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Convocation Focuses on Civilian Peacekeeping in the Modern World

April 7, 2014

Mel Duncan, the co-founder and past executive director of Nonviolent Peaceforce, will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation address on Friday, April 11 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. His talk, titled “Nonviolent Peacekeeping: Hard Nosed Hope in a Tough World,” is free and open to the public. Convocations are also streamed live and available for on-demand viewing.

In an age when unarmed civilians are apt to get caught in the crosshairs of conflict, Mel Duncan has a radical idea about who should stave off war's "collateral damage": other unarmed civilians. He believes that “no one can make anyone else’s peace for them” and that "peacekeeping isn't always most effective when it’s done at the end of a gun."

Duncan co-founded Nonviolent Peaceforce, a civilian peacekeeping organization based in Brussels in 2002. Nonviolent Peaceforce dispatches international teams of trained, unarmed peacekeepers to conflict zones where civil society has been caught in the cross fire. The troops go only where they’ve been invited by civil society groups, and where extensive analysis determines that their presence and limited resources can be effective. Unlike the blue-helmeted U.N. troops, these peacekeepers are immersed in local society to make connections and build trust, in order to “help create the space where local people can do their work and stay alive.”  Since it’s founding, Nonviolent Peaceforce has conducted civilian peacekeeping operations in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Guatemala, and Sudan.

Duncan’s awards and honors include a 2006 Distinguished Citizen Award from Macalester College and the 2007 Pfeffer International Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. In 2008, he was named one of “50 Visionaries who are Changing Your World” by Utne Reader. Duncan holds a BA in political science from Macalester College and a MA in humanities and leadership from New College of California.

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For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at(507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.