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TFF's global constituency and

presence on Internet

Reflections on the Support Campaign in the year 2000



By Jan Oberg, TFF director


The Ministry made a decision...

The campaign starts

The TFF Support Appeal

The ministry gives 4 reasons why TFF were crossed out

TFF's presence on Internet

The Ministry's decision helped us gain many new supporters

In which countries does TFF have a constituency?

Some observations

What kinds of people support TFF?

TFF's three main constituencies

Which organizations do TFF supporters work with?


This analysis was copied and sent on September 14 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Anna Lindh and to the Ministry's preparatory committee which recommends which organisations to give organisztional support.

See also the Swedish analysis of the Ministry's decision and the selection of what people write to us from around the world



The Ministry made a decision...

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm decided to cancel the organizational support for TFF for the year 2000. The foundation had benefitted from this annual grant, amounting to the equivalent of US$ 30.000, since 1991. It covered the basic operations costs of the foundation on which its projects, field activities and outreach programs had been consolidated. The only other Swedish organisation also crossed out was Women for Peace.

We want you to know the results of one of the steps we took to survive this blow to our work. A series of measures have been taken to secure the long-term survival of TFF, among them a website-campaign in support of the foundation.

What follows below is by no means scientific; that's not why we launched the campaign in the first place. It's simply based on what we happened to learn, and we think it gives us - and you - some important clues as to where we stand, who we serve and what we should do in the future. For one thing is clear: we are not going to close shop. We aim to use this opportunity to do new things in new ways.


The campaign starts

A couple of TFF PressInfos offered the necessary background information, and visitors and recipients of the PressInfos (close to 8000 directly and 30-50% more indirectly) were asked to write personal letters to the Minister, relevant decision-makers and Swedish parliamentarians. In Sweden, a couple of debate articles and editorials spread the message about the foundation's situation.

This first phase yielded 161 personally formulated letters, some very movingly expressing their solidarity with TFF and its peace mission.

In mid-August the second phase was launched. People were encouraged to sign a TFF Support Appeal. This is the text of this Appeal:


TFF Support Appeal

PressInfo # 98

August 14, 2000

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs withdrew organizational support for TFF for the year 2000, without prior consultation, motivation or documentation but with immediate effect. (Background)

We will apply again for the year 2001 and beyond. Swedish NGOs must apply to the Ministry for annual organizational grants by September 15. The Ministry usually decides who to support in November or early December.

Therefore, please sign this NOW so we can include YOUR signature together with all the support letters we already have received with our application. That is likely to exert maximum pressure on the Ministry.


Restore Support to TFF

"I am familiar with one or more aspects of TFF's work, either its PressInfos, its website, TFF WIRE, its member's training and lecturing efforts or its work on the ground in ex-Yugoslavia, in the Caucasus or in Burundi.

Preventive diplomacy, conflict-resolution, peacebuilding and reconciliation which are central in the foundation's program have moved to the top of humankind's agenda. Research, education and debate is vital for learning to handle conflicts well.

It is my impression that TFF is an organization seriously devoted to make its contribution toward solving some of these problems.

I believe it is important that truly independent organizations and experts exist; to do good work they must be secured some continuity. TFF has existed since 1985 and I have not observed that is has lost momentum or quality.

The Swedish government's organizational support to some 15 non-governmental organizations is unique; many would like to see other democratic countries set up similar support programs provided, of course, that no strings are attached.

In this perspective I think it was unfortunate that the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs this year withdrew its support for TFF which has received it since 1991.

I understand that such support which covers rent, paper, electricity, communication, copying, office equipment etc. is the nucleus which enable the foundation to invest all its energies in projects and field activities.

TFF PressInfos have mentioned that the annual organizational grant amounts to a bit more than US$ 30.000. In the larger scheme of things this is a small sum. It is difficult to understand that the Swedish government could not find such a sum for someone like TFF.

TFF also states that it is operating as a networking organization with no permanent salaried staff. Such idealism is rare today. It is worth supporting also because it means that the funds benefit concrete activities, not careers or bureaucracy.

I sign this appeal with the understanding that I don't have to agree with everything TFF does, publishes or stands for. I support it merely because TFF, as I know it, is needed as one among many independent voices. It merits continued support.

I therefore strongly urge the Swedish government to restore the annual organizational grant to TFF from the year 2001, at least at the level it was."

 Please sign the appeal here.


Between August 14 and September 12, we received 975 signatures, about a quarter of them with personal comments in addition to the text they endorsed.

Thus, in about one month we received 1136 supportive messages. We don't know how many wrote to the Minister, staff of the Ministry and to Swedish parliamentarians without also sending a copy to TFF. All we know is that the Ministry received enough mail to formulate a standard letter that was returned to "TFF Supporters" in Swedish and English (a few forwarded to us from our supporters). The signature campaign continues for as long as signatures come in.


The ministry gives 4 reasons why TFF were crossed out

In its original message the Ministry provided no explanation for the decision. We were simply told that we had lost it for this year. Upon request, Mr. Anders Bjurner has informed us that four criteria were applied to decide which Swedish NGOs to support. They were:

a) consideration of the fact that the budget for NGO support to Swedish organizations was particularly tight this year and priorities had to be made;

b) recipients of the support grant should have a clear popular movement character;

c) they should benefit youth in particular, and

d) the organisations should have shown an ability to work with new forms of activity and technology and thus reach many with their message.

This is not the place to judge the application of these criteria. Another analysis is available (however, in Swedish) concerning that. But it is clear that a majority of those who comment from around the world can not understand that the government of Sweden, one of the richest countries on Earth, could not find a sum of this size for activities such as that of TFF. Furthermore, we have benefitted youth, not the least through teaching and training at university centres in Europe and NGOs in general and through our seminars on reconciliation and conflict understanding throughout ex-Yugoslavia. TFF is indeed not a movement, it's a not-for-profit foundation; but the directive of the government relevant for these grants clearly mention also associations and foundations (and we have received support over 9 years). Among those who have received the organizational grant are other organizations, the activities of which can hardly be categorized as movements.

Be this as it may, the Ministry's main concern seems to be outreach and impact on public opinion, the organization's ability to disseminate its message to a wider audience. While the grant-receiving organizations are all doing fine work, TFF's activities can not possibly be judged to be so incompetent, narrow, technologically conventional or passive that it could, in comparison with these other Swedish organizations, lead to the cancellation of the grant in our case.

One modern way of reaching a large audience is to use e-mail and have a website. So, we took the opportunity and compared our own presence on Internet with those of the others. Some of the Swedish organisations that we asked to tell us about number of visitors, site data or references did not respond, so the following reflects what is available for any outsider by visiting their sites and using a search engine (We use Google, other engines may yield other results but hardly a different overall trend).



TFF's presence on Internet

It turns out that TFF has a more comprehensive, user-oriented website than any of the Swedish NGOs which did receive the grant this year. It's predominantly a resource site where most of the other are presentational. We are also the only organization with something like the worldwide e-mailed PressInfo.

Over the last 600 days, TFF's website has attracted an average of 268 visitors per day while the average on Sweden's largest and oldest peace movement, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society's site is around 25. In comparison, SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - the flagship in government-funded peace research - has informed us that it has between 600 and 900 visitors a day. We are not ashamed to attract between 45% and 30% of the number of visitors that SIPRI does.

When it comes to references on Internet, about 1890 will come up when searching (within quotation marks) "Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research" on the Google search engine. Number 2, the Life and Peace Institute in Uppsala, yields 688. In comparison, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm yields 5.580 references and SIPRI 10.300.

Another relevant measure is to ask: how many other sites have links to us? By searching on (link:the organisation's URL) it turns out that TFF's site are found on 435 other sites compared to the Olof Palme International Centre on 158 and the Peace and Arbitration Society on 194 elsewhere on Internet. In comparison, SIPRI was linked from 1570 sites, the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala university from 124 sites and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself at - only - 241 sites. To put it crudely, more organizations around the world find it useful to have links to TFF than to leading university institutes or to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs itself.

These facts do not exactly confirm the Ministry's explanation for dropping TFF as worthy of governmental support.


The Ministry's decision helped us gain many new supporters

During the last 600 days we have had some 160.000 visitors at our site (we subscribe to's services). As stated above, TFF PressInfo reach about 8.000 recipients worldwide directly. The TFF Support Appeal has revealed a few things about our global constituencies that we might not have learnt had the Ministry not given us this opportunity by its decision.

TFF's de facto outreach is obviously larger than the above figures indicate. Why? Because around one-third of all the support letters and emails we received came from e-mail addresses we did not have. Thus, while some may have responded from other e-addresses than we reach them on (at home instead of at the office, for example) it is quite clear that:

a) many of our PressInfo recipients forward them to listserves, news groups, student groups, other individuals and NGO networks;

b) several also told us that they had placed our Appeal on their site (e.g. OneWorld) or newsletter;

c) many of the visitors to our site may have signed the Appeal right away without being prior recipients of PressInfos;

d) our associates, friends and students have collected signatures for us.

We do not know who all the people are who, one way or another, are in contact with TFF or know about our activity. But we have analysed the profile of the self-selected group which chose to respond with their good words. Here follow some of the things we have found out:


In which countries does TFF have a constituency?

The support messages and signatures came from 62 countries. (11% have given no indication of country). It hardly comes as a surprise that, among those we could identify, the largest TFF constituency is found in Sweden (26%). Next, in the United States (16%), in Denmark (8%), in Canada (7,4%), in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) including Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo/a (5.4%). For the United Kingdom the figure is 4,2%, Germany 3,7 and Italy 3,5%.

Categorized differently, 55% are from the European Union, EU; 39% from the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland); 23% from the US and Canada; 9% from former Yugoslavia and 6% from the developing countries or Global South and, finally, 2% from Russia and other Eastern European countries outside the region of former and present Yugoslavia. (Adding upm to more than 100% as categories overlap).


Some observations

Presumably this profile reflects three dimensions: the global structure of Internet access, the geographic home of TFF and the place(s) it has predominantly done field work. One the one hand, many of the respondents are people - not the least students and NGOs - which have been in contact with TFF at some point. On the other, we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have declared their heartfelt support without us ever having been in contact with them.

For an organization the size of TFF, this global reach is something we are a proud of. Since we launched our website on the International Women's Day 1997, we have seen the new technology as a blessing, particularly for smaller actors. We could never have achieved this global status by means of letters, envelopes and stamps.

It is yet another small proof that Internet can be an effective tool for organizations which, like TFF, seek to promote consciousness, education, values and action for one or more global issues. It seems that the Ministry has not considered measuring this dimension when judging who were worthy of its support.

TFF can also be proud of the response from all parts of former Yugoslavia. Of all 9,3% respondents from the region, 5,4% are from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo/a (FRY), 1,1% from Croatia, 0,7% from Bosnia, 0,2% from Slovenia and 2% from Macedonia. The larger group from the Federal Republic indicate that TFF publications and PressInfos critical of Western policies and NATO's bombings there in 1999 have moved them.

It is clear from many comments, background and our knowledge of the area and the people there that virtually all the supporters from FRY are non-governmental and more or less actively belong to the opposition.

The rather small constituency TFF seems to have in the Global South teaches us the very important lesson that we must do much more to reach the global south concurrently with the availability of Internet and e-mail there. The same applies to non-Balkan Eastern Europe and the countries which once made up the Soviet Union.


What kinds of people support TFF?

Many of the 1136 supporters wrote no title or other background; however, from the majority we could get a hint by what they wrote ("I have used TFF materials in my class..."), by checking their e-mail address (e.g. individual name/org./.com/.edu) and quite a few we happen to know.

In almost 10% of the cases we were unable to identify the background (some had sent us mail without indicating their address at all). But for the rest (1034), these are the - very rough - background categories:

Academic (professors, lecturers, PhDs, .edu, students, etc): 22%

Students (saying so explicitly): 4,6%

Citizens (individuals with no other indication than name and in some cases professions such as school teacher, librarian, engineer, actor, photographer, nurse, architect, computer programmer, secretary): 43%

NGO active, national/international, including religious, business, (say so explicitely): 19%

Government employee including UN and other international GOs: 4%

Media people in the Nordic countries: 3,5%

Media people elsewhere: 3,0%

Military, active and retired: 1,2%


TFF's three main constituencies

It must be observed that the largest category, the (concerned) citizens, is somewhat anonymous. Many are likely to be NGO-active, engaged in humanitarian work or peace, human rights, women, and similar issues but choose to sign/write in their personal capacity. (No one has signed on behalf of any organization). So, if we had more information it may well be that the category "NGO" would be somewhat bigger and "citizens" somewhat smaller.

What is unusual for a research-based organization like TFF is the balance between academia (27%), NGOs (19%) and citizens (43%). The information available indicates that TFF is an academic institution with an unusual reach also outside the academic community - or a civil society/movement/citizens' NGO with a surprisingly large constituency in academia.

Given that the foundation has always aimed to be a bridgebuilder in more than one sense and states in its policies that its results "shall aim at decision-makers and citizens alike" and "aims at a wider than purely academic readership" this is glad news for everyone associated with TFF.

We are also pleasantly surprised at the response from government-affiliated or -employed people and from the media (see some of their words below). That some of the high-level people in international UN and OSCE missions also express their personal support and concern brings us joy.

But all is not well, of course. It is evident that the information we have available also convey the message that we generally do not reach people at the lower steps of the social ladder. Un-skilled and semi-skilled workers and labour union represenatives are very few among those who indicate their background. The same applies to non-university youth and teachers and students from lower- and middle-educational institutions, whereas we have seen that university people rank high among our supporters.

It is a huge challenge to try to reach out to many more in these societal groups - and in the Global South as pointed out above. It is huge not only for TFF of course but also for us.


Which organizations do TFF supporters work with?

As mentioned, everyone has signed our Appeal in their individual capacity. Many state that they make good use of TFF's website, publications or PressInfos either as individual concerned citizens, at the job or both. So where do the people work who have expressed their support of the Appeal? Here follows a selection of those we have been able to identify (no rank or principle at all):

Istanbul University, Open Society/Soros foundations, International Forgiveness Institute, CNN International, Sky News, African Gender Institute, USAID, the Institue of Foreign Afairs in Beijing, UNESO, Royal Military College in Canada, Caen Memorial for Peace, US Department of Justice, Lthuanian Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, the Russian Academy of Science, Telma Television in Macedonia, Estonia's Newspaper Association, International Institute for Peace in Vienna, Soka Universities in the US and Japan, Svenska Institutet, Columbia University, Agence France Press, Peace Review, a leading scholarly journal, Bruderhof Communities, OSCE's Mission in Kosovo, Covert Action Quarterly, Int Forum for the Culture of Peace in Israel, WorldVoices, OneWorld, AEGEE, United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Times of India,Intercultural and Artistic Institute of the Netherlands, Centro de Estudios de la Mujer in Chile, Hiroshima Shudo University, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Kosovo, Institute for Commonwealth Studies in London, Institute of Federalism in Switzerland, the European Parliament, the Swedish Parliament, the Danish parliament, Latin American Circle of International Studies, Young European Federalists in Macedonia, Danish Refugee Council, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Museum of Science and Technology in Belgrade, Kvinna till kvinna in Sweden, Japan's International Cooperation Association (JICA), Nordisk Netværk, the Danish UN Association, Harvard University, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), World Vision International, American bar Association's International Human Rights Committee, Ministry of Education in Austria, Intenational Institute for Democracy in Strasbourg, Peace Brigades International (PBI), Friedensforum Nuremberg, The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in Nottingham, Tribunal Against US/NATO War Crimes, International Peace Research Association (IPRA), International Federation of Red Cross in Belgrade, International Women's Democratic Center, the Carter Centre, Institute for Defence and Disarmament Studies, Specialarbejderforbundet i Danmark, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, University of Capetown, International Alert, Albanian Orthodox Church in America, Society for Intercultural Education, Training And Research (SIETAR), European University Institute, UNHCR, Syracuse University, International Christian University in Tokyo, Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, Women for Peace in Uppsala, Sweden, Danish Centre for Human Rights,, Klassekampen - daily in Norway, Norwegian Peace Alliance, Novo Journal in Germany, American Friends Services Committee, Danish-Russian Association, University of Sts Cyril & Methodius in Macedonia, the Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament, PIOOM-Leiden University in Holland, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Kraljevo in FRY, Danish Center for Conflict-Resolution, Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI), University of Essex, Catholic University of Louven, Citizens Initiative Network in Eastern Slavonia in Croatia, New Democracy party in Belgrade, ENCORE in Denmark, Dagbladet Arbejderen in Denmark, Tampere University Peace Research Institute in Finland, PANGAEA Hawaii, Copenhagen University, La Trobe University in Australia, Centre for Security and Peace Studies in Indonesia, the United Nations in New York, Ex-NATO Generals for Peace and Disarmament, Center for Civiv Cooperation, Vinkovci in Croatia, Danish Association of Conscientous Objectors, Institute of Intenational Politics and Economics in Belgrade, Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Hercegovina, UN Civil Affairs in Sarajevo, Centre for Policy Research in Iceland, University of Hamburg, UNCTAD, Umeå University in Sweden, EuroCenter Danish Agency of Trade and Industry, UNMIBH in Bosnia, OHR in Brcko in Bosnia, Danish Peace Foundation, Royal Technical Highschool in Sweden, Children's Forum in Greece, Javeriana University in Bogota - Columbia, Trinity College in Dublin - Ireland, Institut für Teologie und Frieden in Germany, Folkuniversitet in Sweden, University for People's Initiative for Peace (IUPIP) in Rovereto - Italy, Notre Dame University in Indiana - the US, the European Peace University, Austria.


September 13, 2000


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