Monitoring and accompaniment
Monitoring and accompaniment:
A brief view

There are many different forms of monitoring and this photo selection represents a few different models and also accompaniment. Both are generally ‘third party’ interventions in situations of possible violence, civil disturbance or human rights abuse though sometimes monitors can be affiliated to, or associated with, a particular side in a conflict.

Accompaniment differs from more general monitoring in that the brief is to ‘accompany’ an individual, group or organisation at risk. Monitoring is generally observing of a more generic situation although some monitoring can be specific, e.g. monitoring of police and state agent responses, or election monitoring (which is a whole field to itself, in order to judge the fairness of an election process). In practice there can be much crossover between the roles of monitoring and accompaniment. The terms ‘monitoring’ and ‘observing’ are usually interchangeable but can be defined as different in particular situations.

The extent to which monitors are prepared to intervene in any way varies but most are there to ‘tell it as it happened’ with the additional expectation that outsiders being present may help everyone to be on their best behaviour. Of course that does not always work or may only partially work (e.g. Syria 2012). But there are many different models and ways of doing it. Stewarding – now commonplace and indeed expected of parades in Northern Ireland – is different in that it is undertaken by the organisation(s) involved and has the express intention of keeping those involved orderly and avoiding trouble.

Where monitoring ends and fact-finding begins, as in a ‘fact-finding mission’ to so-and-so, is a good question. Fact finding is usually a short visit while monitoring is an ongoing operation, although in relation to something like election monitoring the distinction can be slight. Monitoring is also usually undertaken by a body or organisation but travel by individuals or small groups can have similarities and could even be labelled as informal monitoring; the photos included in this set from Peter Emerson travelling alone through Croatia, the ‘krajina’, Bosnia and Serbia in 1992-1993 were too interesting to omit. Here too, of course, if such solo efforts are replicated in sufficient numbers, they can have a positive influence. But there can be a different set of opportunities and dangers if someone is unattached to an organisation.

In South Africa in the period coming up to the first democratic elections in 1994 there were both official internal ‘peace process’ (National Peace Accord) and international civil society monitors, the idea being to both help create a peaceful atmosphere, get issues dealt with, and pass what was happening on the ground upwards so a full picture was achieved. As well as one photo of National Peace Accord monitors there are some photos from the work of EMPSA, the Ecumenical Monitoring Program in South Africa, an international church monitoring project which was working for a couple of years before the 1994 elections (1992-94). With the Inkatha Freedom Party coming into the elections less than a week before they took place, the elections passed relatively peacefully. Monitoring in this period included both ‘violence and peace’ monitoring and ‘election monitoring’ (seeing whether elections are conducted fairly) which is a whole specialist division within monitoring. See www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/inventory.php?iid=8120

INNATE (an Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education – whose photo website this is) was involved from 1990 onwards in promoting and using monitoring in relation to parade and public order issues in Northern Ireland. The photos shown are from the Drumcree (church parade) situation in Portadown which became the big issue in Northern Ireland in 1995. INNATE’s experience showed that if people are unwilling to deal with such issues when they are relatively small and local – if very thorny – it is difficult or impossible to deal with them when they blow up. INNATE‘s model of monitoring was to try to feed back reflections to the different parties involved privately. INNATE produced a short report on monitoring (available on request) and organised a conference on monitoring in the Northern Ireland context in 1994. The INNATE website is at www.innatenonviolence.org INNATE would still provide exploration if, and training in, monitoring.

A report by John Watson on observing early in the Troubles in Northern Ireland (c.1969) and then with INNATE around 1990 is available on page 7 of Dawn Train 10, see www.innatenonviolence.org/dawntrain/dawntrain10.PDF

Mediation Northern Ireland (MNI) became very involved with parading issues from the mid-1990s, and also with the Short Strand-Newtownards Road interface in east Belfast in the period 2002-4. It did have an interventionist approach in terms of talking to people on all sides, and seeking to prevent trouble and move issues on, but this was done by senior figures present or in contact; individual monitors fed in what was happening on the ground. The photos are mainly from MNI’s monitoring in east Belfast. MNI has also been involved in projects, with others, to train mediators for interface areas (local people across Catholic/Protestant divides in Northern Ireland); to a considerable extent local people have taken up the role of monitoring previously undertaken by outsiders and although the fire has largely gone out of parades disputes, they still remain a bone of contention in some cases. Mediation Northern Ireland’s website as at www.mediationnorthernireland.org/cms/

CAJ, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, www.caj.org.uk/ became very engaged in monitoring the policing of public order situations, primarily parades but other situations of potential disturbance as well, in Northern Ireland in the mid-1990s. It issued detailed reports and analysis of policing taken in the context of what was happening on the ground. It can be argued that this detailed analysis contributed significantly to ongoing reforms in policing practice. See e.g. reports fro 1996 and 1997 respectively www.caj.org.uk/files/2013/02/26/No._32_The_Misrule_of_Law... and www.caj.org.uk/files/2013/02/26/No._36_Policing_the_Polic...


In 2011 (from May to November) Amnesty International in Ireland (the Republic) www.amnesty.ie/ and Frontline Defenders, www.frontlinedefenders.org/ an international human rights organisation, ran a monitoring programme in Co Mayo concerning the Corrib Gas situation which had been rumbling on since 2004-5 with considerable disquiet and allegations of human rights abuses. With intermittent direct action by protesters, and a very heavy security presence, there was a recipe for potential disaster so an impartial monitoring presence had the potential to help everyone to be on their best behaviour as well as being well placed to see what happened.

EAPPI, the Ecumenical Monitoring Programme in Israel and Palestine, is an accompaniment project although monitoring is included as well. The ‘accompaniment’ aspect is to assist the peaceful security of those being accompanied through the presence of outsiders, i.e. that the human rights of those accompanied are more likely to be respected if there are people present from outside the situation whose judgement and account, if something should happen, is likely to receive more consideration than that of an insider. For EAPPI see www.eappi.org/

As well as EAPPI, above, those projects involved internationally in accompaniment include Peace Brigades International (PBI) www.peacebrigades.org/ and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) www.cpt.org/


- This photo set is intended as a brief guide to monitoring and accompaniment and the coverage given above relates largely to the monitoring and accompaniment experiences for which we have photos. It does not purport to be comprehensive. As always, comments or further photos are welcome. INNATE is involved in monitor training and education and is also happy to assist if it can, direct you to the appropriate people, or help with materials. Contact innate@ntlworld.com

Further reading includes, internationally, the OSCE/ODIHR “Handbook on Monitoring Peaceful Freedom of Assembly”, written by Neil Jarman of the Institute for Conflict Research in Belfast; it is available at www.osce.org/odihr/82979?download=true
Regarding Northern Ireland, Dominic Bryan and Neil Jarman’s report for Democratic Dialogue (Report No.12), 1999, “Independent Intervention – Monitoring the police, parades and public order”, is available at cain.ulst.ac.uk/dd/report12/report12.htm - click on individual sections lower down rather than the Democratic Dialogue link as this organisation, and its website, no longer exists (and not to be confused with the ongoing Canadian organisation of the same name).

For a comparison of monitoring, stewarding and mediation - from the Northern Ireland context - see www.flickr.com/photos/30253151@N07/20334307318/ and the entry beside it.
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