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The organisations studied and other compatible INGOs usually support one another’s work. WfP works with SIPAZ, Mennonites, AFSC, and the Interreligious Task Force on Central America. PBI entered Sri Lanka with the help of Quaker Peace Service and other INGOs.95 SIPAZ co-ordinates its work in Chiapas with CPT, WfP, and Michigan Peace Team and will accompany the relief caravans of INGOs. Osijek teams work in good relationship with INGOs from Norway, US and Sweden and partners with Austrian Peace Services.96 90Heid, John - interview with author 91Weishaupt 2000 92Schweitzer, verbal information 93Bekkering in Moser-Puangsuwan / Weber 2000: 206 94Gene Stoltzfus, verbal information 95Coy 1997: 131
Often it takes more than one INGO to get a job done, as can be seen in the case of protection for Selvakumar in Sri Lanka. The ICRC visited him in prison and documented his case; Amnesty International in London contacted PBI and suggested a visit; a Sri Lankan human rights organisation arranged a meeting between PBI and Selvakumar, and Amnesty International sent out an Urgent Action appeal. This sort of informationsharing and task-sharing is a typical activity among INGOs like PBI and Amnesty International. Likewise, in order to monitor Sri Lanka’s election in 1994, two domestic coalitions joined with a third group made up of PBI and two other INGOs.
CPT’s use of civil disobedience sometimes keeps them a bit separate from other INGOs and definitely suspect to GOs. Some international groups want to keep their distance from CPT for fear of being lumped in with the activist team when dealing with immigration officials.
CPS in the Balkans strives for co-operation by simultaneously making contacts for logistical and security reasons, for goodwill, and for pursuit of program goals.100 Examples include participation in NGO meetings, attendance at security briefings, checking passports and registration with UN/ KFOR/ OSCE, arranging for mail delivery via the German army (ForumCPS in Kosovo/a), registration for evacuation lists with KFOR/ SFOR. These early contacts would also include registration with embassies for any of several reasons: protection, because the embassies might be asked to give information on the project if a government is asked for funding, or because volunteers are COs doing alternative service.
Witness for Peace actively seeks meetings with governmental and international organisations for both long-term teams and delegations. This has been so from their beginning, as can be seen in early work along the Nicaragua/ Honduras border. At that time they met with government figures Ernesto Cardenal, Sergio Ramirez, and Interior Minister Tomas Borge and with Daniel Ortega, head of the governing junta. WfP finds that governmental organisations are sometimes more willing to meet with them because of their outspoken policy against advising locals on how to govern themselves. This policy of non-interference does not guarantee amicable relations with governmental organisations, however, if they depend on U.S. connections for money or military and WfP has taken a stand against the U.S. foreign policy which provides it (e.g. paramilitary in Colombia).
SIPAZ volunteers visit embassies, political offices, and leaders of military groups. Their mission involves relationship on as many levels as possible and with as many groups as possible. One thing the team will do for government officials is arrange meetings and visits for them, for example a visit last year for the Undersecretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain into rural areas of Chiapas.102 97Coy 1997: 157, 158 98Coy 1997: 168ff (For this event, the sensitive relationships between NGOs and INGOs was made easier because PBI chose not to monitor the election but to accompany the local monitoring teams and observe the degree of freedom they had to conduct their polls watch.) 99Evans - interview with author 100 verbal information from Schweitzer, see appendix to 2.2 101Griffin-Nolan in Moser-Puangsuwan / Weber 2000
The work and presence of Osijek teams is tolerated by governmental authority but sometimes seen with suspicion (especially under Tudjman government). A good relationship exists with OSCE and UNHCR. For example, in order to begin work in Berak and Popovac, the Peace Team made arrangements with the National Committee for Trust Rebuilding, municipality authorities, and OSCE.103 BPT utilised the Refugee Protection Working Group meetings provided by the United Nations High Commissioner on a bi-weekly basis which provided networking and sharing of resources with other NGOs.
Like every other action in the field, affiliations with other organisations must be based on careful analysis of that group’s relation to other actors and to the conflict. An example of this would be BPT’s decision in Croatia to remain distant from UN and European monitors because they were despised by locals; BPT did not, therefore, use UN cars or carry their passports around openly. In another situation, that relationship might be quite different. Case by case analysis is urged here. Good relations to the international military might be helpful in a practical sense, but will certainly effect the perceived identity of the group.
Good connections in this international scene can clearly make program goals possible.
They have the additional benefit of making it possible, when appropriate, to introduce one’s local partners to INGOs which will be helpful to them. Then again, perhaps familiarity with the operations of INGOs and GOs might reveal that these groups do not act in the interest of conflict resolution and justice. Then the opportunity and responsibility for whistle-blowing will present itself. (For example Pax Christi criticism of OHR for not implementing the requirements of the Dayton agreement quickly enough).104 3.2.4 Relationship with the sending organisation Where does the ”expertise” lie for different types of decisions about work in the field?
How will these decisions be made quickly enough and with the input of people with maximum information and vested interest? The team itself has first hand information of risk and the political situation; outside committees are removed from it. Short-term team members may not understand the history of the organisation and may not have as much nonviolent experience of the activists on the project steering committee or international directorate. Only the head office struggles to match the activities with requirements of donors and public relations issues. The result of this can be constant tension within the organisation.
PBI has struggled since its beginning to become an efficient bureaucracy that can make and implement effective and informed decisions about complex conflict situations. The International directorate delegates most of the project-related decisions to semiautonomous project steering committees. These hold intense week-long meetings with the team in the field several times a year to hash out policy and program strategies.
103Culture of Peace. Osijek, 1/2001: 22
Meetings ”sufficiently thorough to enable the project committees to absorb as much as possible of the current field reality from the team, and for team members in turn to clearly understand the long-term concerns of the more experienced project committee members.” These meetings take considerable time because of PBI’s commitment to consensus but lay the groundwork for later decisions that will have to be made quickly by the team in an emergency.
Often there may be a general feeling on the part of the people in the field that those back home do not understand what is going on, are too slow in decision-making, or do not take input from the field seriously enough. A bewildered e-mail sent back to the Michigan Peace Team reflects the same doubt, laced with anxiety: ”I am not sure if the gravity of the situation here is familiar enough to all parties in the office, and the trust I had put in the office to offer enough team support on the ground was why I ended up here.”106 John Heid described his Michigan Peace Team as hampered by poor communication with the home base. In that case, the team felt their ability to determine a safe course for themselves was undermined by the fact that the home base was communicating with villages in the field and making commitments about when the team would arrive, without allowing the team to make that determination based on its actual situation. 107 A person on a team or delegation has the right to assume that the sending organisation has put together a team that can be trusted, with communication that can be counted on and a plan that is in keeping with the overall philosophy of the organisation. CPT once erred by trying too quickly to put together an emergency delegation to Vieques, recruiting people they didn’t know well, five of whom hardly knew anything about CPT.
The opportunity for civil disobedience came 24 hours after the delegation’s arrival in Vieques, and the team leader and co-leader were both arrested, leaving the others to figure out what to do next.108 Difficulties in the relationships between Balkan Peace Team Coordinating Committee, the teams, and the sending organisation eventually became so insurmountable in the team’s eyes that they resigned. The office memo began: ”On January 11, the BPT Coordinating Committee received an email letter from the five volunteers on the Kosovo/a team, stating that they had all decided to end their work with BPT. They explained in their letter that they felt, after a number of situations, that Balkan Peace Team was unable, as an organisation, to fulfil its responsibilities to them as volunteers nor to the team's projects.”109 Among the structural shortcomings listed in an internal paper written by Christine Schweitzer about the collapse of BPT110, the following points speak of the relationship between teams and their sending organisations.
for many areas no clear responsibility was assigned within the Coordinating 105Mahony in Moser-Puangsuwan / Weber 158, 159 106Source confidential 107Heid - interview with author 108Evans interview with author 109Wilsnack, Dorie/ Bachman, Eric, 1/22/01 e-mail message to BPT-Internal
Committee, which meant that often nobody in the CC had the 'last word', which meant that decisions not only took a long time, but sometimes simply were not made in time.
information transfer between field and IO, field and CC no sufficient guidance and efficiency in dealing with emergencies in the field In her summary evaluation of the Mir Sada attempt, Schweitzer illuminates a problem which may be inherent in all working relations between teams and their sending organisations. ”A big problem for the organisers probably was that of the responsibility they bore. Since they initiated the project they felt more responsible than those who came following their appeal. And of course it would have been them who were blamed by others... if something had happened to participants of the action. When it became obvious that travelling on after Prozor bore a high risk, they did not feel capable of taking the responsibility for it. I think that this was also the result of an organisational structure which does not guarantee real equality between all participants.”111 This last sentence speaks precisely to the issue. Those in the field and those at home base all need timely information and parity in decision-making in order to share the burdens of responsibility.
3.2.5 Other issues effecting relationship 126.96.36.199 Entrance to the field (Visa, registration with authorities, etc.) A good share of the time, team members have had to enter the field with a tourist visa.
This was true for BPT in Yugoslavia and for PBI in their early work in Guatemala, it is true for CPT, MPT, SIPAZ and for most WfP team members.