From Friday 16th to Sunday 18th June, War Resisters' International hosted a hundred antimilitarists from all over the world, at our Antimilitarist Roots conference in London. We were honoured to be joined by the presence of indigenous people and leaders of First Nations, inspired by stories of resistance, and challenged to make sure our analysis makes space for the climate crisis, diverse identities, and the experiences of migrants.
As well as a series of presentations "from the front", much of the event was based on participatory theme groups and workshops, giving lots of opportunity for participants to share their own stories and experiences and learn from each other. Ideas for how the WRI network can strengthen its resistance to war and its causes were gathered together and will be explored by the WRI Assembly, Council and other WRI decision-making bodies. We hope everyone who joined us for Antimilitarist Roots left feeling inspiried, challenged, and ready to keep building the sort of movements we need!
The gatherings began with a meeting at Housmans Bookshop, called African Roots: War resistance and peacebuilding in the global south on Thursday 15th June. We were joined by Sherly Fabre from Haiti, and Selam Kidane, an Eritrean human rights activist. The meeting was led by Matt Meyer from the International Peace Research Association, and gave us the opportunity to explore the history and future prospects of strategic civil resistance throughout Africa and the global south from a variety of perspectives.
On the first two mornings our plenary sessions were participatory, focused on building encounters between participants. We explored what our movements were good at and what we still needed to learn, the opportunities and challenges we faced, and how we wanted to use the conference to best effect. On the first day our speakers were Chief Namoks of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and Evyatar Moshe Rubin, a member of the Mersavot political disobedience network in Israel.
On Saturday we heard from Sahar Vardi from Israel, Olga Karach from Belarus, and Helen Kidan from the Eritrean Movement of Democracy and Human Rights organisation.
On the third morning we were joined by Camila Rodríguez from Colombia, Marta Macías from the State of Spain, and Milan Sekulovic, from Montenegro, and closed the event with a participatory "marketplace", where participants could share what they experienced in the various theme groups, before closing by setting intentions for how we planned to rest and recuperate, and take action in the future.
Thank you to everyone who came, all of our speakers, our funders, and everyone else who helped to make Antimilitarist Roots happen!