PBI’s Principles and Mandate – and Founding Statement

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photos of George Willoughby and Steve Kaal (from Montreal) at Camp NeeKauNis (about 130 kilometres north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada) where a General Assembly first adopted PBI’s Principles and Mandate statement in June 1992.

Peace Brigades International (PBI) was founded in 1981 to undertake the task of peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-building under the discipline of nonviolence.  It draws inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and experience in the field of nonviolent social change, strengthened by similar movements throughout the world.  As a third-party force it applies methods of nonviolent intervention in situations of conflict to establish peace and justice.

General principles


PBI is committed to giving the highest consideration to human life and its defence.  It respects everyone’s basic human rights, democratic values and freedoms.

PBI is convinced that enduring peace and lasting solutions of conflicts between and within nations cannot be achieved by violent means and therefore it rejects violence of any kind and from any source.  PBI aims to support the processes of building a peaceful society by encouraging cooperation between groups working in democratic ways and striving to find political solutions to conflicts by nonviolent means.

PBI believes the philosophy and politics of nonviolence are dynamic and develop historically by those who resist different forms and structures of violence, such as gender and other identity based discriminations, and socio-economic exploitation. Therefore, PBI, with its experience and international presence, endeavours to overcome injustice and violence in order to build a humane society.

International Character

PBI is a global organisation.  It represents the concerns of the international community in relation to conflicts and crises which affect all, and to peace which benefits everyone.

PBI welcomes the services of people from all the cultures, languages, religions, beliefs and geographical regions to cooperate with and serve in the local, national, regional and transnational Peace Brigades.  It offers possibilities for volunteers to act as links and/or representatives of the international community to help in generating mutual dialogue between conflicting parties and provide them with opportunities for contact with the outside world.

The nonviolent intervention work of PBI teams in conflict situations also has the effect of stimulating and promoting peace initiatives by the people themselves in the conflict areas.  Therefore PBI encourages the formation of domestic Peace Brigades with the hope of strengthening its own work as well as building local peace activities.

PBI respects the autonomy and the right of self-determination of all people, and sees its services as a complementary contribution to their own efforts for peace-making.  Hence it avoids imposing or interfering with their own ways of thinking and acting.  As a corollary of this approach PBI goes into a situation only if requested by the concerned people of the area.


As an international third-party force PBI acts in an independent and non-partisan manner.  According to its Vedchhi Declaration non-partisanship implies: dealing with all parties with an open mind; reporting as objectively as possible; refraining from judgemental responses; voicing concerns to those responsible without being accusative.

Non-partisanship does not mean indifference, neutrality or passivity towards injustice or towards violation of human rights, personal dignity and individual freedom.  On the contrary:  PBI is fully committed to these values and struggles against violence – physical or structural – as a means of establishing enduring peace.

Therefore the work of PBI, as a non-partisan third-party, requires that PBI teams and their members do not become involved in the work of the groups or the individuals whom they assist or escort; that they try their utmost to remain non-judgemental, despite their possible emotional identification with the oppressed or the victim; that they do not become involved in the official policies of the host country; that they share the tools of conflict resolution they have at their disposal with those who ask for them, whether as information or in the form of workshops and training programmes without intervening with or imposing their own opinions.


PBI uses a non-hierarchical model of organising and decision-making, which places importance on relationships and processes and not just on outcomes.


The mandate of PBI is to create space for peace and to protect human rights.

The central focus of PBI’s work is that of international presence defined as one or more of the following: physical presence, physical accompaniment, public relations, networking, observing, reporting, and building international support networks.

Other methods that play a role in peace building such as, but not limited to, peace education and mental health recovery can be undertaken by a project provided that protective presence is considered.

PBI recognises that situations may arise that require a methodology that we have not used previously. This mandate is intended to allow the implementation of such a methodology after consultation with all constituencies.

Approved by the General Assembly in Ontario, Canada, June 1992, amended by the General Assembly, Manenbach, Switzerland, November 2001, amended by the General Assembly, Hamburg, 2008.

Founding Statement

PBI’s founding statement was adopted on September 4, 1981 at the Quaker Peace Education Centre (pictured above) on Grindstone Island, which is situated about 110 kilometres south-west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

We have decided to establish an organization which will form and support international peace brigades.  We find this historically and morally imperative.

Peace brigades, fashioned to respond to specific needs and appeals, will undertake nonpartisan missions which may include peacemaking initiatives, peacekeeping under a discipline of nonviolence, and humanitarian service.  We also intend to offer and provide services to similar efforts planned and carried out by other groups.

We appeal in particular to:

–peoples of diverse cultures, religions and social systems ready to contribute in new ways to the nonviolent resolution of conflict;

–all those who seek to fulfill the high principles and purposes expressed in the Charter of the United Nations, and

–all who work to preserve human life with dignity, to promote human rights, social justice and self-determination, and to create the conditions of peace.

We call upon individuals and groups to enlist their services in the work of local, regional and international peace brigades.  We are forming an organization with the capability to mobilize and provide trained units of volunteers.  These units may be assigned to areas of high tension to avert violent outbreaks.  If hostile clashes occur, a brigade may establish and monitor a cease-fire, offer mediatory services, or carry on works of reconstruction and reconciliation.

Those who undertake these tasks will face risks and hardships.  Others can provide support and show solidarity in a multitude of ways.

We are building on a rich and extensive heritage of nonviolent action, which no longer can be ignored.  This heritage tells us that peace is more than the absence of war.

We are convinced that this commitment of mind, heart and dedicated will can make a significant difference in human affairs.  Let us all join in the march from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to life.

Daniel N. Clark writes, “The eleven participants [who drafted this founding statement] included Charles Walker, Ray McGee, Narayan Desai, Jaime de J. Diaz, a Catholic priest with the Corporation for Cultural and Social Development in Colombia, Murray Thomson of Project Ploughshares in Canada, Hans Sinn, a Canadian nonviolence trainer and social defense advocate, Henry Wiseman, a Canadian serving as director of Peacekeeping Programs at the International Peace Academy in New York, Gene Keyes, a Canadian scholar and writer, Mark Shepard, a U.S. peace journalist, Lee Stern, Peace Secretary of New York Yearly Meeting of Friends, and myself [Daniel N. Clark].”

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