Chair: Jørgen Johansen
Vice-chairs: Peter Jones (Australia); Cecilia Moretti (Argentina)
Treasurer: Dorie Wilsnack
Other members of the Executive Committtee:
Reinoud Doeschot; Andreas Schäfter; Ellen Elster; Christine Schweitzer
Internationally elected Council members:
Rafa Ajangiz; Roberta Bacic (until Feb 98); Albert Beale; Reinoud Doeschot; Thomas Hackman; Maggie Helwig; Marko Hren; Trini Leung; miX; Cecilia Moretti; Joanne Sheehan; Christine Schweitzer
Co-opted Council members:
Ellen Elster; Andreas Schäfter
Current WRI staff:
Roberta Bacic (since Feb 98); Dominique Saillard (since Feb 94)
Former WRI staff:
Chris Booth (until Dec 95); Howard Clark (until Sept 97)
Current Peace News Staff: (employed by Peace News Limited)
Chris Booth and Stephen Hancock (part-time, co-editors, since Sept 97); Beth Seborg (part-time, administration, since June 98)
Former Peace News staff:
Ken Simons (editor, until May 1996); Tim Wallis (editor Jan 96-Sept 97); Dominique Saillard (promotions worker, until Dec 95)
Representatives at the United Nations:
Michel Monod (Geneva); David McReynolds, John Miller (New York)
Working groups convenors:
Africa Working Group: Jan Van Criekinge and Matt Meyer
Ecology Working Group -- not active
Latin-American Working Group: Jean De Wandelaer
Nonviolence Training Working Group: Joanne Sheehan
Turkish-Kurdistan Working Group: Rudi Friedrich
Women's Working Group: Maggie Helwig
The report we are presenting here shows WRI in a period of flux. There has been a lot of good work done since the last Triennial, especially as regards the Balkans or conscientious objection issues. Being able to hold our 22nd
Triennial in Croatia this year is also a small victory.
While Bosnia and Croatia have moved from war to something that cannot be called peace, the "neither peace nor war" situation in Kosov@ has finally turned into war -- a danger to which WRI was first alerted by Marko Hren back in 1988. WRI members in the region continue to work for a peace based not on power politics but on values that respect human rights and nurture human relationships. Meanwhile the Balkan Peace Team has become one of the most important projects in which WRI has engaged.
Whereas in the 1991-1994 period, WRI was active opening new channels of communication in the region, the 1994-98 has been a period of concentrating on existing relationships -- particularly with WRI affiliates (ARK Croatia, Women in Black Belgrade, Pokret za Mir Pancevo) or arising from Balkan Peace Team activity. Meanwhile WRI members have proceeded developing their own projects with other groups -- Alba-Kör with the Hungarian community of Vojvodina, KristnaFreds in Osijek and Eastern Slavonia, MAN in Kosov@, MIR-IRG in Vojvodina and Tuzla. A number of people active in WRI, including staff and Executive members, have visited the region.
ARK in this period has become more outspoken, especially since Croatian military operations drove most of the Serbian population out of Western Slavonia and the Krajina, and is now engaged in responding to the conflicts around questions of "return" in an effort to re-establish some kind of multi-ethnic coexistence. Women in Black remain an international symbol for their courageous defiance of Serbian nationalism and militarism and their reaching out to Kosov@ Albanians. Their statements have provided an invaluable commentary on the developing situation, and when they relied on fax rather than email, it was often the WRI/Peace News office that did the circulating.
WRI has not pursued this independently, but rather through the Committee for Conflict Transformation Support (CCTS), formerly the Coordinating Committee for Conflict Resolution Training in Europe (CCCRTE). In this way, WRI's project for a study visit to Northern Ireland was realized in 1995 (a visit including members of ARK and PPM), and Christine Schweitzer was able to arrange for to Dutch trainers to go to Tuzla. There is, however, such a wealth of training experience in the region that the role of internationals is far less central.
An international seminar on Nonviolent Action in Kosov@ -- somewhat echoing the 1992 WRI project for such a seminar -- was scheduled for May 1998, but had to be cancelled.
The Serbian offensive in Kosov@ saw a revival of public opposition within Yugoslavia, especially in Vojvodina and Montenegro, and the formation of a new student-based Anti War Campaign in Belgrade.
The most dramatic incident took place in Croatia in May 1996 when a local activist and a local Balkan Peace Team volunteer were able to photograph a military policeman beating objector Nika Violic. BPT alerted the WRI office, who in turn alerted Amnesty International, and together we were able to exert enough pressure for Violic to be allowed to return home.
Objectors from Croatia and Yugoslavia have taken part in the ECOMs/ICOMs, and also in a series of meetings arranged by the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and Amnesty International. In Belgrade, this has culminated in the establishment of a Yugoslav Bureau for CO.
The WRI office as well as WRI groups in Belgium, Germany and Denmark -- and above all our friends in Connection eV, Germany -- have continued to provide documentation to support the asylum claims of war resisters from the region.
The Balkan Peace Team is an international project bringing together foreign peace groups to place teams of foreign volunteers in Croatia and Serbia/Kosovo. There are currently two teams in Croatia, Otvorene Oci in Zagreb and in Split, and one team working in Belgrade and Prishtina. In November 1997 BPT made a commitment to stay in the region for another three years, with a thorough evaluation to take place in 1999.
Otvorene Oci defines its role in terms of civil society building, human rights advocacy, and nonviolent conflict resolution. Beginning in March 1994, it has adapted as the situation has changed, consistently working with local groups. Following the re-conquest of Western Slavonia in May 1995, OtOc volunteers were among the first to document the looting and human rights abuses taking place, and the team escorted a Serbian mayor determined to stay. A persistent topic has been repeated attempts to evict people from their homes, especially Serbs or people who left temporarily during the war, in order to install new tenants, especially soldiers or former-soldiers. OtOc has monitored many such incidents - occasionally succeeding in staying an eviction -- as well as trials for "enemy action" (e.g. anything from not supporting the Croatian war effort to being accused of war crimes).
Following the Dayton and Erdut Accords of November 1995, the overriding concern for OtOc has been the issues raised by refugees returning to their former homes or occupying homes that belong to other displaced people: Croats returning to East Slavonia to find their homes occupied by Serbs; Serbs returning to Croatia from East Slavonia or Serbia to find their homes destroyed or occupied by, for instance, Bosnian Croats. These issues range from the behaviour of Croatian local authorities and the hostile environment, to the unwillingness of certain international agencies to include local groups in their consultations about how best to organise the return process.
OtOc has produced some outstanding written reports -- on the Croatian military operations, on the role of gender in housing evictions (extracted in both Peace News and WRI Women), and most recently (August 1998) on Return.
BPT has now decided that the North Croatia (Zagreb) office has served its purpose, and will be closed in December. However, the Split office has expanded its work by renting a room in Knin to allow closer involvement there.
BPT-FRY works primarily to promote dialogue between Serbs and Albanians and to encourage them to contact each other and even take action together on matters of common concern. Establishing the team was very much a stop-start affair. The first three-person team arrived in November 1994 but in January 1995 the BPT Coordinating Committee rejected its proposals on how to proceed. A second two-person team began work in Prishtina in March 1995 but after six weeks were summoned by the police for "informative talks", and so BPT decided to withdraw to Belgrade and to set up a registered non-governmental association there. The work really began to take shape in the second half of 1996, at that time networking with groups in Serbia and making regular visits to Prishtina and occasionally other parts of Kosov@.
The team closely monitored the Belgrade pro-democracy demonstrations of winter 96-97, producing a report widely reprinted (including an extract in Peace News), and began to make useful connections between groups in Serbia and Kosov@. Often these were too sensitive to report publicly. The work in Prishtina developed to the point where the team began to rent a flat for half a month, and now has rented a flat permanently.
One highlight was in encouraging the Centre for Nonviolence and Human Rights in Ni, Serbia, first to discuss Kosov@, then to visit, leading ultimately to the group monitoring and issuing public reports on student demonstrations; another, also connected with the Kosov@ student demonstrations, was to encourage Belgrade students to go down to Prishtina for a dialogue meeting with their Albanian counterparts. Later, the Belgrade students successfully nominated the Albanian Student Union for the Nasa Borba prize for tolerance.
With the onset of war in Kosov@, there is now a general sense of fatalism in Prishtina. The team's role then is to be a source of support for those still open to dialogue or cooperation and still working along the lines of nonviolence. There remain groups working on dialogue -- especially among those connected with processes facilitated from outside, such as that of the Nansen Peace Academy in Norway or Pax Christi Flanders/Netherlands -- and these take strength from the continuous contact with the BPT. New opportunities for common action and for dialogue are appearing, again too sensitive to report here, but the team is working on them quietly. Opportunities could again arise for nonviolent action in Kosovo@: the question is whether there is the spirit to seize these.
At the initiative of MAN and with support from other groups in France, BPT is aiming to start a second FRY/Kosov@ team next September. At the moment, the idea would be to base this in Ni and for it to link with the east of Kosov@ (Ferizaj, Gjilan). However, there may be more important work to be done in the west after the fighting has stopped.
BPT aims to have three volunteers per team. There have been moments when all three teams have had three volunteers, but these have been the exceptions. The minimum period of commitment for a volunteer was extended in 1996 from six months to one year. Some commit for longer. So far there have been volunteers from Australia, Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and the USA, and a Filipina is scheduled to begin in October.
The system of training volunteers was greatly improved by involving trainers from the Croatian group Miramida, and the latest decision is that, after the initial five-day assessment, most training sessions will take place in the region.
BPT has provided a good formation for volunteers who have gone on to do related work for bodies such as Amnesty International, International Rescue Committee, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the UN Development Programme.
The BPT is a coalition project, involving four international peace groups (WRI, IFoR, Eirene, and PBI), the Bund für Soziale Verteidigung in Germany, MAN and various other French groups, a coordination of Dutch groups and the Brethren Volunteer Service. WRI has a "permanent seat" on the Coordinating Committee -- Howard Clark has continued in his capacity as WRI representative since leaving the staff Apart from some early difficulties, this has been quite an enjoyable body and has enriched the contact between the member organisations.
However, infrastructure has been a permanent weakness for BPT. Funding has been insecure. Indeed, BPT currently faces a financial crisis. The international office in Minden has been staffed since 1994 by a coordinator employed through a German unemployment scheme -- initially Martin Raschke, followed by Annette Englert. BPT could not find the money to pay Martin to stay and now, after Annette, BPT has not yet managed to find a suitable candidate. At no point has any member organisation been able to second one of its existing staff to the BPT office.
Although each team produces bi-weekly reports and six-month progress reports, plus occasional reports on special topics, there has been a lack of public material available.
The teams are supported by two sub-groups, one for Croatia, one for FRY/Kosov@, which can be relied on for general feedback. However, there has been little capacity to intervene effectively when there are internal problems in the field.
WRI's main contributions have been Howard Clark's work as a member of the Coordinating Committee and, since his departure from staff, as editor of the BPT Newsletter, plus the close involvement of Executive members Dorie Wilsnack (who has led trainings and was for nearly three months a "consultant" with the Belgrade team) and Christine Schweitzer (the project's first coordinator), in her capacity as a representative of the Bund für Soziale Verteidigung. WRI has devoted central resources to this project -- especially a proportion of Howard's staff time -- without gaining either financial benefit or public credit for the work, but also without contributing to the financial security of the project itself.
The Joint Contingency Fund was set up in 1994 by the WRI Executive, as a way of providing seed money for urgent international nonviolent action projects. Funds can be released on agreement between WRI and IFoR -- two Internationals who have extensive organising experience, but usually operate at full stretch, with little financial capacity for emergency action. Although Peace Brigades International was originally meant to be part of the Fund, it later withdrew, indicating that PBI's structures made it difficult to take the type of emergency decisions involved in the use of the Fund.
In 1995 WRI advanced £4,000 to the Fund, which was used to investigate the feasibility of an international nonviolent presence in Chechnya during the war (see § 3.3. below). Part of this money was later refunded to WRI. The biggest contribution (over £5,000) to the Joint Contingency Fund came from Objeción Fiscal, in the state of Spain, after the Fifth International War Tax Resistance meeting recommended the project to be supported by peace tax funds for the 1994-96 period. The Italian war tax resisters gave over £4,000 directly to the Chechnya project. WRI currently holds the Fund, which stands at £4,500.
In 1995, in spite of being one of the most destructive conflicts at the time, the devastation caused by the war in Chechnya had not yet reached the headlines of the international press. At the request of Quaker Peace and Service Moscow, WRI agreed to investigate the feasibility of having a nonviolent international presence in Chechnya. Tim Wallis, former International Secretary of PBI, was taken on to do this work, financed through the Joint Contingency Fund (see § 3.2.
Of the three main projects envisioned as a result of the study, only the Chechnya PeaceWatch programme could be realised and a WRI Working Group on Chechnya was created (see § 8.4. below). An April 1996 international delegation to Chechnya, in which Jørgen Johansen took part, confirmed the need for the WRI network to disseminate information to groups and media outside the country, but decided that conditions were too difficult to send international volunteers.
In May/June 1996 WRI cooperated with Chris Hunter, of the Centre for Peacemaking in Moscow, and the Quaker Council for European Affairs in Brussels to organise two simultaneous speaking tours for two Russian and two Chechen women, who visited Belgium, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden and met peace groups, parliamentarians, researchers and potential funders. Caroline Simpson coordinated the tours from the WRI office. Unfortunately, the tours did not bring in enough funds to offset their cost.
A separate WRI fund had been set up for Chechnya with money from the Italian War Resisters and funds raised through the WRI work. After the Chechnya Working Group disbanded last year and direct work on Chechnya ceased, the WRI Executive decided to use the remaining money (about £1,000) to finance the participation of a Chechen activist in the 1998 Triennial.
In 1995-96, several WRI affiliates participated in meetings about the creation of a European Civil Peace Corps (ECPC), a project proposed by the Green members of the European Parliament. The idea is to find European Union funding for civilian projects carried out by NGOs or under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Howard Clark attended one meeting, while Tim Wallis represented WRI at the follow-up one.
In 1996 Ernst Gülcher, peace worker for the Green European MPs, was invited to a discussion on civilian peace corps at the WRI Council. A number of objections were raised about the ECPC projects and Council later decided that WRI would withdraw from the task force meetings. A letter was sent to the members of the group, detailing the reasons for the decision. Among then were WRI's doubts about using interposition to respond to violent conflicts and sending a large group of civilian interveners into the area; fear that missions might be established from above (e.g. European Union governments) rather than on demand and in cooperation with local civil society; and concern about the recruitment of ECPC members, which might strengthen the position of those who support the introduction of a General Service to replace military conscription.
This year, WRI was represented by Christine Schweitzer at the second meeting of "European Peace Teams and Nonviolent Conflict Resolution Initiatives", in Köln, Germany. The promoters of the project, the German Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst, hope to create an information network between NGOs working on peace teams and conflict resolution. Several WRI affiliates were present. Discussions have mostly focused on information exchange about various European civilian peace service initiatives and on possible co-operation in training issues.
This year, for the first time, an entire day of the WRI Triennial will be devoted to looking at all Triennial topics from a gender perspective. This "Gender Day", initially proposed by the WRI Working Group of FOeGA, is one more step towards a better understanding of the different ways in which war and violence affect women and men. Worried that certain parts of the WRI network were content with leaving "women's issues" to the WRI Women's Working Group (WWG), the Triennial Committee felt that the day would provide a good opportunity to analyse how our gender influences our perception and treatment of the wide-range of issues presented at the conference. WRI's Strategic Plan seeks to further this process by making the integration of a gender perspective into the WRI programme one of its main priorities.
Although awareness-raising sometimes seems a painfully slow process within WRI, women from the network have continued to bring their concerns to the overall agenda. 1995 witnessed a vigorous debate on the United Nations World Conference on Women. WRI's WWG boycotted the event, as they believed that such a conference would harm rather than help grassroots women in China. Their statement was widely circulated and generated discussions within a number of women's groups.
Maggie Helwig, convenor of the WWG, edited a collection of Peace News and original articles on Women and War, with many contributions from the Balkans.
Two members of the WWG core group are also taking part in an IFOR programme on Women PeaceMakers, co-ordinated by Shelley Anderson, the editor of WRI Women (see § 4.3.). Several regional consultations have already taken place and Shelley -- together with Ellen Elster -- will convene a women-only theme group on "Women crossing the Lines" at the WRI Triennial. Plans for a new Women's Conference have been abandoned for the time being.
The theme of "Crossing the Lines" was initially promoted by the WRI WWG on International Women's Day (8 March). The WWG also attempted to mobilise people on International Day Against Violence Against Women (25 November) in 1995 and 1996. Unfortunately, poor results were achieved on both days and the WWG felt it did not have enough resources to continue with its calls for action.
IFoR and the International Peace Bureau have revived the celebration of 24 May as International Women's Day for Disarmament by co-producing and distributing an information pack for that day. This year's second edition contains several contributions from members of the WRI network.
Shelley Anderson continues to edit the newsletter of the WRI WWG, with the help of Françoise Pottier for the lay-out. The office distributes about 150 copies, three times a year. Several women have translated articles for publication in their country, notably miX in Spain, Jeannine Edel-Otte in France and Doris Sterzer in Germany. The WWG members have been discussing ways to augment their input into the newsletter at their last two meetings, as Shelley needs to receive more contributions from the group.
It is often very difficult to obtain reliable information about conscription and conscientious objection in African countries, where WRI still has very few contacts. The first major attempt to reach out to African groups came with the decision to hold the 1996 International CO Meeting in Chad. Several affiliates, including members of WRI Africa Working Group, helped Tchad Non-Violence organise this meeting, which attracted 85 participants, but only 20 activists from outside Chad. There have been mixed reviews of the outcome of the meeting, but people felt it had been a very good opportunity to discuss antimilitarism and nonviolence in the African context.
The past four years have seen the acceleration of the movement towards a professionalisation of the European militaries for strategic military reasons. Following Belgium and the Netherlands, the abolition or "suspension" of conscription has been announced in France and the state of Spain for shortly after year 2000. Abolition is also being discussed in several other countries, including Sweden and Denmark. This is leading a number of WRI affiliates to rethink their strategies and campaigns for the years to come. Issues around the professionalisation of the military have been on the agenda of the past three Council meetings and a Theme Group on "Peace Action and the Modernisation of the Military" will be held at the Triennial (see also § 5.4.
WRI has continued to report on and support the massive Insumisión campaign launched in 1989 in the state of Spain. The political and social embarrassment caused by the large number of total objectors sent to prison every year has been a major factor in the decision of the Spanish government to modify the law on conscientious objection. Since 1996 insumisos are subjected to a 8-14 years work ban in the public sector, rather than a prison term. MOC groups have reacted by launching an "Insumisión in the barracks" campaign and several activists were sent to jail by a military court, as reported in Peace News or the Broken Rifle.
WRI Turkey-Kurdistan Working Group has been actively involved in the support of Turkish war resisters, both in Turkey and abroad. Its members organised international delegations to monitor the trial of four objectors before a military court in 1995. Eight activists from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands took part in the first one, with WRI being represented by Andreas Speck, from FöGA.
After the first arrest of Osman Murat Ülke, in 1996, the Working Group and the office worked in close cooperation with the Izmir War Resisters' Association (ISKD) to help mobilise the WRI network in his support. There were updates on the CO Alert List, frequent articles in Peace News or in the Broken Rifle, and delegations to Osman's trials. WRI was represented by Tony Smythe and Albert Beale (Britain) on two of them. Members of DFG-VK, VD, Connection eV, MOC/Objeción Fiscal also took part. Although the Turkish authorities refused to let foreigners attend the hearings at the Eskisehir military court, these delegations were very useful in demonstrating Osman's international support and in spreading information about ISKD's campaigns in the peace movement press.
Several CO meetings have taken place in Europe since the last Triennial. The 1994 International Conscientious Objectors' Meeting (ICOM) in Colombia decided that, starting in 1995, two regional meetings -- in Europe and Latin America -- would alternate with future ICOMs. The first European Conscientious Objectors Meetings (ECOM) took place in Greece in 1995, followed by a meeting in Norway in 1997. Other regional European meetings include a NORDICOM in Norway in 1996 and a Southeast European CO meeting, organised by the Association of Greek COs mid June 1998.
Over the past few years groups have mounted very effective information campaigns not only about the right to CO, but also about widespread human rights violation within the continent's militaries. Several LA countries have registered a dramatic increase in the number of declared COs.
Holding the 1994 Triennial in Brazil has had a positive impact on WRI's contacts with the Latin American CO movements. There has been regular coverage of their campaigns in Peace News, in Prisoners for Peace, and in the Broken Rifle, as well as support for international urgent actions, as in the case of Colombian CO Luis Gabriel Caldas León and in the case of César Barrios, who was kidnapped and tortured by the Paraguayan military in 1995. Several activists have visited WRI groups in Europe, including Fernando Rojas, of MOC-Paraguay who attended the 1995 Council meeting and did a speaking tour. Juan Carlos Yuste, from SERPAJ and MOC-Paraguay, recently spent a month in the WRI office as a volunteer. European activists have also visited Latin American groups, notably Andreas Rabl, from ARGE WDV, Austria, and members of KEM-MOC, state of Spain.
WRI was able to have a representative to some of the meetings organised on the continent. The WRI Latin America working group has kept in close touch the organisers of the successive Latin American CO Meetings (LACOM, or ELOC in Spanish) -- 1995 in Chile, 1996 in Guatemala, 1997 in Ecuador -- and of the LA gatherings on demilitarisation. Since its creation at the first LACOM in 1994, the Network of COs in LA and the Caribbean (ROLC in Spanish) has played an important role in the information exchange within and outside the continent.
Representatives from two LA groups plan to give speaking tours after the 1998 Triennial. This will be the first time that WRI has managed to raise funds for activists from Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua and Paraguay to attend a WRI event.
The workgroup on the professionalisation of armies (not officially a WRI Working Group), has met at the past two Council meetings. Rafa Ajangiz has been acting as a collection point for information. It has proposed that Council initiate action regarding arms production and trade and, more concretely, aircraft manufacture. Several affiliates have started cooperating on a Eurofighter campaign.
The professionalisation of militaries serves the strategic needs of military alliances such as NATO, which has intensively lobbied Eastern European governments since the early 1990s. With a referendum on NATO membership due in November 1997, Alba Kör worked actively on a "NO to NATO" campaign, which was relayed by several other affiliates and the office. Jørgen Johansen was an observer to the Hungarian referendum -- which was outrageously manipulated by the government. A great number of articles about the dangers of NATO expansion have been published in the WRI network press.
Initially proposed at the 1994 Triennial, this research project has been successfully completed by a small group based with Vereniging Dienstweigereraars, in the Netherlands, under the coordination of Bart Horeman. All have worked on a voluntary basis. The first part of Refusing to bear arms: A world-wide survey on conscription and conscientious objection was published in January 1998 as a collection of separate reports covering over 30 European countries. Bart, Mark Stoljwick and Anton Luccioni gathered information from both government and non-governmental sources, complemented by comments on the draft reports from experts in the countries surveyed. Over the past year, Bart and Mark have been working on reports covering the former USSR countries, the Americas, Asia and Africa. The full survey will be presented at the 1998 Triennial.
The WRI office has coordinated the production and promotion of the first part of Refusing to bear arms, which was distributed fairly widely among WRI affiliates and other CO groups. The survey was very well received by lawyers and advocates working on asylum cases and the office filed an encouraging number of orders. The second part, especially that concerning Africa, is expected to raise even more interest from these professionals, who find that WRI is often the only organisation they can turn to for obtaining rapid information on CO and conscription issues (see § 5.6.).
To remain valuable, the information needs to be updated regularly and Bart Horeman will present a new proposal at the 1998 Triennial.
In recent years WRI has established itself as a source of information on conscription for immigration lawyers and advice agencies, receiving a growing number of enquiries from as far away as Australia and Canada. As knowledge of WRI's help with cases from ex-Yugoslavia started to spread, the office began to be consulted about many other countries, especially Turkey, Bulgaria, Armenia, Algeria. Angola, Sudan and Uganda. With the start of the war in Kosov@, the first enquiries regarding current mobilisation in Serbia are coming in. WRI's information has played an important role in several successful cases --notably asylum seekers from Poland, Turkey, Croatia, FR Yugoslavia, and Russia.
Howard Clark's expertise has been sorely missed since his departure and the new information compiled through the CONCODOC project has proved invaluable in allowing staff and BVS volunteer Anya Neher to continue dealing with enquiries. Since Anya's departure, most enquiries are handled by three law interns from the School of African Studies in London: Shamle Begum, Pameel Crowther and Samina Ditta. All three specialise in immigration law and have welcomed the opportunity to get some professional experience. They come to the office once a week. Staff hope to rely on their help for several more months.
The Human Rights Committee is a committee of legal experts, nominated by their governments, and charged with monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Although the Covenant does not mention conscientious objection, the Committee ruled that, in countries which recognise objection, this recognition should not discriminate between different religious beliefs and should be available at any time, including to serving soldiers.
At the suggestion of the Quaker UN office in Geneva (QUNO), WRI undertook in 1994 to submit country briefings, entitled "Issues of Conscience and Military Service". They go beyond the question of conscription and conscientious objection, to raise issues such as the impunity enjoyed by soldiers who have committed human rights violations, and ethnic or factional recruiting practices. The office has not been able to produce further briefings after Howard Clark and Quaker intern Kit Stoner left last year, but QUNO and the Committee have received copies of Refusing to Bear Arms.
Agatha Haun, the project founder, devoted 20 months voluntary work in 1995/96 to building up the basis for this project: a database of around 150 translators offering their services at reduced rates or as a donation to non-profit organisations in the peace and environmental movements. In spite of the obvious need for such a project, fundraising proved extremely difficult and it was impossible to recruit a full time co-ordinator as originally planned, after Agatha left end of 1996. The Lansbury House Trust Fund gave some financial support during the initial phase and a £3,000 grant came from the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation in November 1996.
This allowed WRI to finance the housing and accommodation of Anya Neher, from the Brethren Volunteer Service, for a few months in 1997/98, while she worked half time on the project. Agatha and Anya were able to fulfil a number of translation requests from the WRI and PN offices, but also from outside organisations. However, once it became evident that other WRI and PN work were eating too much into Anya's time, WRI had to 'freeze' the designated fund and work came to a standstill. The project currently still has about £2,000 available, but its future needs seriously re-assessing, as further staff cuts will make supervision from the WRI office even more difficult.
This project evolved from the 1994 Triennial proposal to hold a series of consultations with armed struggle movements. A first discussion at the Urnieta Council brought a number of reservations which led to the adoption of a revised proposal at the 1995 Liege Council: the basic focus of the project would shift to a study conference on the concept of 'empowerment'.
The conference would not be oriented towards struggle aiming at taking over power, but at the bottom-up restructuring of social power. Its goals would be to share the knowledge among groups already involved in WRI and movements coming into the network; to make WRI a better reference point for these questions; and to include more groups in WRI's thinking around nonviolence. Bengal was a possible venue for the conference, at the invitation of Swadhina.
A small group meeting at the Carmaux Council proposed to further the project by holding a theme group on that topic at the 1998 Triennial, convened by Howard Clark and Vesna Terselic. Two options were considered for timing of the study conference: summer 1999, attached to the Council meeting, or Winter 1999/2000 if in Bengal.
In 1995, the WRI Executive discussed holding a seminar on this theme in Europe, especially considering the racial dimension of the "economic draft", as conscription increasingly gives way to professional armed forces. Some discussion of the project took place at the 1997 Council meeting, where the possibility of organising a theme group at the next Triennial was considered. No progress has been made since then.
Of the eight work proposals made at the 1994 Triennial in Brazil, five have been followed up: see Joint Contingency Fund § 3.1.
, CONCODOC § 5.5.
, Peace Translation Service § 6.2.
, Study Conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment § 6.3.
, and Africa Working Group § 8.1.
. Three proposals have not been developed further: Proposal for research on the impact of militaries on societies in transition to democracy; Proposal for creating a data base on the world economic situation; and Proposal for a one-year course and field work in Gandhian philosophy (see Broken Rifle No. 32, June 1995).
ICOM used to decide on the focus country or region for this day and support for COs in Latin America was chosen for 1995. In 1997, the WRI Turkey-Kurdistan Working Group promoted Turkey as a focus country and, inspired by the actions of ISKD and Osman, there were actions in more countries than usual. No focus country was proposed for 1998, which witnessed a relatively weak mobilisation.
WRI has published its Honour Roll of Prisoners for Peace since the late 1950s. The English version of the list and accompanying articles is published in Peace News, while the French, Spanish and German versions are sent out via the Broken Rifle. The list has been dominated by the number of total resisters imprisoned in the state of Spain. This should change this year, as many insumisos have now finished their sentence and a new penal code was introduced last year (see § 5.2.
For the past few years, the Honour Roll has also expressed WRI's solidarity with people imprisoned not for anti-militarist action but for nonviolent action for social change -- with articles on East Timor, Tibet, Nigeria, and Burma. The list is well received throughout the WRI network and articles are often reprinted or translated in WRI publications. Prisoners appreciate the moral support they receive -- reminding their gaolers that they are not forgotten by the outside world. This was especially the case at Eskisehir prison, where the hundreds of letters received by Osman seriously unsettled the military authorities.
The proposal to create an Africa Working Group was made at the 1994 Triennial, in order to develop contacts with African groups, individuals and Africans in the diaspora, to facilitate communication between African contacts and to expand the work of WRI in this area. Jan Van Criekinge and Matt Meyer convene this WG, which has met at the past two Council meetings. Several of its members were involved in the preparation of the 1996 ICOM in Chad and have given advice on invitations to African groups for the 1998 Triennial. Matt Meyer raised some travel funds.
The activity of this WG has slowed down since the last Triennial in Brazil, although its convenor, Jean De Wandelaer, has represented WRI at Latin American CO meetings, and at least one of its members was present at each Council since 1994. There has been an attempt at developing an urgent action solidarity network and to compile a monography on nonviolent struggles in Latin America, but with little result.
This group is convened by Rudi Friedrich and has been especially active in the campaign organised in solidarity with Osman since his first arrest in 1996. Several of its members have helped coordinate and have taken part in international delegations to Osman's hearings. The next meeting of the group is scheduled for November 98.
This group, convened by Jørgen Johansen, was set up after an exploratory trip to Chechnya in 1995 and has identified the need to spread information about the war in the western media and the peace movement. Although its members worked on the issue, they did little as a group and decided to close the WG last year.
With the exception of a meeting at the Liege Council in 1995, this WG has not been active since the last Triennial.
This group has not been active since 1994 and has no convenor.
Since 1994 Council accepted the following organisations as affiliates (A=associate; S=section; AP=associate publication): in 1995 -- Anglican Pacifist Fellowship (Britain, A); En pie de paz (state of Spain, AP), Omega Forum för civil olydnand och ickevald (Sweden, A) and Zene U Crnom Protiv Rata (Women in Black, Belgrade, A). In 1996 -- Antiratna Kampanja Hrvatske (Anti-War Campaign Croatia, A); Réseau d'Information aux Réfractaires (France, A); and Serviço Paz e Justiça Brazil (Brazil, A). A current list of affiliates can be viewed here.
Since 1994, several affiliates have ceased to exist or become dormant. In 1995 Council recognised that WRI India (S) did not exist anymore. Urgences Pacifistes (AP), France, closed in 1996. Two other organisations have ceased their activities, but are not formally disbanded: IMWCR (A), Israel, in 1996 and FöGA (S), Germany, in 1997.
Since 1994 WRI staff have made a number of visits to affiliates: Dominique attended meetings of FöGA and DFG-VK in Germany, UPF in France, and GSoA in Switzerland. Howard spoke at meetings organised by PAIS in the Netherlands and Movimento Nonviolento. He also made informal visits to affiliates in Croatia, FR Yugoslavia, Hungary and the state of Spain.
The amount of communication between affiliates and the office varies from non-existent to frequent -- the latter being the exception rather than the rule! It seems very clear that the affiliates most in touch are those who have counted on a steady and motivated section representative. Unfortunately, not all affiliates have such a gem and even the most motivated of reps can find it hard work to mobilise their ranks/troops/comrades/colleagues/fellow head-bangers. Many Section members remain unaware that they are also WRI members.
The past few years have witnessed some encouraging examples of cooperation between WRI affiliates, especially in the case of the solidarity campaign with Turkish war resisters, for the joint publications of articles on WRI's 75th
anniversary (see § 9.2.
below), or for the organisation of speaking tours (for example, that of Saswati Roy from Swadhina in Germany in 1996).
Several WRI affiliates published selections of material on WRI's history to mark the 75th
anniversary, most drawing on the compilation published in the special issue of Graswurzelrevolution. Unfortunately there was no single text suitable for taking up the Brotherhood Church's offer of publishing a specific pamphlet. A questions and answers leaflet might be produced instead.
WRI began a strategic planning process in 1995. The work has been coordinated by Council members Ellen Elster and Joanne Sheehan, who have used questionnaires to affiliates, discussions at the 1995, 1996 and 1997 Council meetings and consultations with the WRI executive to try and get answers to four basic questions: "What is WRI's purpose? Where are we now in relation to our purpose? Where do we want to be, what are our goals? and How do we get form here to there?" (introduction to draft Strategic Plan).
Two documents have already been adopted at the 1997 Council: a Statement of Principles and a Statement of Functions (click to link to these documents). A draft Strategic Plan will be presented for adoption by the 1998 Triennial. It outlines goals and objectives for the next three to six years, and can be read by following this link.
The Broken Rifle is the only WRI publication systematically produced in four languages. It has become more substantial, varying in length from 8 to 14 pages, and parts of its contents regularly find their way in WRI affiliates' publications. Unfortunately, it has not been published regularly -- only between 2 and 4 times a year.
Contents have become more structured around a number of headlines, such as "From the Executive", "From our affiliates", "WRI Projects", "Publications", "International events", etc. The staff's and Executive's intention was to cover WRI-internal news and to act as a forum for discussion within WRI, playing a complementary role to Peace News, but affiliates or working groups have not fed in much information or many perspectives so far.Peace News
has undergone a lot of changes since the last Triennial. Changes of editors: Ken Simons left PN in May 1996, after producing the paper almost single-handedly for over five years. He was replaced by Tim Wallis until August 1997, when Chris Booth and Stephen Hancock took up the post as a jobshare. Change of format: Tim orchestrated a complete redesign from A3 to the current A4 format. The new design was well received and a promotion drive helped circulation rise again. A one-year deal with the Norwegian magazine Ikkevold
brought PN to the attention of 900 new readers while the publication of Ikkevold was being suspended. This helped PN's financial situation, even if few new subscriptions were gained at the end of the deal. In 1995/96, PN successfully fought off a libel case brought by COPEX, a British high tech and arms exhibition organiser.
The WRI Executive held two joint meetings with the Peace News Limited board, which is constituted by up to twelve persons nominated half by Peace News Trustees and half by WRI. Recognising the 'relaunch' period as an important one for PN, the Executive sanctioned greater use of WRI staff time, hoping that their input could progressively become more content- and less finance and administration-oriented. The switch eventually occured, but out of necessity rather than through careful planning: WRI's financial crisis and planned decrease in staff level made it impossible to continue handling PN's admin and finances --an agreement dating back to 1990, when WRI had three full-time staff members. This became effective in June, after Beth Seborg was recruited on a 9-month emergency grant from Peace News Trustees.
On the promotions side, there have been some encouraging initiatives by WRI affiliates -- mailing of sample copies and leaflets, distribution at international meetings or bookfairs, exchanges of adverts, etc. A lot more could be done, even if the language barrier remains a bit obstacle outside of English-speaking countries.
WRI suffers from a severe lack of printed information material and little progress has been made over the past few years. Staff have proposed creating a series of leaflets on various programme areas of WRI (for example, Conscription and Objection; Women and Nonviolence; Nonviolence Training; International Nonviolent Action; War Tax Resistance; The Balkans; Latin America) and on WRI structures (e.g., The Working Groups of WRI; WRI Structures; Publications and Merchandise...).
Other projects include producing future statements or other WRI writings in pamphlet form two or three times a year, and producing a Questions and Answers brochure on WRI.
This conference has been available to anyone on the GreenNet, PeaceNet, Pegasus and Web computer networks and can be extended to other APC member network on request. Although all statements and messages to the CO Alert List are still automatically posted on wri.news, the use of the conference has sharply declined over the past couple of years. For example, it no longer contains articles from Peace News or The Nonviolent Activist. There are several reasons for this: Time pressure made it difficult for Peace News staff to do the time-consuming uploading operations; GreenNet experienced a major crash last April, which has left the conference browsing system down for several months; and both Peace News and WRI have set up their own web pages.
This is the address of WRI's web page, which has been designed and run from Canada by Ken Simons since last Autumn, on an entirely volunteer basis. Ken has done an impressive job of posting 1998 Triennial information in several languages. The page has a link to several other affiliates' sites, including that set up by Zamir Net in Croatian for the Triennial (http://www.zamir.net.wri
). The page also contains material about the general work of WRI, including the Statement of Principles. The new web page has been extremely useful to staff, who have frequently referred potential conference participants to it. Several people have registered via the electronic registration form.
There have been regular contacts with Amnesty, especially over international alerts concerning objectors Niksa Violic in Croatia (see § 2.3.
) and Osman Murat Ülke in Turkey (see § 5.2.
). AI has continued to provide WRI with a list of imprisoned COs for the Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll (see §7.5.
). The 1994 Triennial had passed a resolution asking Amnesty to revise its position on CO and to recognise total resisters as prisoners of conscience. This did not happen -- all national Amnesty sections would first have to reach consensus -- but the issue was discussed at AI's meeting in Ljubljana in 1995. Amnesty organised a special campaign on CO in 1997. WRI had some contacts with organiser Brian Phillips over it, but largely missed the opportunity to have its more radical discourse heard in wider AI circles.
Howard Clark was treasurer of the Committee until he left London in October 1997. Roberta Bacic has started to attend the Committee's meetings since she joined the WRI staff earlier this year. The Committee has been working with WRI on issues of conflict resolution training, especially in ex-USSR and the Balkans (see § 2.2.
Maurice Montet continues to be WRI representative to EBCO and will submit a separate report to the Triennial. Little information beyond the general mailings is received direct from the office and most contacts go through the affiliates taking part in the CO seminars organised by EBCO in recent years. Bart Horeman presented the results of the CONCODOC survey at the last such seminar, in Budapest.
Dominique attended the hCa conference organised in Tuzla, Bosnia, in October 1995, but there has been no direct contact since then.
The offices have been in touch regularly, although maybe less frequently than in the previous period. For example, IFoR has consulted WRI on their statement about Zaire last year and Shelley Anderson, Françoise Pottier and David Grant visited the WRI office in 1996, while Howard went to Alkmaar the following year. IFoR has produced several issues of a joint IFoR-WRI training bulletin. Cooperation also continues through work in the CCTS (see § 11.1.
), for which IFoR provides the secretariat, the Balkan Peace Team (see § 2.4.
), and the Joint Contingency Fund (see § 3.2.
The 1995 Council decided that WRI should disaffiliate from IPB, mainly because WRI had not participated actively in (or contributed financially to) IPB's campaigns in recent years and IPB's main areas of work tended to be very different from WRI's. Despite the end of WRI's affiliation, there continued to be friendly liaison between the two offices -- even to the point of IPB asking us to help them prepare their nomination of Vesna Terselic and others for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dominique and QPS volunteer Kit Stoner represented WRI at the Hoddesdon conference, in November 1997, where they reported on the status of the Joint Contingency Fund and the work that had been done on Chechnya, mostly thanks to funds received from war tax resisters (see § 3.2.
The Fund administers the legacy of Myrtle Solomon and exists for the sole use of WRI. The Fund is the owner of a South London flat, which was part of Myrtle's legacy. Several WRI volunteers stayed there over the years, before it was rented out to generate income. However the flat started to become a liability after a tenant fled, owing MSMF several months' rent, and a water leak damaged the ceiling. Trustees decided last year to sell the property. Repairs were done to the building's roof, but are still needed inside the flat. The Fund hopes to put it on the market this Autumn.
There have been occasional contacts with the national sections and Howard Clark gave a workshop at the 1997 Pax Christi International Council. On the practical level, WRI rented interpretation equipment from Pax Christi International for its Urnieta Council meeting, in 1995.
Dominique represented WRI at the 1996 International Council in The Netherlands, where PBI discussed its involvement in the Balkan Peace Team. There have also been contacts over the Joint Contingency Fund -- from which PBI decided to withdraw (see § 3.2.
). Although there is little direct cooperation at this time, there are many informal contacts with the staff of PBI, who work upstairs from WRI. Howard was on PBI's international personnel committee for a couple of years until he left London.
This is the body responsible for Peace News. It consists of up to 6 nominees each from WRI and Peace News Trustees. The current WRI nominees are: Reinoud Doeschot (treasurer), Lorna Richardson and Andrew Rigby. Maggie Helwig and SergeVanden Berghe resigned in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Howard Clark became a PNT nominee when he left the WRI staff.
The main contacts with QPS have been with their European affairs officer, on the Balkans and the Caucasus, and through the CCTS (see § 11.2.
). QPS gave a big boost to WRI and Peace News by allocating one of their volunteers, Kit Stoner, to our offices for one year, from September 1996.
The 1994 Brazil Triennial somewhat boosted contacts with the SERPAJ network: SERPAJ-Brazil became an affiliate in 1995 and WRI has been in regular touch with several SERPAJ groups members of ROLC, especially Serpaj-Paraguay. Serpaj-Argentina requested information in connection to the possible trial of Argentinean army officers responsible for the disappearance of Spanish citizens during the dictatorship and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel sent a letter of protest about Osman Murat Ülke's imprisonment to the Turkish authorities.
Michel Monod in Geneva and David McReynolds and John Miller in New York continue to be WRI's accredited representatives to the UN. In addition, David Arnott of the Burma Peace Foundation has been given accreditation in Geneva to pursue questions about human rights violations by the Burmese regime. The UN representatives will present separate reports to the Triennial.
WRI staff has been decreasing steadily over the past few years, going from three full-time staff in the early 90s, to 2.2 staff at the last Triennial, to two full-time staff currently: Dominique Saillard (since Feb 94, coordinator since Oct 97) and Roberta Bacic, from Chile, who joined in February 1998. Unfortunately the trend will accelerate in October, when Dominique leaves the office. For financial reasons, her position can only by replaced by a half-time worker. The departure of several long-standing staff members -- Chris Booth in 1995 after 7 years, Howard Clark in Sept 1997 after over 12 years, and Dominique after four and a half -- are adding a factor of instability to the office situation. It is alarming to see how much of staff time is now devoted to routine administration and internal WRI work, rather than network-building or more outward-looking political work.
Howard Clark acted as office co-ordinator for both the WRI and Peace News staffs from 1989 until last year, when Dominique replaced him. Their main function, in addition to their own programme work, was to liaise with the Executive, and to ensure that other staff, project workers and volunteers understand the priorities set by the Executive and Council. In practice there was also an important liaison role between the WRI and PN bodies.
This structure might change, however, as most PN and WRI workers will be only part-time or still too new to take on the same type of coordination role. Staff will need to allocate responsibilities very clearly and not let their part-time status impair communication within the office and with the various bodies they work with. Volunteer coordination will be an important element of future office efficiency.
The reduction in WRI staff meant that WRI had to stop doing PN's administrative and financial work, which they had taken over as the result of a 1990 agreement with Peace News Trustees. The Trustees accepted last June to give an emergency 9-month grant to PN in order to hire a part-time finance worker, but they do not plan to renew the grant. It is unclear whether PN will find the funds needed to prolong Beth Seborg's contract when it expires next March.
The decline in staff numbers was in great part compensated by the help received from Kit Stoner and Anya Neher, who each stayed one year with WRI and Peace News. Kit's position in 1996/97 was fully funded through a volunteers' scheme run by Quaker Peace and Service in London. Kit worked as promotions and advertising worker for PN, and took on a variety of tasks for WRI, including the production of financial appeals and other design jobs, helping with the 1997 Council meeting, producing briefings on CO for the UN Human Rights Committee, and compiling much of last year's Prisoners for Peace list. She left in October 1997.
Anya Neher joined the WRI staff in August 1997, with a different job description. Her placement was organised by the Brethren Volunteers Service (BVS), with WRI covering her housing and transport expenses. Anya was initially meant to work half-time on the Peace Translation Service (PTS) and split the rest of her time between finance, packing and other work for WRI and PN. Unfortunately, work pressure from the WRI and PN sides meant that not enough time could be spent on PTS (see § 6.2. above). Anya took over most asylum enquiries after Howard left and organised the promotion of the CONCODOC report.
A warm thank you goes to Andrew Papworth (Convenor), David Evans, Caroline Simpson and Jeanne Smythe, who have been on the Personnel Committee for several years. They have conducted several staff evaluations (with the participation of a member of the Executive in the case of WRI staff), and acted as a 'linkperson' for each member of staff who wanted to discuss issues about her/his own effectiveness or job satisfaction. The committee makes recommendations to the WRI Executive and to the PNL Board. In the past years, recommendations have been made on staff coordination, long-service leave, pension provisions and loyalty increments, among other topics.
WRI relies on the work of many other volunteers, both in London and abroad.
Our financial agents are probably the most faithful of our volunteers, some of them having handled our foreign bank accounts for well over 20 years. The multiple money transfers necessary to organise this Triennial have reminded us how much we owe to Colin Curtis, Philippe Dupont, Ralph DiGia, Ingegerd Johannsen, Stephan Knauer, Jim Leven, Roger Paon and Gre Wijnnobel. In Britain, John Hyatt has continued as secretary of the Lansbury House Trust Fund, which administers the Myrtle Solomon Memorial Fund and receives tax-free donations for WRI.
Although the Peace Translation Service has not (yet) delivered all that was hoped for WRI, it has provided staff with a few more valorous translators, who have worked for the Broken Rifle and Peace News, and translated a number of internal business documents. Special thanks go to: Javier Alonso, Pierre Arcq, Gerd Büntzli, Inge Dreger, Jeannine Edel-Otte, Odette Grille, Agatha Haun, Yolanda Juarros Barcenilla, Carola Jueptner, Félix Marcuello, Rafa Sainz de Rozas, Andreas Speck, Sebastien Theus and several other members of KEM-MOC.
Burckhard Doempke keeps working miracles for our international meetings. He has set up all of our interpreters teams since the last Triennial and taken part in some of them. His colleagues have been a pleasure to listen to! Very warm thanks to Inés Caravia, Casha Davis (who even donates her travel money back to WRI), Maria De Proft, Paddy Forrest, Ralf Gerhard, Ulla Gneiting, Catherine Gris, Angela Keil, Philippe Nullens, Vivian Puhlmann, David Stephens, Pat Stockdale, Guy Tummers, Trish Ward, and Wolfgang Wegschneider. This year Ana-Maria Brucci, Federica Piliego, Bruno Marchesin, Renata Ostruznjak, and Daniela Uravic will be with us in Porec.
Several international visitors have offered their help to the office. There have been Victoria Caceres, Bart Horeman, Hülya Üçpinar, Toma Sik, Andreas Speck and Juan-Carlos Yuste. Among our regular volunteers, the prize for longevity goes to Martyn Lowe and Jim Huggon, who have come every week for a combined total of over 25 years! When not sitting in front of nuclear trains, Pat Arrowsmith devotes two days a week to WRI and PN and has been working tirelessly on editing the CONCODOC reports in English. Caroline Simpson can always be relied on to come from Canterbury to sort out annoying practical problems, lend a hand with fundraising or simply cheer the staff up with ice cream and sweets. Written by Dominique Saillard and Howard Clark, September 1998