Not taking sides can be the side that really matters

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace is pretty well unique in that it doesn’t take sides in a conflict but actually makes a far more challenging and difficult choice that results in a greater impact.

Many people ask how the Foundation positions in relation to conflicts such as that in the Ukraine, the dreadful daily incidents in parts of Africa, the violence in Israel and Palestine or in relation to the actions of Islamic State (formerly ISIS forces) in Syria and Iraq. Why do we often work with ex perpetrators of violence as well as survivors and victims? Why do we not actively campaign on aspects such as justice, truth or a particular cause? Why do we not condemn a particular side or even take sides?

Our position of neutrality and independence can sometimes be viewed as not taking a position and yet we do take a position – perhaps a stronger and harder position than many campaign and activism organisations. A position we are passionate about and will not rest or compromise on. That is that we have one position that we campaign on – a campaign for peace.

Peace to us is not some dove based symbolism, not about ‘flower power’ or living in perfect harmony. It is hard-edged, pragmatic and about being brave enough to challenge anyone who thinks that violence is acceptable or an answer to conflict.

At the Foundation for Peace we believe the ‘fight’ is against violence and about an uncompromising challenge to those who use ‘violence’ to further their aims. Those that further hatred whether that be race, political or faith based. Those that advocate discrimination and prejudice. Our version of peace is tough, and therefore we work with all sides on one basis, that they will sign up to a set of principles that work towards a world without violent conflict.

Violent conflict is increasing, the first time since the second world war, and yet many of us are immune to the news feeds and the horrors that are taking place in front of our eyes. So what can you do to help? What do you think of our position? Do you think the side of ‘peace’ we take is right and will make a real and lasting difference? Join in the debate and let me know your thoughts.

Nick Taylor – Chief Executive Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace August 2014

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