1994/95 International Project
Report from Dominique Saillaird and Howard Clarke
The 1994 conference adopted the Joint Nonviolent Contingency Fund as an international project. The purpose behind this was to have a fund available, held by War Resisters International (WRI) but for use in agreement with International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFoR) and Peace Brigades International (PBI), to test out proposals for international nonviolent action.
The first feasibility study to be undertaken was into the situation in Chechnya. The Quaker office in Moscow relayed a request for an international nonviolent presence in Chechnya. Although there were no funds in the Joint Contingency Fund at the time, WRI agreed to advance initial funding for a feasibility study, and took on Tim Wallis, former International Secretary of PBI, to do this work. He visited Chechnya in August 1995.
His subsequent report outlined three projects: international participation in setting up a Centre for Peace and Human Rights in Grozny itself; recruiting volunteers for workcamp projects in and around Chechnya; stimulating a network of groups willing to take part in Chechnya PeaceWatch by responding to alerts and protesting against atrocities committed there.
Together with Chris Hunter (of the Quaker office in Moscow), Tim drafted a proposal to the European Union PHARE / TACIS programme for a Centre for Peace and Human Rights in Grozny. This was rejected: for the next year, the intensity of the war meant that such a Centre was not really possible at Grozny; however, efforts began to set up a Centre with similar functions in a safer town, Slepsovsk.
The war has not permitted the workcamps to happen, and later local people changed their minds about the need for them.
In March - April 1996, a delegation - including Jorgen Johansen, the chair of WRI, and Anne Harrison, member of PBI International Council - went to Chechnya, again looking at the potential for an international presence. They warned that sending volunteers into the region at that time could be a burden for the local activists rather than a help. It was more important to set up channels of information and communication about the situation.
After this, as envisaged, the Joint Contingency Fund was replenished, and subsequent work on Chechnya has been financed by other means. For instance, in April and May, WRI organised a speaking tour through Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia for two women from the Russian Mothers' Committees and two women from the Union of North Caucasian Women.
The first exploration was a learning process. At its January 1996 Council meeting, PBI decided that - in view of the difficulties it has in quick decision-making and with co-operative projects - it was unrealistic for it to be given a central voice in this. However, a member of the PBI International Council took part in the March - April delegation to Chechnya. And we expect PBI will cooperate where appropriate.
The subsequent evaluation clarified the need to establish clear decision points, as feasibility studies tend to move seamlessly into the development stage of a project. Also, WRI and IFoR recognised a need to tighten the criteria for undertaking a feasibility study.
There was a tentative suggestion for a second feasibility study, concerning the Lebanon, in April 1996, but the situation moved on and the suggestion was withdrawn.
It should be understood that this fund was intended as a standing account, ready in the event of need for timely action. So, although the fund is now standing at the minimum level originally envisaged, we still hope to receive the funds anticipated for this - for example from the Netherlands and Britain.
A total of $7,904.73 has been paid into the Joint Contingency Fund, the largest contribution being from Spain ($5,284.60, with a clear message that part but by no means all of this should be used on Chechnya).
An initial $4,000 was allocated for the feasibility study for Chechnya, of which $1,500 was returned to the fund. The Joint Contingency Fund now stands at $4,904.73.
On top of the Joint Contingency Fund, a further $8,819.62 was raised for work on the Chechnya feasibility study and follow-up such as the delegation and speaking tour. $4,474.75 came from Italian war tax resisters, specifically for work on Chechnya.
The fund held by WRI for further work on Chechnya now stands at $1,368.24.
Joint Contingency Fund receipts
Total received 7,404.73