by Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director
I usually love January. I love the fresh start the beginning of the calendar year brings, along with the resolve that so many of us feel to make positive life changes. With 2017 however, we are off to a rather rough start. The actions of the new administration in the U.S., the process that has brought about BREXIT, escalating protectionism and deepening identity politics in parts of Europe bring a great deal of uncertainty and fear. These events threaten the very foundations of justice, rights and equality.
All of this happens in a world where wars grind on and 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes to escape violence and persecution.
It is heavy. While it can feel overwhelming, it is ultimately a call to action.
Reason for hope
I was heartened in recent weeks to see millions of people take to the streets across the world to show support for women’s rights and refugees fleeing violent conflict and persecution. I take solace knowing that people are speaking out and standing up against bigotry and fear.
Standing up and speaking out against violence is at the core of NP’s mission. In all the places we work, our peacekeepers inspire local communities to action, using nonviolent strategies and personal resolve. Together, with our partners, we provide people with the tools they need to deter violence and protect their families, friends and neighbors. Here are a few examples from 2016:
Negotiated a three-hour ceasefire and evacuated 300 people caught in the crossfire when violence broke out between two armed groups in Myanmar.
Supported Women Peacekeeping Teams in South Sudan. These Women Peacekeeping Teams courageously spoke out against domestic violence and sexual assault in their villages and in the camps for displaced people.
Brought together community members in Bismarck to learn how to use unarmed civilian protection strategies at Standing Rock.
NP is working harder than ever to protect civilian lives, to support and strengthen local organizations and to adopt nonviolent approaches to safeguard lives and human dignity.
Making a move
After 10 years of having our global headquarters in Brussels, we moved to Geneva to strengthen our policy and advocacy work. Geneva houses the global humanitarian architecture, the global discourse on civilian protection and is home to innovative work on dialogue and mediation.
We currently have 200 staff working in countries at war. To better support our field-work, we are concentrating on strengthening NP from the inside out. We are focusing on building our own organizational capacity, improving all of the functions that support programming — administration, financial management, safety and security, and staff welfare.
In the face of the immense challenges in the world today, we know that we have to work together. Reducing violence and engendering conditions for peace is not an isolated process. We need to strengthen our collective capacities to prevent violence, to protect ourselves and each other with unarmed strategies.
I draw strength from the millions of people who gathered together in love and compassion in recent weeks. They demonstrate that we will not allow hate to win. We will continue to be inspired by the thousands of people we have the honor to serve each day. The people who commit and recommit to surviving, thriving and rising against odds.
On behalf of the NP team, I extend our deep gratitude for your support and invite you to join us in this journey. Onwards!