Dr. Ann Frisch was the speaker at the Rotary Peace Foundation.
Here is some information about her and the Nonviolent Peace Force.
Women Power: Dr. Ann Frisch Presents Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping in Canada
Dr. Ann Frisch served on the Nonviolent Peaceforce team in Guatemala that protected human rights defenders during the violent elections there in 2007. On October 2, 2010, she presented unarmed civilian peacekeeping at the meeting of the Peace and Justice Studies Association in Winnipeg, Canada. The theme of the meeting was “Building Bridges, Crossing Borders: Gender, Identity and Security in the Search for Peace.” The meeting also celebrated the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls on all parties to involve women in the highest levels of decision making.
Unarmed civilian peacekeeping is a movement you can say “yes” to in an era of gross violations against human rights, assaults on human rights defenders and increasing numbers of civilian casualties of armed conflict.
The United Nations is engaged in the important work of moving the world toward protection of conflict-affected civilians, and is working to acknowledge the needs specific to the protection of women and girls. Equally important to providing protection to civilians is the expectation of the UN that individuals and groups will join with member states to protect human rights, guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and subsequent declarations such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the conventions on genocide, protection of children and women in armed conflicts, and many more. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and its successors affirm the importance of women being involved in peacekeeping, peacemaking and reconciliation at the highest levels of decision making.
But not surprisingly, there was bad news about peace and justice at this meeting. Evaluations of the effect of these resolutions indicate that armed UN peacekeepers have not provided the mandated protection to civilians, and in some cases have been involved in committing violence toward them. Neither women nor other civilians have been involved significantly at the highest levels of decision making even under UN auspices. Human rights defenders are under siege in many areas, even by some UN member states.
A variety of reasons have been offered for these failures, including over-reliance on resolutions, mandates and operating procedures to protect and involve civilians. Efforts to date have been mostly top-down in a status quo-oriented bureaucratic organization. The UN does intervene with unarmed staff in many situations. However, it relies heavily on armed UN peacekeepers to do the major work of protecting and involving civilians in resolving conflicts, which is a role better performed by civil society organizations. The good news is that the world does not need to wait until the UN machinery can do that work: It is already being done by Nonviolent Peaceforce. We have trained professional, gender-balanced civilian teams from around the world already successfully providing unarmed protection.
In Mindanao, the Philippines, Nonviolent Peaceforce was invited by the armed parties to the conflict to be on the International Monitoring Team (IMT). Our partner organizations (compromised of women and men) are also seated on the IMT. For example, Bantay Ceasefire Humanitarian Protection, a member of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, has a thousand volunteers who monitor human rights in Mindanao including a team of all-woman unarmed peacekeepers. Together with the powerful local civilian groups, we are a remarkable force for peaceful resolution of conflict. Nonviolent Peaceforce has 88 peacekeepers here working with the Mindanao Peoples Caucus.
In Sudan, where any spark could ignite a humanitarian crisis, there are signs of hope. Nonviolent Peaceforce provided neutral safe space and protected local authorities, who prevented violence between people whose cattle had been stolen and those who stole them. The successful resolution of this dispute brings promise of more collaboration between conflicting parties.
In a country where 50 percent of the population is under 17, Nonviolent Peaceforce is providing protection to children who have to struggle with the fact that their parents and those of their classmates are often opponents from conflicting tribes. Imagine teachers and students working together to create unarmed security in their schools so they can get on with their schooling and building better futures for themselves.
In Sri Lanka, the searing violence in Batticaloa in 2009 that followed several murders and abductions risked spreading to nearby Valaichchenai. But it did not. Nonviolent Peaceforce had been providing protection to civilian-based organizations in Valaichchenai since 2003. We worked with women and men of diverse ethnicities and religions, ages and occupations to create early-warning systems, rumor control and youth outreach. We also partnered with local civilian society organizations committed to preventing violence. These efforts so strengthened the community of Valaichchenai that it was able to maintain peace despite the upheaval in Batticaloa.
In the last few months, 50 people (three-fourths of them women) participated in training for unarmed civilian peacekeeping to provide real security for their communities. Following the training, a group of trailblazing women won the release of two men who had spent over a year in prison. Imagine the joy of having your community secure and your family safe at home.
For the same dollars the world’s militaries expend in one day, Nonviolent Peaceforce could put 50,000 unarmed civilian peacekeepers in the field for a year.
Nonviolent Peaceforce teams enter communities by invitation from local groups working on human rights and reconciliation in areas of deeply rooted violent conflict. Our nonpartisan unarmed civilian peacekeepers protect civilians, work to bring armed parties in conflict together for talks, and create spaces for women and men to do the work of peacemaking in their communities.
Imagine peace breaking out everywhere with unarmed peacekeepers protecting the people who are working to keep schools safe, seeds sown, families secure, crops harvested and shops tended.
We celebrate the standards from the UN, the world’s peacekeeping body, which
- calls for the protection of women and men, boys and girls
- expects member states to protect civilian human rights defenders
- expects women to be involved at the highest levels of peacekeeping
These standards represent important steps forward for humankind. We must seize the day and move quickly under the banner of these standards to the large-scale implementation of unarmed civilian peacekeeping. agine all of us feeling safe enough, no matter where we live, to openly work for peace, building bridges — roads and relationships — going to work, and taking care of our children, our parents and our communities. We celebrate that we the people are at this moment seizing the great UN mandates to make this happen through unarmed civilian peacekeeping.
Dr. Ann Frisch is presently cochair of the U.S. Nonviolent Peaceforce Fund Raising Board. She served on one of the early Nonviolent Peaceforce teams in Guatemala protecting human rights defenders during the violent elections there in 2007. She is professor emerita, University of Wisconsin — Oshkosh, and is a member of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.
About Nonviolent Peaceforce
As an unarmed, paid civilian peacekeeping force, Nonviolent Peaceforce fosters dialogue among parties in conflict and provides a protective presence for threatened civilians.
With the headquarters in Brussels, NP peacekeeping teams are presently deployed in the Philippines, in South Sudan, and the South Caucasus. Our peacekeepers include veterans of conflict zones, experienced peacekeepers, and those new to the field with the right combination of experience, skills, aptitude and attitude. Nonviolent Peaceforce USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Within every combat zone we enter, and throughout our work worldwide, we want to achieve four overarching goals:
To create a space for fostering lasting peace.
To protect civilians, especially those made vulnerable because of the conflict.
To develop and promote the theory and practice of unarmed civilian peacekeeping so that it may be adopted as a policy option by decision makers and public institutions.
To build the pool of professionals able to join peace teams through regional activities, training, and maintaining a roster of trained, available people.
A Nonviolent Force for Peace
The mission of Nonviolent Peaceforce is to promote, develop and implement unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a tool for reducing violence and protecting civilians in situations of violent conflict.
We envision a world in which large-scale unarmed civilian peacekeeping using proven nonviolent strategies is recognized as a viable alternative in preventing, addressing, and mitigating violent conflicts worldwide. Our primary strategy for achieving this vision is the creation of space to foster dialogue.
We most often respond to invitations by credible local organizations committed to nonviolent solutions. Once invited, we meet key players, including commanders from opposing sides, local police, religious, business, and civil society leaders. We live and work in communities within conflict zones alongside local people.
When violence erupts, civilians under threat often contact us. They know and trust us. We have been living among them. Visibly nonpartisan and unarmed, we arrive in NP uniforms, with NP vehicles, letting our presence be known.
We build the confidence and safety of civilians deeply affected by conflict so they can access available structures and mechanisms for addressing problems and grievances.
Our activities have ranged from entering active conflict zones to remove civilians in the crossfire to providing opposing factions a safe space to negotiate. Other activities include serving as a communication link between warring factions, securing safe temporary housing for civilians displaced by war, providing violence prevention measures during elections and negotiating the return of kidnapped family members.
How It All Began
David Hartsough had long been committed to creating a better world through nonviolent means. The Quaker activist protested racial segregation in lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s, demonstrated against the Vietnam War and nuclear proliferation, and trained civilians in Kosovo in nonviolent strategies during the 1990s.
Mel Duncan’s vision began when he went to Nicaragua with the coffee/cotton brigades during the Contra war in 1984 and saw that villages were not attacked when foreigners were present.
David and Mel met at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace, each seeking support to make his vision an organized entity. After hearing David’s presentation, Mel shared his ideas with him. David and Mel immediately saw the powerful symbiosis. By the end of the event, they, along with others who caught the vision, were organizing to lay the foundation for Nonviolent Peaceforce.
As they and others began organizing NP, they talked to people around the world. Amid the fiercest violence, they met courageous and creative peacemakers who told them time and again that isolation was lethal and international accompaniers extended their lives and amplified their work.
Nonviolent peacekeeping is a common vision that has flowed through Gandhi, Maude Roydon, Badshah Khan and so many others. It has occurred and recurred to enough people for generations that now many focus their lives and resources on making it real.
and their fellow founders constituted Nonviolent Peaceforce in the 2002 Convening Event in Surajkund, India with peace advocates from 49 countries in attendance. One year later, in fall 2003, Nonviolent Peaceforce had its first team in Sri Lanka.