Over the past twenty years, Peace Brigades International (PBI) has pioneered a model of international non-violent accompaniment to protect the human rights of those threatened by political violence. Relying on small teams of international observers deployed where political violence is rampant (Indonesia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, and elsewhere), PBI attempts to deter violence and open up safer political space for local activists under threat from both state forces and para-state organizations. PBI's international observers are trained in non-violence and equipped with cameras, notebooks, cell phones, extensive diplomatic contacts, and a cross-cutting international advocacy network. The recipient of numerous international awards, PBI has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.PBI is deeply committed to decentralized structures and consensus decision making, but using consensus decision making in an international accompaniment team context, marked by danger and fast-braking crises, is far from easy, carrying considerable risks for the participants and their clients.Based on extensive participant observation research with the larger organization and with two PBI teams in Sri Lanka, this paper analyzes the most salient issues involved in using consensus on PBI teams. Those issues include individual ownership of group decisions, full participation of all members, creative attention to the emotional concerns of members, the dangerous nature of the work and the potentially far-reaching ramifications of the decisions taken by a PBI team. Thick ethnographic descriptions of the teams' struggles and conflicts with using the consensus process are employed in the analysis. I argue that flexible, conscientious and proactive applications of consensus principles makes consensus decision making uniquely suited to many international non-violent accompaniment contexts.
Coy, P. (2002), "Negotiating identity and danger under the gun: consensus decision making on peace brigades international teams", Coy, P. (Ed.) Consensus Decision Making, Northern Ireland and Indigenous Movements (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0163-786X(03)80022-8Download as .RIS
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