In September 2001, not long after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, longtime Bay Area activist David Hartsough was the scheduled guest of that month's meeting of PASMC. David came to talk about his new project, the Global Nonviolent Peaceforce. He had met another activist, Mel Duncan, at the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace.
With similar visions of creating an unarmed civilian peacekeeping force, the two formed what is now called the activist Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP).
Since its initial work in Sri Lanka in 2002, NP has gone on to send staff to help create a protective presence for people in Guatemala, South Sudan, Georgia in the South Caucasus, and the Philippines. With its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, its U.S. organization, Nonviolent Peaceforce USA, helps to raise awareness about its work - as well as the conflict zones where it seems necessary.
On Sunday, January 13, we will begin the new year with a presentation on the Nonviolent Peaceforce by San Francisco NP staffmember Gilda Bettencourt. Gilda will give an overview of NP as well as a progress report on the organization's various efforts.
The Nonviolent Peaceforce strives to foster communication among conflicting factions in the countries to which it has gone. "Our peacekeepers," says its web site, "include veterans of conflict zones, experienced peacekeepers, and those new to the field with the right combination of experience, skills, aptitude and attitude." The focus, as Gilda will surely demonstrate, is on protecting civilians and making a country safe and viable for them to live in peace. One way to do that is by making civilian peacekeeping a "policy option" for the region.
Gilda Bettencourt is a Bay Area native and a graduate of UC Berkeley. She has been part of NP since 2004, during which she was a Strategic Relations and Capacity Building Assistant until 2010, and is now a Major Gifts Associate.
The UUSM is wheelchair accessible.