieved when it comes to campaigning against war profiteering: the international seminar being the major event and the newsletter the main resource provided by WRI. At times the work has lacked a clear direction. A clearer goal definition remains a challenge.
The Nonviolence Programme continues to be financially unsustainable. In the past four years the programme has organised many events and provided important resources. For all these project, fundraising was a major part of the project. They were all financed without using WRI reserves. However, the projects have not managed to raise funds for staff and office expenses, which are the main expense of the programme. This remains the biggest challenges of the programme, and as the general reserves of WRI have almost gone, it means that if we can not raise fund to cover staff costs in the next year, the programme will not be able to continue having a full time staff person.
3. Right to Refuse to Kill programme (RRTK)
Staff: Andreas Speck, replaced by Hannah Brock from September 2012
The Right to Refuse to Kill programme continues in its work to provide solidarity to conscientious objector movements worldwide. Whilst this does includes using 'conventional' and legal tools to further recognition of conscientious objection, more important is the support for antimilitarist conscientious objector movements, whose work also challenges conscription. This includes counter-recruitment work, which in the last four years has developed into a more significant part of the RRTK work, and broaded its focus
This section of the report is divided into projects and work with particular geographical-movements.
3.1 A Conscientious Objector’s Guide to International Human Rights System
A major project over recent years was A Conscientious Objector’s Guide to International Human Rights System.
This guide to the international human rights system for COs was compiled by Andreas Speck, and completed in December 2012. The Centre for Civil and Political Rights, Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Conscience and Peace Tax International partnered with WRI to bring this project to fruition.
Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the guide was launched in May 2013 as a side-event to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The guide is available in Spanish and English; you can find the English version at http://co-guide.info/, and the Spanish version at http://co-guide.org/es/. We are grateful to Carlos Barranco for his prompt and high-quality translation work, to Geneva Quakers for their funding of this translation, and to Netuxo for developing such an accessible website. We hope that it will have a lasting impact on CO movements, and their ability to utilise international mechanisms.
The guide is designed to be used as a website: it's search function makes finding the mechanisms that are available for your country easy to find. However, you can also download it as a book (pdf) and for a donation the office can post out a printed copy, if access to the internet is a problem. Since the guide is updated regularly with new data, it is best to use the website if possible.
3.2 Supporting CO movements
Andreas and Hannah travelled to Colombia in November 2012 to refresh connections with many groups in involved in ANOOC La Asamblea Nacional de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ANOOC), and plan future work (find a trip report here).
WRI also made a submission to the Colombian government on the new law proposal in March 2013.
Out of the 2012 visit came the relaunch of the carnet objetor/a. Local groups are now able to print their ow versions for each new CO (see batidas section here). Also out of this visit came a proposal for a workshop for COs and lawyers in Colombia on using international, regional and national law and human rights mechanisms to protect themselves. This came to fruition in November 2013, where Hannah and Igor Seke from the RRTK committee also travelled to meet different CO groups across Colombia. See the trip report here.
Future work planned out of this visit include WRI challenging Defensorias and Personarias in the Medellin region, asking firstly: What is done to stop impunity of those who undertake batidas? Because batidas are unconstitutional, WRI will ask where their activities can be reported. This will be an open (public) letter, and responses (including no response) can form part of a WRI's submission to UN HR Committee. Using one CO as a campaign focus, WRI also intends to launch an international campaign on discrimination against COs – working to allow those without the libreta militar to graduate. There should be time for this work after the South Africa International Conference.
3.2b Eastern Mediterranean network of CO and war refuser groups
In February 2012a small meeting in Istanbul was initiated, and attended by several Turkish CO activists along with Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V., Rachel Brett from QUNO, Milena Bulum from Amnesty International, Andreas Speck from WRI. Its objective was to improve coordination and to strengthen work for the right to conscientious objection in Turkey, following the European Court Bayatyan judgment mentioned above, and the subsequent judgments Erçep v. Turkey, 22 November 2011, and Demirtaş v. Turkey, 17 January 2012.
One of the ideas that came out of the meeting was a networking event for conscientious objector groups in the Eastern Mediterranean region. After a planned meeting in Turkey in July 2013 was postponed, this conference finally took plane in Nicosia, Cyprus, at the end of January 2014.
WRI were one of the organisers along with German-based Connection e.V, and activists from the region. The meeting was funded by the A J Muste Memorial Institute, American Friends Service Committee and Bewegungsstiftung.
It was attended by activists from Orfud (Palestinian Druze in Israel), the Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus, the Association of Greek COs, the Jenin Creative and Cultural Centre (Palestine), New Profile (Israel), Amnesty International In Greece, No to Compulsory Military Service (Egypt) and others observers and representatives, mostly from northern Europe. Travel restrictions against total objectors in Greece meant that two participants were held at the Greek boarder and could not join us – similarly, some Egyptian COs were unable to attend.
The meeting was an opportunity to hear about militarisation in each context, and what CO and war refuser movements are doing to challenge this. The group agreed to work together in future, holding a week of action and planning a joint blog. Read a report by Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V. here, and a report from Ercan Jan Aktaş here in Turkish (English translation here). More follow up needs to happen on this.
CO-alerts focused a lot on the case of Maikel Nabil Sanad from Egypt, who was imprisoned in February 2011 (charged with 'insulting the military') and went on hunger strike. Andreas made three visits to Egypt (one accompanied by Igor Seke of the RRTK committee) to provide support not only to Maikel (who he was not able to visit) but also to the local support group. The political situation in Egypt – which worsened after summer 2011 – did not help. WRI staff strongly questioned Maikel's course of action, but this was hard to discuss as his imprisonment prevented effective communication. Therefore, the support work for Maikel was politically and emotionally challenging. In January 2012, as a gesture on the anniversary of the occupation of Tahrir Square, Maikel was finally amnestied, along with many others.
The Egyptian group that Maikel founded, No to Compulsory Military Service, affiliated to WRI at the 2013 Council, and attended the Eastern Mediterranean network meeting in Cyprus in 2014.
Persecution of COs in Greece has sharply increased since the start of 2013. We have been keeping in close contact with COs in Greece, particularly through the Association for Greek Conscientious Objectors, and raising awareness of their situation, numerous CO alerts, an article in The Broken Rifle, and a statement alongside the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and Amnesty International in Greece. Their ‘Open letter’ (a call for international support) was distributed by the office in July 2013.
In May 2014, Rafael Sainz de Rozas Bedialauneta travelled from the Basque Country to represent WRI as a witness at the trial of Dimitris Sotiropulos, along with other witneses from the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus. Dimitris was given a suspended sentence.
3.2e South Korea
In March 2012, Andreas travelled to South Korea to assist the Korean CO movement in developing strategy following the South Korean constitutional court's rejection of the right to CO, leading Movement Action Plan (MAP) training.
Following on from work with Eritrean Diaspora groups in the previous four year, WRI were invited to attend a meeting convened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea in South Africa in November 2013. His contribution focused on the experience of COs and desters, and the more general experience of military service in Eritrea – and her subsequent report to the UN focused on militarisation in Eritrea, citing indefinite conscription as the main thing driving Eritreans to leave Eritrea. Opportunities to work with Eritrean Diaspora groups – including the recent Stop National Service Slavery in Eritrea Campaign should be taken up in the next four years.
3.3 Countering the Militarisation of Youth
The Countering the Militarisation of Youth (CMOY) project has been a big new focus over the last years.
The work on counter-recruitment has been expanded under the title Countering the Militarisation of Youth, and from 8-10 June 2012 the first major international conference took place in Darmstadt, Germany, with 65 participants from 14 countries. In preparation, a reader was compiled, plus an edition of The Broken Rifle. This conference was a major step forward in the development of WRI's work on countering the militarisation of youth, and in building new networks.
Between September 2012 and August 2013, the CMOY work was the focus of the one-year Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker Owen Everett, working 2.5 days/week.
In November 2012 it was decided that the documentation of the June conference in Darmstadt should be a book of articles by various people in the WRI network, based on the themes of the conference but of interest to those who didn't attend. The book was published in English in June 2013, called Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It. The German and Spanish versions of this book should be published late 2014, or early 2015. The book includes extracts from transcripts of interviews filmed at Darmstadt, and findings from a survey begun at Darmstadt.
A film of selected sections of the video interviews is being made by Oskar Castro, and the full survey data, along with extensive analysis of it, has been uploaded onto the WRI website: wri-irg.org/surveydata.
A smaller piece of work was coordinating of an International Day of Action for Military-Free Education and Research, which took place on 14 June. This was inspired by a week of action on this theme in Germany in September 2012. Groups, organisations, and individuals from seven different countries took part. Find a report of the day here.
The next main development of the CMOY project has been through an internship, funded as part of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust's grant, undertaken by Gary Ghirardi, an acitivist with the National Network Opposing the Miltiarisation of Youth in the USA, living in Venezuela. Gary worked on the development of a web resource specifically on militarisation of youth internationally, and profiling organisations and campaigns that are working to resist this. The idea of the site is to help the nascent network active on these issues to share ideas and tactics, as well as to communicate with the general public. The site will be launched in July 2014, and is being developed by Netuxo. The site was made possible by WRI's first use of crowdfunding. We used the indiegogo platform to raise over £1200 needed to pay for the site's development.
Finally, we are glad to say that we have raised funds to employ a part-time worker for one year, specifically on the CMOY work, starting from January 2015, as part of our grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Recruitment for this post will start at the end of 2014.
3.4 International and human rights institutions
On 7 July 2011, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights gave its judgement in the case of Bayatyan v Armenia. The court finally recognised the right to conscientious objection (see http://wri-irg.org/node/13271). As expected, several chambers of the court then followed up to with five more judgements (two on Armenia, three on Turkey), recognising the right to conscientious objection.
WRI responded to a request for information from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on conscientious objection to military service, towards a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service that will presented to the Human Rights Council. You can read our submission here.
3.5 Publications and media
We received some press attention, primarily in Britain, around Prisoners for Peace Day and International Conscientious Objection Day. Other opportunities have been taken for media interviews when travelling, for example in Colombia and Greece.
Requests for comment on conscientious objection in the run up to the 1914-1918 anniversary are already coming in, and are usually passed to groups that are working on this in-country.
Due to increasing workload, the CO-Update newsletter has been published less frequently, now generally every 2 or 3 months. It remains an important resource on conscientious objection to military service and military recruitment.
The CO-Alert system is active, and is used on average twice a month.
Subscribers for both CO-Alert and Update are not rising very fast!
In recent years we have not used a focus country on International Conscientious Objection Day.
Instead, activities of groups around the world for International COs Day have been shared (see 2013, for example), and staff alongside the Right to Refuse to Kill committee have not prioritised initiating actions on 15th May.
We made use of social media to promote Prisoners for Peace Day on 1st December, and International Conscientious Objectors Day on 15th May.
3.7 Staff changes
In July 2011, Andreas Speck, RRTK worker since the programme's inception in May 2001, announced that he would leave the WRI office at the end of 2012. The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust kindly agreed to augment the programme funding to provide for a staff overlap from September to December 2012, and in June 2012 Hannah Brock was chosen as the new RRTK programme worker. She began work in September 2012 in time for the Bilbao Council. Andreas left the WRI office at the end of December 2012.
3.8 RRTK programme committee
The Right to Refuse to Kill programme committee continues to be in regular contact. Their work was particularly critical over the staff changeover period, providing Hannah with much-needed expertise and support (both moral and professional).
We last met in person Bedia in September 2012 after the Bilbao Council Meeting. Since than we have held monthly conference calls, and are in regular email contact. In 2013, our longer annual meeting was held over two days on Skype. Our next meeting in person will be at the Cape Town International Conference.
Because of the new developments with CMOY work, when a new CMOY work is appointed, the RRTK Committee will in affect 'split', with some members with a CO focus remaining on the CO work, and others moving over to start the CMOY committee and oversee that work.
The RRTK committee currently consists of Rachel Brett (Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva), Boro Kitanoski (Peace Action, Macedonia), Oskar Castro (War Resisters' League, USA), Igor Seke (from Serbia, now living in Mexico), with Sergeiy Sandler (New Profile, Israel) convening the committee, and Hannah from staff.
The launch of the CO Guide, which required quite intensive work and will now prove an invaluable resource for COs across the world. It can also be used to promote understanding of CO issues (and punishment) to states and human rights organisations
Continuing focus on countering the militarisation of youth, maintaining momentum started from the Darmstadt conference in June 2012, including the publication of Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It, and now fundraising successfully for a dedicated CMOY worker and website. This could play a huge part in the work of WRI in future years.
The Bayatyan judgement is a major juridical achievement, to which WRI contributed via a joint third party intervention.
The staff changeover inevitably reduced the capacity of the programme for some months, as the handover was a focus from September – December 2012, followed by a period of learning and adjustment.
In 2011/2012 The support for Maikel Nabil Sanad during his hunger strike posed several political challenges that warrant WRI-wide discussion.
Sticking to RRTK work plans can be disrupted by emergency events, e.g. support for Maikel Nabil Sanad, and also by more planned events, such as international conferences.
4. Queer working group 2011-2013
The WRI queer working group was created during the WRI Council in Luleå, Sweden in July 2011 out of a need, and with aims, to queer the antimilitarist struggle, to create space for LGBT* people in WRI, to use queer theory and practice to understand and to struggle against militarism, and also with the aim to demilitarise the LGBT* movements and work against pinkwashing.
More specifically, this first meeting of the working group identified some specific aims of the group and things to work with: to develop nonviolence training with queer perspective (for example work with gender out of other than traditional binary gender models); to make an edition of The Broken Rifle on queer issue raising awareness of how queer and antimilitarism are connected; to share experiences; to get inspiration and to learn from each other how to connect queer and antimilitarist struggle in the different contexts where we live and work.
Through the email list that was created we started sharing some articles and experiences.
In the summer of 2012, a Broken Rifle queer issue was made including stories of everything from situation of LGBT* people in the antimilitarists movements around the world to critiques of LGBT* movement efforts to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, of how queer and antimilitarist struggles are connected and why antimilitarism needs queer perspectives and practices.
During a “training for trainers” in Belgium organised by Vredesactie in November 2012, participants discussed how to create queer nonviolence trainings and how to work with anti-oppression in nonviolence trainings, and this will hopefully be the focus for one of the following trainings.
The queer working group had a Skype meeting during the WRI online council in September, starting with a presentation of the militarisation of LGBT* movements in Europe (like police and military ‘protecting’ pride parades, police and military using LGBT* inclusion to pinkwash their activities, and glorification and romanticisation of violent struggle in radical queer groups), and then discussing these topics and sharing experiences from different contexts around the world, such as how queer and antimilitarist movements face different challenges depending on state policies towards LGBT* people and movements, and the different forms of militarism and militarisation present in the society.
The presentation is online here: www.wri-irg.org/QueeringAntimilitarismWG
T* or Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity constellation. The asterisk makes special note in an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including but not limited to transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.
(partly taken from: itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/05/what-does-the-asterisk-in-trans-stand-for/#sthash.ywmqvcQA.dpuf)
5. WRI in the Regions
This chapter is on WRI’s affiliates in the various regions, and networking WRI is undertaking.
Since the International Conference in India in January 2010, WRI’s work on the African continent which has been mainly led by the African Working Group co-convened since 2010 by Elavie Ndura and Matt Meyer, has intensified, with three elements:
a) the preparation of the international conference 2014 in close cooperation with Ceasefire and other organisations in South Africa. In the course of that preparation there have been several visits and conferences attended by WRI representatives. For example, in 2012 Africa Working Group co-conveners Elavie Ndura and Matt Meyerparticipated in a three-day conference organised by the Gandhi Development Trust in Durban, “From the Roots to the Fruits: Nonviolence in Action.
b) Nonviolence trainers exchange, with the highlight being the 26-29 July 2012 Africa Nonviolence Trainers Exchange which had participants from South Sudan, Rwanda, Egypt, Mozambique, the Democractic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea as well as South Africa itself. For a report on Waging Nonviolence follow this link (http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/new-pan-african-nonviolence-network-formed/).
c) As an outcome of that training: the building of the African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network (http://anvtn.blogspot.co.uk/). The Network will meet during the 2014 conference.
d) In the run up to the 2014 international conference, the network organised a series of webinars on topics such as: peacebuilding, history of nonviolence in Africa, the patriarchal war against women and others, international solidarity and nonviolent resistance and militarisation of youth and child soldiers. You can see the webinars on WRI's vimeo account (http://vimeo.com/user4456636).
One other activity carried forward by members of the African Working Group has been to take part in the re-building of the Africa Peace Research Association (AFPREA)
Since 2011, WRI and many of its affiliates have closely followed and supported through activities at home the developments around the so-called Arab Spring. Particular eminence took the support of the war resister and blogger Maikel Nabil in Egypt, who was arrested and consequently went on hunger strike in the autumn of 2011. His group, No to Compulsory Military Service, has since become a member of WRI
As part of the whole Cape Town 2014 process, WRI has featured several articles on African struggles in the different WRI newsletters, sharing with the WRI network some of the themes that will be central to the conference. Several Africa Working Group members have been involved in publishing articles and preparing books on aspects of nonviolence in Africa, including analysis of the so-called Arab Spring.
5.2 Eastern Mediterranean
WRI affiliate New Profile (Israel) and No to Compulsory Military Service (Egypt) – who made their affiliation application to WRI at 2013's eCouncil - put out a joint statement: 'Freedom to Conscientious Objectors in the Middle East'. The statement confirms their 'support of peace and of conscientious objectors in both countries, reaffirming the human right to freedom of conscience, faith, and self-determination.' It condemns 'the way both...governments treat conscientious objectors: Natan Blanc, Emad El Dafrawi and Mohammed Fathy.'
The Eastern Mediterranean network of COs eventually met in early March 2014 in Cyprus after having postponed its meeting once. See section 3.2b for more info.
There has been a European network of WRI groups who have held several meetings in 2010 and 2011, focussing on antimilitarist work against NATO (NATO summit in November 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal) military bases and nuclear weapons. Many activities were funded by a grant by the European Union's Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme in 2010 and 2011. The network developed the slogan “War Starts Here”, a website was created and actions held in Lulea 2011. The main groups in the network have been ofog - direkt aktion för Fred!, (Sweden), Vredesactie/ Bombspotting, (Belgium), Alternativa antimilitaristamoc (Spain), Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft- Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen, (Germany), Gewaltfreie Aktion Atomwaffen abschaffen (Germany), Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto, AKL (Finland), Trident Ploughshares (Britain), Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee, GSoA (Switzerland), and Bundeswehr Wegtreten (Germany). The last "official" meeting of the European Antimilitarist Network took place as part of the NATO Game Over action in Brussels in 2012.
First used in Lulea in 2012, the slogan “War Starts Here” has since been used by a German network mobilising camps and direct actions against a military training site every year since 2012 in Eastern Germany. Some WRI affiliates from Germany continue to be involved in the War Starts Here camps. Read more at: http://www.warstartsherecamp.org/en/
For some years, WRI was member of the international International Co-ordinating Committee No to War – No to NATO (ICC), and represented there by Andreas Speck, but eventually the WRI Executive decided to leave the Committee in April 2012 and "continue its anti-NATO work outside the ICC. We will always be open for cooperation and communication with the ICC, should the need and opportunity arise.
Nonviolence training has also been a mayor element of the regional work in Europe, with a regional trainers gathering taking place in 2012 in Belgium and several follow up meetings also taking place.
5.3a Main activities and highlights:
Nonviolent actions and blockades in Aldermaston and Burghfield (British nuclear weapons‘ factory) in 2009 and 2013 saw strong participation by WRI members and were supported by the WRI office. The 2013 camp was part of the Action AWE campaign that is acting to halt nuclear weapons production at the Atomic Weapons Establishment factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield, Berkshire, Britain.
Actions against the NATO summit in Lisbon, 2010. The subsequent NATO summit in Chicago, USA, saw little involvement from Europe - in the end two members of ofog represented WRI in Chicago, joining with members of War Resisters League.
War Starts Here action camp in Lulea, in July 211
NATO-Game over action in Brussels, Belgium, in April 2012
Nonviolence training of trainers in Brussels (see 2.2).
5.4 Latin America
For a number of years a number of groups in Latin America with links to WRI have been working on how to support each other more, and how to create the space for thinking and acting beyond local realities. The irg-al network has continued to exchange a lot of information through its email list (firstname.lastname@example.org), which helps groups to know what others are doing.
The list has been most useful in times of crisis, like during the so-called frustrated coup d'etat in Ecuador on 30 September 2010, and during the events in Venezuela in 2013/2014. Council member Pelao Carvallo, residing in Paraguay, has kept the network informed of what is happening in the country - from the Curuguaty massacre where 16 peasants were killed by police forces to the subsequent parliamentary coup d'etat. Thanks to Pelao, MOC-Paraguay and Serpaj-Paraguay the irg-al list has been kept well informed about the ongoing resistance to the coup. The resistance by indigenous people of Cauca in Colombia to military presence in their communities was also discussed via the list serve, with groups in Colombia sharing first-hand experiences.
Members of the network have met using various opportunities like the Triennial in India 2010, but live meetings remain a challenge.
As a joint project, the network put together the December 2010 issue of WRI's newsletter The Broken Rifle (http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br87-en.htm), which focused on militarism in the region. The network also helped getting the WRI Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns out in Spanish, with Pelao Carvallo writing a special introduction to the Spanish version and El Libertario Collective doing the layout. The handbook was printed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it has already been distributed to several countries in Latin America, with groups even organising book presentations in their countries.
Unfortunately, the plan of WRI to hold a Council in Colombia in 2012 had to be given up for lack of available funding for such an event.
WRI's Executive Committee sent out a statement in support of Venezuelan human rights organisation, PROVEA, which was attacked by the government after the election of Nicolás Maduro. In 2011, PROVEA hosted a WRI delegation to Venezuela. As part of the activities of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, in 2013 and 2014 the Latin American network came out with a statement (http://wri-irg.org/node/21528) signed and shared widely.
A regional training for trainers in nonviolent action took place in March 2014 in Quito, Ecuador, hosted by Serpaj and Acción Ecológica. The training had people attending from Colombia, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Mexico. The occasion was used for a new regional network meeting, at this meeting it was agreed a series of activities for the 2014 Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which included a statement (http://wri-irg.org/Nom%C3%A1sarmas), and an action concept that groups took on.
5.5 North America
For the activities in North America, see the reports of our affiliate War Resisters’ League.
WRI doesn't have an Asia regional network, but this doesn't mean that there isn't work and cooperation with Asian groups. Some affiliates of WRI have made contact with the Iraqi umbrella “La Onf” (Nonviolence) and attended annual conferences held by that organisation.
In the last year there was a lot of collaboration with World Without War (WWW) in South Korea. In 2012, WRI led a nonviolence training for trainers in South Korea hosted by WWW. As part of WWW's work on nonviolence they are coordinating a group of trainers, which meets regularly, and have published WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns in Korean.
WWW have been very active in the resistance to the construction of the Naval Military Base on Jeju Island. In this they have taken on targeting Samsung who are the main contractors of the base. WWW had done nonviolent direct actions against Samsung. Many have been reported in War Profiteers' News.
Subhash Kattel from Nepal, who became an individual member of WRI in 2014, took on translating and publishing WRI's handbook into Nepali and also participated in the New Tactics online conversation on countering the militarisation of youth.
Communication continues with our friends at Mozda who hosted the 2010 India conference, who continue to share information of their several nonviolent struggles including the resistance to a nuclear power station.
Even though there is not a regional network, all these different cooperation show that there is the potential of working toward more regional cooperation on nonviolent and antimilitarist work.
5.7 Australia and Oceania
In 2013 we welcomed Rosa Moiwend from West Papua as a WRI individual member. For a period of time she was living in London doing West Papua solidarity work and she regularly visited the office. She even joined us in our protest against HMRC against paying tax for wars. Rosa has represented WRI at several events related with the West Papua struggle.
WRI has an affiliate in Australia and contacts to some other activists through conferences. But there has been no continuous work or efforts been made on this region.
All our email-based publications can be viewed on our website. You can subscribe to receive them to your inbox here.
6.1 Series Publications
The Broken Rifle
The Broken Rifle continues to be WRI's newsletter, with most issues published in English, Spanish and German, and some in French. It is published online, usually with a downloadable pdf version available, and sent out as an email newsletter. Staff often use The Broken Rifle when travelling and attending events.
It was generally published quarterly until end of 2013, and every four months from start of 2014.
Since January 2010, the following issues have been published:
Themes for Small Actions, Big Movements: The Continuum of Nonviolence (May 2014, see http://wri-irg.org/epublish/21/574)
African antimilitarism, nonviolence and peacebuilding (December, 2013, see http://wri-irg.org/epublish/21/555)
Resisting War and Preparation for War: Taking Back Militarised Spaces (September 2013, see http://wri-irg.org/epublish/21/543)
Conscientious objection: today and tomorrow (May 2013, see http://www.wri-irg.org/epublish/21/527)
Nonviolent strategies for social change (March 2013, see http://www.wri-irg.org/epublish/21/515)
Standing up to repression (December 2012, see http://www.wri-irg.org/pubs/br94-en.htm),
Queer and antimilitarism (August 2012, see http://www.wri-irg.org/pubs/br93-en.htm)
Countering the Militarisation of Youth (May 2012, see http://wri-irg.org/epublish/21/485)
Land-grabbing and Militarism (April 2012, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br91-en.htm)
Nonviolence for Change (December 2011, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br90-en.htm)
Military out of schools (March 2011, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br88-en.htm).
Latin American Antimilitarist Network (December 2010, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br87-en.htm)
European Network Against Militarism - Against NATO and War (September 2010, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br86-en.htm)
Gender and militarism (April 2010, see http://wri-irg.org/pubs/br85-en.htm),
The email-newsletter wri-info is published as needed – usually for WRI statements and announcements. From February 2013, it has also been used to distribute War Resisters' Stories.
War Resisters' Stories
This new monthly eNewsletter was launched in February 2013. Each month it contains five stories, both from the office and from the WRI network. It is designed to give people highlights from recent events, as well as direct them towards upcoming events, in a brief and engaging way.
The CO-Update, produced in English, is the eNewsletter of the Right to Refuse to Kill programme. Since summer 2012 it has been produced bimonthly. It contains updates on conscientious objection and conscription around the world, as well as news on Right to Refuse to Kill activity.
WRI launched its email based co-alert system in July 2001. Although there had been a system for urgent actions before, this was the first time the email list CO-Alert has been used. Since then, hundreds of CO-Alerts have been distributed. The CO-Alert system has been integrated into WRI's conscientious objection database, and is now managed entirely through the WRI website. CO-alert is an English only email list, although some alerts are also available in other languages on the WRI website. Please encourage as many people to join this list as possible: http://lists.wri-irg.org/sympa/info/co-alert
The email newsletter War Profiteers News is published in English and Spanish, usually bimonthly. It has been an important tool to provide information on matters related to war profiteering to a wide range of groups and activists, and facilitates networking of groups working on war profiteers.
6.2 Social media
In the last few years, we have started to make use of social media. Since 2012 in particular, we have made a greater effort to engage with people on social media, and use it more consistently. This has meant an increase in our social media following. We have also expanded into open source social media. This helps us reach more people, but is also a political choice for us to support non-corporately owned forms of social communication on the internet. We post regularly in English and Spanish, and in other languages whenever possible.
Find us here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/War-Resisters-International/1167499650168…. We now have over 2500 followers.
Find us on Causes here: http://www.causes.com/warresisters. We have over 4300 followers, and often uses Causes to promote our newsletters and encourage people to take action through CO-Alerts.
You can find WRI at https://twitter.com/warresistersint. We have over 1200 followers.
A distributed social networking service. Find us at https://joindiaspora.com/u/warresistersinternational
Since January 2010, we have published the following printed books:
In June 2013 'Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It' was launched at Housmans bookshop, London. The book was compiled by Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker Owen Everett, and contains surveys on the militarisation of youth across the world, excerpts from interviews and articles on particular aspects on militarisation of youth. It is available at our webshop here: wri-irg.org/SowingSeeds and to read online here.
In April 2010, the book “Women Conscientious Objectors – An Anthology” was published. Objetoras de Conciencia – Antología – a Spanish-language version, was published in January 2013. It was translated byMichelle Renyé, is available electronically online and for sale in print.
WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, published in English with an initial print-run of 1,200 copies, was first published in Spanish in May 2010. A reprint of 1,500 copies the English edition was necessary in January 2011. An Indonesian edition of the Handbook was been published by Walisongo Mediation Centre in 2009, and was made available online during 2010. The Russian edition of the Handbook is now available online, along with the Arabic edition, and versions in Spanish, Tigrinya, Turkish and Korean. A translation into Nepalese is available as a print version.
In 2010, WRI supported the Eritrean Antimilitary Initiate (EAI) in publishing and distributing a Tirgrinya version of Gene Sharps “From dictatorship to democracy”.
Cynthia Cockburn's book Antimilitarism: Political and Gender Dynamics of Peace Movements has also been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Cynthia attended the WRI Council in Bilbao in 2008 doing interviews for this book, which includes discussion of WRI itself as well as of affiliates in several countries. Andreas spoke at the book launch in Housmans bookshop, London.
Regular high-quality content through The Broken Rifle, War Profiteers News and the CO-Update – often in three languages.
Substantial increase in our social media following.
The publication of the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns has clearly answered an existing need, demonstrated by the high number of translations that have already been published. Because of this, we are now in the process of publishing the second edition of the Handbook, which will be published in July 2014, and launched at the International Conference in Cape Town.
Although most of our newsletters and publications are published in Spanish and often German as well, there is often a delay between publication in English and publication in German and Spanish. Much content on our website is only in English.
There are many opportunities to reach people online now. Our website and social media usage could be improved, being more visually appealing. Although our website has the capability for crowd-sourced content (giving the network the opportunity to publish their news through the website, and to publish translations in their own languages of existing content), this rarely happens.
7. Statements, Press Releases
War Resisters' International has released eight statements, mostly in support of antimilitarist activists around the world.
They are all available online, and many have also been distributed as press releases to media outlets where relevant. From the most recent, they are:
War Resisters' International joins the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela (9 December 2013)
Egypt: There is No Military Solution! 13 September 2013
WRI supports Venezuelan Human Rights organisation PROVEA: 13 September 2013
23 April 2013
Stop making a killing from war: #demilitarize now: WRI statement on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending
15 April 2013
No más armas para Latinoamérica 09 Apr 2013
WRI condemns 'shameful' attacks on Nazlie Bala in Kosovo 05 April 2013
Joint Public Statement - Greece: When will conscientious objectors stop being persecuted?
07 March 2013
War Resisters' International condemns Pinar Selek's life sentence 14 February 2013
War taxes paid under protest 16 January 2013
Resistance and Nonviolence to the coup d'etat in Paraguay, 25 September 2012
War Resisters' International Executive statement on the harassment of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) 28 August 2012
EGYPT: War Resisters' International welcomes the overdue release in Cairo of pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil 26 January 2012
Sick and tired of the warmakers! - A statement by War Resisters' International on the intervention in Libya 5 April 2011
War Resisters' International condemns persecution of Turkish feminist antimilitarist Pinar Selek 25 February 2011
War Resisters’ International Statement on the Murder of Nigeria’s Chidi Nwosu 25 January 2011
War Resisters' International statement in support of Moon Myungjin, conscientious objector from the Republic of Korea 6 January 2011
'Israel's Ruthless Criminality' - WRI statement on attack on Freedom Flotilla 31 May 2010
8. An outlook on the future development of WRI’s work
Making predictions—the saying goes—is difficult, especially about the future. This is definitely also true about WRI’s future, but some recent efforts and events we have been engaged in also imply possible future developments. Of these, we would like to highlight three things; regional networking, countering the militarisation of youth as a new direction in WRI programme work and, alas, the continuing financial crisis WRI is facing.
8.1 Regional networking
For a long time now, regional networking has been an important part of WRI’s work. Regional gatherings and projects have been instrumental to the consolidation and extension of the WRI network. For many years, our regional networking efforts focused on Latin America and Europe. As you will read in other sections of this report, these efforts continue, as our networks in these regions (or rather continents) move through their natural cycles of ebb and flow. A new region where our networking efforts are just beginning is the East Mediterranean, where groups from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Palestine/Israel and Egypt working on conscientious objection and resistance to militarism have gathered for the first time earlier this year.
But the most massive, and potentially the most consequential, regional networking effort WRI is engaged in today is the one you can see in action here in Cape Town. Our meeting here is part of a broad ongoing effort to establish and further develop an African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network.
Each regional network within WRI has its own scope and focus. What gives the African network added importance for the future development of the WRI network as a whole is that our traditional topics—conscientious objection, nonviolence, antimilitarism—are transformed when placed in the context of the activist traditions the members of our fledgling African network come from. Traditional forms of conscientious objection are rare in Africa (just as traditional forms of conscription are), as are the forms of nonviolent direct action typical of the Global North. Instead, nonviolent resistance to militarism in many African countries takes the form of work against daily, non-centralised forms of violence, the form of active positive peacebuilding and active encouragement of alternatives to violence.
All this is reflected in the focus and title of our conference, “The continuum of nonviolence”. Like the African groups and activists making up this regional network, the conference examines domestic violence and street violence as lying on the same continuum with military violence and outright war. Theoretically, this realisation has also been part of our social and political analysis (and especially gender analysis) for decades, but the African network opens up the possibility of connecting this to actual campaigning, and this is one important possible direction for the development of WRI’s work in the future—in Africa, but also worldwide.
8.2 Countering the militarisation of youth
Another prospect for the future development of WRI’s work is in the field of countering the militarisation of youth. As you will read in the report, this has been the focus of several WRI activities and publications over the last two years or so, and we are in the process of developing Countering the Militarisation of Youth into a full-fledged programme, supported by WRI office staff.
Originally, we perceived work on countering the militarisation of youth as an alternative to the older and narrower focus on conscientious objection in (mostly European) countries that abolished conscription. Indeed, many countries in Europe are now experiencing a surge in militarisation of schools, public events, games and entertainment, as national armies are vying for young recruits. However, we soon realised that the militarisation of youth is an equally disturbing trend all over the world, regardless of whether the legal mechanism of conscription is used in a country or not. The same basic mechanisms are being employed by armies around the world, both to obtain highly motivated recruits and to dispose the public at large to support war. The great potential that campaigning to counter the militarisation of youth has for the future development of WRI’s work as a whole is evidenced by the enthusiasm this work has been generating within and around the WRI network over these last two years.
8.3 Financial crisis
For these new trends in WRI’s work to materialise, however, WRI first needs to survive financially. This is becoming increasingly difficult. By now, almost all of WRI’s old reserves have been used, and we are still running a regular and significant yearly deficit. If this trend continues—that is, unless we manage to secure regular funding for a second office programme, in addition to the fully-funded Right to Refuse to Kill—we might face the possibility of closing the WRI office within a few years at most.
The way out of the crisis goes through fundraising, and through a greater involvement of the WRI network as a whole in our fundraising efforts. Some progress is already being made along these lines, with WRI’s recently-created fundraising committee, but more is needed. We crucially need the network’s help in establishing new contacts with potential funders from different countries and in aspects of the practical fundraising work itself.