TFF - what you don't know about it


PressInfo # 153

 June 22, 2002



Jan Oberg & Christina Spännar



TFF is so much more than a website. Here we tell you about ongoing projects and what is planned. We offer insights into the daily operations of TFF and how we preserve our intellectual freedom. We are not ashamed to tell you that we need US$4 from you…


Chances are that you associate TFF with its website. But TFF is more than virtual reality; we live quite an active real life, too. We are approaching the middle of the year, midsummer, and humanity lives in increasingly troubled times. It's important to us that you know what TFF does for a better world.

The highlights below reflect what goes on at the headquarter in Lund, Sweden. That is, what the two founders are doing. But the foundation has a network of some sixty associates around the world who do similar things: teach courses, do research, do peace work in war zones, run civil society organisations, write PhDs, do media work, speak up for non-violent conflict-resolution, do humanitarian work, help mobilise consciousness and empower the underprivileged. (You can see some of the results in "Highlights" on our site).

So, when you read the following, imagine the impact of about 60 times more work for a more humane world.

Should you decide that you want to support this work, remember that your donation goes to activities and not to bureaucracy and salaries, since we are all volunteers. You can assist our work for peace by giving US$4 a year…


Reconciliation in Burundi

We are preparing to begin long-term work in Burundi. The aim is to assist the parties forgive, reconciliate and live peacefully; our specific task is to be a partner in implementing a research and educational program we developed a couple of years ago together with Dr. Christian Scherrer for the Burundi Ministry of Education. As soon as there is an all-comprehensive cease-fire, we will begin fund-raising (not easy since Burundi gets so little media attention) and get on the ground with peace courses and training, media work, and other field activities that reach people all over the country. One leg of the project will be in the capital Bujumbura, another will be rurally based: training the people employed at a field hospital set up by one of our partners, the Swedish Rescue and Relief Service. Administratively, technically and financially this is a huge project for a small foundation, but we think it is very important.

Your donation would help us help one of the world's poorest countries move in the direction of peace rather than continued hate and resumption of genocidal killing.


Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia & Montenegro

Having done our duty in the Balkans since 1991 through some 50 missions, we are slowly reducing our overall presence there. We shall continue to do fact-finding and media work and keep ourselves updated with developments in three places: Kosovo/a, Macedonia and Serbia & Montenegro. This means 3-4 field missions a year, interviewing, analysing and sometimes lectures and dialogues, as well as media work in these places.

TFF is proud to be associated with the Yugoslav Truth and Reconciliation Commission under President Kostunica. We are also repeatedly invited by high-level authorities to consultations in Macedonia, including one in June on reconciliation experiences to which TFF associates Radmila Nakarada, Håkan Wiberg, Biljana Vankovska and Jan Oberg are invited.

Your support will help us remain a leading centre for balanced information and analyses of the Balkans.


Assessing the war risk in Macedonia for UNHCR

A month ago we finished a 30-page report commissioned by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR. It analyses the relations among the local parties and between them and the international community. What are the conflicts really about? Why did a war break out last year? What are the chances and preconditions of healing and what must be done by whom to prevent a new war?

UNHCR of course pays an honorarium for such a report, but not for the fact-finding on which it is based.


Porto Alegre World Social Forum

TFF associate Joergen Johansen participated in the Porto Alegre World Social Forum in Brazil and wrote about it on our site. Thousands of NGO people and experts from all over the world held discussions based on the theme, "Another world is possible." It was a tremendously important forum; however, little attention was paid to it in the mainstream press.


Windsor Castle consultations on world order and interventionism

Jan now participates in consultations on world order issues at St. George House, Windsor Castle, outside London. The foci are humanitarian intervention, ethics and conflict-resolution in the global society.

This is the kind of small, intensive gatherings to which TFF is increasingly invited. The results are fed directly into political decision-making circles. However, we have to pay for the trip and other costs to participate. Your donation would help cover such expenses and enable us to say yes, rather than no, to similar invitations.


Media, conflict and peace: the Toda Institute and Soka Gakkai

TFF takes part in the GRAD project initiated by the Toda Institute in Hawaii, an activity of the lay Buddhist Soka Gakkai in Japan. GRAD stands for "Globalisation, Regionalisation and Democratization", and is subtitled, "A Multi-Civilisational and Dialogic Research Project". TFF will take part in one of the project's Action Research Teams which will analyse the role of media in conflict and peace.

Your donation would help us participate in this multi-cultural team's meetings and produce a solid analysis on questions such as: how are we informed and how could we be informed about conflicts and peace in the international system?


New improved TFF website

We must keep abreast with virtual developments. A wonderful, professional expert in Australia who admires TFF has offered, free of charge, to develop the third generation of TFF's website. Those who have developed a site know the hundreds of hours that go into it, also for the founders who make the final decisions.


Book review section on the new site

We want our site to be the place YOU go to find the best books on international problems. We plan to start out small with the areas we know most about and invite TFF associates and many others to write reviews and recommendations. Books present a solid and comprehensive analysis. We want to strengthen the role of solid scholarship at a time when life and death issues are reduced to 30 second sound bites on your tv-screen.

Your donation would help us keep this a free service for the roughly 1000 daily visitors.


Alternatives to nuclear weapons - co-operation with IPPNW

This spring we went to Moscow with members of the Swedish branch of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW, to participate in a consultation entitled "Instead of Nuclear Weapons". TFF contributed by writing the article "Can we learn to live without the bomb?" The conference, which was also attended by active and retired officers and by parliamentarians and NGOs, was held at the Russian Federation Parliament, the Duma.


Dialogue between TFF and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A separate meeting was also held at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament. They accepted a proposal from TFF to produce a policy-oriented paper for the Ministry on how the Russian Federation could opt out of military competition with the West and spearhead a new security and conflict-resolution policy thereby presenting a viable alternative to the Bush administration's dangerous policies.

This is a goodwill offer from TFF. Your donation will help us write this important policy paper and go to back to the Ministry in Moscow to discuss it.


Lecturing at NATO's School in Germany

As one of the few in peace research to be asked, TFF has been invited to deliver lectures at the NATO School (SHAPE). The first was in May. The next will be in September - for about 100 NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) officers. For TFF this is a tremendously important opportunity to engage in respectful exchange between two different approaches to peace-making.

NATO's policy is to pay for the trip, but no honorarium. Your donation will help make it possible for TFF to present analyses and views that are not discussed every day at NATO.


TFF helps Italian peace movements

TFF associate Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Jan Oberg lectured for 700 participants at UNIMONDO's huge fair and conference in the Civitas Forum Centre in Padua, Italy. No doubt the European peace movements are gathering strength, not least because of the policies of people like Berlusconi and Bush.

Your donation will help us reach many more through this type of face-to-face meeting.


Georgia, Abkhasia and South Ossetia

Georgia is still on our minds, but the fact-finding of earlier years has not been followed up. There will be another fact-finding mission and then some proposals for possible, negotiated solutions.

Your donation will help pay the costs for plane tickets, accommodation, interpreters and report-writing upon return. And the importance of this region is growing by the day.


TFF helps the Icelandic peace movement

A week before NATO's summit in Reykjavik, we were there together with hundreds of Islanders arranging a conference to discuss many new approaches to peace. Hundreds of journalists, however, chose to go to NATO's press shows instead.


Fact-finding in Iraq - a much needed initiative

Board member Christian Harleman and Jan Oberg were on TFF's first fact-finding mission to Iraq in May, which lasted two weeks. They had about 35 meetings with various people in Baghdad, representing the government, parliament, NGOs, media, academia and culture; they also met with diplomats at a number of embassies and with representatives of the UN and a series of humanitarian organisations. The last evening they gave a guest lecture at Baytol Hikema, The House of Wisdom, for about 50 leading scholars. See PressInfo 152. Multimillion dollar research institutes don't bother to go and do empirical research on the spot. Few mainstream media dare to ask: how do the Iraqis think about the world? We think it is an obvious task to go there, given the enormous significance of this conflict for the Iraqi people, the region and, ultimately, the world.

We appealed to all recipients of TFF PressInfos to support this mission. We received US$ 655, for which we are very grateful. However, the cost of that mission was US$4000.


Developing peace research in Kazakhstan and Central Asia

TFF has been invited to give lectures on conflict-resolution and non-violence to scholars and teachers from the Central Asian republics, which have the world's attention right now. We will spend a few days teaching and training as part of a much longer program that seeks to empower the participants to begin teaching peace research, conflict-resolution, tolerance, etc. at their local universities and schools.


Training young Palestinians in non-violence

Joergen Johansen and Jan Oberg will be in Jerusalem for a week in August co-operating with an NGO called MEND, Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy. We are excited and feel that nothing could be more useful than helping young people become familiar with nonviolent policies and actions that can be taken against the Israeli occupation and as an alternative to the tragic suicide bombers.


This is why we need your help: everyday life and the vision

We do all of the above without a hierarchy of secretaries and assistants; we have no one employed. We do everything ourselves: contact work, travel planning, information gathering, letter writings, book-keeping, fund-raising (too little time to spend on that to be successful so far), course development and library. And there is the daily decision-making , caring for board members and associates around the world. In addition, we handle quite a lot of media interviews and panel discussions in the Nordic area and elsewhere. Sara Ellis, our main voluntary worker and information officer, handles much of the website and editorial work during the roughly 15 hours she works with us per week. And we now have a pool of voluntary translators of articles and PressInfos.

Of course some of the above activities yield an income to the foundation or to the founders. We, the founders, of course need some personal income to be able to contribute our voluntary work to TFF. We are both free-lance people. Our private income comes from teaching, writing, lecturing and from small scholarships for Christina's post-doctoral work.

The above activities do not yield what is needed as a minimum to cover the costs of maintaining TFF (rent, website, insurance, printing, stationary, phones, machinery, auditing, etc.). If TFF were about to go into red, the founders would have to throw in some of their savings, on top of their voluntary work, to pay the bills.

Of course, it's a an exciting life in the service of peace. It's a challenging and busy life. TFF aims to become entirely people-financed. We struggle, with your help, to remain a place of free research and free thoughts, free from traditionalism, political correctness, self-censorship, free of state and commercial interests. It's quite an agenda in our increasingly authoritarian times…


What you can do: give 4 dollars!

You can see now, how TFF is so much more than a website. By making a contribution, you would help us do the things described above and help people in war zones.

You would also help us concentrate better and not worry all the time about how to get the needed funds for activities or cover the minimum administrative expenses a few months ahead. 11,000 people receive this message directly. If every recipient donated US$4 once a year, we would have covered our annual basic funding needs for that year.

Some may not be able to give, but many, we know, are able to give that much. And more. And perhaps you know somebody who would be willing to donate money to TFF?

There is lots to do in this world. TFF makes its contribution according to the best of the abilities of the founders and the sixty some associates worldwide. It is not enough to stop violence and militarism, racism, or underdevelopment, but neither is it insignificant. Indeed, we allow ourselves to believe that TFF is an important force in the permanent struggle for a more humane and peaceful world.

Many thanks to those who have supported us this year. We humbly hope others will also make their contribution, to us, for what we do and for what it means to many others in the places we reach.


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© TFF 2002



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