"It is a sad fact of life here that the willingness to attack a Colombian human rights defender or the civilian population only diminishes when there is international support for their work." - Kelli Corrigan, Former Volunteer for Colombia
The volunteers of Peace Brigades International (PBI) come from many different countries and backgrounds.
What these volunteers share is a strong commitment to nonviolence and a belief in the contribution that ordinary people can make to creating a more peaceful and just world.
Recent volunteers have come from: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA.
What does a PBI team do?
When there is a conflict within a state or between communities or nations, certain actions are possible and appropriate for outsiders - others are not. PBI is not a development organization. We believe that communities need space to carry out their own development in ways that create self reliance rather than dependency.
A PBI team seeks to encourage, by means of an international, nonviolent, non-partisan presence, a peaceful resolution of conflicts in the local area. To do this, PBI teams:
- Offer protective accompaniment, support, security analysis and training (upon request) to human rights defenders, groups or individuals threatened with violence;
- Develop a thorough analysis of the political situation by listening to the widest possible range of viewpoints and experiences while respecting needs for confidentiality;
- Report to the outside world a non-partisan analysis of the situation as seen on the ground in the area;
- Encourage actions to reduce the level of violence;
- Meet regularly with local and national civil and military authorities and Embassies to raise concerns regarding human rights abuses as they affect the organizations we accompany.
- Provide multi-level diplomacy around the world including the UN, EU Parliament, and US Government to actively promote improvement in human rights conditions and deter violence against human rights defenders.
What does PBI offer volunteers?
- A profound experience of working with an international peace and human rights organization committed to transforming ideals into practical action
- Specialist training based on nearly 30 years of experience working in the field
- The experience of living and working in a close-knit team of volunteers from many different countries and backgrounds
- A unique first-hand insight into the intense pressures faced by human rights defenders and their resilience and courage
What do we look for in volunteers?
The following qualities, experience and skills are examples of the criteria used for screening potential volunteers. Some are essential and others desirable - check with the project you are applying to for their list of criteria:
- Nonviolence - a clear understanding of and commitment to nonviolence. Experience working with nonviolence in your own community is a prerequisite for applying nonviolence to other parts of the world.
- Foreign language skills - fluent Spanish is essential for working in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia. The language of the Kenya Team is currently English.
- Discretion and Diplomacy
- Maturity – the recommended minimum age for volunteers is around 25 years of age.
- Resilience - the ability to work effectively under pressure and stress.
- Knowledge and understanding of the history, politics and culture of the country where you are working.
- Cross-cultural skills and sensitivity - the ability to work with people of different cultures, demonstrated through previous intercultural experience.
- Flexibility - the ability to change tactics, work and opinions.
- Experience of working in groups - familiarity with consensus decision-making and the ability to work easily and cooperatively as part of a team.
- Previous experience of work with NGOs in the fields of peace, human rights or social justice.
- Practical skills - computers, bookkeeping, writing, library skills, group skills, familiarity with rural communities, photography, cooking, musical abilities, and many others have been useful on PBI teams.
PBI volunteers share a house which serves as living quarters as well as an office. Usually it is a very international house.
Find out more
For more information:
about what coming back may be like, see how to prepare for culture shock.
For questions, to apply, or for more information, please contact Amelia Parker, Executive Director.
Phone: (202) 232-0142 Fax: (202) 232-0143 Email: amelia(at) pbiusa.org
Are you a Quaker or an Attender of a Friends Meeting or Friends Church?
The Friends Peace Teams Project can provide you with support (logistical, training, and financial) for your service with Peace Brigades International. For more information, contact the Friends Peace Teams Project at: