A black and white image of WRI's founders
WRI's founders in 1921, Bilthoven

The War Resisters' International network was formed in 1921 at a meeting of pacifists, who gathered in a town called Bilthoven, in the Netherlands, from 23rd to 25th March. The original founders were conscientious objectors and war refusers from Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, and together they agreed to begin forming a network they originally named "Paco" (which means "Peace" in Esperanto). They formulated a statement which read:

War is a crime against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.

Our network has remained committed to that statement since our founding. Since that meeting our network has grown and changed to include pacifist and antimilitarist organisations all over the world.

Over 100 people stood on a stage holding banners at a conference
The WRI network gathered in Bogota, Colombia

Throughout 2021 we are holding a number of events to mark the centennial and begin to ask what the coming years hold for our network.

Broken Rifles, 23-25th March

To highlight our founding date, we're encouraging WRI supporters to share Broken Rifle's across social media. There are already lots of versions and designs of the Broken Rifle - logos, banners, badges, posters etc - and there's lots of opportunity to make new ones as well. We'd love to see individuals and affiliates share beautiful, creative versions of the Broken Rifle on their social media profiles, using the hashtag #WRI100 and tagging the WRI profiles

Conflict Textiles exhibition

An arpillera showing protesters resisting police oppression
Hornos de Lonquén / Lime kilns of Lonquén
Chilean arpillera, Anonymous
c1979 Photo Tony Boyle, © Conflict Textiles

Roberta Bacic - a previous WRI staff member who now works on the Conflict Textiles project - has curated, with with assistance from Breege Doherty, online exhibition of arpilleras that will be hosted on the WRI website. Arpilleras (pronounced ‘ar-pee-air-ahs’) are appliquéd tapestries that originated in Chile and have since been used by women across the world to explore themes of war, conflict, nonviolence, and protest  - those of us who attended WRI's 2014 gathering in Cape Town for the SMALL Actions BIG Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence conference will remember the exhibition there!

Roberta is putting together an exhibition specifically to mark WRI's 100th, and has also commissioned a piece specifically to mark the centennial.

Nonviolence in Action

In November 2021 we hope to host an international conference - titled Nonviolence in Action: Antimilitarism in the 21st century - which will bring together activists from across the international peace movement to learn from each other, strategise together and build solidarity. This event is of course subject to the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic - more information will be available on our website soon.

We are excited to be preparing for WRI’s 100th anniversary! As part of it, we are working on an international conference to be held in London in the last week of November 2021. But just as important are plans to hold a number of autonomous local events throughout the year. Here are a number of ways you can get involved and celebrate WRI's centenary with your autonomous local events.

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