European Civil Peace Corps
The support package to volunteers while on deployment includes accommodation, travel, insurance, ongoing learning, development, a monthly allowance while on deployment, and a resettlement allowance to help with expenses on returning home. Millions are affected by natural and man-made disasters each year. In the aftermath of a disaster, an affected population needs clean water, shelter, food assistance and protection.
Humanitarian organisations and volunteers are the first to respond to these basic needs. Humanitarian disasters have dramatically increased the pressure on the humanitarian organisations and more qualified people are needed. However, it is not always easy to enter the humanitarian field. EU Aid Volunteers give European citizens a chance to show their solidarity by collaborating in humanitarian projects worldwide. In many cases, this is the first opportunity participants have to be part of the humanitarian community.
EU Aid Volunteers gives also the possibility for organisations to cover their specific staff needs. The humanitarian community benefit from more qualified people trained by the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. EU Aid Volunteers supports humanitarian aid organisations. EU Aid Volunteers projects run by partnerships of EU-based and non-EU based organisations strengthen the capacity of non-EU based organisations to prepare for and respond to humanitarian crises and improve their volunteer management.
It also provides funding for technical assistance to EU-based organisations to strengthen their technical capacity and meet the standards and procedures required to deploy EU Aid Volunteers. EU Aid Volunteers complements humanitarian aid actions and help strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities in countries affected by disaster, contributing to disaster risk management activities agreed under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Humanitarian organisations need more well-trained people to carry out practical action that helps communities affected by disaster. EU Aid Volunteers enables European citizens to contribute to humanitarian assistance in countries where help is needed. A training programme for EU Aid Volunteers ensures that candidate volunteers are thoroughly prepared before their departure to a non-EU country. In outline, the subsequent developments were the following: The Forum has existed since , and became legally an NGO in On the other hand, there was a short time actually some months between December and perhaps May when there seemed to be a political opening for getting support for CPS projects in the countries of former Yugoslavia.
EU Aid Volunteers
A joint initiative by Members of Parliament of all major parties in the CPS led to hectic discussions and planning among different organisations and groups. This experience lead to further co-operation in the later development of a training course. Another outcome of this Startphase was the building of the Consortium Civilian Peace Service in which the Peace Services are were cooperating with the Development Organisations on behalf of civilian conflict resolution, and which proved an important factor when the Civil Peace Service was installed as an instrument of development work later.
The next step was marked by the interest of one German State, North-Rhine Westphalia, in supporting training for conflict resolution. Accepting the argument that civil conflict resolution in crisis areas specifically in Yugoslavia where the State put in a lot of money was important, and that it needed experts trained in conflict resolution to be effective in this field, it started to sponsor a four to five month training in non-violent conflict resolution for peace experts.
Only Forum and the Federation for Social Defence considered these courses part of Civil Peace Service, the other three rejected that concept vehemently 9. Until now Autumn, there have been six such courses, each with between 10 and 16 participants, partly people preparing to work in projects abroad, partly members of NGOs from other countries preparing for work at home.
Civil Peace Services in Europe: an overview
The international composition of the courses is an explicit objective of the organisers who strongly believe that the international character furthers the goals of the education. The courses consist of a basic curriculum of about 12 weeks, two one-week specialisations e. The basic curriculum deals with issues like conflict analysis, working in a team, conflict resolution techniques, dealing with stress and trauma etc.
When in the conservative Christian-Democrat - Liberal coalition lost the elections and a new coalition of Social-Democrats and Green Party took over the Federal government, new avenues of political support opened up. Additionally, also the Foreign Ministry is funding projects on Conflict Prevention. Tasks of the CPS are defined as:. But only the six development services may deploy people in the field, which leads to the strange situation that the members of Forum CPS and AGDF then have to get the co-operation of one of these six organisations in order to place their personnel.
They usually are done under the umbrella of the Forum CPS and have a close connection to the training course, drawing their personnel from the course. Another problem that is criticised by participating NGOs is that projects financed by the Ministry of Development have to be approved by the German Foreign Ministry The majority of the projects carried out by peace organisations among them the Forum CPS, Pax Christi and IFOR German branch take place in the countries of former Yugoslavia - which is not surprising given the attention these conflicts have found in Western Europe over the last ten years.
There are usually between one and three persons working in a project, sometimes Germans, sometimes internationals who participated in the course and got funding for their own work via a German organisation, sometimes a mixture of both. The Forum CPS, as well as some of the other organisations, put great emphasis on creating international teams but really multi-national teams as, for example, Peace Brigades International and Balkan Peace Team have. Gender parity in the teams is another goal, and one that seems easier to fulfil. The projects mainly deal with: They all either work on invitation of local partners, or at least have made it their policy to find local partners once they arrived in the field.
The strict rule in development work, only to operate with a local partner, seems sometimes difficult to fulfil. The projects financed by the Ministry of Development show a different regional distribution The peace experts in the projects have contracts for two years, have all usual social insurances, and receive the same salary as other development workers do. The before-mentioned training course that was started by North-Rhine-Westphalia is meant to continue into the future, but suffers from some structural weaknesses.
The main weakness of the course is that finding participants is a constant problem. One of the conditions of the government for funding the course is that participants must already have a contract with a development or another project organisation The other weakness is that, because of the kind of funding every year the state decides anew whether to fund one or two courses , it has not yet been possible to hire permanent staff to do the training.
Until each training was done by a different team of two trainers. Then two teams got employed part-time. This situation hopefully will continue in although, every year the two public sponsors decide at the last moment whether they will give money or not. More serious is that it becomes more and more difficult to find enough participants. According to the law the volunteers receive social insurance, re-integration help and unemployment benefits and are paid on a subsistence base. In practical terms, this goal is not pursued very actively at the moment.
And there are now also voices counselling against such a law because it might mean that the government would use the opportunity to reduce the social provisions made for development workers The political openings in regard to state support and funding, as well as an accompanying intensive discussion about possibilities and limitations of peace team work, led to reshaping the concept of the CPS. Without the former concepts ever becoming formally void, the German CPS nowadays is something quite different from the early concept In practical terms, it is also concentrating almost exclusively on conflict intervention in other countries, because that is where funding is to be found.
Although there is now also a Forum-initiative for an anti-violence project in Eastern Germany. The people sent abroad under the CPS-program of the Ministry of Development are considered later to become a pool from which also OSCE and other international organisations might draw personnel In Switzerland a Coalition for a Civil Peace Service has been formed 26 and which has launched a referendum for the introduction of a Civil Peace Service.
After the collection of sufficient signatures, the referendum 27 itself will take place at the end of or in It thereby closely co-operates with the local organisations. A basic education in conflict transformation skills of 20 days or lessons is intended to be free of charge and open for all people living in Switzerland.
EU Aid Volunteers - European Commission
CPS deployments shall be possible both in Switzerland and abroad; people working for the CPS will have to undergo an additional preparation, and they are meant to be compensated for their work. There is no direct relationship to military service, but working with CPS should be recognised as an alternative to civilian or military service.
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There have been no real pilot projects until recently, but many groups in Switzerland have been involved in volunteer peace services and doing nonviolence trainings in general. Which was much supported by GSoA. Three long-term volunteers have been sent to Vushtrri to work with children and youth, specifically those who have been displaced 33 , to be joined later by more shorter-term volunteers. Civil Peace Teams is now concentrating solely on training After a first consultation with international guests the discussion soon moved away from the deployment of actual teams, and towards organising training 36 , while lobbying continued.
First, a one year course was developed in co-operation with a Dutch Vocational University. But, when the initiative started to negotiate with the government for funds for the course, they found that no one was interested enough in the idea to give it financial support. The Ministry of Defence indicated that they could use shorter courses of four to six weeks. This proposal strengthened support for the already existing idea to cut shorter modules out of the one-year curriculum. Eventually a first four-week course was conceived and held in November-December It was a co-operation of BVTN and a Christian Vocational University and was meant for adult people over 23 who work or will be working in a conflict area abroad or in the Netherlands.
Participants came partly from the military and partly from peace groups. The third week was an internship with different groups in the Netherlands. The content of the course was: The starting point for the French Civil Peace Service has been a volunteer law that was passed in The law 39 - decree more exactly - makes provision for French or other EU citizens who want to work abroad with a French organisation which needs to be recognised by the state as an organisation under this decree to have some social security for the time of the service.
Volunteers have to be between 18 and 30 years old, and go abroad for a time span between 1 and 6 years. The sending organisations have to provide training, living expenses, travel and third-party insurance. In , there were about 2. The goal of the French CPS is to undertake missions of non-violent civil intervention, including activities like monitoring, information, interpositioning, mediation and co-operation with local groups It is meant to have a duration of months including training.
A developing reserve corps is envisaged for future deployments. At the moment, there are two pilot projects 44 under way: When BPT dissolved at the beginning of , EPB decided to go ahead by itself, and place perhaps three volunteers with different Kosovan organisations in the divided town of Mitrovica Kosovo.
The first volunteers have taken up work in autumn The pilot projects are both fighting with the problem of finances as well as with finding suitable volunteers Originally devised as a day course now reduced to 20 days stretched over five months in order to allow participants to attend it while working. It is open for everyone interested; there is no prior selection procedure. Still the organisers had a lot of problems finding enough participants for the first course which had to be postponed once because of lack of interested trainees.
At the first training 46 , in Spring, there were 12 participants Subjects of the training are: In , another training of again three stages, of weeks each, is under way. But, they are somewhat distinctive compared to the hitherto presented initiatives because they are, up to now, primarily staffed by young men who are COs and choose a peace service abroad instead of regular civil service. Austrian Peace Services was founded as an association in , with the Austrian FOR as one of its primary initiators.
It offers voluntary and unpaid positions of usually 14 months in projects in the former Yugoslavia Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro at the moment; there have also been projects in Albania and Slovenia. For men who are COs the 14 month service is recognised as an alternative to civilian service. Because of this, the majority of volunteers are COs.
They have the additional advantage that their work is financed by the Austrian Ministry of Interior. Until the beginning of there had been 79 men and 16 women doing the service, 10 to 12 at the same time At the moment December , there are eleven civil peace servants Austrian Peace Services distinguish four types of projects: The volunteers are placed with local projects that they support through their work The volunteers are offered a four week training, including subjects like conflict, role of volunteers, psychological consequences of war, history and present situation in the Balkans and a few days of language training The training is divided in two blocs and held in Croatia; in between, the volunteers do a one-week internship in their future project.
Recently, Austrian Peace Services has started to discuss broadening the spectrum of its projects, and to include a more qualified professional Peace Expert Service at the side of the existing projects where the learning experience of the volunteers themselves is the primary motive. The impulse for this discussion probably was as much a spill-over from the above described discussion in the German peace services as the assumption that conscription will be probably abolished in a few years The emphasis is to rely on co-operation of the volunteer in existing projects and peace organisations.
The participants are to attend a longer training that would enable them to work directly on conflict transformation Austrian Peace Services proposes institutionalisation as a foundation would take care of the funding, and demands a law on peace services. Besides the projects abroad, Austrian Peace Services also aims at establishing an Austrian component community, region or national.
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Since the reformed law of conscientious objection and civilian service in has recognised the possibility of a service abroad, there are several NGOs who make use of this provision to send missions to the Balkans, staffed by Conscientious Objectors doing their alternative service Their work is mainly about technical and humanitarian aid, but there have been a few projects with some relationship to conflict transformation.