«Nonviolent Peaceforce Director: Mel Duncan 801 Front Ave. St. Paul, MN 55103, U.S.A (++1)-651-487-0800 info ...»
· Any concern or disagreement should be addressed by either party within a reasonable length of time. As a general guideline, no more than five days should elapse between any of the following procedural steps. When delays are involved, the procedure to be used and the time frame should be outlined and agreed upon in preliminary discussions. These procedures apply to areas of personal relationships and to work/supervisory issues.
· Step 1: Where there is a concern or disagreement, the two people involved should attempt to come to a satisfactory solution through honest speaking and compassionate listening.
· Step 2: Where a solution is not found, the two parties together will agree on a third party to be a mediator. CPT encourages use of the next-level supervisor as a mediator.
· Step 3: Where the first effort with a third party mediator is unsuccessful, one or both of the parties should take the matter to the CPT Executive Director for resolution.
· Step 4: If steps 1-3 are not successful, any of the parties concerned should submit a written request for help to the chairperson of the Steering Committee...”52 220.127.116.11 Behavioural ethics Very little about behaviour on a team is found in writing, either as rules or as narrative of what goes on within a team. Some organisations, like SIPAZ, believe that rigorous application screening and training processes will reveal problems that would manifest themselves in inappropriate behaviour in the field. 53 The communication of ethics begins in their job announcement: ”As a SIPAZ volunteer you must be willing to live simply, sharing in the lives and work of the Mexicans you will meet, and being respectful of their cultures and beliefs. It may require adjusting to new ideas, cultures, climate, living conditions, etc...”54 And because peace team organisations train applicants before accepting them onto a team, there is opportunity for assessing a person’s judgement rather than enforcing a set of rules.
For SIPAZ team members, the strict screening is followed by a three month trial period 51Coy 1997: 202 52CPT Mission Statement, Policies, Guidelines 3/24/95 53Poen - interview with author
and then an evaluation. Director Poen says there have been times when that initial evaluation revealed that things weren’t working out well. No person has had to be removed from a team; rather there have been a couple of times when the volunteer and evaluator agreed after training that placement wasn’t appropriate.
BPT, however, had a written list of rules, included below (their Conduct Policy is discussed in Chapter 4.5).
BPT Rules and Guidelines55
1. Go in pairs
2. One person stays at the home base
3. Tell the others where you are and how long you will be
4. Files and documents should be kept in a safe place
5. Don’t disclose information
6. Use prudence at all times
7. Volunteers are not to work for any other person or organisation during the term of service nor fundraise on behalf of other groups.
8. After service with BPT is over, volunteers cannot work with another organisation in the area for a period of one month
9. Take 1 day off per week and 2 more days a month
10. We are not here to solve the problems, but to enable local people to solve their problems themselves
11. Be aware that it is not our business as foreigners to tell people what they have to do, and be cautious against the Western tendency ‘to do something.’
12. Each action should be assessed as to what risk the action entails for the volunteer, what risk it entails for the BPT getting evicted from the country, what it means for the people you are working with, what the long term effects of it probably are.
13. Never give in to the pressure that ‘you have to do something’ or act against the will of the people concerned
14. Do not promise anything you are unsure of being able to fulfil
15. Respect the rules of non-partisanship. BPT organisers have defined impartiality as not working for any organisation/group as volunteers by: a) counselling them;
b) hanging around in their offices too much; c) translating letters, making telephone calls, etc for them; d) have their office in an independent building; e) present themselves as members of the team; f) avoid political statements;
g)maintain contacts with many different groups and organisations; h) stress their independence as foreigners; i) listen to people, without offering agreement or support; and j) avoid close personal friendships.
BPT policy discouraged team members from favours for locals outside the activities of the project, nonetheless translations were sometimes made and cars loaned. ”Sexual relationships were discouraged but nevertheless happened, and three volunteers ended 55Declaration of goals and principles of BPT, 1994, cited in Schirch 1995: 87,88
3. Field relationships 3.2 Peace Teams 226 up getting married to locals... Social relationships with ordinary locals were encouraged, however, to get a better understanding and find friends outside of the team and activist populations.”56 Steven Bennett acknowledges that there have been plenty of personal crises on WfP teams. The organisation has rules for the conduct of a team member officially representing WfP in the field, but not for personal relationships. ”It would not be right for us to make policy about relationships between team members,” and there is no proscription on relations with locals. Bennett says there have been many marriages both on the team and with locals..57 ”Romantic pairings among team members are common and impact on the consensus process and team relations in a variety of ways. Most team members appear to go along with these relations, are willing to make the switches in bedroom assignments that are usually necessary to accommodate them, and accept the extra demands they made on consensus and team relations... Yet they are not always welcomed by the entire team.
While no doubt an extreme example, one Japanese volunteer was distressed in late 1993 when the other six members of the Sri Lanka team all paired off romantically.” The result for that man was loneliness, a complication of team relations, a feeling that others were less committed to the work and the team, and a moral issue based in cultural difference.58 A member of the Guatemalan Accompaniment Project spoke of sexual relations between volunteer men and Mayan women. ”There’s so much of it. And when it happens, that young woman becomes a social outcast in a way. She will most likely never be able to marry.”59 Problems with behavioural ethics are much more likely to occur within large groups that have been hastily recruited or not unified by one organisation’s standards and style. An example would be the mass accompaniment of returning Guatemalan refugees in 1993.
Hundreds of unscreened volunteers came from all over the world to respond to the need
- many with no organisational affiliation, training or preparation.
”The accompaniment did not always put its best foot forward: the volunteers couldn’t stop bickering among themselves. Cultural, ideological and strategic differences among the volunteers were difficult to overcome in such a short, intense period. The Guatemalan government refugee commissioner even accused the accompaniment of using illicit drugs and stealing food and blankets, and some volunteers admit that this
may have occurred.”60 A UNHCR official denigrated the situation and volunteers thus:
”These people get into buses that we paid for. They sleep on mattresses that had been given to refugees. They are eating [the refugees’] food. They are really tourists or hippies, joining the movement. I don’t think they really represent a real protection, because you don’t know who they represent, seriously, coming on their own like that.”61 56van den Bosse - interview with author 57Bennett - interview with author 58Coy 1997: 203, 204 59Source confidential
Choices that seem minor can undermine the respectability of an entire group. The leader of WfP delegations to Central America required women to wear bras and forego short shorts to respect the local standards of modesty. One woman went running in jogging in shorts anyway. Another time, a Wicken group that was part of a WfP delegation celebrated winter solstice with a dance on beach. ”Wherever you are working, there needs to be exquisite sensitivity to history and culture!” says Phyllis Taylor62 The European Network for Civil Peace Services has started to discuss " Guiding Principles for Civil Peace Services". A first draft of a paper that might become something like a Code of Conduct, and that was heavily influenced by the Code of Conduct developed by International Alert, was presented in 1991.63 18.104.22.168 Stressors and other problems
Stress is created for the team in the field by:
Living closely together Danger Lack of clarity about what to do and how to do it Fear of being ineffective Disillusionment Cultural discomfort Boredom Dealing with people who are traumatised, grieving, fleeing, hungry Viewing death and destruction Overwork without sufficient time for relaxation Insecure funding Psychological or physical health concerns One of the frequent stressors mentioned and experienced by teams is that of living and working together in limited space. SIPAZ volunteers rent an office/house in Chiapas.
Interntional Coordinator Poen says "If it’s a positive experience, you become very close... But it’s an extremely difficult thing to succeed at."64 BPT team members found it difficult. They lived in a small house, using the living room as office space. Sandra van den Bosse advises NP, ”Don’t make people live and work together in one house... Do it professionally!”65 Ambiguity about the team’s role or about the effectiveness or appropriateness of that role undermines confidence. John Heid of the Michigan Peace Team gives this a creative spin: ”Being there is like being in a petri dish; you’re introduced into the culture 62Taylor - interview with author 63The Draft of the Guiding Principles is appended to this chapter. It has been written by Helga and Konrad Tembel (Germany) and not yet adopted by the EN.CPS, but may be of interest.
64Poen - interview with author
and it isn’t clear yet what you’ll be. We’re acting on faith; this isn’t rocket science.”66 Inadequate or insecure funding forces teams to work harder, scrambling to keep equipment running and trim costs. ”BPT funding was very insecure most of the time, which led to a lot of completely stressed meetings and very demotivated volunteers,” says van den Bosse.
Debilitating stress was created in the Gulf Peace Camp by an inordinate number of people with special psychological needs, whose activities regularly disrupted camp routine.67 Such extreme problems will be screened out by NP, but all teams need to be aware of and deal with psychological needs. A CPT team in Hebron was really struggling and describing what they were experiencing as burn-out. However, with counsel from the home office they realised it was really one person on the team who was not functioning well and affecting them all adversely. Subsequently they were coached to be aware of the signals early on.68 Teams and their sending organisations need to be proactive in elimination of unnecessary stress, in development of coping tools, and in support for healing and growth. It often takes difficulties to bring about the awareness of what is needed. After an intense experience for the Guatemalan PBI team, ”they worked more deliberately on team support and mental health, conscious that its own teams were as vulnerable to the debilitating psychological effects of state error and political threats as the Guatemalans they hoped to serve.”69 To some extent, the stresses of team work can be mitigated by eliminating as many of the surprises as possible. PBI team members composed a letter to accompany the
recruitment of potential short-term volunteers, to prepare them: