War Resisters' International: International Office and Executive Committee Report, 1998-2002


Table of contents


Much has happened since WRI's last Triennial in Porec, Croatia in September 1998. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and Kosov@, increased war in Columbia, the rise of conflict in the Middle East. The 11th of September and the "War on Terrorism" has increased the causes of violence, negated human rights, increased a tightening of borders and made most countries of the world potential targets. But we have also seen the end of the war in Angola, the rise of the anti-globalisation movement, and an increase in the number of Israeli resisters.

What are the WRI responses to these events? It is more clear than ever that we must continue our long-term work to build nonviolent alternatives and confront the root causes of war and violence. But it is painfully easy to feel overwhelmed. We issue statements, call for conscientious objection to war and war preparations, use our publications for analysis, connect actions in our network (though affiliates need to be connecting with WRI more), contributing both to our network and outside with our special skills such as CO-alert and trainings. We also make personal choices. The WRI staff is withholding war taxes, with the support of the Exec. Together we all need to evaluate our work and develop the best ways we can to promote nonviolence and antimilitarism.

This is a report of the work of the staff and Executive committee of War Resisters' International since the last Triennial. As a staff and Exec we were fairly new when we took on our responsibilities. Our early years were a period of transition and learning, of focusing on internal functions as well as the development of programmes. We have all grown through this process.

The staff and Exec have worked together as a team, and began to write joint reports in 2000. The structure of these reports is based on the Strategic Plan adopted at the last Triennial. This Report to the Triennial Business Meeting is a combination of what we have done since the last Business Meeting, with an emphasis on the past year. This collective process of evaluating our work and identifying the challenges WRI faces has been important for us to do together.

WRI is a global network of grassroots groups, and an organisation with programme. We have 4 functions: linking people together, initiating campaigns and action projects, providing support for those addressing the causes of war and refusing to support war of any kind, and promoting nonviolence through public education. We have tried to balance those roles, although Staff and Exec clearly have more control over what WRI can do as an organisation. It is up to WRI affiliates to play a stronger role in strengthening the network.

This report describes what we see as the achievements and challenges since the last Triennial. We want to point out what we see as the major ones:

Major achievements:

  • Organising the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment conference, the first conference other than a Triennial organised by WRI in 10 years.
  • Development of our CO work into The Right to Refuse to Kill project - obtaining a grant to bring on a 3rd staffperson to do this work.
  • Changing how WRI organises annual Council meetings - creating a Seminar separate from the business meeting
  • Making significant steps in making the WRI network more global.

Major challenges:

  • Developing new funding base for our work
  • Strengthening the network, addressing the issues of a changing membership base
  • Developing Dealing with the Past into a programme
Joanne Sheehan
WRI Chair

I. Programme Goals

1) Promote nonviolence

A. Increased understanding of nonviolent social empowerment

1. The international conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment

was one of WRI's main projects in the period 1998-2002. This conference was part of a larger, ongoing project, and a book, containing essays written after the conference will be published early in 2003.

The project developed out of an idea to start consultations with armed struggle movements, presented at WRI's Triennial Conference in São Leopoldo in Brazil in 1994. Through the course of the discussion issues of social mobilisation and of what changes in society we aim to achieve became more central. At WRI's Council meeting in Liège/Bel-gium in 1996, the change of focus in the programme was acknowledged by changing the title to "Nonviolence and Social Empowerment"; 'empowerment' became the key word, both for WRI's philosophy of nonviolence, and as the key theme every broader nonviolent movement has to deal with.

In the early stages of the project, it was framed as an ongoing process, in which the conference should only have been one aspect at the end of the process. The five stages were:

  • Reflection among WRI groups: How do we evaluate our activity in terms of a) personal empowerment, b) group empowerment, c) social empowerment?
  • Analyse WRI's own activity: A seminar looking at WRI's own experience in cooperating with new groups. What difference has it made? What problems has it created?
  • Theme group on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment at WRI's Triennial Conference in Porec/Croatia, September 1998, aimed to implant the discussion more firmly in WRI.
  • Regional build-up, bridging the theme group and the conference.
  • The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Conference.

Stages 1 and 2 never really happened. Although the Triennial theme group on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment was the largest theme group at the Triennial 1998, it didn't achieve its aim to implant the discussion in WRI - or at least not in the part of the WRI network that is mostly present at WRI Council meetings.

In preparation of the conference, some case studies were submitted to the project office, which was set up temporarily to organise the conference (the case studies are available at http://wri-irg.org/archive/nvse2001/nvse/nvsecase.htm). About 65 people from more than 20 countries and five continents participated in the conference, the majority from the South. There was even more interest in the conference, especially in Latin America and from Africa, but due to lack of funding it was not possible to accept more participants who were not able to pay for themselves (a report on the conference is available at http://wri-irg.org/archive/nvse2001/nvse/nvserept.htm). At present a book is being prepared by Chris Ney, which will contain essays based on presentations at the conference, and articles and case studies written prior to the conference. WRI aims to get the book published by a professional publisher some time next year.

Achievements and Challenges:

First of all it was a big achievement that the conference happened - and with broad international participation. This was the first major WRI event in between Triennials since the early 1990s. The project met with huge interest from Latin America, and revived, strengthened and developed links with Latin American groups, and also with groups from Africa.

Content-wise, the project certainly led to a deeper understand of nonviolent social empowerment. One important aspect is the different approach of many southern groups compared to "Western" groups. While the southern approach is often more holistic - making the links with economy and the daily struggle for survival - the "Western" approach is often more focussed on a clear aim in a single issue campaign. The NVSE conference also influenced the theme for the Seminar 2001 in Turkey and the Triennial 2002 on Storytelling. In some aspects this year's Triennial can be seen as a follow-up to the NVSE conference.

The project met with many challenges. During the whole preparatory period the involvement of the WRI network was very limited. This became even clearer during the last year before the conference, when promotion and registration took place. The NVSE office received very few applications from core WRI groups, and only very few of the participants were from WRI affiliates. If we look at WRI's core European base, the picture becomes even worse. Only Union Pacifiste de France, Folkereisning Mot Krig, and MOC State of Spain had representatives at the conference.

The same needs to be said for promotion of the conference. Although a systematic search of affiliates' publication has not been done, we doubt that there were many articles published in the run-up to the conference.

The main challenge is to empower ourselves, and to improve communication and cooperation within the network, on WRI's programme and campaigns.

2. Strengthen support for nonviolence trainers in promoting nonviolence.

Since the Triennial in 1998, the issue of nonviolence training has become more important. While the WRI working group on nonviolence training has been defunct, it became clear that there is a need for more exchange on nonviolence training in the network.

As part of WRI's programme work, WRI staff and Executive get involved in nonviolence training. The NVSE conference included a workshop on training, facilitated by Joanne Sheehan. As a result, participants took a deeper interest in training, participating in later workshops. Joanne also spoke about the role of nonviolence training at a plenary session on Seattle. Prior to the NVSE conference, Joanne spent a week in Turkey doing workshops on the same topic. Andreas Speck did a nonviolent action training with participants from WRI affiliate Group for Antimilitarist Action in Skopje/Macedonia, and Roberta Bacic was a resource person in a PBI training for PBI volunteers for the project in Mexico, Columbia and Indonesia.

Training became more important as a result of the emerging anti-globalisation movement. In its statement on the events in Genoa, WRI points to the need of training: "A strategy of nonviolence needs to involve making use of the rich heritage of nonviolent movements from all over the world in preparing for nonviolent confrontation, drawing from experience in nonviolence training from the US Civil Rights Movement, the Gandhian movement in India, the landless movement in Brazil, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, among many others" (the statement can be read at http://wri-irg.org/statemnt/globstat.htm). At WRI's Council Meeting in Turkey, several reports mentioned the need for nonviolence training.

Achievements and challenges

Nonviolence training wasn't a priority within WRI's programme work between 1998-2002. However, it emerged as an urgent need and groups new to nonviolence training have expressed a need for training resources. It is a challenge to define WRI's role in nonviolence training. Should WRI develop a database of trainers, to serve the network? Should WRI play a role in training trainers, on a regional or international level? A challenge for the coming years is to revive the Nonviolence Trainers Working Group to address these issues.

3. Promote nonviolence in Schools

In 2002 Roberta Bacic responded to requests from schools to do sessions on the reality that war is avoidable. She did workshops at Millenium Primary School in Greenwich/London for 200 children aged between 5 and 11, and a workshop in collaboration with Amnesty International for around 100 pupils at Earl' in the West Midlands.

Achievements and Challenges:

It seems important to respond to these requests as long as we can make a contribution to our mandate War is a crime against humanity, and promote nonviolence. In the future we aim to link in this task with UK groups.

4. Strengthen our understanding of WRI's history and how we have promoted nonviolence.

This year staff worked on a new project - Recovering WRI's History - Stories of WRI. A meeting took place on March 22nd to 24th with 8 peace activists who were involved from the fifties up to 1979 with four main aims:

1) Give them an opportunity to share stories, insights and their visions, and to socialize and link them to the WRI office. 2) Get help from them to find information for old photos we are sending to the archives in Amsterdam with whom we recently signed a new contract. 3) Make a short video film about this meeting to share the stories at the Triennial. Mitzi Bales, long term volunteer of WRI who participated in the meeting has written an article about this experience for Peace News. 4) Edit a short booklet with the more extended stories shown in the video.

Achievements and Challenges:

This is an opportunity to validate our history and share it, while we are gathering information about it. We need to think about future development of the video, what would we want to do and for what purpose.

2) Promote antimilitarism

B. CO-work continued and expanded into broader antimilitarism work.

During the period 1998-2002, WRI's work on conscientious objection was strengthened considerably. More new CO groups joined WRI, and contacts developed to new regions such as South Korea. The work on conscientious objection was reorganised as "The Right to Refuse to Kill" project, with several aspects.

1. CONCODOC Centre

The CONCODOC project, which started in 1996, resulted in the 1998 publication of Refusing to Bear Arms: a worldwide survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service (RTBA). For the first time since 1968 WRI had a new world survey on the issue of resistance to conscription. Soon after publication ideas were being developed to turn the documentation project into a more permanent documentation centre. In order to do this, efforts were made to set up a broad coalition of NGOs working on recruitment and CO issues. Four NGOs have agreed to take part in a joint CONCODOC Centre, but made clear that they expected WRI to take the lead. Due to unsuccesful fundraising, the Centre has so far not been established.

A joint WRI and QUNO publication A conscientious objectors guide to the UN human rights system was published in 2000 as a second CONCODOC publication.

In January 2001 part of the RTBA report was published in Spanish and made available on the Internet.

The original English version was published on the WRI website in May 2001.

Translations of A Conscientious Objectors Guide to the UN Human Rights System were made into Serbo-Croatian, Portuguese, and Korean.

Achievements and challenges:

The main achievements have been the publication of the two reports.Furthermore a base of co-operation between NGOs has been laid and WRI is recognised by them as the leading NGO.

More and more WRI is recognised as the main resource for information on recruitment and CO issues. Refusing to bear arms is online, with more than 200 registered users, and new requests for registrations weekly.

The biggest challenge is to use the support of the coalition of NGOs to secure funds for the documentation centre and thereby strengthening WRI's position. The challenge to update RTBA and to have the Conscientious Objectors Guide to the UN Human Rights System online would be the first tasks for the Centre.

2. Supporting imprisoned conscientious objectors: co-alerts

Supporting imprisoned conscientious became more of an issue, especially with the beginning of the second intifadah in Israel/Palestine and the new wave of refuseniks. Co-alert email messages have been sent out in more than 160 cases since last year - sometimes two or three times a week. 170 persons are subscribed to the co-alert list, and messages get forwarded to other lists. Co-alerts are also posted on WRI's website at http://wri-irg.org/cgi/news.cgi.

In some cases, the office also acts directly, writing to prison authorities or issuing a press release.

Achievements and challenges

The new system of co-alerts is effective, and provides up-to-date information on imprisoned conscientious objectors. However, it is highly dependent on information received from within or outside the network. The office is aware that there are many more COs in prison, who need our support, but due to lack of information we are unable to act. Total objectors from Finland, COs from South Korea, or from other countries, rarely make it into a co-alert, because we don't receive the information on time - if at all. This needs to be improved.

The second challenge is the number of subscribers to the co-alert list. 170 is not much - it should be thousands. WRI's affiliates should actively promote the co-alert list, and although we welcome forwarding of information, people should be encouraged to subscribe directly to co-alert.

3. CO Asylum

The office continues to respond to asylum enquiries, whenever there is a link to military service. At average, the office deals with about 1 enquiry per week, but unfortunately there sometimes can be even more than two on one day.

Requests come from Britain, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Canada, and France, with the great majority being from Britain (about 60%). Aslym seekers come from many countries including: Algeria, Macedonia, Turkey, Yugo-slavia, Angola. Some enquiries can be dealt with on the phone, or by just sending the existing country report of Refusing to bear arms by email. Others require much more work, especially on countries where Refusing to bear arms is outdated or doesn't provide enough information.

Achievements and challenges

Having Refusing to bear arms is a big help for WRI's CO Asylum work. Having it online makes it easy to refer people to the website, or to just send the country report by email while being at the phone with someone. This reduces the amount of time spent on CO asylum enquiries.

The biggest challenge is the availability of up-to-date information on some of the countries. This is especially important for Yugoslavia (including Kosov@), Macedonia and Algeria.

4. Supporting CO Movements and international campaigns

Support to existing and emerging CO groups and movements is a very important aspect of WRI's work, and one of its strength. The work includes direct support given from the WRI office - which can be providing some information, making links with other CO groups, or organising meetings or trainings. Since the Triennial in 1998, the Balkans (especially Yugoslavia and Macedonia), Turkey, Angola, and more recently South Korea and Israel have been important countries to support. Andreas Speck travelled to Yugoslavia several times, to participate in meetings organised by WRI's affiliate Women in Black, both before and after the fall of Milosevic. In April 2002, Andreas Speck facilitated a training organised by WRI affiliate Group for Antimilitarist Action in Skopje/Macedonia.

International campaigning was strengthened, especially around Prisoners for Peace Day (1 December) and International Conscientious Objectors' Day (15 May). During the period 1998-2000 WRI managed to provide the basic campaign information for Prisoners for Peace Day in spite of short staff. In 2001, Prisoners for Peace Day improved, although it is still far from being a huge international campaign.

The same can be said for 15 May. Since ICOM - the International Conscientious Objectors' Meeting - hasn't met since 1996, there was a gap in coordinating International Conscientious Objectors' Day, which WRI has tried to fill. In 2001, the focus was on Angola, and a special issue of the Broken Rifle was published. In 2002, WRI for the first time organised an international nonviolent direct action for 15 May; a blockade of the NATO headquarters in Brussels. This action was combined with an international training week, and proved to be an important networking event.

Achievements and challenges

The increase of staff in 2001 made it possible that the international office was able to give more support to CO groups and movements, and to take a pro-active approach to campaigning. However, there is still a lack of response from the network, and a lack of exchange of information. Both international action days - 15 May and 1 December - are still far from being developed to their full potential, with 1 December (Prisoners for Peace Day) being potentially more promising, but practically being widely ignored and unknown to a wider public (especially outside Britain). It depends on the network how much WRI is able to develop these action days.

Support to CO groups and movements has a high potential to be turned into specific projects, especially focussing on specific countries or regions. This hasn't even started yet, but should be one focus for 2002-2005.

D. New strategies developed as armies are changing their "face" and become professionalised

Strategies for delegitimisation of the military has been developed since the Triennial in Brazil in 1994 being aware of the military's many "faces" and changing strategies like increased professionalisation, modernisation and new roles of armies such as rapid deployment and intervention.

Analysis of strategies of deligitimisation of the military was highlighted during the international seminar, "The Changing Face of the Military", in Steinkimmen, Germany in 1999. Holding the seminar just after NATO's bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, gave a special focus of NATO's new role in international militarism. (See Broken Rifle No 45 March 2000)

The seminar tended to be more analytical than giving WRI new steps to move forward. Many sections are however active in campaigns against the New NATO and in promoting alternative strategies and they continue their CO and anti-recruitment work.

Achievements and Challenges:

The fact that we had a successful seminar is an achievement in itself. Also Peace News has followed up in many ways and we will in particular mention the issue of June-August 2002 where it was a main theme: "Antimilitarism: where next?"

The follow up from the seminar and suggested campaigns could have been possible with more coordination of sections' local campaigns. We see the tendencies of declining WRI-groups in Europe. While most countries in Western Europe no longer have conscription, the network has become weak in developing new strategies against militarism. The WRL in the US has been doing counter-recruitment work for over 20 years. We see a need to focus on this region to develop anti-recruitment-strategies, and we put forward the idea of arranging a seminar on e.g. "end of conscription - what next?". The target group of the strategies should be the target of recruitment, such as the poor, often people of colour. Also women ought to be part of the strategies as we see an increased recruitment of women and that we see that mainstream women's movement advocate inclusion of women in peacemaking, in peacebuilding and in humanitarian interventions. (See Sian Jones, Peace News June-August 2002)

E. Nonviolent civilian intervention experience analysed

The meaning, shape and practices of nonviolent civilian interventions have been evaluated and discussed through the years, and of course there are different points of view, different perspectives.

The long-term joint nonviolent civilian intervention project Balkan Peace Team (BPT) was a very important project to WRI through the years. The general motivation to found this project was to do something against the wars in the region of the former Yugoslav countries and to prove that there was an alternative to military intervention.

The aspects we would need to take account of are how and whether the goals and principles of such an undertaking were met, what the difficulties of the practical implementations of these goals and missions were, how the interventions were perceived in the field, solidarity:

  • An important part of the BPT local work was support to local activists work, civil society development, international presence at a grassroots level.
  • The non-stated principles were to follow the lead of local activists and work by invitation only. Something to point out is also the close co-operation with local NGO's on a partnership basis that was quite successful in certain parts.
  • It tried to serve as a channel of independent and non-partisan information from the region, reflecting all points of view. Continuing monitoring and public reports on the actual situation in the field were distributed both within the country and internationally.
  • Promoting nonviolence
  • Human rights advocacy work (presence at house evictions and related trials) was the major role for the teams in Croatia
  • The teams sometimes also served as international observers at incidents and court trials (serving as witnesses, give support to local activists, open doors to authorities, to international agencies, etc.). Though protective accompaniment played a role (Croatia), it was not a major focus of BPT.
  • Training and education in conflict-related skills (perhaps did not evolve so successfully due to lack of training skills within the team or afterwards also because the local groups have developed themselves in this field).
  • Alert Network - was set up but did not develop
  • Problems with the internal structure and organisational aspects of the project

Some of the goals were carried out with success, some less successful. A lot of the work done by BPT was experimental and depended on the situation in the field, the local NGO's, internal structure, long-term strategies. The parts of the region in which BPT operated were diverse, also the needs, and so the teams in the field and their work shaped with varieties.

There are different approaches to what aspect of the intervention work should include and at what level it should be carried out.

Within the theoretical framework of:

  • Peacebuilding, there were different activities carried out (founding of Youth centers) - social work that creates neutral space and a protected area; dialogue projects ( offering meeting spaces); visiting citizens; support to local groups and civil society; networking; help in organizing public activities; training and education;
  • Peacekeeping, some accompaniment work (presence at incidents, trials); protective function was very limited. At the beginning of the project some expectations/ideas were very high - preventing war. It has shown to be beyond not only BPT capacities, but also for much larger international institutions.
  • Peacemaking, according to the evaluation not many aspects of BPT work fell into this category

Early last year the WRI Executive supported the idea of closing this project down, for various reasons, and agreed to be a part of the evaluation process.

WRI Council Member Christine Schweitzer became Director of Planning and Research for the Nonviolent Peace Force in 2001.

Peace News published an issue on Interventions, (# 2441, December 2000-February 2001), which gives a history and insights to diverse aspects and approaches to civilian interventions.

Achievements and Challenges:

A good analysis of experiences of the BPT was done, with WRI involvement. WRI must ask how we link civilian peacemaking and antimilitarism? Or should WRI leave this to others? Is this the kind of work WRI should be involved in the future? We recognise that some WRI people are now involved in the Nonviolent Peace Force. It is clear that we need to define how we intend to approach this issue.

F. Work done on recontruction and democratization analyzed.

1. Dealing with the Past

Staffperson Roberta Bacic's experience and work during and after the Chilean dictatorship has given us the ability to develop this goal in a special way. The Exec began to work with Roberta to develop "Dealing with the Past" into a program area in early 2001. This work is important because it broadens our focus beyond present wars to the larger issue of the cyclical nature of violence and war. The need for this has been made more clear by the events of September the 11th in the USA.

This has primarily been work done by Roberta. More contribution from other groups and people is vital to making this a WRI program. Requests for seminars, lectures, workshops, articles, etc. have increased in the past year. There have been many requests from universities, NGOs and social organisations for lectures, workshops, consultancies and articles which means we project WRI beyond the movement and have chances to share our goals and identity.

During the year there has been an outreach regarding lecturing for Peace Studies MA students in the UK, Germany and Austria. Roberta has also participated in two academic international conferences in Germany. This work has also included writing numerous articles for different journals and magazines on the topic, and giving briefings on the topic for groups and committees (European Relations Network, Quaker Peace & Service, etc) including two sessions for Amnesty International groups connected to their campaign against torture and on Chile human rights aspects. Roberta has also been asked to give a workshop with Andrew Rigby for the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support (CCTS) before the end of this year. Our web page has created a special homepage on Dealing with the Past.

"Dealing with the past" has been included in the Triennial Conference, not only as a theme group but also to connect it directly to story telling which is the core of our Conference.

Roberta was present at the Graswurzelrevolution 30th anniversary and presented a live program called: Viva la Vida!: life and resistance - anecdotes from Chile. This was a one hour program of a poetic text, written and read by her which included slides that represented the content and setting and it was accompanied by Contraviento, a Chilean professional musical duo. This program, now in English and updated will be the opening of the 11th of September event organised by Matt Mayer in New York, USA and which will link both 11th of September. It will also be accompanied by a photo exhibition and paintings by Roberto Arroyo who was at our Porec Triennial.

Achievements and challenges

As a main achievement it would be important to point out the consolidation of areas of work, the extension of network, the increase in demands regarding the specifics we have been doing and the acknowledgement of the importance of this area. The giving of a seminar for CCTS and the request to lecture for the Long Island University's program of 'Peace and Reconciliation' show the relevance of the topic of dealing with the past if we want to understand and do something regarding the causes and effects of wars.

The big challenge remains to turn it into a 'fundable' program. We have to keep in mind that we are just approaching the second year of this program and that it needs to be further developed.

December the 1st 2001 Roberta sent out a document to all our affiliates and associates responding to the minutes from the 2001 Council in Turkey and inviting people to participate and get engaged. As a result of that very little response has come up.

II. Overarching objectives

G. WRI developed to be more global

Since the existence of the WRI Africa Working Group (Brazil Triennial 1994) the WRI network is trying to get in contact with peace activists and nonviolent grassroots initiatives in Africa. Matt Meyer of War Resisters' League (USA) and Jan Van Criekinge of Forum voor Vredesactie (Belgium) are the two conveners of this working group.

The planned focus on Algeria for CO Day on 15 May 1999 was interrupted by the NATO-war in Kosovo. Only some German and French WRI groups did something on Algerian COs, Connection e. V. in Germany published a booklet. The Steinkimmen Council (1999) was attended by two African activists: from the Democratic Republic of Congo Dieudonné Kambilo-Bwelongo, and from Angola Emanuel Matondo. Jan developed many contacts with activists from Congo at meetings in Brussels and Paris. Matt Meyer was invited by the Eritrean government to the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the independence of Eritrea in 2001.Both conveners were involved in the establishment of a concept for the Peace News issue on Southern Africa (August 2000).

The main focus of the last two years was on Angola. Many groups of the Angolan civil society could play an important role in the process of peace and reconciliation, but they could also get easily marginalised without the support of a worldwide network like WRI. WRI section IAADH (Angolan Antimilitaristic Initiative for Human Rights, accepted at Council in Turkey, 2001) is working to play a role in this.

The actions of 15th of May 2001 focused on Angola. In many places actions in favour of Angolan COs were held (Paris, Lisbon, Germany). Connection organised a speaking tour with Emanuel Matondo. A booklet 'Angola, Öl, Diamanten, ... Krieg' was published by Connection in German and translated into English and Spanish for the Broken Rifle. A two-week WRI trip to Angola was planned for 2001. At the last minute visa were refused, but we would like to try again.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) was followed very closely. Many new contacts were established with grassroots activists from inside and outside the country.

In Latin America persistent violent conflicts, like the war in Columbia, continue. There are more groups of COs, but also more young soldiers. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians turned out in an openly war situation that escalated since September 2000. The contacts with the Israeli radical peace movement were strengthened. And a member of New Profile is now running for Council elections. Also with South Korea's growing CO movement were lots of contacts established and representatives attended the Council in Turkey (2001).

The Conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment (India, February 2001) helped a lot to broaden and strengthen WRI's contacts with groups in the South, especially in India but also in Latin America and other countries of South East Asia. Two participating groups ended up with an application to become a WRI affiliate. The 2001 Council in Sigacik, Turkey, was a new opportunity to strengthen the contacts with groups in Turkey, especially with feminist antimilitarists. Also the Council 2003, planned to be held in Medillin, Colombia, could give a new stimulus to contacts with groups in Latin America.

Achievements and challenges:

As an international network of grassroots pacifist and antimilitarist groups WRI became much more global, although many practical and financial obstacles are still hindering the development of a truly global network. The northern dominance is still a fact. But those who have been nominated for the next WRI Council are from all over the world, an expression of the more global approach of WRI. To improve the communication between the interested members of the Africa WG an email list was created.

WRI should be in contact with grassroots groups in war zones who are working on nonviolent strategies and reconciliation projects after the war ended. The challenge is to determine what we can offer them, as many are looking for not only moral but also financial support. We cannot create expectations we cannot fulfil.

Change in distribution of WRI affiliates, 1998-2002

1998 (post Triennial) 2002 (pre-Triennial)

Europe (West)



Europe (East)



America (North)



America (South)


















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

Gender issues have been on WRI's programme since the 1970's and in the 1980's the Women's Working Group was established. The goals and purpose are:

  • drawing additional light on the role of women in peace processes
  • bringing women's perspectives into WRI, drawing on different cultures and traditions
  • bringing antimilitarist perspectives into women's groups
  • networking among and providing emotional support to women who are isolated in their antimilitarist work

In general there seems to be a higher understanding within WRI of looking at different themes and programmes with a gender perspective. Seminars and conference as well as WRI publications like Peace News and The Broken Rifle include gender issues. To what extent the whole structure of WRI has involved this perspective, is difficult to say. We know for example little about how sections and some of the working groups are including this issue. The main focus of the Women's Working Group during this period has been to produce the history of women in WRI. The project has been developed, but finding funds and someone to do the work has been problematic. The project is stranded because of lack of continuity and low energy within the group.

Achievements and Challenges:

WRI programme has managed to integrate a gender perspective to a larger extent. We can see that through projects we have carried through this period such as the conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment in India 2001 where this perspective was presented in a cultural variety. Peace News has developed in this way and also included more women contributors. Also smaller achievements have been reached such as the production of a brochure on WRI's Women's Working Group, a meeting on Violence against women in Turkey, and a liaison with IFOR's Women's Peacemaker Programme, including Joanne Sheehan's participation in their Gender Training this past June. There has been less networking with the women's movement in general.

But there's a general challenge, which is not unique for the Women's Working Group, to keep up continuity and energy and being able to fulfill projects. Also running projects such as the WRI Women's Newsletter need to be evaluated as a regular production.

I. Ecological perspective implicit in WRI's philosophy of nonviolence defined and integrated into our work.

The goal is to increase awareness regarding the effect of military and war on the environment, and the destruction of the environment for military purposes. The most direct way WRI made this connection was through several case-studies presented at the NVSE conference which interlinked the struggle of non-privileged groups with perspectives of ecology, economy, militarism, human rights, and gender to gain a respectable life. There is also an increased interest in nonviolence training from ecological groups since the Seattle demonstrations.

Achievements and Challenges:

It is important to continue to make the links and raise awareness regarding the environment and militarism. Getting information from affiliates to the network as to how they make the links would be helpful. Oil plays such an important role in foreign policies and wars that we must integrate this analysis into our work. For example, an article was sent to the WRI-internal email list on the connection between the U.S. war in Afghanistan and oil.

J. Economic perspectives implicit in WRI philosophy of nonviolence defined and integrated into our work

The goal is to increase understanding of economic exploitation which leads to grave inequality and injustice and to environmental destruction, and to explore nonviolent economies as alternative to market economy. The rise of the international movement on globalisation has made this more actual and the Council in Turkey 2001 decided to develop this as a more focused WRI programme.

Achievements and Challenges:

Several seminars in this period have focused on this issue:

The seminar "From Kosov@ to Seattle: What role nonviolent action?" in Oxford 2000 had a panel on Nonviolent Action for Global Justice which raised questions regarding nonviolent economic solutions and the role of nonviolence in addressing economic injustice (See Broken Rifle No 54 March 2002).

The NVSE conference in India 2001 included panels on "Empowerment to create economic alternatives" as part of the day on "The power of organising" as well as the issue was raised in several other places during the conference.

The Council meeting in Turkey 2001, taking place only a few weeks after September 11th, had this as a thoroughgoing theme.

In addition Peace News has produced an issue on the "Economies of militarism" (Peace News March-May 2001), and Brian Martin's book on "Nonviolence vs Capitalism" was produced on our web page.

The challenge will however be to go beyond increased understanding and create a programme which will enable us to include a militaristic perspective of the economy and nonviolent economy as alternatives into the larger globalisation movement, but also to raise awareness in the peace movement that there's a need to deal with economic issues. The war on terror makes it more important to understand our role. This theme can partly be seen in connection with an anti-recruitment campaign seeing the target groups are the poor.

K. WRI´s financial position stabilised

Achievements and challenges

In the last four years WRI's financial position has indeed been stabilised. The main achievement has been that we have been able to structure WRI-work into fundable programme-work. The grant for the Right to Refuse to Kill project was the main result of this. Furthermore, the policy to attach WRI´s annual council meeting to a fundable conference, has resulted in a considerable reduction of council costs since 1998.

Still there is a huge challenge for WRI to continue on the road of acquiring programme-based funds. This is a growing need as on the one hand the financial base of our affiliates is slowly drying out and on the other hand the bottom of WRI's reserves are in sight.

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

The affiliates give WRI as an international network its base. Important grassroots work was done during the last four years at this level.

The office and the Executive have a central function of linking the affiliates together in common actions and exchange of information in its international work for nonviolence, CO and antimilitarism.

WRI has improved the quality of its communication with the network thanks to the development of the new WRI website in different languages and the different email lists: <co-alert> and <wri-info> are public lists, <wri-internal> consists of WRI groups only. Also the Africa Working Group has since last year its own email list. The Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project and the conference in India in February 2001 have created an opportunity to reach out to other grassroots movements as well as to our own affiliates.

In spite of these improvements in communication there is still a lack of communication from some affiliates. The WRI office is looking for steps to strengthen the function of the sections in the whole network. Exchange of information alone is not enough, the establishment of a database on specific themes (like for example the need for nonviolent trainers) is needed.

Achievements and challenges:

A discussion on the role of section representatives, elected Council members and individual WRI members need to happen, recognising they are constitutional issues.

Another problem that needs to be solved is the quite theoretical distinction that exists between a WRI 'section' and an 'associate organisation' as many of the new applications that came in the last four years were to become an associate organisation. In reality the most WRI sections do not ask each of their members to sign the WRI declaration. Maybe this distinction should be solved in the next round of constitutional changes.

III. Outreach strategies

M. Co-operation with other organisations; groups and networks

WRI has had different co-operations and connections to several other groups in the past period.

  • Continued participation in the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support (CCTS).
  • Through preparations for the upcoming WRI Triennial meeting 2002 in Dublin, WRI has established contact with different groups in Ireland, Northern and the Republic, as to establish a support network. Some of these are: INNATE (WRI affiliate), Action from Ireland (AFRI), Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), GLENCREE Centre for Reconciliation, PAX Christi, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Latin American Solidarity Campaign (LASC).
  • Close co-operation with Connection e.V. and I.A.A.D.H. in a number of projects.
  • Liaison with IFOR through the Women Peacemakers Program.
  • CONCODOC - close co-operation with Rachel Brett from the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, EBCO and Child Soldiers Coalition. New contacts with the Center on War and Conscience in the United States.
  • Through WRI programme Dealing with the Past connections are made with different groups and organisations beyond our movement.
  • At the WRI Council 2001 in Turkey links were established with CO groups from South Korea, and connection with different groups from Turkey deepened.
  • Co-operation with several CO groups from Central and Eastern Europe on joint nonviolent direct action on 15 May 2002 in Bruxelles.
  • We are linked to different universities, Peace Studies Centres, networks, magazines and journals, Amnesty International, etc.
Achievements and challenges:

Co-operation and networking improved in 2001 and 2002. The challenge is to make and keep connections to groups from areas not "covered" by WRI network affiliations and building stronger links to the anti-globalisation movement.

N. WRI publications

Nearly all WRI affiliates have their own magazines and newsletters, and most have their own website. As an international, WRI also has its own publications.

The main source of up to date information is WRI's website (http://wri-irg.org), which was re-launched on 15 May 2001 under WRI's own domain name. The website is in four languages and constantly updated by Ken Simons. The website is complimented by automated email lists, especially <wri-info> and <co-alert>.

The Broken Rifle is WRI's own newsletter, which is in principle published in four languages. However, problems with translation often delay publication in languages other than English, or make them impossible. The Broken Rifle homepage gives an overview on issues published since November 1996.

Peace News, published quarterly by Peace News Limited - a joint project of Peace News Trustees and WRI - is WRI's main magazine. Since 1998 the magazine has a thematic approach and tries to stir a debate in the peace movement. WRI staff contribute regularly with articles, and try to support Peace News' editor Ippy. Two issues have been guest edited by WRI staff: No 2438 (March-May 2000) on "Truth, forgiveness, reconciliation" was co-guest edited by Roberta Bacic along with Andrew Rigby, and No 2447 (June-August 2002) on "Antimilitarism - where next?" was guest edited by Andreas Speck. Peace News No 2439 (June-August 2000) focussed on WRI's programme on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment and was guest edited by Sian Jones.

Peace News continues to publish WRI's Prisoners for Peace Day campaign material in its December-February issue.

The WRI Women's Working Group has its own newsletter, WRI Women, but only one issue has been published in the past four years. The last issue was published in February 2000, and another issue is awaiting translation from Turkish into English.

Four books were published by WRI since 1998:

Bart Horeman/Marc Stolwijk: Refusing to bear arms. A world survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service (1998). Concodoc report #1

Emily Miles: A Conscientious Objectors' Guide to the UN Human Rights System (2000). Concodoc report #2.

Brian Martin: Technology for Nonviolent Struggle (2001)

Brian Martin: Nonviolence vs. Capitalism (2001)

Two more books will be published soon.

Books were published by WRI Staff, Council members and other people closely involved with WRI. WRI helped organise book launches for:

Howard Clark: Civil Resistance in Kosovo (2000)

Bill Sutherland/Matt Meyer: Guns and Gandhi in Africa (2000)

Teresa Durán, Roberta Bacic, and Pau Pérez: Muerte y Desaparici--n Forzada en la Araucan'a: Una Aproximaci--n Étnica Ko'aga Ro-e'eta, Madrid 2000 (available at http://www.derechos.org/koaga/x/mapuches/ )

Studies and reports about the BPT experience are available:

Balkan Peace Team - International e.V.: "Nonviolent Intervention in the Conflicts of Former Yugoslavia: Sending Teams of International Volunteers" (A Final Internal Assessment of Its Functioning and Activities by WRI Council members Christine Schweitzer and Howard Clark) can be found at http://wri-irg.org/news/2002/bpt-11-en.html

External evaluation / study of the BPT project (done by Müller, Büttner and Gleichmann) also gives interesting points to nonviolent civilian intervention experiences from a different, more "outside" angle.

Achievements and challenges

WRI managed to improve its web presence, and in general improved its visibility. Since 1998, The Broken Rifle was turned into a more content-based internal magazine, and it became more regularly since 2001. However, translation is quite a big challenge, as is distribution. WRI needs to decide if and how to proceed with The Broken Rifle, as it takes a lot of energy from the office to produce an issue - and more so to get it translated. At the same time The Broken Rifle at least in theory is WRI's only four-language publication, and the only publication, which WRI can use to present its own work. However, circulation is low, with about 200 copies sent out in English, and about 60 each in German, French, and Spanish.

The WRI Women's Working Group needs to decide how or if to continue with WRI Women. We cannot continue to advertise a publication that doesn't come out for years.

Who was who 1998-2002

Chair: Joanne Sheehan
Vice-Chairs: Peter D Jones, Osman Murat Ülke, Cecilia Moretti
Treasurer: Andreas Speck (Treasurer 1998-2001), Bart Horeman (Treasurer 2001-present)

Executive Committee: Howard Clark (1998-1999), Vesna Terselic (1998-2000), Natalie Sipak (2000-2002), Ellen Elster, Jan van Criekinge

Council: Albert Beale, Carmen Magallon, Cecilia Moretti, Christine Schweitzer, Ellen Elster, Howard Clark, Jan van Criekinge, Jørgen Johansen, Maggie Helwig, Majken Jul Sørensen, Natalie Sipak (co-opted, 2000-2002), Osman Murat Ülke, Vesna Terselic

International Office

Roberta Bacic
Lucia Brandi (1998-2001), Angela McCann (2001-2002), Daniel Garay (2002-)
Andreas Speck (2001-)

Project Staff

NVSE Conference Project (March 2000-April 2001)
Andreas Speck, Julia Kraft

Triennial Conference (February-October 2002)
Pat Barret, Sivanesan Ramamoorthy

Peace News (employed by Peace News Limited)
Chris Booth (editor, until 1999), Steven Hancock (editor, until 1999)
Rob Wallis (finance/admin, until 1999)
Kitty McVey (finance/admin, 1999-2001)
John Courtneidge (admin, 2000-)
Ippy D (editor, 1999-)
Lesley Harrison (finance, 2002-)

Representatives at the United Nations

Bart Horeman (Geneva), Michel Monod (Geneva), John Miller (New York)

Working group convenors

Africa Working Group: Jan van Criekinge, Matt Meyer
Turkey-Kurdistan Working Group: Rudi Friedrich
Women's Working Group: Casha Davis

Attached file
report2002.pdf157.7 KB
Programmes & Projects

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