More about International Peace Teams....
MPT International Peace Teams
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where do MPT's International Peace Teams
MPT has been training and deploying Peace Teams domestically and internationally since 1993. Historically, MPT has deployed Peace Teams to Bosnia, Panama, Iraq, Canada, the US/Mexico Border, Chiapas and Juarez, Mexico, Haiti, and El Salvador. Closer to home, we have deployed teams during controversial events like LGBT Pride Parades, at protests during the 2008 & 2016 Republican National Conventions, during riots following sporting events, and on reservations at the invitation of First Nations peoples in North America. Peace teams have been present at hate group rallies to deter inter-group violence.
2. What do teams DO? How does MPT's work differ from humanitarian
or “conflict resolution” work?
MPT Teams act to reduce and prevent violence in war or conflict zones, where they are invited by one or more parties to a conflict. Teams practice a specific type of conflict intervention work that MPT refers to as “unarmed civilian protection.” You may know it by one of its other names like “Third Party Conflict Intervention” or TPNI. Unarmed civilian protection is unarmed civilians protecting civilians and uses techniques including: protective accompaniment, human rights monitoring/reporting, offering a peaceful presence/modeling peaceful behavior and reaction, and interpositioning (putting our bodies between conflicting parties).
Unlike conflict resolution/transformation, mediation or dialogue work, our Peace Teams do not seek to mediate or resolve the underlying conflict directly, or to broker 'peace talks' - although we may act to support one or all of these actions. Instead, our Peace Teams are focused on the front-line work of reducing violence and the threat of violence, in order to create some safer space for everyone involved. By creating this space, it allows the parties themselves to determine the means and the terms of transforming/resolving the conflict. There is often a role for other conflict resolution and dialog organizations to work in concert with MPT.
MPT is not a humanitarian or charity organization; in general, we do not deliver aid or funds to the areas where we work. There are many organizations that organize relief and aid efforts or raise funds to donate directly to those in need, and many can do this much better than MPT. Some organizations send delegations which are meant to represent that organization in other roles, for example, in negotiations, or as an observer for the organization. We believe our strengths and talents lie elsewhere, and that there is a real and demonstrated need for our unique contribution.
3. What will we do in Palestine and where will we be?
The team will make decisions about where to go and what to do collectively
based on circumstances on the ground. In past years some teams moved
around quite a bit - others were more or less stationary. The last team worked
to the north around Nablus, Tukarim, Howarra, to the south in Hebron, Hebron
South Hills and, to the east, in the Jordan River Valley in Tubas. Each area is
under constricting occupation pressure - it just takes on different forms in
What the team does will vary depending on the situation on the ground, but
some examples are:
During olive harvest settlers often attack olive pickers, so we offer protective accompaniment. Actually, we usually pick too. The sooner we get out of the field, the safer it is.
Accompany elementary children to school for protection.
Record number of students allowed through a checkpoint and the times the checkpoint is closed, so the UN can tell if students are being denied access to school.
Observe and report irregular roadblocks (flying checkpoints), recording where they are, how long they block the road, and watch for violations of human rights laws.
Witness human rights violations and monitor opening and closing times at Agricultural gates.
Observe the closing of communities and find ways into the closed communities to report on what is happening.
Report on home demolitions. They are hard to actually observe, but we visit the family before and after, offering support and recording details.
Witness and report of demolition of green houses and olive trees.
A University was regularly being attacked by the occupying Army and by observing and reporting over a month we played a role in stopping this outrage.
At the weekly clashes between the occupying Army and local residents it is important to witness for human rights violations. It is also part of learning what the occupation is doing to people’s lives.
Reporting on additional houses and land becoming too dangerous to live in from one year to the next.
Offer protective accompaniment to families when soldiers have occupied part of their house.
4. What is MPT's International Team Training Process? What if I live
far away from your home office in Michigan?
Our intensive training process is rigorous, but it is designed to be completed by busy people with full time jobs and/or other commitments. The 2-3 month International Team training/preparation process can be completed in large part from anywhere.
A 5 day long International Team Training Retreat in Michigan, specific to your team & deployment site, is required. Additionally, our 8 hour Basic Nonviolence Skills Training is required before beginning the intensive International Teams Training Retreat. Team members who live outside the geographic area sometimes arrive early so they may complete this 8 hour training prior to the International Team Training. Additionally, MPT travels all over North America to offer nonviolence trainings. If there is a group of at least 12-25 people in your area interested in taking our training, please contact us.
We do not require that potential team members participate in Domestic Teams, but it is a valuable opportunity to learn by being part of a team.
5. What are the Qualifications to Apply for a Team?
We look for applicants with the following traits, in no particular order:
A commitment to nonviolence
Willingness and ability to work on a team
Willingness to practice consensus decision making
Willingness to commit to the intensive training process
Willingness to engage in self-reflection
Willingness to 'do the work' of teams, including not only TPNI in the field, but:
- report writing
- record keeping
- living in community
- team building
- self-care and reflection, centering, spiritual practice (whatever that means to you)
Willingness to fund raise
Able to take responsibility for getting what you need to feel prepared
Commit to team debrief & evaluation in the field with team and with MPT
Commit to debrief with MPT about team experience upon returning to US.
Commit to debrief with a professional in war zone psychology upon return to US.
Readiness to do awareness & outreach work sharing your team experiences, MPT's story and the stories of those we meet on teams
6. Where do teams live in the field?
Where your team lives will depend on the conflict zone where you choose to deploy. Accommodations are by no means luxurious, but teams generally have running water and electricity, cell phones, beds or mats to sleep on, a working kitchen and a western-style bathroom with shower and toilet.
Sometimes teams are called to spend the night (or several nights) away because they travel to a remote area, or in the course of protective accompaniment, etc. In that event, teams most often stay with local families, and team members need to be prepared to sleep on the ground in a sleeping bag or similar situation with limited toilet/bathroom facilities.
7. What is Team life like?
Team members live and work as a team, and make decisions by consensus. Team money is drawn from a common pot for all expenses including food, housing and transportation in country. The team will set a budget and determine reasonable expenses together. Team members are expected to equitably share the work of the team, from administrative and record-keeping, to direct action, to writing reports and posting them on our blog/website. As part of security, no team member will ever be alone
during the entire deployment.
Between TPNI work, report writing, and living as a team, your team
experience can be very intense with little 'down time.' However, daily team
meetings and centering/reflection time are built into the team process in
order for teams to plan appropriate activities. If you are in the field long
enough, your team will plan appropriate days or hours “off.”
Team members, on returning, tell us that going on an MPT Peace Team is
an amazing, life-changing, eye-opening experience. They often tell us they
formed very close bonds with teammates and would trust (and have trusted) their team members with their life. That being said, many team members find that a significant aspect of their nonviolence work on a peace team is learning to live in community with their team. Team members may have very different personalities, expectations, living styles, requirements for cleaning/cooking/eating/sleep, etc. In the stress of living in a war or conflict zone, these routine "roommate" problems can be exacerbated. MPT encourages and assists team members in exploring these issues before deployment with their team, building good communication skills, and learning techniques for solving interpersonal conflict on a team.
8. What does it cost to go on a team?
Teams are expected to fundraise to cover the cost of their team training, deployment, and airfare. This is part of the team work and in the spirit of nonviolence. With effective Team fundraising, it is possible to go on a team with no out of pocket cost to you. Team members have fundraised through letter writing, events, Crowdfunding (e.g., GoFundMe, Facebook), presentations (ask for an MPT speaker to talk at your event), and more. Fundraising is an important component of outreach and education to share with your community information about where you are going, and it is also important to team building. Some team members also choose to contribute from their own funds, and this is fine.
9. How are donations for Team costs handled?
All donations to fund your Team deployment should be made directly to
Meta Peace Team. We establish an "account" for each team, and will track
any funds that come in earmarked with your name or designated for your
team, and then give you regular reports on your team's fundraising
MPT is a nonprofit 501(c)( 3) and donations made directly to MPT are tax
deductible. When your team deploys, the appropriate amount of land
money will be issued by check from the Team Fund, and monies shared
among the team members prior to travel.
10. What about Safety on a Team? Can MPT Ensure I'll be safe?
MPT cannot guarantee the safety of anyone volunteering for a Peace Team.
Any venture in a conflict/war or occupation zone comes with inherent risks, and MPT cannot guarantee the safety of anyone volunteering with us (nor frankly, can any other organization operating in such theaters). The type of conflict intervention work peace teams do necessitates contact with potentially dangerous situations. It is up to each individual to weigh the risks associated with peace team work, and to choose whether to assume those risks and also to manage them with their team while in the field.
That being said, MPT considers Team safety to be paramount, and to such we devote extensive training/preparation time, as well as staff and volunteer time to supporting teams in this regard.
11. What is MPT's history with regard to safety?
Meta Peace Team (formerly Michigan Peace Team) has been training and
deploying Peace Teams to do conflict intervention and nonviolence work in
conflict/war zones since 1993. In that time, we are happy to report that none of
our 160+ international peace team members have suffered life-threatening injury
or death. However, international volunteers in war zones can and are seriously
injured or killed, and there have been deaths of international volunteers with
other organizations in the West Bank/Israel Palestine (including Gaza).
In the case of accidental injuries (sprains, digestive ailments, once a broken
bone from a slip and fall, etc.) in Palestine, for example, medical care has been
readily available and more than sufficient through Palestinian clinics, hospitals,
and paramedic services. There are also large hospitals fairly equivalent to United States standards in Israel if specialty care were required.
12. How do MPT Teams Manage Risk?
MPT has found that risk is best managed in six ways, which all of our team members are trained in and espouse:
Awareness of the potential situations and underlying issues one may come into contact with in the field, so that team members may effectively manage risk. This includes:
- intensive pre-deployment training with MPT over several months, including team building and
nonviolence skills training
- reading and self-study regarding the conflict zone and history
- opportunities to participate in Domestic Peace Teams in the United States prior to deployment
- additional in-country training and situation briefing with our sister peace organizations
Additionally, teams always include at least one veteran peace team
member (the “Anchor”), who is familiar with the situation on the ground
and with nonviolent conflict intervention work and MPT's values. Of
course, each team member needs to take personal responsibility in each
of these areas. Each day, Peace Team members discuss potential
activities as a team, including possible dangers, and choose by
consensus only those activities which are acceptable. Rarely,
unexpected and/or emergency situations do arise, yet we train team
members to check in with one another before acting, to stick to the
guidelines outlined here, and to avoid or remove themselves from
situations if necessary.
Awareness of situations as they unfold.
Acting as a team: Peace Teams are usually 4-8 people, and no one is to ever act alone in the field. Furthering the team dynamic, before each "activity" or event, on a daily basis, the team discusses personal roles and boundaries or concerns for the activity, and important points for safety. Decisions are made by consensus to draw on the wisdom of all members. For example, the team might decide, “while attending this nonviolent demonstration, we will stand toward the back to minimize risk and increase our ability to exit. We will have affinity buddies and maintain eye-contact distance and awareness of our buddies at all times. Also, two team members will stand several feet behind to monitor the 'big picture' and take photographs." To be a team the team needs to act based on the most "risk adverse" member. So, for example, if any one team member wishes to leave, we will all leave as a team.
Staunch adherence to nonviolence and conflict de-escalation techniques. We believe that our best safety measure is de-escalation of a potentially dangerous situation, for both tea0m members and for the local populations. We must remember that the local population, the oppressed population, will have to live with any response to what we do. This work follows the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has been practiced with great success for many years by international organizations in addition to MPT, including Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, and Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Strong relationships and connections in the communities where we work, as well as alliances with local nonviolence leadership and groups is key to MPT's work in the field. We follow local leadership when it comes to safety, security, and strategy and often look to them for advice in these matters.
Support from staff and volunteers here at home is also critical to our program. There is an experienced, trained cadre of staff and volunteers here at MPT which is dedicated to supporting our teams in the field with advice, counseling, assistance, a listening ear, and more. Also, all returning team members debrief with MPT's psychological professional trained in supporting those involved in work in conflict/war zones.
13. MPT Teams DO NOT:
Engage in violence, seek to provoke violence, or respond with violence
Donate money to individuals or organizations
Deliver humanitarian aid (under usual circumstances)
Give out money or valuable gifts while on a team
Act singly or without their team members
14. MPT Teams DO:
Maintain a commitment to their team, and consensus-based process
Remain staunchly nonviolent while on a team
Maintain a commitment to the mission and values of MPT, and Unarmed Civilian Protection work
Do the necessary research/study, record keeping, reporting/awareness and follow-up work to support and maximize their team experience
Raise funds as a team and individually for the cost of their deployment
Remain aware of individual power and privilege
We hope this information is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly for more information, additional resources, or clarification.