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Increasing demand for Training For Forgiveness

What do you think the following, very different, organisations have in common: the Kosovo Protection force, NATO/KFOR in Kosovo, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York, the Ministry of Education in Burundi and the Peace and Development Centre in Geneva?

Right! They want TFF to help them with analyses and training in conflict understanding, reconciliation and forgiveness. Everywhere, it is Time For Forgiveness.

It's 15 years since we jumped out of the university world, set ourselves up as a new type of multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural and globally networking peace research centre. It's 10 years since we began experimenting with a new concept of conflict-mitigation in all parts of former Yugoslavia, in Georgia and - last year - in Burundi. These missions combine solid conflict analysis, mediation and peace education. It's 8 years since we did the early warning report 'Preventing War in Kosovo.' It's 5 years since we ended our mediation efforts between Belgrade and Pristina. We know that the human suffering and the sad situation there today could have been avoided. We told everybody who cared to listen what could be done to do - and not just talk about - preventive diplomacy.

Thousands of emails from around the world and all the tasks we get tell us that TFF is appreciated for being competent and an outspoken advocate of nonviolence. In contrast, some of those who embrace mainstream analyses and militant conflict management as well as those who acquiesce under the only superpower, the only economy, the only military alliance, the only concept of human rights and democracy - and similar tendentially authoritarian ideas - find TFF a bit irritating.

Happily enough, impartiality among parties, "fundamentalist" advocacy of nonviolent policies and dialogue, personal trust building with all conflict parties, emphasis on human dimensions of conflicts: it's now beginning to yield the desired results. Not only for TFF but for so many like-minded initiatives. It's "non-governmental" actors that do the necessary, new things while governments increasingly become "non-popular."

Working with the UN and NATO in Kosovo
TFF has been invited to train the 50 top leaders and 500 middle-level leaders of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) in Kosovo/a, most of whom are former KLA fighters. We train together with human rights experts from Helsinki University, with UN people and the ICRC.

It's a gigantic task for us all under the most difficult political and practical circumstances. Demobilisation of former combatants is essential for the future of the Balkans. If we do not get a truly civilian leadership that knows how to handle conflicts without violence, there is no chance that Kosovo/a will again become multi-ethnic, democratic and tolerant. And, if not, it will be the ultimate fiasco for the international community. IOM is implementing agency and working with them is a great experience, professionally and personally. IOM has an impressive record of demobilisation work in the world's most difficult conflicts.

Working with Belgrade
Together with many others, TFF associates have been invited to an international conference in Belgrade at the above-mentioned institute. The idea is to take stock of the Rambouillet and NATO bombing process one years after. TFF associates will also do fact-finding in Montenegro and seek to understand the humanitarian situation in Serbia which hosts one million of refugees. True humanism makes no difference between humans who suffer. Innocent Serbs, Albanians and others are clear victims of games played by political, economic and military leaders. It's pop humanitarianism - or cynicism - to see it otherwise.

Sharing the good news
We are so happy about all the support and recognition we get - presumably because of TFF's persistent philosophy, reliability, competence and focused activity over the years. Peace may look impossible, but until we have tried, we don't know that it is. And there are so many other good forces at work around the world. There are enough bad news around. In all humility, we think TFF makes good news.

Jan Oberg

Source: The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

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