Global Nonviolent Peace Force

April 20, 2000

    We are writing to ask that you join us in co-creating an exciting new advancement in the field of nonviolent peacemaking.  Our mission is to mobilize and train a multicultural, nonviolent, peace force. The Peace Force will deploy to conflict areas to help create the space for local groups to struggle, dialogue and seek peaceful resolution while protecting human rights and preventing death and destruction.
    The Global Peace Force is gaining momentum.  Supporters include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne of Sri Lanka, Congressman John Lewis of the United States, UN Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, Elise Boulding of the Peace Research Association, Per Gahrton of the European Parliament, the Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA, United Nations Volunteers Humanitarian Affairs Unit and the National Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone.
    THIS IS A DRAFT.  We are sending it to you as part of a participatory development process that began last May at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference.  Since then hundreds of activists, scholars, religious leaders, government officials and military veterans have consulted and shaped the proposal.
    A nonviolent peace force is not a new idea.  It builds on a legacy that transcends cultures, time and national boundaries.  As we venture into a new millennium the prospect of a peace force appeals to deeply held hopes and aspirations of many. We have the capability to make this happen in our lifetimes.  The ingredients abound.  Together, we can make the Peaceforce a reality.  There will be no better way to commemorate the United Nations decade for a culture of peace and nonviolence than to do so.

    Please join us as co-creators in this effort.
        1.  Have your organization officially endorse the creation of the Global Nonviolent Peace Force.
        2.  Circulate this proposal throughout your network.
        3.  Discuss and reflect on the proposal and share your comments with us.
        4.  Make sure the topic of creating a Nonviolent Peaceforce is brought up at national and regional conferences.
        5.  Consider other ways that your organization might help co-create the Peace Force through promotion, recruitment, gaining the endorsement of other prominent organizations and individuals in your country, translating the proposal into your language, identifying training resources and helping to find financial support.
        6. Designate one person (full or part time) from your organization to work with us in co- creating the Peace Force.

    Please stay in touch with us.  We may be reached at:

Mel Duncan
801 Front Ave.
St. Paul, MN. 55103

David Hartsough
721 Shrader St.
San Francisco, CA. 94117

Check out our Web page <>

      by  Mel Duncan and David Hartsough. March 28, 2000

"There is an important need to pursue this ideal on a truly global basis, from our deep commitment to inter-dependence and universal responsibility. I wish your efforts every success."
        The Dalai Lama

"This is an idea that is long overdue and needed.  The way of violence is obsolete as a tool of solving problems."
        John Lewis, U. S. Congressman and civil rights pioneer

"I'm with you 100%."
        Elise Boulding, former Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association

"The UNV is, therefore, in principle ready to contribute to the efforts geared at developing a global peace force as outlined in your proposal."
        Dirk Boberg, United Nations Volunteer Agency

"The world needs all the tools we can to keep the peace.  It would be the cheapest way to avoid conflict.  This is a very good proposal.  I think it is timely."
        Colonel Kent Edberg, Military Advisor to Swedish Mission to the UN

"In a conference on the European Civil Peace Corps last week in Brussels your name and project were mentioned repeatedly in a supporting spirit"
        Ernst Gulcher, Peace and Disarmament Advisor, Green Party, European Parliament

"With reference to the subject above, we wish to join your organization as nonviolent peace keeping force."
        Abu Bakarr Kamara, National Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, Sierra Leone

"It's obvious that we have to do it now.  We've got the resources.  The costliness of not doing it has grown."
                Joanna Macy, author and Buddhist activist

This proposal is an evolving work that will improve with your thoughts, reflections and experience.  We invite you to join us in co-creating the Global Peace Force.

    As we venture into the new millennium, we stand at a significant crossroads. Will the next century bring an incessant stream of devastating armed conflicts and brutal sanctions, like the horrors we have seen this year in Kosovo, Iraq, and now East Timor?  Or are there alternatives to the endless repetition of such catastrophes?
    The world needs institutions and collective activities that encourage large numbers of people to engage in peaceful actions that inspire hope, provide meaning and call them to higher values.  We need to develop an international, multiethnic standing peace force that will be trained in nonviolent strategies and tactics and deployed to conflicts or potentially violent areas.  The international peace force will work in cooperation with local groups committed to peaceful change, carry out strategies designed to lessen violence or its potential and create the space for peaceful resolution to occur.
    Effective examples of this type of third party nonviolent intervention have progressively grown during the latter part of this century.  Peace Brigades International, the Balkan Peace Teams, Witness for Peace, PEACEWORKERS, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, Christian Peacemaker Teams, SIPAZ, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and others operate in numerous countries including Colombia, Guatemala, the Balkans, the U.S., Israel/Palestine, Mexico and Nicaragua.  Most are doing small scale, highly specialized activities designed to be an active presence to lower the potential or current levels of violence and support local peacemakers.  They are creating an invaluable knowledge and experiential base of nonviolent
    For example, in 1985 Guatemalan women from GAM (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo) requested that Peace Brigades International (PBI) provide 24 hour nonviolent accompaniment for their leaders after two of its members had been assassinated.  Much of Guatemalan civil society had been wiped out by the military at that time leaving most of the citizens too terrified to act. For the next four years PBI provided unarmed body guards around the clock for GAM's leadership.  No more group leaders were killed and the courageous women were able to carry out their work.  This created an opening for other citizen groups to emerge and begin rebuilding democratic institutions.  GAM leader, Nineth de Garcia told the New York Times, "Thanks to their presence I am alive.  That is an indisputable truth."
    At about the same time, the U.S. backed Contras were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.  Operating from bases in Honduras the Contras often attacked Nicaraguan villages and fields to disrupt the agricultural harvest.  In December of 1983, Witness for Peace began sending delegations to the border areas of Nicaragua.  Over the next seven years, hundreds of international volunteers visited  villages along the Nicaraguan border.  They picked cotton and coffee and helped rebuild the war damaged infrastructure.  They brought stories of real people back to their home countries and organized.  They played a major role in reducing violence and deterring an invasion.  No Nicaraguan village was ever attacked by the Contras while a Witness for Peace delegation was present.
    On the island of Negros in the Philippines in 1989, over 500 refugees gathered in a church hall were threatened to be killed by death squads.  The Catholic bishop, Antonio Fortich, after hearing of the successes of PBI and Witness for Peace, called on religious leaders from around the world for help.  Within 24 hours 25 religious representatives had joined the bishop and the 500 refugees in the church hall asserting that anything done to the refugees would also have to be done to them.  They also promised to tell the world what happened.  The death squads failed to carry out their threat.
    Yet when faced with the brutal aggression of Slobodan Milosevic throughout the last decade, the peace movement has lacked a credible, coherent and comprehensive response.  While some international activists bravely carried out nonviolent strategies with  people of the Balkans and still are, many others didn't know what to do and, in some cases, reluctantly shrugged their shoulders and supported the NATO response.  The Nation , a progressive magazine from the U.S., editorialized about this quandary in April of 1999.  "This crisis creates a profound dilemma for principled antimilitarists who do not want to turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing but do not embrace the NATO air war."
    Kosovo presented a need for substantial, well organized, international support of the local peace movement.  Kosovar Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova was asking for an international peace presence in Kosovo as early as nine years ago.  There was no substantial response.  Alberto L'Abate, Italian activist and a Balkan veteran, believes that 1,000 international peace workers in Kosovo four years ago could have played a significant role in averting the violence of the past year and one half.  Their activities could have included  accompaniment, active support of local nonviolent actions and training and capacity building of nonviolent and democratic institutions. Nonviolent activists could have also organized international support and media attention for the local nonviolent movement and the possibilities for peaceful resolution.
    The International Peace Force represents an alternative to massive military intervention that many people hope for but does not yet exist. Building on the important peace team work throughout the world, this project will bring peacemaking activity to a dramatic, new level.  We need to develop a strategic, efficient and effective response to brutality and threats of genocidal violence.
    Last spring over 9,000 activists from 100 countries converged on the Hague asserting that "peace is a human right" and that "it is time to abolish war."  This proposal was drafted as a consequence of a series of formal and informal discussions during the Hague Appeal for Peace conference.  It has since been reviewed, discussed and critiqued by hundreds of nonviolent activists, scholars and military veterans from various parts of the world. It truly is a work in progress that will continue to unfold based on the wisdom and experience of many co-creators.  The International Peace Force advances the experiments with nonviolence and helps bring life to the United Nations' Decade of Nonviolence and Gandhi's earlier vision of a Shanti Sena (Nonviolent peace army).

    During the meetings at the Hague conference, there was basic agreement on three initial points:
    1.  Most people doing peace team work, conflict resolution and/or nonviolent training had shared the vision at some point in their work of building a standing nonviolent, peace force of significant size. Some still entertained the idea. Usually the idea had been abandoned because:
        a.  Lack of resources, especially financial, to build and sustain such an operation,
        b.  The important peacemaking work in a particular area had become so consuming and/or specialized that the vision of a larger scale operation was lost.
    2.  Most people thought that the idea was worth exploring and developing. Some were very enthusiastic.  Others were more cautionary.
    3.  While this project is very early in development, people representing organizations doing peace team work did not try to protect their group's domain even when directly considering the prospect that a new organization might compete for funds. There was an amazing lack of turf protection.

    Our mission is to mobilize and train a multicultural, nonviolent, standing peace force. The Peace Force will deploy to conflict areas to help create the space for local groups to struggle, dialogue and seek peaceful resolution while protecting human rights and preventing death and destruction.

    To begin the program there will need to be significant advance commitments including:
    1.  At least 200 people willing to commit to participate in training and deployment for at least 2 years.
    2.  At least 400 people with training and specific peace making skills who would be available  on a reserve basis for at least one month per year over a 2-3 year period.
    3.  At least 500 supporting members around the globe willing to contact their media, government officials and religious leaders about the Peaceforce's work.
    4.  At least 5,000 people committed to pray and/or meditate daily for the work of  the Peaceforce.
    5.  Eight million dollars for operation.
    6.  Significant media relationships and attention.
    7.  A well-defined, international, efficient and accountable decision-making body.

    The first two years of development of the International Peace Force will require extensive research.  Research results will shape the creation of the peace force including whether or not we proceed.  We will meet with peace team activists, military veterans, political leaders, international diplomats, religious leaders, scholars and activists in conflict areas to explore appropriate applications of third party nonviolent intervention and lessons that have been learned.  We will also undertake a literature review.
    Research will focus on four major areas.
    1.  Conflict situations and conditions where larger scale third party nonviolent intervention would be or would have been appropriate and helpful.
    2.  Best practices for recruitment, engagement, strategy, tactics, governmental interaction and media relations.
    3.  Current peacemakers training and trainers to identify those most appropriate for the training of the peace force.
    4.  Specific roles and functions needed in conflict areas that armed peacekeepers and humanitarian aid teams cannot or will not play.
    5.  Logistical needs of fielding a nonviolent peaceforce.

    Beginning with 200 active members, 400 reserves and 500 supporters, the Peace Force will be built to a level of 2,000 active, 4,000 reserves and 5,000 supporters over a six year period.  Members will be multiethnic, international, intergenerational and have various orientations to faith and spiritual practices. Through a screening process, they will need to demonstrate a great capacity for teamwork, listening, communication, multicultural interaction and bearing dangers and frustrations. All members will be committed to nonviolence and disciplined, effective action while participating in this project.
    All active members will be paid a professional salary.  A provision for college scholarships and contributions to retirement funds will also be developed. Highly visible participants such as Nobel Peace Prize laureates, religious representatives or former government leaders will also be recruited for specific situations.
    Members will be recruited from a variety of places including:
        1.  Former peace team members from a variety of organizations.
        2.  People referred by other peace organizations.
        3.  Members of veterans for peace organizations.
        4.  Youth.
        5.  Members of religious and spiritual communities.
        6.  Veterans of other nonviolent movements:  civil rights, national freedom, labor, anti-war, women, environmental.
        7.  Retired people.
        8.  Former Peace Corps volunteers and other veterans of international service.
        9.  Artists.
      10.  Other ordinary people willing to volunteer a couple of years working with peace teams.
    Reserves will be recruited from peace organizations, spiritual communities and other constituencies listed above. The International Peace Force will maintain a data base of peace team veterans cataloging their skills and availability.
    The 5,000 supporters will each contribute at least $100 per year. They will be connected to the work of the Peace Force via a Web page and E-Mail. In addition to financial support, supporters will serve as the local voice of the Peace Force by communicating with their local media and their religious or social communities about its general work and specific engagements. They will also educate their government officials about issues related to the Peace Force's work.

    The Peace Force will be deployed at the invitation of a local organization or nonviolent movement working for peaceful change/resolution. Attempts will be made to gain approval from all sides involved in the conflict.
    Strong preference will be given to early intervention.  As one woman from Kosovo said at the Hague Conference, "Peace workers need to be at the right place at the right time before violence escalates.  Otherwise, we are just counting our mistakes."
    Deployment decisions will be made by the Governance Committee.  Make up of the particular teams deployed will depend upon the needs of the given situation.  Criteria considered for involvement would include:
        1.  Invitation by a local organization working for peaceful change/resolution.
        2.  Clear role and contribution that the force could make.
        3.  Reasonable chance of success.
        4.  Organizational and logistical backup.
        5.  Media backup.
        6.  Evidence that combatants and/or governments are sensitive to international pressure.
        7.  Sufficient funding and commitment for duration.
        8.  Analysis that deployment would enhance local efforts for peaceful resolutions.
    A family support network will be developed to provide physical, logistical, emotional and financial support to family and friends of active members while they are deployed.  Post action counseling and support services will be made available to members and their loved ones upon return.

    A clear mandate with a specific strategy and precise objectives tailored to the conflict area will be established before deployment.  Strategies and tactics will be designed to lessen violence or its potential, create space for peaceful and just resolution and empower local peace and justice activists.  The strategies will be flexible and focus on these outcomes, not just on providing witnesses or documenting human rights abuses.  Make up of the teams sent to the conflict area will be determined by the needs of the particular situation.  Specialized teams with expertise in particular peacemaking skills will be available and deployed based on the need of the conflict situation.
     While in the area the Peace Force will also serve as international eyes, ears and conscience.  The tactics, developed and carried out in conjunction with local nonviolent activists, will be decided upon by the Peace Force leadership team in the area in consultation with the Peace Force Governance Committee.  Strategies and methods could include:
        1.  Accompanying (activists, leaders, returning refugees)
        2.  Facilitating communication among conflicting parties
        3.  Monitoring (elections, cease fires, treaties)
        4.  Training and training trainers in conflict transformation
        5.  Patrolling (borders etc.)
        6.  Interpositioning between conflicting sides
        7.  Capacity building for local nonviolent groups
        8.  Modeling alternatives to violent behavior
        9.  Providing an international emergency response network to support local peacemaking efforts
        10.  Strengthening multicultural local efforts
        11.  Fact finding
        13.  Rumor investigation
        14.  Promoting unbiased information, internally and internationally
        15.  Instantaneous video witnessing to the Internet
        16.  Creating safe zones.

    An overarching strategy of the peace force will be to build international interest and support for nonviolent movements around the world that present to people the hope and reality of alternatives to armed intervention.  As evidenced by peace teams to date, tremendous public education  is carried out by activists once they return to their home countries.
    Each engagement as well as the overall operation of the Peace Force will require considerable logistical support including business managers, public relations specialists, medical workers, conflict resolvers, team builders, travel coordinators, cooks, fund raisers, regional experts and governmental and organizational liaisons.  While we will attempt to have volunteers fluent in the local languages in the conflict areas, we will also employ language interpreters for each engagement. This may seem like a lot of people but as one activist pointed out, the military employs ten support staff for every soldier in the field.

    This process will have to be democratic, inclusive, efficient and possess legitimate authority.  For this project to succeed, the Initiating Group will have to be international with limited involvement from the United States. At the beginning, ten to fifteen people with experience in peace team work, conflict transformation, organizing, training, fund raising, military operations, humanitarian efforts, organizational development and the media will form the Initiating Group to develop the project.  Each person will have an active commitment to the goal of the International Peace Force as well as to nonviolence and intercultural peacemaking.  A variety of ethnicity, nationality, gender, spirituality and age will be important. This group will develop the concept of the Peace Force, answer key questions and create and help implement a recruitment, fund raising, media and training plan.  This will take about 24 months.  (Note:  Should adequate funding become available sooner this timetable could be accelerated.)
      At the end of this period, the Initiating Group will appoint a Governance Committee that may include some members of the Initiating Group. The Governance Committee will be charged with the overall governance of the International Peace Force including the implementation of the recruitment, fund raising, media and training plans as well as overseeing the operation and making budgetary, personnel and deployment decisions.  Like the Initiating Group, the Governance Committee will embody the principles of nonviolence and intercultural peacemaking as well as be inclusive, efficient, representative and accountable.  Another possibility for governance could be a coalition or federation of existing peace team organizations.
    The Governance Committee will also develop a Field Leadership with clearly defined authority over operations and tactics once a team is in the field.  During the planning stages an Advisory Board made up of prominent world citizens including Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former governmental leaders and religious leaders will be appointed to advise on major questions, increase visibility of the Peace Force and assist with fund raising.  Later this advisory board will help strengthen the moral authority of the Peace Force and, hopefully, participate as active members.

      Complex conflict situations require highly qualified competencies. Active members of the Peace Force will take part in a two month general training that focuses on history and theory of nonviolence, cultural sensitivity, listening, mediation skills and conflict transformation. Physical, spiritual and artistic training will also be available at this time.
    A more specific training of up to two months duration will follow focusing on the local area of deployment including language, culture, analysis of the conflict and discussion of appropriate means of peaceful engagement.  All or part of this phase will be done in the deployment area in conjunction with local peacemakers.
    An advanced training will also be offered in various specialty tactics including accompaniment, conflict transformation and mediation.  Results of the research project mentioned above will be incorporated into the training.
    Nonviolent training resources are being developed around the world.  The Peace Force will contract with existing trainers to carry out the training. Reserves who will be called up because of the need for their particular skills in a specific region will take part in the advanced training. Continuing education will also be required for all members.

    Good media and public relations will be vital.  We will need to document and communicate the hope and promise of nonviolent peacemaking to a world that can be cynical and skeptical yet hungers for new approaches to dealing with violence. We will need to create a transcendent image that communicates integrity, strength, hope and effectiveness to the general public in meaningful symbols as well as concrete action.
    Credible media relationships will have to be forged.  They could prove to be the lifeline to teams once they are deployed.  We will need to explore creative uses of technology such as teams bringing video and satellite transmission equipment to document and deter violent behavior. Our communications plan will have to include a recruitment package which encourages people in a variety of countries to participate at all three levels:  active, reserve and supporter.
    A professional Web Page will be developed and maintained to:
        1.  Communicate the mission and work of the Peace Force
        2.  Recruit members
        3.  Raise money
        4.  Give live reports from the field
        5.  Inform members of support activities that they can do
        6.  Discuss new developments in nonviolent strategies and interventions.
    We will need a proactive media strategy to transform images and messages from individuals and organizations who will oppose the project. Transnational weapons producers, combatants in a particular region and military alliances like NATO are possible examples.

    An operation of 2,000 active members with a full compliment of reserves and supporters would cost about $70 - 80 million a year.  While this amount seems huge, the world spends more than this on military operations each and every hour of every day of every year.  Remember, an attractive element of nonviolence is that it is much less expensive than war.  This cost, however, geometrically eclipses the total amount spent on peace team work in the world today and presents a strong argument for eventual U.N. and/or other governmental support.

    Exploratory and developmental costs will be about $200,000 annually for the first two years.  We will seek this money from a few foundations, individual donors and religious organizations. We will need $8 million, about 7 minutes worth of global military expenditures, to begin operation of the Peace Force with 200 active members, 400 reserves and 500 supporters.  This will come from foundations, religious and spiritual institutions and individuals. We will also have raised $50,000 from our first 500 supporters for the first year of operation.

    Working relationships with governmental units will be important. The Initiating Group will explore if, how and to what extent the Peace Force will interact with governments at all levels recognizing that deployment will require some type of governmental cooperation. These considerations will include:
    1.  Possible support and/or sponsorship by the United Nations and/or other multilateral organizations
    2.  Financial support from friendly governments
    3.  Governments adding Peace Force participation to their universal service requirements
    4.  Direct work with government sponsored nonviolent organizations like the German Civilian Peace Service
    5.  Government sponsored scholarships and retirement credits for active members of the Peace Force
    6.  Governments providing information about and assistance in gaining entry to certain countries
    7.  Governments designating a percentage of their military budget to support nonviolent peacemaking.

(Note:  Should adequate funding become available sooner, this time line could be accelerated.)
    2000- 2001 --  Exploration and development.
        Year 1 --    Develop concept, meet with experienced activists throughout the world, gather information, write and distribute opinion pieces, research, develop budget, identify core group, decide on whether to proceed or not, establish office and operation, core group meet, develop and implement media plan, fund raise for first two years, develop long term fund raising plan, develop Web Page, develop data base for all levels of members.
        Year 2 --  Implement fund raising and media plans, maintain Web page, develop screening process, recruit all three levels of   members, identify site for base and training, identify and  contract with trainers, develop training agenda, digest and make available state of the art knowledge for training, decision making and leadership, analyze possible sites of deployment, create steering committee, hire key staff, communicate with governmental officials.
    2002-2006 --  Begin training, continue media, recruitment and fundraising, first, second and/or third deployment, evaluate operation and publish results, continue liaising with U.N. and other international organizations.
    2010 --  Build to strength of 2,000 active members, 4,000 reserves and 5,000 supporters, consider possible adoption by U.N. and/or other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

    The use of active nonviolence is on the rise throughout the world.  We can build on the experiences of nonviolent peace teams and others to bring this activity to a dramatic new level, a level required by conflicts around the globe.  We have reached a level of maturity where this is possible.  We have the capacity to make it happen in our lifetimes.  The ingredients abound: there are many veterans of nonviolent movements, thousands of citizens have demonstrated their willingness to courageously stop violence and oppression, hard lessons have been analyzed and learned, our organizational abilities have increased, highly qualified trainers are available, the World Wide Web, already used to advance the campaigns for banning land mines and establishing an International Criminal Court, is available as an organizing tool, funders are expressing an interest, and, most importantly, people are demanding an alternative to the highly militarized responses to conflict.
    Profound questions remain.  Yet, we live in a time when we are called to be troubled by these questions.  Questions haven't stopped NATO.  As evidenced last spring, they are still plagued with problems of decision making, turf, logistics and effectiveness.
    We need to trouble ourselves with the development of institutions that manifest hope and lead us to a world that honors all life.  We need to entertain these ideas and challenge each other.  So for now talk, write, reflect, pray, paint, dance, meditate.  Please share your thoughts, critiques and inspirations with us as well as ideas of others with whom you share this paper.
     Together we can make the Peace Force a reality.  There will be no better way to commemorate the United Nations Decade of Nonviolence than to do so.

    *Endorse the Peace Force
    *Reach out to key organizations and individuals
    *Fund raise
    *Identify and recruit general and expert volunteers
    *Recruit supporters
    *Start a local affinity group to support the work of the Peace Force
    *Put an article on the Peace Force in your newsletter or on your Web Page


"I have great hope because this idea is emerging, converging all over the world.  What form it actually takes remains to be seen but it will happen."
                                    Sister Pat Keefe

To volunteer or get more information contact:

Mel Duncan
801 Front Ave.
St. Paul, MN. 55103

David Hartsough
721 Shrader St.
San Francisco, CA. 94117

Check out our Web page <>