4u2 - For you too - Roland Brunner

Sixth quarterly report about Dutch Civilian Peace Teams (BVTN)

December 2001

Obviously, the quarterly reports seem to become half yearly reports. After the previous report (from July 2001) the Dutch BVTN has experienced some disappointments as well as more promising events.

In cooperation with a Vocational University, the first Conflict Managing Course in November 2000 had been very successful: both participants and trainers as well as organisers were satisfied with the way it had been worked out. We planned a second course for November 2001, and organised broad publicity, which had been one of the less developed aspects the first time. We announced the new course in the Peace magazines, made a new brochure which was spread among our supporters and among organisations who are sending out peace or development workers, and put small advertisements in daily newspapers. Despite this publicity, only four persons applied for the course, among whom two from the military. We decided to cancel the course, and are now in an evaluation process about the reasons why we cannot attract participants for this course. We made a questionnaire, to enquire between the over 40 persons who asked for information, but who did not apply for the course after all. We are curious about their motivation: is a continuous four weeks too big an obstacle? Or the costs? Or the (still) unclear perspectives for work in the field?  After evaluation of the answers, we will take the necessary steps to realise a course in one or another way.

In the meantime, we are following several other ways to promote education and training for nonviolent conflict resolution. We are in discussion with other peace organisations, with the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry, and with several universities about their initiatives, and look for coalitions. In this, we find an ally in the newly founded Dutch Expert centre for Alternatives for Violence (NEAG).

BVTN is part of a coalition of Dutch NGOs who are sending a peace team to Palestine, to stay with local NGOs. The mission has three goals: to show solidarity with the Palestinians by living among them, to influence public opinion by giving clear and objective information through the media, and to show the governments that the United Nations should take action in the Middle East. A team of 10 volunteers started in October and will stay for three months. They received a training, ten days in the Netherlands and ten days in the field. Preparations are being made for a second team, which should be trained in January, and sent out in February 2002.

In November, BVTN had another supporters day. The first, over a year ago, had been very succesful, 80 persons showed up and were enthousiastic and supportive about the BVTN's progress. This time, 20-30 persons visited the open day, and participated in an interesting program where peace pioneers told about their experiences and the military explained their motivations to invest in conflict resolution training.

BVTN is also preparing a two days workshop to evaluate it's work after almost 7 years of existence, and to prepare for the future. We are convinced that education and training for nonviolent conflict resolution and promoting civil peace services is more necessary than ever.

Janne Poort van Eeden. 



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