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Bon voyage, Andreas

After 11 years in the WRI office - and a period before that in which he was WRI treasurer and principal organiser of the 2001 study conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment - Andreas Speck is leaving the WRI office. From 1 January onwards, he will be cycling from Buenos Aires northwards.

One of the best compliments for an anarchist - or indeed any nonviolent activist - is to describe them as a practical visionary, and Andreas has been the epitome of a practical visionary. As the main architect of WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme, he has worked for the rights of objectors yet keeping firmly in mind that the point of war resistance is to prevent war and build a better future. Through this programme, WRI has effectively interceded with international institutions while keeping our character as a mutual support network trying to change the world, rather than becoming yet another "NGO". All over the world - from Turkey and Egypt to Russia, South Korea and Latin America - there are objector groups who have benefited from his understanding of their context and support in making them more effective.

Initiatives from the CO Identity Card (useful for Colombians seized by recruiters) to the European Anti-NATO network have come to fruit thanks to his work. He has consistently argued the patriarchal character of war and the corresponding need for anti-militarism to embrace alternative analyses of gender. Within the office, as well as his political work, he has done everything from woodwork, financial book-keeping to making a portable system for simultaneous interpretation. In setting up our computer networks, he has demonstrated that there is no need to be in thrall to Microsoft (or Apple Mac).

Andreas's clarity of purpose will serve as a reference for WRI for many years to come. Thank you for everything, Andreas - and we wish you a fair wind.