«Nonviolent Peaceforce Director: Mel Duncan 801 Front Ave. St. Paul, MN 55103, U.S.A (++1)-651-487-0800 info ...»
delegation or team, ”You need to come back.” 23 Consensus is a core value of PBI. It is mandated and used on every level of the organisation: ”Within PBI, consensus decision making is not simply instrumental; it is not just one among many possible ways to accomplish organisational tasks and goals. It is understood, rather, as concretely expressive, even prefigurative of the sort of social world the organisation and its members are working to bring about.”24 Policy also provides for a democratic vote when time-restraints necessitate. The highest decisionmaking body is the General Assembly which convenes once every three years; the International Council has authority in the interim.
The two offices of the Croatian Team of BPT got together for what they called an ”Otvorene Summit” every 2 or 3 months. They met at a third place to evaluate that period of work, update strategy for next period, and assess the personal performance of each team member. They then prepared a report for the Co-ordinating Committee.25 All BPT teams had similar meetings.
Each Christian Peacemaker team has a co-ordinator, a writer, and other specialisations.
Teams make decisions together; the team co-ordinator would only make a unilateral decision if the situation demands a quick response without time to process it with the entire team.26 During CPT training, a potential team member is required to take a work style assessment called ”Style Profile for Communication at Work”27 This instrument is a measurement of ”style” which it defines as ”your characteristic way of perceiving and thinking about yourself, others, and things,”28 and it offers a descriptive categorisation of how one works under both stress and calm conditions. Gene Stoltzfus, CPT Director, uses this information to create a balanced team with someone on it who can take leadership even in stressful times. ”We have found it almost essential that at least one person on the team be ”Achieving/directing.”29 Specialisations often occur within a team based on the unique skills volunteers bring with them rather than a dividing up of responsibility. Austrian Peace Services reports that ability in editing or drama, for example, might be needed and nurtured within the team.30 Precedents for NP team structure and decision-making cannot be relied upon from within the study of small teams which are quite homogenous. Therefore, examples follow of what has not worked: how extreme stress and dysfunctional participants can undermine the consensus process within larger and multi-ethic groups.
Gulf Peace Team camp members successfully used consensus when the group was small. But as numbers grew, fewer people took part, perhaps because some spoke little 23Taylor interview with author 24Coy 1997: 194 25Bekkering in Moser-Puangsuwan/Weber, 2000: 204 26Evans - interview with author 27Gilmore/Fraleigh 1992 28Gilmore/Fraleigh 1992: 7 29Evans - interview with author
or no English or because meetings were poorly facilitated.31 The camp of approximately 70 people then formed into affinity groups with a Steering Committee. It was never resolved how to make decisions when this process failed.32 The affinity groups were not very functional in the Gulf Peace Camp. There was no common language, little experience with affinity groups, some without experience of nonviolent action, no shared cultural identity nor ideological cohesion, and a disproportionate number of people with serious psychological needs.33 In spite of all this Robert Burrowes concludes, ”It is clear from the historical record that the preferred organisational unit for effective nonviolent action is the affinity group.”34 Similar problems were experienced by the Cyprus Resettlement Project. The transnational nature of the team made it harder to consense over aims, approaches, roles, etc. Team members did not share a common language, and translation did not make up for it.35 Mir Sada was an event rather than an on-going project, so it never had time to discover better practices of communication and decision-making. Nonetheless, its difficulties inform NP in these areas. The dominant language was Italian, and even with consecutive translation in meetings non-Italians were at a disadvantage. Members were formed into affinity groups, but the speakers’ council, without a mandate, functioned more like a parliament. The structure ceased to be a democracy when subject to the overriding will of the organisers.36 18.104.22.168 Length of stay, overlap, introduction of new member At the peak of need for accompaniment in Guatemala, PBI experimented with a twotiered system of long-term team members and short-term escorts. Hundreds of twoweek or one-month escorts were recruited and sent into the field to join long-term team members, who maintained the political contacts, analysed the political situation, and determined the team’s work priorities. The long-term team members were responsible for orientation and support of these escort volunteers.37 Formal orientation manuals were created for the short-term escorts. Regular discussions amongst volunteers analysed political situation and risks. Logs were kept noting threats, surveillance, or suspicious coincidences to maintain continuity and organisational memory amidst rapid volunteer turnover.38 PBI discontinued the use of short-term escorts in 1989 because short-termers weren’t getting deep enough preparation and it was a tremendous burden on the team which stayed in the field. This discontinuation meant the loss of 100 volunteers per year, ”but PBI was more concerned about 31Burrowes in Moser-Puangsuwan/Weber, 2000: 308 32Ibid: 308 33Ibid: 315 34Ibid: 314 35Kemp in Moser-Puangsuwan/Weber 2000: 125 36Schweitzer in Moser-Puangsuwan/Weber 2000: 274 37Mahony/Eguren 1997: 50
maintaining trusting relationships in the field, a high-level of discretion and analysis, and a strong sense of team continuity and affinity, all of which were suffering.”39 Liam Mahony sees risks for short-term volunteers. Lack of time to relax and learn the ropes makes mistakes more likely, with a potential of being dangerous or costly to the reputation of the organisation; cultural ignorance can result in offensive behaviour and perhaps damage to the relationship of trust with the accompanied groups; and natural inquisitiveness can be intensified by the brevity of the visit and go beyond the bounds of the distancing necessary in the accompaniment role.40 The combinations of short and long-term volunteers ”that work”, Mahony concludes, involve some level of supervision of the short-termers by either staff or longer-term team members who provide continuity of analysis and build long-term relationships with the various groups. This supervision should be combined with explicit behavioural guidelines, clear role definitions, and careful screening of volunteers. ”What doesn’t work at all is for an organisation to simply send short-term volunteers without guidelines or rigorous supervision, or for inexperienced volunteers to come without any organisation at all. Although many of these volunteers do excellent accompaniment, the exceptions wreak havoc, damaging the credibility and effectiveness of all other accompaniment groups working in the conflict. The risk can be reduced through supervision or training but never entirely eliminated.”41 Pat Coy’s analysis is that frequent turnover can ”work against and have a largely negative impact on the team’s ability to actualise the consensus principle of full participation. [It] contributes to repetition and inefficiency in discussion and decision making and increases frustration with the consensus process. It also disrupts personal relationships on the teams and changes team power dynamics in ways that frequently-although not always--have deleterious effects on the consensus process.”42 SIPAZ team members commit to one year of service; WfP team members to two years;
CPT corps members to three years. All three organisations have a high rate of extention beyond this initial commitment: SIPAZ has one volunteer who has been on the team for four years now; WfP Director Steven Bennett says they have to recruit very little now and can be very selective.
Sandra van den Bosse revealed some pitfalls in the arrival of a new BPT team members: ”An introduction packet was written but not always followed. Sometimes the departing team member was reluctant to leave, causing troubles; sometimes they were eager to leave and too negative towards the new team member... Sometimes the new team member thought they knew it all already and refused to be introduced.”43 With a mix of full-timers and reservists on a CPT team, it is important to stagger arrivals.
The full-timers might stay three months and go away for a period and come back for three more months, or they might stay six months or more. Sometimes a team might be 39Ibid: 144 40Mahony/Eguren 1997: 242 41Mahony/Eguren 1997: 243 42Coy 1997: 229
made up of two long-term people and two or three reservists.44 Staggered arrivals at the beginning of a project are not a good thing, however, according to Kate Kemp of the Cyprus Resettlement Project. ”[Other difficulties] could have been overcome had we all arrived at the same time so that initial orientation could have involved discussion of these points.... We could have saved a lot of time (and perhaps confusion) later on in the project.”45 Thorough and sensitive orientation can helps a new member acquire skills and information needed to accomplish group goals and tasks; introduce him/her to the neighbourhood, the conflict, and team contacts; ease the disorientation and emotional turmoil of ”culture shock”; and allow her/him to work through the identity transition that is always part of joining a new group.46 But this does not always happen. If a team is overextended in its work or experiencing conflict within, for example, often less care is given to the orientation of a new member. The result is that it takes the new volunteer far longer to become effective, more team time is taken in answering questions, the new member will lack confidence to become a full participant in the work or in team decisionmaking, meetings will be inefficient and consensus process compromised.47 22.214.171.124 Team compatibility and internal conflict ”Some people have some gifts, skills or capabilities. People who work in teams and who are committed complement and influence each other in a synergetic way. This compatibility is an important criterion when constituting our peace teams.”
-Katarina Kruhonja48 This is an issue which will just be touched upon here and which needs to be considered in depth in the training plan for NP. It is clear that team-sending organisations have relied too heavily on the ”gifts” of incoming team members and that specific skills of conflict resolution, team-building, and multi-cultural sensitivity must be taught more extensively during training. Good intentions for being a part of international nonviolence do not necessarily come accompanied with person-to-person skills for problem solving and relationship. Training must take that into account.
John Heid, finding himself on a very unformed Michigan Peace Team, said, ”There were all kinds of people coming in who had gifts that I didn’t have, but they didn’t know how to build community.”49 One team member told me that living and working with people you have never met before and people that you would perhaps not usually befriend is too hard to do and only enjoyable ”on those rare occasions that nobody was pissed off at anybody.”50 44Evans - interview with author 45Kemp in Moser-Puangsuwan/Weber: 2000: 125 46Coy 1997: 201 47Coy 1997: 202 48Culture of Peace. Centre for Peace, Non-violence and Human Rights Osijek’s Publication. Osijek, 1/2001 49Heid, John - 4/01 interview with author
Team members at times experience ”burn-out” on internal team dynamics. During these times, a team might put a great deal of energy into its work in the field, even its clerical work, but do anything to avoid meetings about team dynamics. This will inevitably compromise the orientation of a new member arriving during this time, and if there are actual disputes within the team, the new member may be quickly recruited to take a side.51 CPT has a written policy to address internal problems, which is included here as a
”Procedure for Dealing with Conflicts and Grievances in CPT...