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Story Publication logo September 3, 2009

Nonviolent Peaceforce and the work of reconciliation


Tatum Taylor, Pulitzer Center

Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is an unarmed, professional civilian peacekeeping force that is invited to work in areas of violent conflict around the world. Mel Duncan, the co-founder and Executive Director of NP, and David Grant, the Strategic Relations Director, recently met with the State Department, leaders on Capitol Hill, and the US Institute of Peace to discuss nonviolent reconciliation. While in Washington, D.C., Mel and David visited the Pulitzer Center. Mel explains below the founding of NP and the role of civilian peacekeepers in seeking resolution to worldwide conflict.

Since its conception in 1999 at a conference in the Hague, and its 2002 Convening Event, NP has been working to raise awareness about nonviolence and recruit civilian peacekeeping teams. Nearly 70 member organizations from five continents assist NP in this mission. Members of NP's peace teams come from diverse backgrounds, but all are non-partisan and trained to respect the cultures of the areas to which they are deployed, and to apply the principles of non-violent peacekeeping to the overall strategy regarding each individual situation.

Currently, NP has teams working in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, both of which have been the subjects of reporting projects for the Pulitzer Center. Pulitzer journalist Maura R. O'Connor has reported on the disappearance of citizens in Sri Lanka, a problem which NP is working to alleviate. In a photographic documentary for the Pulitzer Center, Ryan Anson examined the peace process in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Below, Mel provides an overview of NP's own work in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and David looks ahead to the work NP hopes to accomplish in Sudan. To learn about the Pulitzer Center's reporting from Sudan, visit "Darfur: Broken Promises," "Sudan: The Forgotten North," "Sudan: War Child," and "South Sudan: Rebuilding Hope."

Mel stressed that "unarmed civilian peacekeeping is effective [and] that it works in some of the most violent places in the world today. Secondly, it's a much cheaper alternative than war. Thirdly, there are many ways that people can get involved, from making individual contributions, to volunteering in a variety of ways. We have local chapters around the US that do support work in public education, and there's really room for citizens, civilians, to step forward and say, 'Enough of this violence. Enough of using our money and our name to send in more military hardware. There are other approaches that we can be involved with.'"


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