The Role of International Publicity

 

By
John Filson

July, 2006

This piece was written while the author was completing a Master of Arts degree in Peace Studies at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Introduction

The international public plays an important role in protracted conflicts. Globalization and information technology are quickly creating an ever-smaller and more integrated world community, and the international public has much greater access to the events and realities of violent settings than it used to. This is a positive development for humanitarian affairs, as publicity of violence against non-combatants can create international pressure that makes it harder for perpetrators to act with impunity. In a general sense, greater international awareness of war crimes committed in a particular conflict can be a deterrent against further violations.

The purpose of this essay is to explore this mechanism in greater detail. This is important because of the tremendous potential that ever-increasing global interconnectedness offers both the victims of violence and human rights advocates. Organizations spend enormous resources, human capital, time and effort drawing the attention of third parties to human rights violations in the hope of deterring them. If these important efforts are to be maximized and fruitful, it is exigent to understand this mechanism beyond the level of generalities.

This is not a quantitative study that juxtaposes statistical data on human rights violations with public opinion surveys in order to draw conclusions. Rather it is an analysis of the strategies of organizations that already utilize the broad mechanism of international publicity to achieve their goals. There are many international organizations that are familiar with this mechanism and have designed strategies that take advantage of its potential. The range is expansive, but the following is a small sample of such groups:

  1. Witness and accompaniment organizations such as Peace Brigades International, Witness for Peace, International Solidarity Movement, and Christian Peacemaker Teams.
  2. Large advocacy and education groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, American Friends Service Committee, and Citizens for Global Solutions.
  3. Domestic and international organizations that raise awareness about one or more aspects of violent conflict such as child soldiering, internally-displaced persons and refugees, paramilitary militias, rape and torture, food insecurity, land mines, etc.

Three of these organizations were interviewed: Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peace Brigades International, and Witness for Peace. They were asked about both the specific strategies they employ and their beliefs about why those tactics are effective. Their responses reveal various ways in which international publicity mechanism functions.

The theoretical framework for this analysis is the "theory of change" paradigm. In the broadest sense, a theory of change is the articulation of the belief an organization holds about how exactly its actions will bring about the change it seeks.[1] As explained in a following section, it is in an organization's interest to define a theory of change for its strategies, because doing so provides an opportunity to scrutinize the assumptions on which the strategies are based. Because we are interested in identifying a few specific ways in which an organization's actions harness international public attention, the theory of change model is also a useful medium for this investigation. As we will see, only one of the three groups interviewed has articulated a theory of change in a formal way, but all of the organizations rely on empirical evidence garnered from years of experience.

The essay begins by defining one theory of change model to be used in the analysis, with an explanation of its component parts. Following is a brief discussion of the reasons why the use of theory is valuable to organizations interested in social change. Data collection methods are explained before the results are reported. Responses from Christian Peacemaker Teams are presented first, followed by insights from Peace Brigade International and Witness for Peace. Finally, a few conclusions are drawn from their responses that help to bring components of the international publicity mechanism into greater focus.

It is important to note that this brief inquiry is only a beginning. While these groups were chosen because their tactics include the mobilization of international public pressure, by no means do they represent every kind of organization that does so. A much larger and more comprehensive study would be appropriate to achieve an in-depth analysis of the international publicity mechanism. The intent here is to begin such an investigation, and allow the peacebuilding and advocacy communities to benefit from the experience of few veteran organizations.

Theories of Change

Tracking the specific pathway that links the methods employed to the outcome desired can increase the effectiveness of any organizational strategy. The analysis and articulation of exactly how and why certain actions are expected to bring about desired results is called a theory of change. Carol Weiss was one of the first to define the "theory of change approach" in the context of evaluation research for community development projects in the United States.[2] While there is no singular definition, a theory of change is a set of conditions and assumptions in cause-and-effect relationships that bring about some long-term objective. The Roundtable on Community Change of the Aspen Institute has defined change theory in the following way:

At its most basic, a theory of change explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments sets the stage for producing long-range results. A more complete theory of change articulates the assumptions about the process through which change will occur, and specifies the ways in which all of the required early and intermediate outcomes related to achieving the desired long-term change will be brought about and documented as they occur.[3]

Such a theory of change can be mapped in a diagram for a better understanding of its component parts. The Roundtable's model for mapping, called a "pathway of change," outlines the following components:

  1. The outcome is the ultimate goal the organization wishes to achieve.
  2. Preconditions are the sub-objectives that must be met for the final outcome to become possible.
  3. Indicators are measurable effects that operationalize each precondition in order to monitor the progression throughout the change process.
  4. Interventions are the actions the organization must take to bring about each precondition.
  5. Assumptions are beliefs about the cause and effect relationships between interventions and preconditions.

Figure 1: Pathway of change. Preconditions are intermediate goals that must be met in order to bring about the long-term outcome. They are achieved through strategic actions by the organization, called interventions, and measured by indicators. The dotted lines represent the assumptions that link preconditions to the outcome in cause-and-effect relationships.[4]

These terms can be applied in the context of the present analysis: Organizations engage in various interventions in order to achieve preconditions such as greater international awareness of human rights abuses. Subsequent preconditions in this pathway might be "a change in international public opinion," "increased diplomatic pressure on perpetrators" or "negative international press." The ultimate outcome, of course, would be "limited or ceased human rights violations." Finally, each step in this mechanism is connected by assumptions. For example, the model assumes that greater awareness of human rights abuses will translate into greater international pressure to stop them.

The Value of Theory

The benefit of articulating a theory of change is two fold: It forces an organization to identify and question the inherent assumptions hidden beneath its strategies that come to light in the process of writing them down. It also establishes a standard model on which the organization can coordinate its various strategies.[5] A theoretical model is like a compass that the organization can use to plan actions with direction and purpose.

But each conflict is unique and complex. Like all theoretical paradigms, a theory of change is subject to questions of practical applicability. Can a few short statements linked by arrows and boxes really capture the subtle nuances of a particular conflict setting? The answer is no, but neither is this the intention of such mapping. Its utility, rather, is helping an organization better identify specific interventions needed to achieve its intermediate goals, measure its successes and failures along the way, and have more opportunity for strategic adjustment. Without such a tool, techniques and evaluations are dependent on assumptions that may prove to be inaccurate, and thus undermine the organization's effectiveness.[6] While all organizations must adapt to the unique complexities of the settings in which they work, the argument here is that articulating the logic behind the organizational strategy at the level of theory makes their efforts more effective.

Carol Weiss offers several reasons why this is true. Because of her background in program evaluation, she writes from a perspective that is concerned with whether or not a strategy really works. First, as mentioned above, articulating assumptions on paper compels the organization to question its logic and consider counterarguments. (By doing A, will that always produce B? Under what conditions? What if variable C occurs unexpectedly? Can we really count on this assumption?) Second, conducting this exercise in a group setting made of a variegated sample of stakeholders allows only the most reasonable and universally-applicable assumptions to survive. Building consensus in this way assures that all the component parts of the organization are operating on a common foundation. Third, mapping or otherwise articulating a theory of change emphasizes the preconditions that are most vital to achieving the outcome, and de-emphasizes other factors that are not directly linked. Some of the most important steps in the pathway to change are often at the intermediate level, and may be overlooked if assumptions are not scrutinized in this way. Finally, perhaps the most significant advantage of mapping a theory of change is the increase in legitimacy of the organization's strategy. When the logic behind a plan is clear, detailed, and thoughtful, it becomes more convincing to policy makers, sources of funding, and the public.[7]

Methods

The organizations interviewed were Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Peace Brigades International (PBI), and Witness for Peace (WFP). They were chosen because each organization seeks to decrease or prevent human rights abuses in settings of protracted conflicts (outcome) by increasing international publicity of the violent crimes committed there (precondition) in many different ways (interventions). They were also chosen because each of them has published statements that connect their methods to their goals (assumptions). For example, CPT believes that "Reporting to the larger world community can make a difference."[8] Likewise, PBI states, "The presence of volunteers backed by a support network helps to deter violence."[9] The mission of WFP concerning Colombia is even more specific: It believes that raising awareness in the US and lobbying the federal government can produce policy change that benefits the victims of violence and economic exploitation there.[10]

Below is a table that summarizes the methods and objectives of CPT, PBI, and WFP. It is not a complete listing of all organizational activities, rather only those that relate to the group's involvement in deep-rooted conflicts.

  Christian Peacemaker Teams Peace Brigades International Witness For Peace
Mission To establish a nonviolent approach to war modeled after Jesus Christ. To create space for conflicts to be resolved through nonviolence. Peace, justice, and sustainable economies in the Americas. Also: change U.S. policy and business practices there.
Locations of interventions Canada, Colombia, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, United States, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Balkans, Canada, El Salvador, Haiti, Sri Lanka, United States Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti
Desired outcomes in conflict settings Reduction and cessation of human rights abuses; use of nonviolent methods only; Increase the role of nonviolent actors; develop nonviolent institutions and norms. Active use of nonviolence to resolve conflicts; promote a culture of peace and justice; strengthen the capacity of nonviolent actors; deter human rights violations. A cessation of US military aid to Colombia; creation of a nonviolent peace movement; nonviolent, just, and lasting peace agreement in Colombia.
Interventions employed Send violence-reduction teams to "get in the way;" provide support to local nonviolent actors; encourage "whole church" to object to war; gather time, money, and skills from churches; monitoring; reporting; public witness; promote decentralized advocacy aimed at general public and policy makers. Nonviolent intervention and presence; protective accompaniment; peace education; independent monitoring; support local initiatives; contact all parties to conflict; be non-partisan; public relations; networking; observing; reporting; building international support networks. Support and publicize decentralized advocacy campaigns in the US targeted at foreign policy; provide information and links for activists; publish educational materials for the US public; send in fact-finding delegations; maintain a presence on site to support local peacebuilders.

Table 1: Summary of the methods and objectives of CPT, PBI, and WFP. Conflicts listed in italics represent past interventions. All information was gathered from the organizations' websites.

Interviews were conducted electronically and over the phone. Respondents were veteran staff members, managers, and other leaders closely associated with the organization's vision and strategies. They were asked the following questions:

  1. Which violence-reducing outcomes within a deep-rooted conflict does the organization seek to create?
  2. Which strategies does it employ to achieve those goals?
  3. Has the organization ever articulated a formal theory of change that links its interventions to its goals?
  4. Have the effectiveness of the strategies ever been tested or measured?
  5. According to the organization's experience, which interventions work best?

Naturally, responses to these questions took shape within the context of each organization's unique experience. They were also influenced by the perspective of each individual respondent. For this reason the strategies and beliefs they describe cannot be applied universally to every case in which international publicity is utilized, but they are nonetheless valuable for the particular evidence they offer.

Results

Christian Peacemaker Teams

According to its mission, CPT seeks and supports nonviolent alternatives to conflict. Known for "getting in the way," "CPTers" stand with the victims of war and repression. They believe the presence of outsiders (intervention) deters imminent violence (outcome) by making it harder for perpetrators to act with impunity (precondition). Active in protests and nonviolent direct action in conflict settings, CPTers also publicize human rights violations through activism and organizing in the West. The heart of CPT's motivation stems from deep commitment to living out the message of Jesus Christ. As CPTers affirm, "We believe we must take our Christian faith from the pews to the public space."[11]

CPT as an organization has never formally articulated a theory of change at the level of detail seen in the Roundtable's pathway of change model.[12] Rather, the logic behind its strategies for intervention is based on empirical evidence gathered in the field since its founding in 1984. Respondents conceptualized the effectiveness of CPT's strategies in terms of specific experiences in which the following dynamic was at play: CPT staff and local partners took an action, and then at some point in the future a positive change occurred. While the extent to which the intervention directly created the outcome is almost always impossible to test or measure, CPT believes it is likely that the outcomes would not have occurred otherwise. Respondents provided the following examples when CPT's actions and objectives seemed to be linked:

  • In Gaza, in the early 1990's Israel launched raids on homes of suspected terrorists, arresting and sometimes killing suspects as well as family members. The home of a Palestinian family of 16 had been raided once before in which several family members were arrested. They feared another raid was imminent and asked CPTer Cliff Kindy to spend the night with them, which he did. That night Israeli soldiers returned to find a foreigner among those present, and did not kill or detain anyone. Aware of many such visits in the neighborhood recently in which shootings occurred, the mother of the family believed it was a miracle that nothing happened.[13]
  • In Puerto Rico, the US Navy was testing weapons systems off the coast of a fishing village, drawing protests from the community. A naval officer was quoted as saying the navy would never leave that location because it was ideal for their needs. Community activists said the testing was destroying fish populations and causing birth defects among the people. CPT was invited to join the demonstrations, and launched a nonviolent direct action campaign. Three years later the base was demobilized.[14]
  • In Baghdad in December 2003 members of CPT published a detainee report that they submitted to Paul Bremmer and many US congresspersons. It contained the testimonies of 71 detainees held without trial by multinational forces, claiming human rights abuses had occurred in captivity. CPTers cite this report as a contribution to a growing international movement against torture and extra-legal detentions associated with the U.S.-Iraq war.[15]
  • In Hebron, CPT maintained a presence during a time when more than 700 Palestinian homes were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. After months without a visible impact on the policy, some members began a fast which they advertised abroad through e-mail networks. Soon they received confirmation that approximately 2,000 people worldwide were also fasting as a protest against the policy of home demolition that was perceived to be unjust. Soon the demolitions stopped, and a year passed before another home in Hebron was touched.[16]

CPT attributes much of its success to something called "the grandma effect."[17] Historically, many CPTers committed to nonviolent interventions in conflict settings have been older professionals. Cliff Kindy says it becomes harder to commit human rights abuses "when somebody's grandma is watching." While the third party doesn't always have to be older women, this simple mechanism asserts that the presence of outsiders deters violence in the moment in which it is about to occur. When someone who is clearly foreign (often from the West) shows that he or she is watching, it becomes harder for a perpetrator to predict the consequences that will follow if he pulls the trigger -- so he doesn't. This assumption has been tested empirically throughout CPT's experience, and they believe it is an effective intervention.[18] While such a presence carries the threat of international publicity and pressure, the grandma effect does not actually include these preconditions. Rather, the degree to which violence is averted on the ground hinges only on that moment of doubt in the perpetrator's mind.

Creating the grandma effect through accompaniment is one of the three interventions Kindy cites as the most effective strategies CPT employs. The other two are nonviolent direct action and nonviolent training. First, he says the act of taking the initiative through nonviolent direct action instead of reacting defensively to violence helps both local actors and CPTers fight off the feeling of helplessness. This is the most effective way to sustain morale in the face of crushing repression. Second, he says the value of nonviolent training is the opportunity to open people's minds to new ideas. He suggests that presenting nonviolent alternatives to policymakers and potential perpetrators is an important method to achieve the prevention of human rights abuses.[19] But nonviolence training as an intervention does not necessarily include the precondition of greater international publicity or pressure. While it may be an effective strategy for the reduction of violence, it does not fall within our current focus on the broad international publicity mechanism.

Peace Brigades International

PBI also seeks to deter human rights violations through the intervention of protective accompaniment. Operating at the request of local actors, its goal is to "open a space for peace in which conflicts can be dealt with non-violently."[20] It creates this space by maintaining a presence on the ground, sometimes twenty-four hours a day. PBI seeks to work with all parties in a conflict, supporting the work of nonviolent actors and institutions. In cases where physical accompaniment is not possible or desirable, PBI monitors violent conflicts globally through the use of media and other publications. It seeks to build and strengthen an international support network to expose abuses of human rights as an indispensable precondition for a reduction in violence.[21]

Liam Mahony is a veteran PBI member and co-author of Unarmed Bodyguards: International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights (1997). He says that the specific outcomes that PBI seeks within deep-rooted conflicts, while always related to a decrease in violence, are defined exclusively by the local actors involved.[22] For example, during PBI's early operations in Guatemala, the goal of local communities was simply to stay alive. In Haiti, local groups requested support so they could establish a corps of nonviolent conflict resolution trainers. In Colombia, a group of human rights lawyers has worked with PBI for many years in order to pursue their cause through the legal system.[23] As PBI accompaniment volunteers return to their home countries to share what they have learned, they become the connection between local activists threatened by violence and the larger international community. For this reason, increasing international publicity of potential violations in the form of education and advocacy campaigns is a natural extension of PBI's work.

But PBI's primary intervention strategy is physical accompaniment.[24] After local nonviolent activists solicit the protection of PBI accompaniers, the first step is to identify the political structures through which sponsors of human rights abuses are able to operate with relative impunity. For example, traditional diplomatic pressure on a government or military force that is responsible for crimes against humanity is focused on the leaders, politicians, and commanders. But it is easy for the people at the top of the chain of command to disavow the violations by claiming they cannot control every individual soldier or militiaman. Likewise, it is easy for lower-level sergeants, bosses, and fighters to refuse the blame for the atrocities they commit by saying they are just following orders. PBI's accompaniment interventions targets top, middle, and lower levels in the chain of command in order to neutralize impunity.[25]

Mahony articulates the theoretical framework for the assumptions behind PBI accompaniment interventions in his writings.[26] Its multi-tiered theory of change includes the equivalent of the grandma effect (in which the perpetrators of crimes are forced to hesitate in the moment of the act itself due to the threat of publicity), but it also directly utilizes international publicity as a deterrent aimed at political and military leaders. As Mahony explains:

International accompaniment can succeed in deterring attacks because the decision makers behind these attacks seldom want a bad international image. They don't want the world to know about what they are doing. They don't want diplomats making them uncomfortable mentioning human rights problems in their meetings. They don't want to read in the international press that they are being called monsters or criminals. They will avoid all that if they can.[27]

In Unarmed Bodyguards, Mahony and co-author Enrique Eguren provide a good example of this mechanism drawn from PBI's experience. In the 1980's a Sri Lankan monk named Samitha received death threats for opposing violent tactics associated with the government of president Premadasa. Rather than remain in exile, Samitha decided to return to his work in Sri Lanka, accompanied by PBI. A government official named Bradman Weerakoon-at the time in charge of nurturing the regime's international image-said in a later interview that the increased international attention on Samitha's work ultimately led the government to take action to stop the threats. Weerakoon said, "PBI really protected Samitha, saved his life."[28]

Thus, PBI's theory of change proceeds in this way: Accompaniment on a moment-to-moment basis deters individual perpetrators because they become uncertain that they can act with impunity. => At the same time, PBI works with in-country and international partners to transmit the experience of accompaniment workers to a broader audience through newsletters, reports, meetings, and print and broadcast media. => Those reports are read by politicians, journalists, investors, and others. => A negative image (or the threat of a negative image) is created of top-level perpetrators. => Perpetrators at all levels in the system are discouraged from committing abuses. => Fewer violations occur.

Below is a simplified version of PBI's theory of change formatted to fit the Roundtable model.

Figure 2: A simplified theory of change behind PBI strategies. PBI's main categories of interventions are illustrated in blue. Some general preconditions are shown in gold, leading to the ultimate outcome of decreased political violence (green). Possible indicators of the preconditions appear in gray. Most importantly, large dotted arrows represent the assumptions that glue the model's logic together. For example, this model assumes that political and military leaders will respond to negative international publicity by acting less violently. (The shape and format of this figure is taken from the Roundtable's pathway of change model.)

Witness For Peace

Witness for Peace is an advocacy organization that seeks nonviolent outcomes not only within deep-rooted conflicts but also within cases of systemic economic injustices. The organization began in Nicaragua in 1983 in response to human rights abuses associated with U.S. policies there, a setting that incorporated components of both violent conflict and economic injustice. In contrast to CPT's strategy of "getting in the way" and PBI's protective accompaniment, WFP's intervention strategies are primarily focused on education and advocacy in the United States. The ultimate outcome it seeks concerning the war in Colombia is the creation of just and lasting peace and a sustainable economy through nonviolent means. The primary precondition it has identified for achieving this outcome is policy change in both the U.S. government and the multinational private sector.[29]

Awareness-building methods employed by WFP include sending delegations of concerned U.S. citizens on fact-finding missions in Colombia, organizing prayer vigils, nonviolent protests, demonstrations, teach-ins, publicity tours, and lobbying U.S. policymakers.[30] While WFP enjoys two decades of experience executing these interventions, it has not formally mapped a theory of change that identifies the preconditions and assumptions associated with them. Nevertheless, WFP stands firmly behind its strategies. It believes educating citizens and future activists one at a time will generate publicity exponentially in the long term. Their motto, "transforming people, transforming policy," reveals the logical assumption that the precondition of increased publicity of human rights abuses in Colombia will ultimately translate into the secondary preconditions of policy change in the U.S. and international pressure on Colombian perpetrators.

For this reason WFP considers its fact-finding delegations to be one of the most important intervention strategies it employs.[31] When bright, energetic, and socially-minded women and men have the opportunity to witness the violent repression Colombians endure, there is a transformative effect that influences their future actions and identities. Returned volunteers become the "nucleus" of a growing grass-roots network in the United States that multiplies the scale of awareness-building and organizes campaigns to lobby the federal government. WFP feels encouraged by this "transformation" of public awareness at the grass-roots level, but its degree of success in altering U.S. policy is more nebulous.[32] In 2006 WFP launched a new intervention: a national advocacy campaign as part of its continuing awareness-building efforts, called Stop the Cycles of Military and Economic Violence: Peace is Possible in Colombia! It issues a clear demand to the U.S. government and the multinational business community that support repressive policies there: "Witness for Peace calls for an end to the brutalities of all kinds of violence toward the civilian populations of the Americas, specifically the cycles of violence found in Colombia."[33]

Conclusions

So how exactly does international publicity help deter human rights abuses? Each organization helps bring the international publicity mechanism into focus through examples from their own unique experience. Witness for Peace believes that giving foreign individuals the opportunity to see a violent conflict up close transforms their experience base and therefore their perspective. An important precondition materializes as WFP delegates in Colombia return to the United States, having journeyed beyond the limits of their previous point of view and become active in grass-roots organizing and awareness-building. In this way a network of conscientious citizens grows in size and political weight, applying pressure on lawmakers and business leaders. It is assumed that this ultimately translates into the larger precondition of policy change in Colombia, and that such policy change will improve the plight of victims suffering violent repression and economic injustice.

As an extension of their immediate intervention of accompaniment, Peace Brigades International works with an important network of organizations both on-site and abroad to publish reports of human rights abuses based on their day-to-day experience with threatened activists. These reports are read by the international community that includes journalists, diplomats, politicians, investors, etc. PBI's publicity-oriented interventions help establish the precondition of a negative international image of top-level government and military leaders reflected in the media. It is assumed these leaders then become more reluctant to commit human rights abuses because of the public pressure.

Christian Peacemaker Teams intervenes in settings of violence against civilians by sending committed activists to "get in the way." While the grandma effect does not require active external pressure from diplomats, business partners or the international press in order to deter human rights abuses, the threat of these things is the source of its effectiveness. If CPTers and other "grandmas" were not connected to resources of international publicity and pressure, their presence would be meaningless. For this reason, the grandma effect is a very specific and important component of the broad international publicity mechanism we are exploring. With or without a physical presence on the ground, CPTers also intervene by publicizing human rights abuses through religious networks in the West. Their experience has yielded numerous examples of changes that occurred as a direct or indirect result of their actions utilizing international publicity.

In the process of analyzing the international publicity mechanism and uncovering these examples of the various ways it can function, an interesting discovery has emerged: These pathways that broadly utilize international publicity to deter violence remain largely uncharted by rigorous study. The stories offered by CPT respondents, for example, suggest that the organization's interventions may have played some role in the outcomes observed, but the cause and effect relationship is largely speculative. It's possible that 2,000 international protestors engaging in a hunger strike to stop civilian house demolitions in Hebron had some impact through negative publicity of Israeli policies. It's also possible that reports of torture in multinational prisons like the one CPT compiled in 2003 have fueled opposition to U.S. policies in Iraq. But the direct links between these interventions and the ultimate outcomes remain unidentified and untested. Allan Slater, a CPTer in Iraq, shared his thoughts as he reflected on his efforts to tell the story of those who suffer to audiences in the West. He said, "I have no idea if this works. I only know that I feel good about trying."[34]

Likewise in PBI's experience, Liam Mahony points out that it is impossible to measure the deterrent effects of accompaniment and other interventions quantitatively.[35] For example, in the case of physical accompaniment where the grandma effect plays a role, there is no systematic way to operationalize the degree to which a potential perpetrator feels an attack is too risky. In the case of PBI's efforts to publicize human rights violations, measuring something as nebulous as international awareness and pressure are perhaps even more difficult to quantify. Instead PBI and the other organizations interviewed here have relied heavily on qualitative indicators, such as the interview with Bradman Weerakoon recounted above. Likewise, qualitative evidence is found in the words of Luis Perez Casas, a human rights lawyer in Colombia: "I can say with certainty that the fact that we are alive today is mainly because of Peace Brigades' work."[36]

This result (that the various strategies in which international publicity and pressure are harnessed in defense of human rights are based more on empiricism and experience than scientific study) represents an important challenge to the advocacy and peacebuilding communities. While the three organizations interviewed here are just a few of the countless groups that utilize the broad international publicity mechanism in some way, their experience offers several concrete illustrations of ways in which international publicity and pressure (or the threat of it) can indeed deter human rights violations. It demonstrates the value of international publicity for the victims of violence, and that potential can only grow stronger as developments in global communications technology continue to accelerate. For this reason scholars and practitioners should continue looking for strategic ways to understand, refine, and utilize this important mechanism. Carol Weiss and other supporters of the theory of change model would recommend that organizations start by taking time to write down the premises that underlie the logic of their strategies. Doing so would not only allow them to test their assumptions against their own experience, but would also identify important areas of focus for formal study. In the meantime, insights provided by veteran organizations such as CPT, PBI, and WFP show us how international publicity is already an integral part of the struggle for peace.


[1] Weiss, Carol. Evaluation Research: Methods of Assessing Program Effectiveness. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1972. 43-53.

[2] Weiss (1972).

[3] Anderson, A. The Community Builder's Approach to Theory of Change: A Practical Guide to Theory Development. Aspen Institute. 1. Available at <http://www.aspeninstitute.org>.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Weiss (1972), 52.

[6] Weiss, Carol. "Nothing as Practical as Good Theory: Exploring Theory-Based Evaluation for Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families." In Connell, J.P., et al., eds. New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute, 1995. pp. 69-72.

[7] Weiss (1995), 69-72. For a discussion on program effectiveness in the context of peacebuilding, see also: Lederach, John Paul. Building Peace. U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1997. pp. 129-148. Like Weiss, Lederach also urges strategists to identify and question the assumptions behind their work. To the theory of change framework he adds several indicators intended to measure a program's success: How well do the interventions achieve vertical and horizontal integration? How well do they respond to immediate needs? How well do they meet long term objectives?

[8] See the CPT website at <http://www.cpt.org>.

[9] See <http://www.peacebrigades.org>.

[10] See <http://www.witnessforpeace.org>.

[11] Information collected from CPT website at <http://www.cpt.org>.

[12] Doug Pritchard, Co-Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

[13] Cliff Kindy, 17-year member of CPT's steering committee.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Anita David, member of CPT in Iraq.

[16] Kindy.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Information collected from PBI website at <http://www.peacebrigades.org>.

[21] See <http://www.peacebrigades.org>.

[22] Mahony, Liam and L. Enrique Eguren. Unarmed Bodyguards: International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 1997.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Mahony, Liam. Side by Side: Protecting and Encouraging Threatened Activists with Unarmed International Accompaniment. Minneapolis, MN: The Center for Victims of Torture, 2004. Available at <http://www.newtactics.org>.

[25] Ibid., 8.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid., 7.

[28] Mahony (1997), 193, 195.

[29] Information collected from WFP website at <http://www.witnessforpeace.org>.

[30] Erik Cooke, program associate for WFP in Washington, DC.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] See: <http://www.witnessforpeace.org/colombia/cycles-econ-mil-violence.html>.

[34] Allan Slater, member of CPT in Iraq.

[35] Mahony (1997).

[36] Casas, Luis Perez. Quoted in Mahony (2004), 6.