MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “Peace on earth and goodwill toward all”: Those are the marching orders for Nonviolent Peaceforce, a nonprofit that sends trained peacekeepers to global hotspots in hopes of preventing violence.
The group also focuses on protecting people in conflict zones.
Mel Duncan, the group’s director of outreach, believes that peace can best be created and kept in nonviolent ways. That’s why he helped create Nonviolent Peaceforce 12 years ago.
Since then, his trained force has used nonviolent strategies to foster peace in countries around the globe.
The group is made up of people with expertise in international humanitarian law and peace building.
“We have teams of trained, unarmed civilian peacekeepers who are invited to areas of violent conflict by local groups,” Duncan said.
Once inside a conflict zone, these peacekeepers determine what nonviolent strategy to use to protect civilians.
Technology allows Duncan to monitor the actions of his teams across the globe from his home in St. Paul.
From helping mothers find their children who have been recruited as soldiers in the Philippines to protecting civilians in war-torn Sudan, this group is dedicated to solving the world’s problems without using missiles or guns.
“We only work on a nonpartisan basis, so we work with all sides,” Duncan said.
The peacekeepers are armed with the knowledge of how to deal with conflict.
“You don’t need advanced weaponry, you don’t need an advanced degree. What you need is compassion and commitment to develop nonviolence,” Duncan said.
Most of the peacekeepers come from countries where they’ve experienced violence first hand, and they bring a special understanding to the efforts of peace.
“These unarmed civilian peacekeepers are demonstrating that you can you bring peace through active and disciplined nonviolence, and that truly is a Christmas story,” Duncan said.
The peacekeepers come from 40 different countries and are paid a living wage for their services.
Nonviolent Peaceforce has the endorsement of nine Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Desmond Tutu.