Justice not Vengeance

tliouk office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Thu Jul 31 23:44:10 BST 2003


Notes from the launch meeting of the Justice Not Vengeance Network -  
a new nnetwork comprised of anti-war peace activist groups such as 
ARROW, Voices in the Wilderness and CND. 

**The JNV launch meeting - a promising start** 
The Justice Not Vengeance Network launch meeting was really 
encouraging, with a good turn-out and high levels of energy and 
enthusiasm. It's still early days, but we're hopeful that JNV will 
grow to play a positive and significant role in the future of the UK 
antiwar movement.
The meeting was well attended, enjoying the support of national 
organisations including the Green Party and CND, and local 
campaigning groups from across the South of England.
The meeting started with the group of individuals who had called it 
giving brief introductions into the thinking that led them to propose 
the creation of a JNV network.  We then broke down into smaller 
groups to develop more ideas on how such a network could take shape.  
Much remains to be done, but those present seemed overwhelmingly to 
share the organisers' enthusiasm for a new national antiwar network, 
and were keen to share their ideas on how to take things forward.

Plans for future development include a Northern launch meeting, an 
extensive and interactive web site, an activists' conference, 
practical support and training for local groups, and regional forums 
for campaigners to share skills, ideas and information.  The next JNV 
meeting, on 7th August, will focus on making these ideas a reality.

**Proposed Agenda for the first JNV Network monthly meeting**
 JNV Monthly Meeting, 7:30pm, 7th August, Quaker International 
Centre, 1-3 Byng Place, London WC1E 7JH. Click the link below for a 
map of the area, or paste the entire link into the address bar of 
your browser.
The JNV co-ordinating group has drawn up this agenda on the basis of 
ideas and issues raised at the launch meeting.  We hope it reflects 
the things you feel it is most important for our new network to 
19:30 Introductions and feedback from last meeting
19:50 Resolving issues about the nature of the network.
We hope we'll be able to arrive collectively at working solutions to 
the three major issues raised at the launch meeting:
1. The "Principles": do we need them, and if so what should they be?
2. Spokespersons: should JNV have any?
3. Network Democracy: how will it work?
20:50 Planning future JNV activities - parallel sessions to discuss:
1. A proposed Antiwar Activists' Conference in September
2. Ways to broaden and develop the JNV Network
21:50 Evaluation & Final goodbyes
**Further information for the monthly meeting**

We thought it might be helpful to set out a little more detail about 
these agenda items, to help you discuss them with your groups and 
think about them in advance.  We hope you find this information 
useful - please get in touch with any comments or questions.

Resolving Issues about the Nature of the Network
Many people raised important questions about the nature of the new 
JNV network, which we think it's important to try to address 
collectively at this early stage.  We're not suggesting that at this 
meeting we should make decisions which are set in stone for ever, but 
we do hope we can arrive at a consensus which will act as a working 
solution for the time being. Hopefully resolving these issues now 
will allow us all to focus on working together to develop a vibrant 
and positive JNV network in the coming months.
We realise that the process we're suggesting for resolving these 
issues is imperfect, confining the decisions to those who are 
participating at this stage and devoting only limited time to them.  
We also recognise that our own role in organising the monthly 
meetings, and our relationship to the rest of the network, will need 
clarifying in the future.  We hope though that you'll agree that it 
makes sense at this stage to try to deal with issues of this type 
quite quickly.  We hope that we can then concentrate our collective 
energies on developing a vibrant and democratic JNV network, which 
can then re-visit all these decisions at a later stage.
We propose to devote the majority of the available time to the 
question of "principles", and to use a version of "small to large 
group consensus" process to reach this decision.  We are hoping that 
the remaining two questions can be quite quickly dealt with by the 
meeting endorsing our quite limited suggestions - if this is not the 
case we'll have to discuss together how such issues can be tackled at 
greater length in the future.
1. The "Principles".
When the idea of a JNV meeting was originally proposed, a set 
of "Network Principles" was put forward to which it was suggested all 
those participating in the network should subscribe. These principles 
1) We condemn the terrorist atrocities committed on September 11th 
2) We also condemn the idea of taking revenge for these deaths by 
military retaliation against Afghanistan, Iraq or any other countries.
3) We believe that the proper reaction to the September 11th 
atrocities is to proceed on the basis of international law, following 
the UN Charter and working through extradition law, to bring the 
perpetrators of these acts to justice.
4) We believe that the right response to the problem of proliferation 
is to disarm all countries of all weapons of mass destruction, 
applying the same non-proliferation rules and inspection systems to 
all the countries of the world.
5) We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim communities in 
Britain, and demand an end to anti-Muslim attacks and prejudice.
6) We reject the erosion of civil liberties in the name of 'anti-
terrorism', whether in Britain or elsewhere. We cannot defend freedom 
by destroying it.
7) As a network, we are committed to campaigning solely by non-
violent means. Many people raised issues surrounding these principles 
at the launch meeting, and we have received other comments about them 
by email. Some people have questioned the content of particular 
principles, and others have questioned the necessity of having a set 
of codified network principles at all.  We think it's important that 
we address these concerns now, so that everyone feels happy with 
any "principles" to which the network may adhere.

The meeting will need to answer two questions:
i.  Do we really need a set of codified "Network Principles" which 
all groups must sign up to?
ii. If we do decide we want principles, what should they be?  Are the 
current ones OK?  Should some be removed?  Should others be added?
As the co-ordinating group we'd like to stress that we feel the most 
important thing here is to reach a consensus around which everyone 
feels comfortable participating within the JNV network.  We won't be 
able to generate a set of principles which encapsulates everyone's 
exact personal analysis of the war - it should however be possible 
for us to arrive at a working solution which doesn't make anyone feel 
unable to be part of JNV.

We're really keen that we democratically arrive at something that 
everyone can live with.  We're also really keen to avoid getting 
bogged down in a long debate about network principles, which could 
distract us from developing a real network to put such principles 
into action.  So please approach this discussion with the aim of 
finding a solution we can all work with for the time being, rather 
than turning up planning to push a specific point of view.

2. Do we want spokespersons?
During the launch meeting there were various questions about the 
possibility of JNV Spokespersons making statements on behalf of the 
network.  There were practical questions raised about how policy 
would be decided to guide such spokepersons, and also more 
fundamental objections from some about the prospect of people using 
the JNV network as a platform to speak in the name of 
activists/groups whom they didn't really represent.
We feel that these concerns are extremely important, and seemed to be 
widely shared by those present at the meeting.  We propose that the 
best way of dealing with this issue at this time is to acknowledge 
that any attempt to have JNV spokespersons would be too contentious 
and complicated to be worth the hassle, and to therefore agree that 
we won't have any.
 In the event that anyone is contacted by the media through their 
role in JNV, they should be at pains to stress that they do not 
represent the views of the network and are giving only a personal 

We realise that there are at least theoretical difficulties with this 
approach in the long term, and that people will be able to suggest 
scenarios that would make it hard to maintain, but we suggest that we 
re-visit the decision when these arrive rather than spending time on 
it now.  We're hoping that the meeting will agree that this is the 
most practical approach for the time being.

3. Network Democracy
Many people raised questions about network democracy - about how the 
network will take decisions, how it will be structured, and the 
relationship between individual groups and the network. Again we 
recognise the importance of the questions. We also recognise the 
difficulties of resolving them satisfactorily at this stage when 
relatively few groups are involved, and the dangers of allowing 
discussions about how the network will be structured to take up a lot 
of our time before a real network exists.

We therefore propose that we collectively answer questions about 
network democracy with broad statements about what kind of network we 
envisage developing, acknowledging that we'll have to re-visit these 
issues and spend more time thinking about our structures and 
democratic processes once JNV has really taken off.
We propose that for the time being we agree the following things 
about network democracy:

i. That all groups within the network are wholly autonomous.
ii. That any network events or activities are entirely "opt in" - 
groups which don't wish to be involved in them are free to choose not 
to participate.
iii. JNV Network decisions will be taken by consensus, by those 
attending network meetings.

We hope that by making such statements explicit at this stage groups 
will be given a reasonable idea of the kind of network we all want to 
create, and that we'll allay any fears anyone might have of there 
being any kind of "centralist" agenda...
> *Planning future JNV activities*
We propose to run two sessions in parallel here, so that both get the 
time they deserve and people get a choice as to which one interests 
them most.
1. Proposed Activists' Conference in September
It's been proposed that we organise a conference to coincide with the 
September Stop the War march in London.  We need to decide whether 
this idea is worth pursuing and if so plan how we're going to do it.

2. Ways to broaden and develop the JNV Network
We need to think seriously about how we transform the idea of a 
national grassroots antiwar network into a reality, and implement 
plans to achieve this goal.  What do groups want?  What's the best 
way of linking up with them?

**More detailed notes from the launch meeting**
At the end of the launch meeting the small groups fed back their many 
ideas about JNV, and these ideas were written up on flipchart.  
Here's a transcript of what was written down:

Flip chart notes from JNV Launch Meeting - 17.07.03
May yet evolve
As few as possible Needed?
Democracy in network: inclusive
CONSENSUS DECISION like Quakers Mennonites
Non Party Network
United for Peace & Justice (started like this)
Shopping list
web site events list
regional email bulletin updates
practical action ideas
speaker roster
empowerment: media & other training
free legal advice/training
arts: music/theatre
ARCHIVE of successful events
EDUCATIONAL: how to book coaches etc
Web site
Not edited for particular agenda
Must link to all relevant groups
E-zine events
mobilise support of actions outside own area
moderation without censorship
web site directory/web ring
more context/historical info
lobbying diary
list of actions with riskometer
'20 minute' activist

Blurred line between network for Movement + campaign side

> Questions:
>      Principles: ideological or ground rules for behaviour?
>      Mechanisms for enabling disagreement
>      No top-down element
>      Inc. informal centralism
> Linking Global Problems with Peace Movement
> Network within principles
>   + + + + end of Flip chart notes + + + +
>       www.justicenotvengeance.org

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