War Resisters International Conference

The Continuum of Non-violence

ASC played a supporting role at the WRI Conference in Cape Town from the 4th -8th of July, which drew practitioners from all over the world to engage on key issues around the theme of ‘The continuum of non-violence’. The core focus of the conference was on discussing non-violent means to tackle oppression and destructive conflicts and on building strategies and partnerships. 

The conference opened to dancing and signing, and a welcome by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The days that followed were filled with theme groups and workshops on a variety of topics relating to non-violence, peacebuilding and opposition to war. Some of the theme groups attended by ACTION members included: “non-violence training”; “civil resistance and ‘people power’ movements: beyond regime change”; “resisting the war on mother earth”;  “nonviolent community struggle”, “transnational solidarity” and “peacebuilding”. 

The workshops also covered a broad spectrum of topics, with ASC members attending ones on “Peace and conflict in the republic of South Sudan”; “Who controls the arms controllers?”; “The danger to Africa, the Middle East and the World of the US Diego Garcia military base on Mauritian, thus African land”; “BDS For Palestinian Rights: What Role can South Africa Play?”; “Democracy as a catalyst and foundation for peace and security in the Great Lakes Region”; “Freedom from Violence: Peace, Security and Conflict Prevention in the Post-2015 Development agenda”; “AVP training”; “Tzedakah and Ubuntu: Ancient Roots to Modern Solidarity”; “Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience – USA to South Africa and beyond”. ACTION Steering Committee representatives, Fatima Swartz and Richard Smith, facilitated a workshop on “Transforming Conflict Systems”.

It was encouraging to see such a large number of practitioners from across the world come together to exchange experiences and lessons from differing contexts. A common sentiment that emerged from the meetings was the importance of organisations and activists working together and supporting each other in the shared struggle to promote nonviolent solutions to conflict. It was in this spirit that names and numbers were exchanged, emailing lists drawn up and new global and regional networks formed or consolidated. 

Correspondence between attendees has continued after the conference, with participants sharing messages, statements and resources. The connections made promise to be an ongoing source of solidarity, experience sharing, and mutual support.