The 2006 WRI International Conference: Appeal to WRI Affiliates
The 2006 WRI “Triennial” conference will be a decisive event in shaping the future of our organisation and our movement. Please make a note of the dates: the open conference will be from 23 to 27 July, while the WRI business meeting will be on 28-29. The venue is near Paderborn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The title of the conference, Globalising Nonviolence, has a triple meaning: we aim
- at making nonviolence more central in the global movement of resistance to war and economic domination,
- at adapting nonviolent analysis and strategy to the threats we face today, and
- at consolidating and reviving our antimilitarist, nonviolent, global network.
We believe that it is vital for WRI to have a stronger connection with the convergence of movements that has grown up in response to “globalisation”. We hope the Triennial will be a place for people to learn about a range of campaigns and movements, and in particular about under-reported developments in the “global south”. But we also believe that WRI can have a distinctive contribution to what some people call “globalisation from below”.
While the worldwide movement against war and against economic globalisation is in general not violent, we believe that a greater consciousness of nonviolence could strengthen this movement and clarify its strategies. This is one of the tasks where WRI can help within this broader movement. And this task also involves developing new analyses and strategies, to adapt nonviolent struggle to the new global wars and power structures of our time.
This conference therefore aims to reach beyond the strictly WRI network to much wider circles in this growing worldwide “movement of movements”.
However, the Triennial also could play a decisive role in renewing WRI organisationally. The Council meeting last year in Macedonia recognised that WRI's economic base has become precarious, that WRI's traditional core affiliates tend to be weaker than before, but also saw the need for a WRI network as being as strong as ever – and more global than ever in view of our widening contacts in Africa, Asia, South America and the former Soviet Union. Looking at the organisational options facing us, the Council rejected any notion of compromising WRI's radical identity, instead opting to revitalise WRI's role as a radical network against war, the causes of war, and for nonviolence.
What Is Planned for the Conference
The five days of the open conference will be followed by two days dedicated to WRI's future work and structures. In the open conference, each day will begin with a short plenary session. Then nine or ten theme groups will meet, continuing their work every morning of the conference in order to discuss their issue in depth. The theme groups so far agreed are:
- The military in the global economy
- Nonviolent resistance to globalisation
- Militarism and society
- War profiteers
- The right to refuse to kill
- Nonviolent citizens‘ intervention
- Gender analysis
- Anti-nuclear nonviolent direct action
- Plus there will be activity groups, such as nonviolence training for beginners, and a Video Activism group (part of whose work will be to video the conference).
The afternoon will consist of a mixture of small and large groups, organised to stimulate maximum participation. Participants are welcome to propose or to organise a one-off workshop. We Need Your Help
So, at this time, we appeal to you, the WRI affiliates around the world, for help and partnership in organising this pivotal conference.
- Take part in building the programme for the conference: send us your input and comments, suggest topics for workshops and plenary sessions, suggest interesting speakers and convenors for the conference. (We would like to receive proposals before the Council meeting in South Korea in June.) We have set up a Wiki on our website as one way to get involved at Globalising Nonviolence. You can get a username and password from the WRI Office.
- Take part in fundraising for the conference: help us form contacts with potential funders in your area, contribute funds to finance participation of people from the Global South at the conference, distribute our funding proposals for the conference. Help in fundraising from WRI affiliates is especially important at this early stage in our work on the conference, because without raising some initial funds, we will have difficulties getting the organising and fundraising work going fast enough.
- Encourage participation in the conference: come in numbers and invite activists from other groups, working within the global movement of resistance.
- Spread the word: circulate this call widely and inform the activists’ community in your part of the world of the conference.
The success of the conference, and indeed, the future of the movement, depends on your contribution!
Howard Clark (Council member Spain), Sergeiy Sandler (Council member Israel), Joanne Sheehan (Chair USA), Majken Soerensen (Exec member Norway), Andreas Speck (staff member UK), Kai-Uwe Dosch (DFG-VK section representative Germany), and Jan van Criekinge (FvV section representative Belgium)