Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Nonviolent Peaceforce?

Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is an unarmed, professional civilian peacekeeping force that is invited to work in conflict zones worldwide. With international headquarters in Brussels, NP has worked in the conflict areas of Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Guatemala, South Sudan, and the South Caucasus, as well as monitoring for potential election violence in Palestine. Among other activities, NP has monitored ceasefires, and has created space for local groups to enter into diaplogue and seek peaceful resolutions. NP staff includes veterans of conflict zones and experienced peacekeepers.

2. Why is Nonviolent Peaceforce necessary?

In the 20th century, the international community was unable to respond in a timely or effective manner to crises that led to devastating armed conflicts, brutal violence, and genocide--Kosovo and Rwanda being two examples. Sometimes the world chose not to respond, and sometimes, after a long delay, it responded with bombs and troops. Both of these responses led to untold human misery and destruction. The formation of Nonviolent Peaceforce and its standing peace teams represent a new and powerful alternative to stop violence and human rights abuses before they reach crisis levels by quickly deploying trained, nonviolent peacemakers.

3. Does nonviolence work?

Yes. Deliberate, third-party nonviolent intervention is a historically proven technique used successfully around the world. Nonviolence has changed policies and governments and been effective in popular movements that confront power and injustice, resist terror, and defend human rights. In many situations, it is the only action that works.

4. In which ways is Nonviolent Peaceforce unique?

Nonviolent Peaceforce has learned from and builds upon the work of other groups using nonviolent techniques, but is unique in several ways:

  • NP is an international organization from the top down, with regional offices worldwide and an 11-member International Governance Council with representatives from every inhabited continent.
  • NP is creating a permanent, large scale, paid and trained team of peacekeepers.
  • NP is not affiliated with any national, religious, or political organizations.
  • NP does not take sides in a conflict, but helps create emotional and physical space between parties, enabling them to discuss differences and reach their own solutions.
  • NP's Field Team Members receive training in nonviolent, third-party intervention strategies as well as training specific to the people, language, and culture of the conflict areas they are sent to.

5. How does Nonviolent Peaceforce work?

NP applies proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. Among these strategies are:

  • Protective presence- Maintaining a peacekeeping presence in conflict areas
  • Interpositioning- Unarmed civilians placing themselves between warring parties
  • International monitoring- Visibly documenting and reporting activities in conflict zones
  • Accompaniment- Round-the-clock accompaniment of peaceworkers who are under specific threat of violence or assassination

NP peacekeepers also connect vulnerable communities and local peaceworkers to national and international resources, provide safe places for conflicting groups to meet, and facilitate dialogue, resolving conflicts at the lowest levels to prevent an escalation into violence.

6. How are Nonviolent Peaceforce civilian peacekeepers trained?

There are several phases to international civilian peacekeeper's (ICP's) training. Initially there is either a Core Mission Preparedness Training (CMPT) of 10 days, or an Extensive Mission Preparedness Training (EMPT) of 21 days. The CMPT is for more experienced candidates (those with previous experience in conflict situations and/or extensive and relevant international experience); the EMPT is for those with little or no conflict experience and limited professional experience yet are viewed as having clear potential to be strong ICPs once fully trained. Both levels of MPT focus on NP's practices and values and how these translate into protection activities in the field. There is strong emphasis on the development of team awareness, communication and problem-solving skills, deepening the understanding of nonviolence and practice of the skills in the core areas of presence, observation, and accompaniment.

Once deployed all new ICPs go through an in-county training, which consists of introductions to local partners, the specific programme and conflict contexts for NP's work in the country, and an introduction to culture and language.

7. How is Nonviolent Peaceforce different from UN Peacekeepers?

UN peacekeepers are not trained in nonviolence and frequently act as an armed force to restrain civil disorder or violence at the request of the UN Security Council. They are not trained to resolve underlying tensions or conflicts. By contrast, Nonviolent Peaceforce is preventive, not reactive in nature, and is comprised of civilians trained in nonviolent techniques. Its mission is to prevent warfare and violence before they occur by enabling conflicting groups to enter into a discussion where all parties are heard and real solutions can be found.

8. What kinds of challenges does Nonviolent Peaceforce face?

A major challenge for Nonviolent Peaceforce is non-alignment or non-partisanship in a conflict area. Nonviolent Peaceforce must tread carefully to avoid being unduly influenced, to hold to its mission, and to cooperate with other groups without compromising its principles. Field team coordinators are trained to be aware of and deal with these complex issues, and diverse funding sources and personnel help prevent alignment with power structures.

9. How can I support Nonviolent Peaceforce locally?

Donors make Nonviolent Peaceforce possible and play a critical role in our success. Anyone who believes in promoting a nonviolent world is encouraged to contribute.

You may become involved in one of NP's member organizations. You can take part in events near you. Visit the Participate section for more ways to get involved. Join our email list or contact us.