Peacekeeping


 

Peacekeepers

In numerous demonstrations of the past it has been found that the
effectiveness and nonviolence of the action has been greatly enhanced by the
participation of people with special skills. These specialized participants,
or peacekeepers, perform specific facilitating roles for the action. Even if
you have not decided to specialize in the role of peacekeeper, however, you
may find yourself in a conflict situation in which peacekeeper skills will
be useful. In a nonviolent action everyone is, to some extent, a
peacekeeper.

Peacekeepers:

1. Set the tone for the action. They establish a positive and affirmative
atmosphere by being warm and helpful to participants, by leading songs and
chants, and by providing needed information to the group as a whole.

2. Act as a communication network. They act as an important faceto-face
communication link between the coordinators of the action and the
participants as well as the internal communication system for the
coordinators themselves.

3. Provide emergency medical and legal aid. Peacekeepers are frequently the
first people on the spot when a medical or legal emergency arises. They can
play an important supportive role for the person who needs assistance.

4.Maintain the internal self-discipline of the action. Peacekeepers
facilitate the movement and action of large groups of people by directing
traffic, encouraging people to walk and not run and providing information to
the group. Peacekeepers are also prepared to handle conflicts among
demonstrators.

5. Act as mediators between authorities and demonstrators. It may be
important to have people as buffers between law enforcement officials,
workers, and demonstrators. Peacekeepers help to maintain the nonviolent
self-discipline of the demonstration and act as mediators in confrontations
between authorities and protesters. Peacekeepers have primary responsibility
to the participants in the action, but they should be prepared to protect
legal authorities, workers, and non-participants from demonstrators if
necessary.

Some Guidelines to Help Peacekeepers Do Their jobs:

1. Be warm, friendly, and helpful. The tone of the demonstration depends on
how you respond to your fellow demonstrators, police, the media, and
workers. Our attitude should be one of openness, friendliness and respect
toward all officials and participants. Peacekeepers are not junior police,
and this is no place for authority trips.

2. Be creative. Nonviolence does not mean being aloof or failing to act. You
must be creative in your attempt to intervene and resolve a conflict.

3. Be firm, but not rigid. If you have agreed to be a peacekeeper you must
have agreed to uphold the( nonviolent principles of the demonstration. This
occasionally means pushing people to do things they do not want to do. Stick
to your commitment to nonviolence and strongly encourage others to do the
same.

4. Be forthright. Deal fairly and honestly with people engaged it conflict,
no matter what they have done. If you don't know the answer to something,
say so.

5. Be calm. It is a rare person who does not become angry or afraid under
stress. Don't think that you are weak if you have fears. The important thing
in being a peacekeeper is learning how to control your feelings by
remembering the overall goal of the action. Try to deal with fears and
angers before the demonstration rather than during it.

6. Be forgiving. Give up resentment over the wrong you are trying to set
right. Gandhi said, "Hate sin, and love the sinner." This applies to
conflicts between demonstrators as well as to conflicts with police,
workers, onlookers,....

7. Work as a team. You don't have to do everything yourself. Use and rely on
the support you can get from other peacekeepers and from your fellow
demonstrators.

8. Do your job. If you feel you cannot perform a specific task due to either
physical, emotional, or moral reasons, inform a peacekeeper coordinator so
that a person can be found to replace you. It is not a disgrace to say "no,
I can't do it." If you feel you cannot handle yourself nonviolently in a
situation, notify another peacekeeper and step away from the conflict. It is
better to step out than to risk an escalation of the conflict.

9. Peacekeepers will avoid other responsibilities during the time they 'on
duty" as peacekeepers, This includes caring for children, carrying signs or
banners, working at a concession or table, distributing literature for other
organizations, etc.

- Adapted from Rocky Flats Action Group nonviolence manual


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