War Resisters' International Report 2000


Executive Committee: Joanne Sheehan, Chair; Andreas Speck, Treasurer; Ellen Elster (Norway); Jan Van Criekinge (Belgium); Vesna Terselic (Croatia) ( Natalie Sipak (Croatia)
Staff: Roberta Bacic, Program and Development Officer; Lucia Brandi, Finance and Development Officer
War Resisters' International, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1, 9DX, Britain
info@wri-irg.org tel: +44 20 7278 4040 Fax: +44 20 7278 0444


This is a Report of the work of staff and executive of War Resisters International since the 1999 WRI Council meeting at Steinkimmen, Germany. Its structure is based on the Strategic Plan adopted at our last Triennial Conference in Porec, Croatia in September 1998. Creating such a Report is a new process for WRI. It was originally presented, in longer form, to the WRI Council in Oxford in July 2000. This process has given us an opportunity to assess WRI, to see where we are now, what progress we have made, what challenges face us. We are a staff and executive that is fairly new since the last Triennial. These past 2 years have been a period of learning and transition, of focusing on internal functions as well as the development of programmes.

We are trying to balance the work of being an organization and a network of grassroots groups. We need to develop programmes and facilitate communication among the network while finding the funding needed to do both. The Strategic Plan has been our guide. The Statement of Function lists 4 WRI functions: linking people together, initiating campaigns and action projects, support actions and promotion and public education.

We face a number of organizational challenges, including: the need to strengthen the office by increasing the number of staff, increasing funding so that we can develop programmes and be able to respond in emergency situations, strengthening the internal communication to empower ourselves (the WRI network).

We also face a number of opportunities which we have chosen to embrace. The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment conference is an important contribution to the Decade of Nonviolence. The development of CONCODOC is a unique project which will provide needed resources for those who refuse to kill.


A. Promote nonviolence

A. Increased understanding of nonviolent social empowerment

The Strategic Plan states that "WRI will engage in a process of reflection in order to deepen our understanding of nonviolence and empowerment and to implant the discussion more firmly into WRI's work." The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project - the email discussion, study conference, and book containing case studies and tools for social activists - is an important step in this process. This project will develop resources not only for WRI but for all interested in the power of nonviolence as the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence begins.

An international project office was set up in Oldenburg, staffed by Julia Kraft and Andreas Speck. The office coordinates the whole project on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment, which include the conference, regional and local preparations and coordinating fundraising efforts and compiling of documentation and use of publications (A1-A3 of the Strategic Plan), and works closely with the WRI office, the WRI Executive and the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Committee (NVSECOM)

1. Conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment
The NVSECOM developed the programme for the international conference, which will take place 18 - 24th of February 2001. In preparation of the conference Andreas Speck visited India in April 2000 and met with the local host, WRI affiliate Swadhina, and a wide range of other groups, to discuss and promote the project. This visit went far beyond WRI's traditional contacts in India and included meetings with women's groups, environmental groups, human rights groups, peace groups and gay/lesbian groups. The contacts made during this trip will help to promote the conference in India. A promotional brochure for the entire project (email-discussion, conference, case studies and book) is available in English, Spanish and French.
2. Regional and local preparations
As part of the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project, and in preparation for the conference, the NVSECOM has commissioned case studies, looking at the experience of campaigns from all parts of the world in four different areas:
  • empowerment for creating economic alternatives
  • empowerment to protect the environment
  • empowerment for social decontamination
  • empowerment for demilitarisation
3. Compiling of documentation and use of publications
The June-August issue of Peace News focuses on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment and includes articles from more than 10 countries from five continents. These articles will be made available in Spanish, French, and German and published as Broken Rifle. Additional articles have been sent to the email-discussion list and posted on the WRI and NVSE web sites.
4. Strengthen support for nonviolence trainers in promoting nonviolence
"From Kosov@ to Seattle: What role for nonviolent action?" includes presentations by nonviolence trainers on the role of nonviolence trainings. The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment conference and case studies, and the Peace News issue, will also address the work of nonviolence trainers.
5. Continued discussion of identity issues and their relationship to conflict to be included as themes in all councils and triennials
The discussion on identity was continued with the focus on masculinity and national identity during the seminar "The Changing Face of the Military" at Steinkimmen, linked to the Council meeting 1999. Identity issues are also part of the discussion within the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project, with the focus on gender and sexual identities.

B. Promote antimilitarism

B. CO-work continued

Since the 1999 Council meeting, work on conscientious objection and on asylum for COs and deserters again was of high importance to the WRI Exec and the office.
1. CONCODOC and CO asylum
At the Triennial in Porec the proposal on CONCODOC (Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation Center) was accepted. This proposal included two parts: (1) updating country reports, and (2) publication and promotion of Refusing to Bear Arms (published Sept. 1998) on the Internet. A proposal to develop CONCODOC into a permanent, multi-faceted research and documentation project, of which Refusing to Bear Arms (RTBA) would be the first of many publications, was accepted by Council 1999. RTBA´s Latin American country reports have been translated into Spanish. On May 15th 2000, CO Day, the second publication of the CONCODOC project was launched: Emily Miles: A Conscientious Objectors´ Guide to the UN Human Rights System. This publication on one hand expanded CONCODOC to legal issues of International Law around CO, and was a positive example of co-operation with the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva. At present the main aim of WRI is to establish cooperation with QUNO, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), Amnesty International, Red Latinoamericana de Objectores de Conciencia (ROLC), and other organisations to form CONCODOC, based in the WRI office in London and under the political leadership of WRI. A first meeting in Brussels in July 2000, with participation from QUNO, QCEA, Child Soldiers Coalition and EBCO agreed to co-operate in order to set up a permanent Concodoc Centre.

The advise service to asylum seekers and their lawyers, which increased enormously following the publication of RTBA, still is an important part of the work of the London office, and at present is mainly done by volunteers. The advise given by the office lead to several successes for CO´s in their asylum cases, but at the same time highlights the need for permanently updated information, which in future hopefully will be provided by the Concodoc Centre.

2. Struggle against conscription and for the human right to refuse war and obligatory service
Since Council 1999, one major focus of WRI´s work against conscription again was Turkey. WRI was asked by Istanbul Antimilitarist Initiative (IAMI) to send a delegation to an anti-conscription festival in Istanbul, which took place on 14th May. Unfortunately the Exec and the office were not able to organise a delegation, mainly due to very short notice. Luckily, the event in Istanbul went without incidents and more than 800 people participated. Three COs publicly declared their conscientious objection. In December, WRI sent a delegation to observe a trial against three Turkish antimilitarists who were accused of ´alienating the people from the military´ (Art. 155 Turkish Penal Code) because of a talk they gave in 1999 in support of conscientious objection. The trial, which took place in front of the military court at the general staff in Ankara, ended with the acquittal of the accused. Sarah Woodhouse, a solicitor who had approached WRI to ask about asylum issues related to Turkish CO, kindly accepted to go on our behalf and also met our groups there. However, it became clear that WRI is weak in ´crises response´, and there is a need to develop a network of people prepared to go on delegations to countries such as Turkey, as well as to raise funds for CO crises response, which are available when needed.

May 15th, International Conscientious Objectors Day, still is the main day of action for CO campaigns. However, the present situation of ICOM (International Conscientious Objectors Meeting), which hasn´t met since the meeting in Chad in 1996, leaves a leadership and a networking gap, which WRI so far is unable to fill. This year May 15th was mainly used to promote Emily Miles´ report ´A Conscientious Objectors´ Guide to the UN Human Rights System´.

In many countries this was linked to the situation of COs in specific countries, such as Turkey and Angola.

C. CO work expanded into broader antimilitarism work.

1. Prisoners for Peace list
Prisoners for Peace Day - 1st December - is WRI´s unique day of support to those who are imprisoned because of their nonviolent struggle for peace and human rights. So far WRI was unable to develop the day into a powerful campaign, but maintained it on a minimum level and provided the ´Honour Roll´ of those imprisoned on 1st December. WRI´s affiliates use this material for their own work on Prisoners for Peace to a very different extend. It is one of WRI´s main aims for the near future to develop the potential of this day into a powerful tool for the struggle for the recognition of the right to refuse to kill.

D. New strategies developed as armies get professionalized

An international seminar held in August 1999 in Steinkimmen Germany, called "The Changing Face of the Military" was a first step towards this goal. Holding the seminar just after NATO's bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, we had a good opportunity to study the new strategies of NATO. NATO-countries, non-NATO-countries in the Western world and Africa were the continents which were explored, looking at military strategies (like professionalisation of the army, new weapon technology, out of area interventions), consequences, human rights and gender perspectives.

Different strategies to meet the new militarism were discussed: CO as human right and antimilitarist action, two strategies which complement each other; international laws which in its existence legitimate military actions, but can give us a strategic tool to use against wars; exposing of lies made by the military to legitimate itself and its actions; opening of dialogue with different representatives in society; building up of alternative opportunities for job-training, personal development, to live out adventures and value-systems in order to delegitimatize militarism. Peace News printed an article about the seminar while Broken Rifle gave a full report.

The Women's Working Group collected material about recruitment of women to the military. The group circulated an overview about the situation in many countries.

E. Nonviolent civilian intervention experiences analyzed.

Balkan Peace Team still is WRI's most important project in the field of nonviolent civilian intervention. WRI's representatives on BPT's Coordinating Committee are Howard Clark and Sian Jones. WRI affiliate Institut für Friedensarbeit und Gewaltfreie Konfliktaustragung finished an evaluation of the Balkan Peace Team, which is presently discussed within BPT. Peace News focused on interventions in its December issue.

F. Work done on reconstruction and democratization analyzed.

WRI has not formally worked on analysing the experiences of affiliates who have gone through war, conflicts and dictatorships. However, Roberta Bacic has contributed in the field of justice with her experience in research work and campaigning around truth. As she has worked closely with the relatives of detained disappeared in her country, Chile, in Universities and at the Chilean Truth Commission, she has been able to continue giving lectures on the topic in Universities in Britain and Germany, and she has contributed by giving workshops for peace and solidarity groups and has written articles for magazines and newspapers in England and Germany. She co-edited Peace News 2438 on "Truth, Reconciliation and Forgiveness" with Andrew Rigby.


G. WRI developed to be more global

1. Peace News to broaden distribution of contributors internationally

As WRI is a worldwide network, Peace News should function as a link through reports, theoretical and practical articles on various aspects of militarism and nonviolence from different parts of the world, as well as being the mean of sharing tactics and techniques across cultures. After Peace News became quarterly it has to a large extent fulfilled its purpose in its content, thanks to its editor and the newly established system of guest-editors. In this way the contributors have broaden internationally.

2. Strengthening the work on the Turkey and Kurdistan situation

Since the Council in Steinkimmen in 1999 WRI has a closer link to Antimilitarist Initiative in Istanbul, and Uygar Abaci represented them at Steinkimmen, Yasin Yildirim from IAMI presently stays in London and collaborated with the office on May 15th at a public ceremony. The office used the occasion of the CO Day appeal to publicise the situation of Turkish COs and the Istanbul press conference to its members and donors, and lobbied other organisations for support for Turkish/Kurdish COs and asylum seekers in the week building up to May 15th. Peace News continued to cover the situation of war resisters in Turkey. Osman Murat Ülke, Turkey´s first CO who was imprisoned for 2 ½ years in 1996, was elected as one WRI´s vice-chairs at the Triennial. ISKD and Connection e.V. in Germany still publish Kirik Tüfek in German monthly, now in combination with Connection´s newsletter KDV im Krieg (CO in war). ISKD in Izmir presently hosts two peace workers from Germany as part of a long-term exchange programme. One of them, Jörg Rohwedder, represented ISKD at the Council meeting in Oxford. At the same Council meeting, IAMI was accepted as a WRI Associate. Council 2001 will take place in Turkey from 20.-23. September 2001, in combination with a seminar on ´Peace and Women´s Movements - practise and ideology´. This is a big opportunity to strengthen WRI´s work on Turkey and Kurdistan and to support the Turkish war resisters.

3. Extending African contacts

Since the creation of the WRI Africa Working Group (Brazil Triennial 1994) the WRI network has been making contact with peace activists and nonviolent grassroots initiatives in Africa. Especially as the last years many violent conflicts and civil wars started in different African countries, there has been an increase in contacts and an increase in African groups interested in affiliating with WRI. Matt Meyer of War Resisters League (USA) and Jan Van Criekinge of Forum voor Vredesactie (Belgium) are still the two conveners of this working group.Matt Meyer and Bill Sutherland's book "Guns and Gandhi in Africa" was published this year. WRI organized a book launch to coincide with a WRI Executive meeting in October 2000 in London. Jan Van Criekinge keeps in contact with activists from Congo on the worsening situation especially in the eastern part of Congo. This year he traveled to Egypt. Both conveners were involved in the establishment of a concept for the planned Peace News issue on Southern Africa.

The Steinkimmen Council was attended by two African activists, living as refugees in Germany. From the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) came Dieudonné Kambilo-Bwelongo of the 'Reseau Open DD' and member of DFG-VK in Germany and UPF in France. From Angola Emanuel Matondo, one of the people who took the initiative to create an association among the Angolan refugees in Berlin (IAADH: Angolan Antimilitaristic Intitiative for Human Rights) to promote peaceful solutions for the ongoing civil war in Angola. He engaged himself in the Africa WG and the CONCODOC project, and has continued to network with WRI activists in Germany, France and Belgium. Dieudonne represented DFG-VK at the Oxford Council meeting in 2000.

Emanuel Matondo from I.A.A.D.H. at the Steinkimmen Council 1999

In preparation of WRI´s NVSE conference, close contacts developed with the Angolan peace movement. On December 10th, WRI issued a statement in support of Rafael Marques, an Angolan journalist and peace activist, who was tried because of ´defaming the Angolan president´ and presently is not allowed to leave the country, nor to write or speak publicly. In addition, Rafael Marques was put under house-arrest on 24 December. WRI will continue with its efforts to support him.

H. Gender perspective integrated into WRI's antimilitarism work, drawn from different cultures and traditions

In general there seems to be a higher understanding of looking at different themes and programmes with a gender perspective. Seminar- and conference themes as well as WRI publications like Peace News and Broken Rifles include gender issues. A Women's Working Group brochure is being prepared.

1. Celebration of women's working group - 25 years history

The aim is to produce a history of women in WRI since the first proposal for a Women's conference was organized. The project is in progress, but producing a funding proposal, finding funds, and finding an author has taken much longer than we planned. The main challenge now is to find enough funding for the project. A brochure presenting the project is available.

2. Meeting on Violence against women in Turkey in November 1999

First the women from WRI honoury affiliate Izmir Savas Karsitlari Dernegi (ISKD) and some women from DFG-VK, KURVE Wustrow and some other groups in Germany planned an international women's conference in Turkey on the theme Violence Against Women. However, due to organisational and financial problems the plans had to be changed, and in the end a German-Turkish women's week took place on "Violence Against Women, an inter-cultural exchange". Six women from Germany and many women from Izmir participated in discussions and actions, including an invisible theater on "violence within relationships" in a café in Izmir. The group discussed common plans for the future. A second German-Turkish women's meeting tool place in Izmir the summer of 2000. The women's movement in Turkey will be one of the main examples at the international seminar linked to WRI's Council meeting in September 2001.

3. Programme for WRI on violence against and human rights for women during conflict

Women's Working Group liaises with IFOR Women's Peacemaker Programme. It was last reported in WRI WOMEN's newsletter February 2000 (no. 27). Report from the theme group on "Women crossing the lines" has been circulated among the members of the Women's working group through e-mail.

L. The function of WRI Affiliates strengthened as the base of WRI

The Affiliates give WRI its base. Important grassroots work is done at this level. The office and the Executive have a function of linking the Affiliates together in common actions in its international work for nonviolence and antimilitarism. 1999/2000 has been strong at networking around issues of CO, WRI Women, Africa, Turkey as well as forwarding information regarding different topics to our affiliates and working groups of materials we have received by e-mail. The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project has created an opportunity to reach out to other grassroots movements as well as our own affilitates.

The office also helps and advises people who are doing historical research on peace issues. The requests this year have come directly from our own groups or by people linked to them. Several publications, a video and a film will come out of this research.

M. Cooperate with other organisations, groups and networks

WRI has worked with many organisations such as International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Brigades International, International Peace Bureau, Committee for Conflict Transformation Support on a number of common concerns. We have made a particular effort to cooperate with groups who are now working with WRI on CONCODOC. The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project has also given us an opportunity to reach out to other organisations, groups and networks. The office has been working on historical research, providing people who are writing articles, doing films, preparing exhibitions, doing research or writing books with information. As we prepare for WRI's next Triennial Conference which will take place in the Republic of Ireland in 2002, we are working with a network of groups based there.

N. WRI's work promoted through peace magazines in the WRI network

Many peace magazines in support of and connecting to nonviolent and anti-militarist movements and campaigns in the WRI network are produced.

Peace News as a quarterly has now been coming out for one year and a half. It is published by Peace News Limited, joint project of Peace News Trustees and WRI.

Broken Rifle is published 2 - 3 times a year. It gives the network an update of ongoing WRI programme in different languages. It also opens up for WRI members the possibilities of giving feedback and reports of their own activities.

WRI WOMEN's newsletter is meant to be published 3 times a year by the Women's Working Group. The 27th issue was published in February 2000 and included a survey to determine interest.

WRI's web site is in four languages and is continuously being updated thanks to Ken Simons.

Thank you

Wewould like to say Thank you to all those who supported WRI's work: in 1999 we received grants from Stiftung Gewaltfreies Leben, Germany, Stiftung Leben und Umwelt, Germany, Ausschuß für Entwicklungsbezogene Bildung und Publizistik, Germany, DFG-VK Niedersachsen, Germany, Stiftung Umverteilen, Germany, Patchwork e.V., World Council of Churches, Switzerland, Poldan Puckham Charitable Trust, UK and Lansbury House Trust Fund, UK. In 2000 we received grants from A.J. Muste Institute, USA, Dewey Foundation, USA, Stiftung Gewaltfreies Leben, Germany, Stiftung Umverteilen, Germany, Patchwork e.V., Germany, Lansbury House Trust Fund, UK, and Folkereisning Mot Krig, Norway.

In addition we say Thank you to all those individuals who support us with small or large donations - without your support our word would not be possible.

The WRI network

The following is the list of WRI Sections and Associates (updated to 20 December 2000).
[S] = Section, [A] = Associate, [AP] = Associate Publication
Frente Opositor al Servicio Militar Obligatorio [A]
War Resisters' League (WRL) [S]
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Wehrdienstverweigerung und Gewaltfreiheit (Arge WDV) [A]
Begegnungszentrum für Aktive Gewaltlosigkeit (BFAG) [A]
Forum voor Vredesactie [S]
Mouvement International de la Réconciliation/ Internationale des Résistant(e)s à la Guerre (MIR-IRG) [S]
Confédération du Service Civil de la Jeunesse (CSCJ) [A]
Mouvement Chrétien pour la Paix (MCP) [A]
Serviço Paz e Justiça [A]
Fellowship of Reconciliation in England (FOR) [S]
Peace Pledge Union (PPU) [S]
Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign [A]
Anglican Pacifist Fellowship [A]
Brotherhood Church [A]
Greenpeace (London) [A]
Housmans Bookshop [A]
Peace News Trustees Ltd [A]
ACT for Disarmament [S]
Centre de ressources sur la non-violence [A]
Tchad Non-Violence [A]
Redes Juveniles [A]
Antiratna Kampanja Hrvatske (ARK) [A]
Aldrig Mere Krig (AMK) [S]
Servicio Paz y Justicia del Ecuador (Serpaj-Ecuador) [A]
Aseistakieltäytyiäliitto / Union of Conscientious Objectors [S]
Committee of 100 Finland [A]
Sitoutumaton Vasemmisto / Independent Left [A]
Union Pacifiste de France (UPF) [S]
Réseau d'information aux Réfractaires (RIRE) [AP]
Collectif des Objectrices et Objecteurs Tarnais (COT) [A]
France sans armée pour un monde sans armées (FSA) [A]
Mouvement de l'Objection de Conscience (MOC) [A]
Mouvement International de la Réconciliation (MIR) [A]
Mouvement pour une alternative non-violente (MAN) [A]
People to People [A]
Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft - Internationale der Kriegsdienstgegner (DFG-IdK) [S]
Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft - Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen (DFG-VK) [S]
Institut für Friedensarbeit und Gewaltfreie Konfliktaustragung [S]
Internationale der KriegsdienstgegnerInnen - Berlin (IdK-Berlin) [S]
Graswurzelrevolution [AP]
Anti-Kriegs-Museum [A]
Archiv Aktiv für gewaltfreie Bewegungen [A]
Selbstorganisation der Zivildienstleistenden (SOdZDL) [A]
Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors [S]
Alba Kör - Eröszakmentes Mozgalom a Békéért [S]
Swadhina [S]
War Resisters of India/West [S]
Gandhian Society Villages Association (GANSOVILLE) [A]
Movimento Nonviolento [S]
Associazione SignorNò! [A]
Lega degli Obiettori di Coscienza (LOC) [A]
WRI Japan [S]
Nipponzan Myohoji [A]
Group for Antimilitarist Action (GAMA) [A]
Vereniging Dienstweigeraars (VD) [A]
Christian Pacifist Society [S]
Folkereisning Mot Krig (FMK) [S]
Kampanjen mot Verneplikt [A]
Objector - Poznan [A]
Associação Livre dos Objectores e Objectoras de Consciência (ALOOC) [A]
Sibienii Pacifisti [A]
SPAIN (state of)
Asociación de Objectores/as de Conciencia de Euskadi/ Euskadiko Kontzientzi Eragozleen Alkartea (AOC-EKEA) [S]
Kontzientzi Eragozpen Mugimendua (MOC-Euskal Herria) [S]
Moviment d'Objecció de Consciència de Catalunya [S]
Movimiento de Objeción de Conciencia (MOC) [S]
En pie de paz [AP]
Taller de Paz [A]
Nonviolent Direct Action Group (NVDAG) [S]
Kristna Fredsrörelsen [S]
Svenska Freds- och Skiljedomsföreningen [S]
Centre Martin Luther King (CMLK) [A]
Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee (GsoA) [A]
Istanbul Anti-militarist inisiyatif [A]
Fellowship of Reconciliation in Uganda [A]
War Resisters League (WRL) [S]
Fellowship of Reconciliation USA [A]
Resource Center for Nonviolence [A]
Pokret za Mir Pancevo [A]
Zene u Crnom protiv Rata / Women in Black Against War [A]
International Nonviolent Initiatives (INI) [A]
Partito Radicale [A]

Link to a current list containing postal and web/email addresses for WRI affiliates.

Programmes & Projects

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