Experts on nonviolent peacekeeping presented their methodologies, lessons learned, and the way forward for the innovative field at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) on March 21, 2012.

Experts on nonviolent peacekeeping presented their methodologies, lessons learned, and the way forward for the innovative field at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) on March 21, 2012. Representatives from Peace Brigades International and Nonviolence Peaceforce, two leaders in unarmed civilian protection, described how they provide “protective accompaniment” for human rights advocates in conflict zones, build local capacity for conflict resolution and raise awareness of organized violence at local, national and international levels.

Jit Man Basnet, a Nepalese human rights lawyer, opened the event by telling his harrowing story of persecution first by Maoist insurgents and later by rural Nepal army units. Turned away by the police and human rights organizations when he sought their protection, the United Nations eventually directed him to the Nepal office of Peace Brigades International (PBI). Accompanied by PBI staff since 2008, Basnet has been able to continue his human rights advocacy work.

Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, executive director of PBI, stressed that one of the key benefits of unarmed peacekeeping is that it “provides a firewall” between local human rights groups and armed parties to a conflict, giving them space to work and increase their own effectiveness. PBI uses its local networks and connections to national, regional and international actors to monitor and raise awareness of conflicts and deter persecution of activists, she said. Established in 1981, PBI is currently active in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Nepal.

Tim Wallis, Tiffany Easthorn and Atif Hameed represented Nonviolence Peaceforce (NP) on the panel. Wallis, executive director of NP, emphasized the importance of building relationships at the community level, sometimes with staff living in the affected communities for extended periods. “So much of what’s happening in these contexts is people panicking, or responding to rumor or propaganda – to be able to know what’s happening in the group, enabling reasoned judgments, is a critical role that we play,” he said. Established a decade ago with support from a USIP grant, NP’s two largest projects today are in South Sudan and Mindanao in the Philippines.

All of the panelists agreed on the importance of maintaining strict nonpartisanship, engaging all stakeholders, building local capacity for conflict resolution and providing unarmed peacekeepers with intense training and continuous psychological support. The unarmed peacekeeping model works best when interventions are based on strong relationships and sound preliminary analysis, they said.

When asked if the model could work in Syria, Wallis replied: “The problem with a situation like Syria now is that we don’t have the relationships built” to be effective, including permission from the Syrian government. “The conditions have to be right, and we have to have time to be able to do that,” he said.

David Smock, senior vice president of USIP’s Center of Innovation and Religion and Peacemaking Center, moderated the conversation.

In addition to supporting the innovative techniques of organizations like PBI and NP through its grants, USIP promotes nonviolent conflict resolution by building networks of trained facilitators in conflict zones, and by training peacekeepers in ways to understand conflicts and resolve them peacefully, communicate effectively with people who have been traumatized by years of violence, and protect civilians during times of war.

Related Publications

North Korea and China: The Endgame Behind the Headlines

North Korea and China: The Endgame Behind the Headlines

Friday, April 20, 2018

By: Fred Strasser

In the fast-moving diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program, the long-term interests of the country’s powerful neighbor China don’t make headlines. Yet behind China’s tactical moves such as President Xi Jinping’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month lie strategic questions about what China—vital to any resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue—envisions as a satisfactory end state for the Korean Peninsula.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

What is Next for U.S.-Turkey Relations?

What is Next for U.S.-Turkey Relations?

Friday, April 20, 2018

By: Eric S. Edelman

Relations between the United States and Turkey have come under increasing strain in the past two years over the U.S. role in Syria and Ankara’s strengthening ties with Russia. American support for Kurdish forces battling ISIS has angered Turkey, which sees the cooperation as bolstering Kurdish nationalist elements inside its borders. USIP Board member Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey during the George W. Bush administration, and USIP International Advisory Council member Jake Sullivan, who served as Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, provide some insight on the state of Turkish-American relations.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

By: Osama Gharizi

From Lebanon, Osama Gharizi shares his analysis about the clarity of U.S. objectives after retaliatory missile strikes targeting the Assad regime’s suspected chemical weapons facilities. Gharizi says these strikes sent a signal to Assad and his allies that there are limits to U.S. and coalition intervention in Syria. In turn, these limits strengthen Russia, Turkey, and Iran’s roles as the diplomatic arbiters to negotiate a peace deal. Separately, Gharizi addresses the risks associated with the suggestion of setting up an Arab force in Syria that could create further obscurity in terms of U.S. intent and objectives versus those of Arab countries forming such a force.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations

Could Pakistan’s Protests Undercut Taliban and Extremism?

Could Pakistan’s Protests Undercut Taliban and Extremism?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

By: James Rupert

Tens of thousands of ethnic Pashtuns have held mass protests in Pakistan in the past three months, demanding justice and better governance for their communities. The largely youth-led protests forged an organization, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (“tahafuz” means “protection”), that has broadened its goals to include democracy and decentralization of power in Pakistan. The movement reflects demands for change among the roughly 30 million Pashtuns who form about 15 percent of Pakistan’s population, the country’s second-largest ethnic community.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Nonviolent Action; Violent Extremism

View All Publications