Office and Executive Report: September 2012 - August 2013
This report has been prepared by the staff and Executive Committee
The year since the Council meeting in Bilbao in September 2012 has been a period of a successful transition in the office from Andreas Speck to Hannah Brock, and the continuation of WRI’s various
programmatic activities. The progressing preparation of the upcoming International Conference in South Africa 2014 and the preparation of the Council 2013 have been two further important elements of our work. In the international network, the Global Action Day Against Military Spending on April 15, the Conscientious Objectors Day exactly one month later and the days of action against the militarization of youth in June 2013 marked dates when many of our affiliates took common action. The international political situation has remained full of challenges and issues – from Venezuela and Paraguay where our affiliates struggle for human rights and against the all-powerful influence of the military establishment through the Middle East with its various theatres of conflict and war to East Asia where our members from South Korea fight against a military basis on an island under the shadow of a major conflict between North and South Korea. This report describes the programmatic activities in the two WRI programmes (Nonviolence and the Right to Refuse to Kill), the work of WRI in the regions, the WRI-internal business and of course WRI’s financial situation.
2. Staffed Programmes
For some years now, WRI has two staffed programmes: Nonviolence and the Right to Refuse to Kill – programme. In both programmes, there are various ongoing activities and projects.
2.1 Nonviolence Programme
Staff: Javier Gárate The Nonviolence Programme has two main areas of focus:
- providing resources and training in nonviolence
- the initiative against war profiteering
2.1.1 Resources and training for nonviolent action Empowering grassroots activists to take nonviolent action continues to be one of the main goals of the NV Programme. In the past year, the programme’s emphasis has been to coordinate regional nonviolence training exchanges and lead training for trainers. We see that WRI's main contribution is to bring trainers together to exchange their experiences and to empower grassroots activists to form their own trainings. In the past year, a European Training Exchange took place in Ieper, Belgium, hosted by WRI's Belgian affiliate – Vredesactie. WRI and Vredesactie came up with the idea for this exchange and invited several other groups to join the organising committee, including: European Youth for Action (EYFA), Turning the Tide (UK), Seeds for Change (UK), Trypod (UK), Ofog (Sweden) and SwedFOR (Sweden). The training exchange brought together 40 trainers for several European countries for a week-long training exchange on strategies for social movements. One concrete outcome from the exchange was to form a loose network of trainers. Participants at the exchange have continued to exchange information and there has already been some follow ups from this exchange, with a meeting in January in London hosted by Turning the Tide on how to develop personal skills for strategies, and there are plans for more trainers meetings during this year. As reported in the last annual report, in August of last year, WRI organised an African Nonviolence Training Exchange, held in Johannesburg. At the exchange an African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network was formed. This network has continued to communicate via email and is planning a meeting at the forthcoming WRI International Conference 'SMALL Actions BIG Movements' in 2014 in Cape Town. For 2013 there are plans to hold a Latin American training for trainers, which will to take place in Ecuador in November. The goal is to bring together activists using or interested in nonviolent action to share skills on how training can support grassroots nonviolent actions in Latin America. In October of 2012, the Nonviolence Programme led a training for trainers in South Korea, hosted by World Without War. The trainers were Denise Drake of Turning the Tide and Javier Gárate. The training was well timed as the struggle against the naval military base on Jeju Island tries to keep up the momentum of its resistance. Most participants at the training for trainers were actively involved in resisting the naval military base and were looking for how they can empower more people in their groups to take nonviolent action. The training for trainers was part of a longer process started by World Without War to have a trainers group. The group met several times before the training for trainers and have continued to meet afterwards to work increasing their training skills. World Without War have taken direct action against the naval base and see nonviolence training as a key aspect in having more impact with their actions. 184.108.40.206 Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns The WRI Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns continues to be the main resource of the NV Programme. We continue to get offers to translate the handbook and we have completed the translations of more languages. In the past year the Nepali version was published thanks to the work of Subhash Khattel. The Russian version has also been finalised. Out of the blue we received a message from the internet Ukrainian community http://texty.org.us that they had translated the handbook into Ukrainian and posted it in their website. The German one is in the process of being translated with high hopes to have it ready during 2013. Big thanks to Jorgen Johansen who continues to help to get translations of the handbook. At the moment there are people translating it into Italian, Greek and Bulgarian. With all these translations the handbook will be available in more than 10 languages.
As the handbook gets used and translated, we continue to receive comments about it. This made us think that it is the right time to work on a second edition of the handbook, which can incorporate some of the suggestions for changes and additions. The plan is to work on the second edition in the second half of 2013, so if you have comments, please get in touch. We will also be inviting feedback during the eCouncil. As part of working on a second edition we also want to plan our strategy for online resources apart from the handbook, making the WRI website a resource for activists who want to share and learn about nonviolent action. 2.1.2 Initiative against War Profiteers 220.127.116.11 War Profiteers News The Nonviolence Programme continues to work supporting campaigns against all forms of war profiteering. By war profiteering we mean that our emphasis is not only on the arms trade but also on other related issues such us the privatisation of the military, the technologisation of war and resource wars. The work against war profiteering is primarily done through the publication of the newsletter War Profiteers' News. A special effort is made with this newsletter to invite activists and researches in the area of war profiteering to write and share their work. This has provided a place for networking as they contribute to this newsletter. 18.104.22.168 Global Day of Action on Military Spending WRI has been an active supporter of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) initiative coordinated by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), which this year took place on 15 April. WRI helped to coordinate a Latin American regional statement and actions for GDAMS and drafted a statement in support of GDAMS on 15 April. As part of this work, we made the case of the importance of being against all military spending, not making distinction between “good” or “necessary” military spending and evil imperialist military spending. WRI promoted nonviolent actions as part of GDAMS, encouraging people to make the links between militarism and the economy and to say no to corporate militarism. As part of the coordination work for GDAMS, Javier Gárate, for a second year, was part of the International Steering Committee of GDAMS 2013. WRI will continue to support this important initiative that brings people together from around the world to say no to military spending. 2.1.3. Fundraising The Nonviolence Programme has managed to raise funds for all the above projects of the programme, but not funding to contribute to general staff expenses, which continues to be the big challenge of the programme. With the new Fundraising Committee we have worked making grant applications for the NV Programme. As we write this report we have received the news that Lush Charity Pot has granted £5,000 towards general costs of the programme, which encourages us to believe that we can get more general funding for the programme. As ever, we invite the WRI network to think of ways to raise funds to make this a sustainable programme. Achievements
- The work at a regional level on nonviolence training has been a big success. This should set the foundation for future regional cooperation on nonviolence training.
- Securing regular funding for the programme continues to be the main challenge of the programme.
2.2 Right to Refuse to Kill programme
Staff: Andreas Speck, replaced by Hannah Brock
2.2.1 General Work
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: http://www.wri-irg.org/ColombiaTripReport2012). Out of this visit came the relaunch of the carnet objetor/a. Local groups are now able to print their own versions for each new CO (see batidas section here). We are working with Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC) to hold a workshop in October 2013 in Bogotá that will train lawyers – and activists with an interest in law - on both national laws related to conscientious objection (both on tutelas, and a new law proposal, should it have been passed), and on international standards related to conscientious objection. It will also provide lawyers with an understanding of why people become conscientious and total objectors. WRI made a submission to the Colombian government on the new law proposal in March 2013. 22.214.171.124 Eastern Mediterranean network of COs In July, a meeting was planned for activists from the Middle East, joining other campaigners from the Eastern Mediterranean region in Turkey. The event was to found a network of movements for conscientious objection in the region. Although this event had to be postponed, other options for holding the event late 2013 or early 2014 are already underway, probably in a different location. Activists from the CO Platform for Peace and other groups in Turkey are working on this, along with the Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus, the Association of Greek COs, the Jenin Creative and Cultural Centre (Palestine), New Profile (Israel), No to Compulsory Military Service (Egypt) and others. 126.96.36.199 Greece Persecution of COs in Greece has sharply increased in 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, including 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 on 11th July. 188.8.131.52 Events We made use of social media to promote Prisoners for Peace Day on 1st December, and International Conscientious Objectors Day on 15th May. For some years, a focus country was highlighted on 15th May. However in recent years, activities of groups around the world for International COs Day have been shared, and staff alongside the Right to Refuse to Kill committee have not prioritised initiating actions on 15th May. 184.108.40.206 International institutions 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. 220.127.116.11 Publications and media See 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 for further information on CO-Updates and CO-Alerts produced by the RRTKCOM. We received some press attention, primarily in Britain, around Prisoners for Peace Day and International Conscientious Objectors Day. Hannah also gave an interview to Radio Libertaire on conscientious objection in Turkmenistan, dubbed into Turkmen. Requests for comment on conscientious objection in the run up to the 1914-1918 anniversary are already coming in. 2.2.2 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, who completed it in December 2012. The Centre for Civil and Political Rights, Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Conscience and Peace Tax International partnered with us to bring this project to fruition. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the guide had been delayed from its original launch deadline, but was finally launched in May 2013 as a side-event to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. You can find it at http://co-guide.info/. The guide is available in Spanish and English. We are grateful to Carlos Barranco for his prompt and high-quality translation work, and 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. 2.2.3. Countering the Militarisation of Youth The Countering the Militarisation of Youth project has been the focus of the one-year Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) Peaceworker Owen Everett, working 2.5 days/week. Around 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 will be published in English in June, and German and Spanish editions will follow in September. It will include 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 has been the 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, and is a warm-up for a week of international action in 2014. Groups, organisations, and individuals from at least seven different countries will be taking part, and their actions will be documented on the WRI website and the website of the German network.
After the English version of the book, called Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It, has been published, for his remaining three months of his placement, Owen will focus on setting up a website which will act as a way of documenting the militarisation of young people around the world in its different forms. It will also contain a bank of visual, audio, and literary resources that highlight and challenge this. People will be able to submit content to the website via the moderator. This website will enable the WRI network to drive the project by indicating what the priorities should be. 2.2.4 RRTK programme committee The Right to Refuse to Kill programme committee continues to be in regular contact. Their work has been particularly critical over the staff changeover period, providing Hannah and Owen with much-needed expertise and support (both moral and professional). We met in person Bedia after the Bilbao Council meeting in September. Since than we have held monthly conference calls, and are in regular email contact. Milena Romera, of Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC) in Bogota, was invited to join the committee, and did so in April 2013. The committee therefore now consists of Rachel Brett (Quaker United Nations Office, Geneva), Adriana Patricia Castano Roman (Red Juvenil de Medellin, now living in Venezuela), Boro Kitanoski (Peace Action, Macedonia), Oskar Castro (War Resisters' League, USA), Milena Romera (ACOOC, Colombia), Igor Seke (from Serbia, now living in Mexico), with Sergeiy Sandler (New Profile, Israel) convening the committee, and Hannah and Owen from staff. Our next partly physical meeting is planned for Colombia in October 2013, when at least four of us will be together in Bogota, and others joining online. We are glad to connect our meeting to another event, thus reducing both the expense and environmental impact. 2.2.5 Evaluation Achievements
- 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.
- 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.
3. WRI in the Regions
This chapter is on WRI’s affiliates in the various regions, and networking WRI is undertaking.
Nonviolence resistance is as alive as ever in Africa, and WRI members in Africa as well as the Diaspora are part of this liveliness, as was reflected in the successes in 2012 of the African Nonviolence Training Exchange held in 2012 in Johannesburg, and the formation of an African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network - as reported in the last annual report. This past year the main work has been on the upcoming WRI International Conference, “Small Actions Big Movements: The Continuum of Nonviolence”, to take place in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2014. In South Africa there is an organising committee formed by Laura Pollecut, Sipho Theys, Terry Crawford Browne, Nozizwe Madlala and Jeremy Routledge. This committee has already done a lot of work preparing the conference and will be WRI main host for the Cape Town conference. The committee has met several times and will be instrumental in the success of the Cape Town Conference. The African Network has functioned mostly through its email list, where members post about their activities as well as sharing ideas for the Cape Town conference. Plans are for an African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network meeting to take place during the 2014 conference, where decisions will be made about future projects for the network. There are also network activities being planned in the build-up to the conference. WRI Africa Working Group and Africa Network members Elavie Ndura and Matt Meyer took part in the re-building of the Africa Peace Research Association (AFPREA), both at meetings in Japan and at subsequent on-line forums, with new bases of that network in Nigeria (and co-coordination of the International Peace Research Association in Sierra Leone). Conversations with the leadership of both those bodies have led to preliminary agreement that ARPREA will participate in and help publicize our July 2014, and be involved in on-going collaboration with the Africa Network. 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. This will continue and intensify in the coming year. In addition, WRI has been in contact with several key web magazines about covering and providing information about the conference and related themes and initiatives. 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.
The last "official" meeting of the European Antimilitarist Network took place more than a year ago as part of the NATO Game Over action in Brussels in 2012. However, the European Training Exchange held in Ieper, Belgium was an initiative of WRI and WRI's Belgian member, Vredesactie and in cooperation with other groups who are members of the European Antimilitarist Network. Throughout the work of the European Antimilitarist Network, which has carried out nonviolent direct actions against NATO, military intervention and infrastructure, nonviolence trainings has always been part of the action planning. Having a meeting focusing on training was a next step on the work of this network, which continues to plan future joint action and other forms of cooperation.
The next network international action will be in August and September, when members of the network will meet in Burghfield, Britain, to take part in a Trident Ploughshares international disarmament camp. The camp will take place over a fortnight, and September 2nd is the international day of action. We will be using the 'War Starts Here' slogan, and the pink theme. The day after the action will see an informal meeting of the European network. The camp is 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. Under the name “War starts here” there was an action camp from the 12th to 19th of September 2012 in Germany, protesting against a military training site. In 2013, there has been a second camp in July 2013. Read more under: http://www.warstartsherecamp.org/en/
3. 3 Latin America
The Latin America network continues to primarily be a space for sharing information between antimilitarist groups in the region. Conscientious objection to military service, which historically was the struggle that brought the network together, is now is less of a focus for antimilitarists, as they look at other forms that militarism is present in the region, for example the relation between corporations exploiting natural resources and the militarization of local communities. The situation in Paraguay, post parliamentary coup and the massacre of Curuguaty, continued to be one of the main topics shared within the network. Pelao Carvallo, who is a member of Articulación Curuguaty has kept the network informed on the events in Paraguay. A statement in support of nonviolence resistance in Paraguay was drafted at the last WRI Council meeting in Bilbao, which had the presence of Pelao Carvallo, Rafael Uzcátegui, Lexys Rendón and Igor Seke – all members of the network. The events in Venezuela: the re-election of Hugo Chavez, his death, and subsequent election of Nicolás Maduro, were of permanent discussion within the network, where different positions about the situation in Venezuela were expressed. 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, the Latin American network came out with a statement signed and shared widely. ACOOC in Bogotá, Colombia, prepared a street action concept for the Global Day of Action, about choosing were to spend public funding instead of the military. ACOOC were also the host organisation of the international conference: War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns. There are plans to hold a training for trainers in nonviolent action in November (2013) in Quito, Ecuador, where we will also have a regional network meeting.
3. 4 Middle East
WRI affiliate New Profile (Israel) and No to Compulsory Military Service (Egypt) – who will make 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, re-affirming 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.' See also 126.96.36.199 Eastern Mediterranean network of COs, for information on a postponed event for conscientious objectors in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
WRI doesn't have an Asian regional network, but this doesn't mean that there isn't work and cooperation with Asian groups. In the last year there was a lot of collaboration with World Without War (WWW) in South Korea. As mentioned in the NV Programme section, WRI led a nonviolence training for trainers in South Korea hosted by WWW. As part of WWW work on nonviolence they are coordinating a groups of trainers, which meet regularly and they are in the process of publishing WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns. 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. This year we also 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. Subhash Khattel from Nepal, who we met at the 2010 India conference, took on translating and publishing WRI's handbook into Nepali and also participated in the New Tactics online conversation. 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.
3.6 Australia and Oceania
WRI has an affiliate in Australia and in Papua New Guinea and contacts to some other activists through conferences.
4. WRI Internal
This section describes the various activities of the WRI as a network or organisation – the work of the International Council, of the Executive, Working Groups, and reports on the office, publications and statements.
4.1 Council 2012
WRI's International Council meeting for 2012 was held on 15-17 September 2012 in Bilbao. It was a relatively small meeting (with about 25 participants, mostly from Europe and the Americas), which was organized in the last moment by WRI Treasurer, Dominique Saillard, with help from our local affiliate, KEM-MOC, instead of the meeting we planned originally in Medellín, Colombia for the same dates. The cancellation of the Medellín meeting was discussed in our previous report, and, of course, at the Bilbao Council meeting itself. Because of the limited time and especially the limited money we could spend on preparing the event, this was our first physical Council meeting in many years that did not have some sort of seminar attached to it. The Council meeting welcomed two new affiliates into the International--Centre Delàs, based in Barcelona, joined as a section and the Turkish feminist collective Amargi joined as an associate organisation. The Council also elected Christine Schweitzer to replace Hilal Demir, who stepped down from WRI's Executive Committee. In a less formal capacity, the committee working on organizing the next WRI International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, had some new members join it at the Council meeting, and an entirely new committee--the fundraising committee--was established (and has been working regularly since). A special discussion we held on the situation in Paraguay around and following the recent massacre and coup there led to a statement that the Council drafted and WRI issued at the end of the meeting. Apart from this, and the customary review of WRI office programme work and regional networking, the centrepiece of the Council meeting was an extended vision exercise--WRI in 2022--which we conducted. It was the first time in a relatively long while that the WRI Council took some time to examine and discuss our plans and vision for the medium and long term. After taking time to imagine the conditions--external and organisational--in which we may find ourselves working in ten years' time, we split into small groups (using a "World Café" format) to discuss and raise practical suggestions on WRI's office and network structure, WRI visibility, WRI's fundraising and activism more generally. A detailed summary of these discussions can be found in the minutes of the Council meeting.
4.2 Council 2013
The Council 2012 agreed that--with the International Conference in Cape Town on the horizon--the 2013 Council meeting should tax as little resources (staff time and money) as possible. A proposal from WRI's affiliates in Finland was provisionally accepted, pending final approval by the Executive Committee. Eventually, funding we had hoped to get for the event could not be secured on time. After a lot of work by our Finnish affiliate, the Union of Conscientious Objectors, the Union and the WRI Executive made jointly the sad decision that we were in no position to have a Council in Finland., and the Exec opted for the fall-back option--an electronic Council meeting. WRI will – for the third time in the last ten years – hold an electronic Council. This Council is scheduled for the 20th to 30th of September, 2013. This time , we are experimenting with more interactive virtual tools, using videos, webinars, and conference call, in order to make this eCouncil as interesting and participatory as possible.
4.3 Preparation for International Conference in Capetown 2014
The WRI International Conference (and related meetings) will take place in Cape Town, 2-11 July 2014, co-hosted by our South African affiliate Ceasefire. The thematic conference - 'Small actions, Big movements: the continuum of nonviolence' - will be 4-8 July, beginning with a public plenary session opened by Desmond Tutu, with Jenni Williams of WOZA and Sahar Vardi of New Profile. The thematic conference will be preceded by a meeting of the outgoing WRI Council (on 2 July) and also of the WRI Assembly on 3 July, both coinciding with a global consultation on gender and militarism initiated by the Women's Peacemakers Program. A second day of the Assembly will follow the thematic conference on 10 July, and the incoming Council will have its first meeting on 11 July. Politically, this conference will be judged according to its contribution towards making WRI a more global network, especially improving our links in Africa. Therefore we are asking affiliates to contact any partners they have in Africa, encouraging them to attend. Financially, the conference cannot depend only on central fund-raising from the office and the fund-raising group. The Cape Town City Council has granted us use of the City Hall with no charge, and with considerable local help we are
doing what we can to minimise other costs. However, we need to achieve the same proportion of paying participants as we managed in Ahmedabad 2010. So we urge affiliates to note the doubts, to support the participation of their own members, and to consider solidarity funding for activists they support in other countries. To follow progress in preparing the conference, go to: https://www.wri-irg.org/southafrica2014 Challenges:
- SA2014 aims to be part of a process of strengthening antimilitarism and nonviolence in Africa, and linking this with WRI. So far, however, our efforts have been mainly geared towards the conference.
- In ways rather new to the WRI network, we want to share what happens at the conference with people not able to be physically present - for instance, through social media and video clips. Fund-raising: at the time of writing we have a year to go but no significant funding in place.
4.4 Executive Following Hilal Demir's resignation from the Executive during 2012, the Council meeting in Bilbao agreed to co-opt Christine Schweitzer who represents the Institut für Friedensarbeit und Gewaltfreie Konfliktaustragung (Institute for Peace Work and Nonviolent Conflict Transformation - IFGK) in the Council. Subsequently, the Executive has met twice in London (in December and March) and in July 13 in Spain, and has had several conference calls. The Exec sub-committee on Personnel matters consisted until July 2013 of Dominique and Sergeiy; currently a new member from outside the Exec and replacing Dominique is being sought. The Exec has produced statements in support of Nazlie Bala, a Kosovar human rights worker threatened and then physically beaten for advocating the inclusion of those raped in the law honouring those who suffered in the Kosova war, and in support of the Venezuelan human rights group PROVEA after they were insulted by a government minister following the election. A major theme of Executive meetings, following up the Council vision exercise, has been raising WRI's visibility. Challenges:
- Hilal's resignation highlighted the issue that the constitutional change removing Council's power to co-opt could cause problems when the Executive loses a member mid-term.
- Airfares have been too expensive to permit full participation in every meeting. While Exec meetings have now begun to include phone participation on specific items, we hope (and need) to make further progress on this.
4.5 Working Groups
4.5.1 Women Working Group Although several women met at the Lulea Council meeting in 2011, no advance has been made since then to revive the Women´s Working Group. This is not to say that gender issues have been kept off the WRI agenda. One proof of it is the strong commitment of several ‘historic’ members of the Women´s Working Group in order to produce the Women COs Anthology in English and Spanish (see 4.6.3. below). The preparation of the upcoming International Conference in South Africa certainly would be a very good opportunity to re-organise the WWG and organise it´s input into the programme and celebration of the event 4.5.2 Queer Working Group 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 queer people in WRI, to use queer theory and practice to understand and to struggle against militarism, and also with the aim to demilitarize the LGBTQ movement 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 The Broken Rifle queer issue was made including stories of everything from situation of LGBTQ people in the antimilitarists movements around the world to critiques of LGBTQ movement efforts to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to how queer and antimilitarist struggles are connected and why antimilitarism needs queer. During a training for trainers in Belgium organized 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.
All our email-based publications can be viewed on our website. You can subscribe to receive them to your inbox here. 4.6.1 Paper and Email Series Publications
188.8.131.52 The Broken Rifle The Broken Rifle continues to be WRI's quarterly newsletter, with most issues published in English Spanish, German and French. Since August 2012, the following issues have been published:
- The email-newsletter wri-info is published as needed – usually for WRI statements and announcements. It is also used to distribute War Resisters' Stories.
184.108.40.206 War Resisters' Stories
- This new monthly eNewsletter was launched in February 2013. Each month it contains five stories, both from the office and from affiliates. 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 of RRTK 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.
- The email newsletter War Profiteers News is published bimonthly in English and Spanish. 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.
4.6.2 Social media
- This year, 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 1700 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. Our following has grown ten fold in the last year.
- Identi.ca is an open source microblogging service. Find us at http://identi.ca/wri
- A distributed social networking service. Find us at https://joindiaspora.com/u/warresistersinternational
- WRI has published two books this year.
- – a Spanish-language version of
- , was published in January 2013. It was translated by Michelle Renyé, and is also available online (http://wri-irg.org/pubs/objetoras-antologia) and is for sale. In June 2013
- was launched at Housmans bookshop, London. The book was compiled by Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker Owen Everett, and contains surveys on 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. Sale of books: in spring 2013 WRI held a booksale, focusing on
- by Devi Prasad,
- by Brian Martin and
- edited by Mitzi Bales. This has some moderate success, but we still have many copies available.
- 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.
- Utilising open source social media.
- As ever, we struggle to find translators to assist with our newsletters and online content. We are extremely grateful for all the work of our volunteer translators, and are aware how much work they do for us.
- 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.
- We have greatly increased our social media following, and we now need to convert these outreach opportunities to action i.e. response to CO-Alerts, sharing our online content, or donating to WRI's work.
4.7 Statements, Press Releases
- WRI supports Venezuelan Human Rights organisation PROVEA 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
- 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
- Since August 2012, 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 relevant media outlets. From the most recent, they are:
- The office in London is the node in the network where all the different activities come together, are communicated, coordinated, planned and fundraised for.
- As we already noted in last year's report, this year was a year of significant change in the WRI office, as Andreas Speck, who has been WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker for over a decade, and who has in many ways shaped the programme and the WRI office in general over that time, decided to move on, and left the WRI office at the end of 2012. After reviewing more than 80 applications —many from truly excellent candidates — the selection committee chose Hannah Brock to be the new RRtK programme worker. Hannah joined the office in early September 2012, just in time for our Council meeting in Bilbao, which she attended, and worked alongside Andreas for a handover period until the end of the year (this is also a good opportunity to thank the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which funds our RRtK programme, for agreeing to fund the extra salary costs for the extended handover period). Since January 2013, Hannah is in charge of the RRtK programme on her own and — as you no doubt noticed — is doing a great job. The Nonviolence programme, for all this time, has continued to be staffed by Javier Gárate, who is also doing a great job. Both staff members, together with our peaceworker and interns we have at the office from time to time, hold regular staff meetings, the minutes of which are sent to the Executive Committee.
4.8.2 Interns and Volunteers
- WRI wouldn't be WRI without our volunteers and interns that work so hard for the organisation. For the past year, we have been extremely lucky to have Owen Everett as a QPSW Peaceworker. Owen primarily work has been on Countering the Militarisation of Youth. His main project has been editing the book
- . He also worked on a survey following the 2012, Darmstadt conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth and coordinated the International Day of Action on Countering the Militarisation of Youth on 14 June, as well as many other office related tasks. The big news, is that after more than 25 years, Martyn Lowe will no longer be a regular volunteer at WRI. This is because he is moving to live in Liverpool. However he said that he will come down to London to help with WRI appeal mail outs, which are twice a year. We wish him the best of luck in his new adventure and big thank you for all his years as volunteer at WRI. We would like to give a big thank you to all volunteer translators/interpreters that do a huge job helping us to have our materials in several languages, they are: Nayua Abdelkefi, Carlos Barranco, Pedro Ballesteros, Igor, Seke, Oscar Huenchunao, Matias Mulet, Laura Perez Poza, Demet Caltekin, Paul Rankin, Rebecca House, Ian MacDonald, Inge Dreger, Gerd Buentzly, Achim Schmitz, Christine Schweitzer, Richard Meakin, Rene Burget, Tikiri, Marion List, Serge Vanden Berghe, Bastien Zara and Ed Neidhardt. For our May Appeal mail out we had the help of: Jess Metheringham, Jess Murray, Jenny McCarthy, Rob Johnson, Kim Edwards and Henry McLaughlin a big thank you to them too.
5. Finances and Fundraising
- Since Andreas left the office, we have put our accounting work in the hands of Andy Hancock, a member of a cooperative which is also handling the bookkeeping of other peace organisations, like Peace News. Getting his advice and expertise has given us some peace of mind and is allowing us to make some adjustments to our daily financial routines.
- The financial support of the WRI network remains very insufficient, but we are pleased to see that we have been able to maintain a similar level to 2011, as the generalised cutting of public and/or private funding to NGOs has also affected some of our members in Europe.
- The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has given us yet another tangible proof of its long-standing support to our Right to refuse to kill programme: this British Quaker Fund has topped its usual 4-year grant with a substantial increase in order to finance a 4-month overlap betteen the outgoing and incoming programme worker. This has allowed Hannah to benefit from an in-depth hand-over training from Andreas between September and December last year.
- Most importantly, we have been able to create a small fundraising working Group, which has started to bring fresh energy to Exec and staff. Let us thank here Frank Feiner, from PAIS and Henry McLaughlin, from the British Campain Against the Arms Trade, who are regular members of this Group, as well as Jan Ruyssenaars, who also advises us on specific issues.
- Financially, 2012 was not a good year—once again, we might say. We were not able to mitigate our chronic deficit through any additional grant. And the results can clearly be seen on our 10-year evolution graph. However, we shall not treat this situation as a fatality. As you know, we have had to take difficult decisions, such as cancelling our 2013 presential Council meeting. And we of course keep an eagle eye on our day-to-day office and programme expenses. Of course, this type of cost-watching measures does have an important impact on all our political decisions, and unless we cut down on staff (which we consider would be an absolutely last-resort measure) there is no substantial savings we can make any more. On the more positive side, we can point out a few things:
Getting down now to strategy and the numerous issues we are trying to tackle to give WRI the medium to long-term stability it has to reach in order to maintain its political commitment: increasing funding through the WRI network is perhaps the hardest goals we have to reach, yet it would also be the most efficient one, providing us with a much higher financial autonomy and more political freedom. Another big issue is stopping and reverting the decline in individual donations, as well as encouraging our long-time supporters to think of WRI in their will, as you will have seen in our April appeal this year. On the fundraising side, one of our main priorities is the Nonviolence Programme and we are sending out a number of applications, with one first encouraging result: a GDP £5,000 grant from the British Lush Foundation. We still have a long ways to go to cover the programme’s cost, but this is a good sign for the future.
- Our second big priority is the 2014 South Africa international conference. Although we have not yet secured any grant, we have received a very meaningful in-kind support from the Cape Town City Hall and are getting much encouragement from the strong organisational involvement of our South African Partners. Finally, let us mention that on the strategic side, our greatest challenge will be to evolve from a mostly event-based fundraising (from Council meetings to International conferences or seminars) to a much more integrated and process-oriented fundraising. All this will not be an easy task, and the WRI Executive and the Fundraising Working Group will regularly get in touch with the WRI network to put its financial planning into practice. We need our affiliates and individual donors to provide a significant boost to our efforts.
6. Outlook to the coming year
- Organisationally, the coming year will undoubtedly be marked by the upcoming International Conference in Capetown, South Africa. It will be the first time for WRI to meet not only in South Africa, but on the African continent at all. Intensive networking is preceding the conference, and we hope to be able to use the occasion to build new links to groups in Africa as well as revive and strengthen the links to those groups that are already our affiliates. The conference will be quite expensive, and we need all the help from the WRI network to make it happen.