War Resisters' International Nonviolence Programme
The Nonviolence Programme works sharing resources in nonviolent campaigning and action - such as the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns; coordinates and leads nonviolence training and promotes campaigning on war profiteering - including the publication of War Profiteers' News.
Why a Nonviolence Programme
War Resisters' International is based on the declaration:
War is a crime against humanity.
I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war,
and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.
WRI exists to promote nonviolence. The Statement of Principles explains: "Nonviolence can combine active resistance, including civil disobedience, with dialogue; it can combine non-cooperation -- withdrawal of support from a system of oppression -- with constructive work to build alternatives. As a way of engaging in conflict, sometimes nonviolence attempts to bring reconciliation with it: strengthening the social fabric, empowering those at the bottom of society, and including people from different sides in seeking a solution." WRI realises that for "some, nonviolence is a way of life. For all of us, it is a form of action that affirms life, speaks out against oppression, and acknowledges the value of each person".
WRI also exists to promote antimilitarism, which means not supporting any kind of war, and the mechanism that make war possible. In September 2001, War Resisters' International issued a statement titled "Say No!", calling for conscientious objection and nonviolent resistance to war.
WRI's Statement of Functions defines as WRI's functions:
- Linking people together: WRI sets out to link together people committed to its principles. By organising conferences and other events, by publishing magazines, pamphlets and books, and by providing information by computer, WRI brings people in contact with one another.
- Initiating campaigns and action projects: WRI offers an international perspective on issues. Promoting and coordinating actions or projects at an international level, nonviolence lies at the heart of every action and campaign. WRI seeks to create a stable base for any action project it initiates by involving other organisations, groups and individuals who can then carry through the project, realising the importance of local support.
- Support actions: WRI supports organisations, groups and individuals addressing the causes of war and refusing to support any kind of war. This support takes various forms, depending on means and circumstances. The Prisoners for Peace list, attending trials, organising speaking tours, and fundraising for specific campaigns are examples of this work.
- Promotion and public education: WRI promotes nonviolence as a means of social transformation. By organising study conferences, publishing articles and books, and by stimulating discussions, WRI sets out to deepen the thinking about nonviolence and analysis from the point of view of nonviolence.
Within this framework, WRI's Nonviolence Programme works towards these goals:
- empower grassroot activists in nonviolent campaigns, through the sharing of resources and by leading training in nonviolence;
- Coordinate regional nonviolence trainers' networks;
- educate the WRI and wider network of the connections between economics and war, through an initiative against war profiteering.
We believe the goals of peace and justice will eventually be achieved through the persistent work of grassroots movements over time, in all countries and regions. Our mission is to foster these movements, helping them gain and maintain the strength needed for the journey they face, and to link them to one another, forming a global network working in solidarity, sharing experiences, countering war and injustice at all levels.
The Nonviolence Programme is a direct response to needs expressed by activist groups for nonviolence training and resources, especially focusing on campaign strategies for nonviolent direct action (NVDA). The training tools and materials we have been developing are designed to facilitate the groups that contact us in the processes they initiate and lead. We do not prescribe a particular way of taking action; the project trains and empowers local nonviolence trainers, to build independent, local capacity with the groups we work alongside.
The best nonviolence training comes from within the same context in which the group undergoing the training is working. We believe in the value of sharing training tools, ideas, stories and contexts, so another focus of the project is organizing international nonviolence trainers' exchanges.
Another important feature of WRI's approach to nonviolence training is our emphasis on the strategic planning and internal dynamics (with a particular focus on gender dynamics) and decision-making processes of activists groups. This focus is crucial for building a movement's long-term sustainability.
Because the Nonviolence Programme works on long term, sustainable change, our impact can be hard to measure. However, its successes in bringing nonviolence trainers together – and producing resources used by grassroots movements – are clear examples of the potential of the programme.
To illustrate this success—in the course of the last year alone, continent-wide training exchanges and trainings for trainers were held on three continents (a training for trainers from Latin America in Ecuador in March 2014, an African trainers' exchange and network meeting in Cape Town in July 2014, and a series of smaller training exchanges in Europe). Trainers at the Latin America training for trainers went on to lead trainings in Brazil with groups protesting against the Football World Cup and in Bolivia to train women organisations resiting the mining industry - just to give two examples. The second edition of WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns has been the result of a collaborative effort by more than 30 contributors from 20 countries.
Campaigning on war profiteering
Economics is one of the key causes of war - where there is a military conflict someone is profiting from it.
WRI looks at war profiteering in a broad sense - all companies and initiatives that have as strategy to benefit from military conflict. This includes the arms trade, companies profiteering for the privatisation and outsourcing of the military, companies extracting natural resources, financial institution and many others.
WRI's main effort goes into sharing examples of succesful strategies against war profiteering and bringing people together who are taking action against the industry of war. This is done by the publication of War Profiteers' News and by organising events to bring campaigners and researchers together to share strategies against war profiteering.
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