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Annual Report 1998

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The year starts with a meeting in Copenhagen with other conflict-oriented NGOs, humanitarian and human rights organizations - in a preparatory group to explore whether a Danish "conflict consortium" can be established. Meetings continue well into autumn.

TFF PressInfo 30 about our report "Learning Conflict and Teaching Peace" goes out on January 12.

January 13 to 28, Mission 29 to ex-Yugoslavia, this time Eastern Slavonia and related places. Follow-up to our earlier "interventions" in schools throughout the region. As the UN departs on January 15, we find it important to be present and assure NGOs, local authorities and the schools we have worked with so far that TFF will remain active in the region. In addition, we prepare future seminars/courses for gymnasium students and media people (see below). Good working relations are established with OSCE. A series of social meetings with teachers and displaced families we already know. Farewell party with the UN. Meet minister of education and sports, Ms. Vokic, in Zagreb, meetings at the Swedish and the Yugoslav embassies there, too. Visit to UNHCR in Novi Sad to learn about the situation of refugees from Croatia there. Meet peace NGOs in Zagreb, Soros Open Society and Vesna Skare-Ozbolt, the Croatian governments head of Committe for Trust-Building.

February 9-10, Jan Øberg and Pertti Joenniemi, also board member, are invited as resource persons to a meeting in the European Parliament on the future role of neutral countries.

In February we establish on the foundations' website a series of links of relevance for the Iraqi crisis. On February 10, PressInfo 31 goes out about that.

During the same month TFF conducts an e-mail brainstorm on the Iraqi crisis. We ask a number of scholars around the world to respond to a series of questions about a) what are the root causes of conflict underlying the Iraqi crisis, and b) what can be done? The results are pubished in PressInfo 32 and 33.

TFF is invited by the Institute for Studies of Federalism in Fribourg to lecture about conflict-mitigation and reconciliation at a conference attended by representatives of all parties to the conflict in Burundi.

In March PressInfo 34 and 35 go out, on why it is serious in Kosovo and what can still be done.

Øberg represents TFF at the newly established European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, in London, March 14-16.

On March 19, he appears before the Foreign Policy Committee of the Swedish Parliament at a hearing about issues related to international conflict-management.

In April PressInfo 36 offers "46 Arguments against NATO Expansion."

TFF's Mission 30, again to Eastern Slavonia, takes place between March 20 and 31. Peter Jarman, Kerstin Schultz and Jan Øberg coducts a series of preparatory one-half day and four one-day seminars with 120 Croat and Serb gymnasium students from Vukovar, Osijek and Vinkovci. Close co-operation with the schools and with the Ministry. Highly positive evaluations by all. Reported to SIDA that financed it and in TFF PressInfo 37.

May 1-12, the founders go on a study trip to Hanoi where TFF adviser Richard Falk holds a visiting chair. They are introduced to several researchers and institutes and persons of literature and culture - all aimed at learning a bit about reconciliation since 1975. Jan Øberg is interested in serving as visiting professor there on a program organized by Washington University.

May 16, board meeting 44. The important decision is made that TFF shall seek to handle "2 1/2 conflicts" - ex-Yugoslavia, Georgia and a "1/2", a shorter assignment with short notice, preferably in an early warning or preventive role - an to establish contacts, counter biased media reporting, or similar purposes. Director of the Danish Centre for Conflict-Resolution, Else Hammerich, becomes a new adviser.

During these spring months, Maria Näslund, replaces Göran Larsson as webmaster and TFF's website undergoes substantial revision; the basic structure, layout and navigation tools are improved, materials expanded and updated. The site material is optimized and expanded.

Also during spring TFF spends considerable time in taking part in a consortium bid to the European Commission for a multi-million ECU program to assist Eastern Europe and the Caucasus; TFF is assigned a role in conflict-analysis and seminars on negotiations and reconci-liation. The consortium, unfortunately, is ranked as number 2.

PressInfo 38 announces that TFF has a new website.

June 4 - 16, Mission 31, again to Eastern Slavonia. Soeren Sommelius and Jan Oberg conducts a media seminar on conflict-resolution, negotiation and reconciliation for Serb media people in Eastern Slavonia, funded by the Council of Europe. On June 10 Jan holds a meeting with some 20 selected NGO representatives, journalists and teachers at the UN HQ to inform them about the planned Council of Europe "Site for Democratic Citizenship Education" (1999) and future TFF activities. We agree to hold a two-day seminar for all in September in preparation for that CoE/TFF activity. CINES is established - the Citizens Initiative Network in Eastern Slavonia.

TFF Newsletter 18 appears, emphasis on TFF's "Peace work in war zones and cyberspace."

PressInfo 39 argues that we need a notion of reconciliation in international conflict-management.

In late June, PressInfo 40 presents a proposal for a History and School Book Commission in Croatia. The proposal is also mentioned in OSCE's report on education in Croatia.

PressInfo 41 tells that TFF, having been consulted by the World Bank, has helped Croatia obtain a loan for Eastern Slavonia of US $ 40 million.

July 23 - August 9, Mission 32 to Belgrade, Pristina (Kosovo/a) and Skopje. Fact-finding about the war in Kosovo/a, more than 50 1-2 hour conversations with intellectuals, politicians, including President Rugova and President Gligorov, NGOs, media people, etc. This mission is financed by the Polden-Puckham Trust in Bristol and concludes our activities on their grant.

TFF's participation in the UNU/WIDER project on Roots of Humanitarian Emergencies is cancelled after finalization of manuscript. It will be published in TFF's series instead.

In August, a number of somewhat longer PressInfos focus on various aspects of the Kosovo crisis and the media coverage of it. PressInfo 42 argues that the war is not a conflict-prevention failure but evidently in the interest of a number of actors. PressInfo 43 is entitled "Kosovo/a - Half Truths About Demography and Ethnic Cleansing; PressInfo 44 "Kosovo/a - Half Truths About How It Began" and PressInfo 45 "Human Rights in Kosovo/a - Not So Simple."

PressInfo 46 of September 4 argues that it is "Time to Try Tru Nonviolence in Kosovo/a."

By September, the list of TFF PressInfo recipients have reached 2900 around the world. About 250 have written comments to one or more PressInfos they have received during 1998. Several NGO networks have put the PressInfos on their list, meaning that the actual number of recipients is much larger.

Almost all PressInfos and TFF adviser Jonathan Power's syndicated columns that TFF reproduce on its website every week are featured with the major "supersite" for alternative news, anaysis and NGOs, Oneworld - all of which considerably increases the web traffic to and from TFF.

Website traffic varies now between 500 and 700 "delivered resources" per day via search engines. TFF's website has 20 visitor, in average per day, to its welcoming first page and sitemap. Thus, TFF global reach - being read and used - is, undoubtedly, larger than ever before.

The Council of Europe Department of Education invites Jan to spend one day in Strasbourg to discuss the establishment of a "CoE Site for Democratic Citizenship Education" in Eastern Slavonia. This is September 8 and gives TFF an opportunity to learn about the various funding possibilities for "our" NGOs, media and school groups in that region.

September 9 - 16, the founders visit the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, TRNC, where TFF board member Ann-Sofi Jakobsson conducts a research project as part of her PhD. It is not fact-finding by interviews but by reading and getting around to places including Girne, Yenierenköy, Farmagusta, and Nicosia, guided by Ann-Sofi.

Mission 33 to ex-Yugoslavia, September 18-25. Includes a weekend seminar conducted with Peter Jarman for some 20 participants in the CINES project, NGOs, teachers and media people in Eastern Slavonia, held in Bizovac. Jan proceeds to Vukovar and Belgrade and spends a day in Brcko with OSCE and the Office of the High Representative, OHR; the former had asked TFF to visit and see whether we can deliver some seminars in this very troubled area where only one other international NGO operates. Follow-up is done immediately, the Learning Conflict program suggested.

September 28, Jan participates in a conference in Copenhagen on the Caucasus.

TFF PressInfo 47, Questions Before Bombing Serbia, is published on October 1.

IUPIP, Rovereto October 3-4, international conference plus Scientific Committee meeting. Jan talks about human rights and conflict-resolution.

October 7, a day of teaching at FOJO, the Institution for Further Education of Journalists. Participants from all over the so-called Third World.

In this period, much media work due to the situation in Kosovo. Particularly the Danish Radio and television is active.

TFF PressInfo 48, Peace Proposal: Forums for Human Rights and Peace Education in Eastern Slavonia - and Elsewhere, appears on October 11.

October 11 to 18, teaching at IUPIP - Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Postwar Society - Institutional and Spiritual Aspects, together with Kishore Mandhyan, UN Civil Affairs chief for all of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

TFF PressInfo 49, TFF Invited to the State of the World Forum 1998, appears on October 22.

October 24, UN Day, TFF board meeting 45.

"The Future of the United Nations system: Potential for the twenty-first century" edited by Chadwick Alger, appear at the United Nations University Press. Among the chapters are those by TFF associates Raimo Väyrynen, Robert C. Johansen and Jan Øberg (together with Elise Boulding).

October 26 to November 1, TFF is invited to participate in the State of the World Forum in San Francisco. Jan Oberg participates in two of the Forum's strategic initiatives - on a global movement for co-existence and on new global action program for disarmament. Numerous new contacts and many levels. Jan also has a dispute with Bianca Jagger on Kosovo.

TFF PressInfo 50, Negotiate a Sanctions Lifting Plan for Iraq, appears on November 12.

November 13-16, TFF is invited by CoE and Kulturkontakt in Austria to chair a panel at a European Union conference in Graz on education in Eastern Europe with special reference to peace, democracy and human rights. Several participants from the Balkans. Co-directed by Brigitta Busch.

TFF PressInfo 51, Support Free Media and Education in Serbia Now, appears on November 23.

The founders take a private holiday in Dublin November 26 to December 2.Learn a lot about Irish-English relations and about Ireland's history and culture. Useful for next year's visit to Belfast with the State of the World Forum.

December 5, Jan lectures at the Danish Center for Conflict Resolution.

December 16, co-operation seminar with CET - Centre for Conflict-Resolution and Encore, both Copenhagen, and TFF.

TFF PressInfo 52, Be Better Informed About the Iraq Conflict, appears on December 19.

We publish the 57-page analysis "Violence, Postwar Reconstruction and Civil Society - Theory and Yugoslavia" which (see above) was refused by the UN/WIDER project.

PressInfo 53, Civil Society in War and Peace - New Report, about this analysis appears on December 23.

By end of 1998, more than 4000 people receive TFF PressInfo - either as we identify them or as new ones ask to be on the list. During the last months TFF's website has had between 50.000 and 150.000 "hits" per months and up to 4.900 delivered resources per day.

In December Dr. Kishore Mandhyan, Chief of the United Nations Civil Affairs mission for all of Bosnia-Hercegovina, becomes new TFF adviser.

1998 in summary:

Another good year because:

1) We cooperate more closely now with board members, Swedish and international advisers and the conflict-mitigation team, partly through the website, partly in the field. All connected via e-mail service, too.

2) More diversified networking - to mention them all this year: OneWorld, IUPIP, State of the World, the United Nations, Council of Europe, Ministry of Education in Croatia, Soka-Gakkai, Encore, Centre for Conflict-Resolution, columns in three Nordic newspapers, European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, FOJO, IPRA and - not the least - local NGOs in ex-Yugoslavia.

3) More teaching leading to self-sustained peacebuilding activity in Eastern Slavonia.

4) A global reach and communication that widely surpasses any earlier year. PressInfos in particular has become a major features of TFFs profile. Ever more people around the world are served by TFF.

5) Important self-education and inspiration through short visits to Hanoi, Cyprus and Ireland.

6) Stable group of associates with excellent new personalities on board.

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