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Wielding Nonviolence in the Midst of Violence Case Studies of Good Practices in Unarmed Civilian Protection

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 26.04.2016
  • Verlag: Books on Demand
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Wielding Nonviolence in the Midst of Violence

Unarmed civilian peacekeeping or protection (UCP) is a generic term that gives recognition to a wide range of activities by unarmed civilians to reduce violence and protect civilians in situations of violent conflict. There are many non-governmental as well as governmental organisations that engage in UCP, using a variety of methods and approaches. This study examines UCP in four conflict-affected regions: Colombia, Mindanao (Philippines), Palestine/Israel, and South Sudan. It focuses on what is emerging as good practice in these varied contexts and whether any commonalities can inform the expanded use of UCP.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 332
    Erscheinungsdatum: 26.04.2016
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783741219955
    Verlag: Books on Demand
    Größe: 21456kBytes
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Wielding Nonviolence in the Midst of Violence

2. To Be By Your Side: Unarmed Protection and Accompaniment in Colombia

By John Lindsay-Poland and Michael Weintraub

Executive Summary

Preventive presence consists of creating spaces of action for the civilian population in such a way that they themselves can effect change in the structures that rule their lives. It is not to change the structures directly. We have not been invited here to influence local structures, nor do we have a mandate to do that. At the same time, influence occurs necessarily through our presence (Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation [SweFOR] document, November 2014).

The research in Colombia found several consistent responses to the inquiry on good practices. These responses came from those accompanied, accompaniers from different organizations with experience in different periods and regions, and other observers. These included:

International presence tends to dissuade armed groups, especially the State and paramilitaries (or neo-paramilitaries) from using violence.
Physical visibility, the use of logos, and advocacy - at times collaborative between accompaniers and those accompanied - increases the level of dissuasion.
The situation in Colombia (as of early 2015 when this case study was written), with ongoing negotiations between guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the State and a growing influence from mining, palm oil, and other private multinational companies, poses new challenges for accompaniment as a security method for organizations, communities, and individuals threatened with political violence. 2.1 Introduction

International organizations have provided unarmed civilian protection - or protective accompaniment - in Colombia for more than 20 years. At least a dozen organizations have done this work. This experience includes a wide diversity in models of accompaniment, organizations accompanied, regions in the country, characteristics of the armed conflict and political violence, languages used, etc. This diversity offers a unique breadth and depth for a study of accompaniment and also poses significant challenges to analysis.

An essential criterion for identifying good practices in accompaniment is the effectiveness of protection of those who are accompanied - the outcome. How, then, can the effectiveness of accompaniment in Colombia be measured? "I don't know how to measure success", said one accompanier. "A leader has been threatened various times in the past two or three weeks. He's received phone calls and they've banged on his door at night. And who knows? Who knows if they haven't killed him because we are paying attention - you can't measure that. That's the tricky part" (CPT, 18). 6 "How can we determine if what I am doing here is helping?", asked another interviewee.

The thing is, you can't really do ethically a control group experiment. There are organizations we accompanied that have been threatened, others not. But you can't isolate the variables. There is too much. We don't have scientific methods to decide where we apply our resources. I think protection works - but I don't know how it works the best, and where, and how to optimize it. (PBI, 15)

This study aims to advance this knowledge, to document how accompaniment in Colombia has functioned, and to make visible what has been learned about effective practices, methods, and models employed.


It was not feasible to consult with every accompaniment organization that has worked, or is still working, in Colombia. At least two no longer operate in Colombia. We worked principally with six organizations, making field visits to two regions outside of Bogota, with the following criteria:

Agreement of the organizations and of ex-membe

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