This course, centered around the Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding (SNAP) Guide, seeks to illustrate how the most strategic and effective methods from Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding can reinforce one another. 

SNAP Training in Africa
SNAP Training in Africa (Photo Courtesy of Nick Zaremba)

Course Overview

In 1971, feminist nonviolent activist Barbara Deming wrote about “revolution and equilibrium,” asserting that activists needed “two hands of nonviolence”—one hand with a palm facing out to say “stop the injustice!” and another offered as a handshake. Building just, inclusive, and peaceful societies requires people who are willing to take on a wide variety of approaches, including direct action, relationship building, volunteer mobilization, dialogue, and negotiation. However, some scholars and practitioners view these approaches as separate or incompatible. Grassroots activists know how to engage in nonviolent action, but they may have less experience facilitating a delicate meeting featuring diverse groups and opinions. Peacebuilders can excel at dialogue or negotiation, but they may get stuck when one group has more power than another, making it difficult to reach a just resolution. Each approach has its own history, community of practice, literature, and education and training programs.

This course seeks to reduce this separation and illustrate how the most strategic and effective methods from both fields can reinforce one another to advance justice, promote human rights, and build sustainable peace. It is for activists looking to bring together diverse coalitions, mobilize constituencies, and shift power, and for peacebuilders trying to address power asymmetries and build societal awareness of key issues to open dialogue and gain leverage in negotiations.

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Agenda

Chapter 1 - Introduction to Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding

This chapter reviews foundational concepts of nonviolent action and peacebuilding and discusses how they can reinforce one another or be “synergized.”

Chapter 2 - Power and Conflict Transformation

This chapter introduces the concept of power and how righting power imbalances can transform violent conflict. It then leads participants through an exercise to help them craft their collective values, vision, and mission statements, which will guide them in their work.

Chapter 3 - Strategic Planning and Conflict Assessment

This chapter discusses the importance of conflict assessment and gives participants the opportunity to practice using conflict assessment tools from the nonviolent action and peacebuilding fields to see how they can complement one another. It then uses this assessment to translate participants’ values, vision, and mission statements into SMARTT goals.

Chapter 4 - Nonviolent Action Tactics and Peacebuilding Approaches

This chapter provides a deeper dive into the broad range of nonviolent action tactics and peacebuilding approaches using a series of case study examples.

Chapter 5 - Planning for Action

This chapter utilizes a series of timeline and planning activities for participants to develop specific action plans based off their SMARTT goals.

Instructor and Course Guides

Instructor

  • Maria J. Stephan, former Director of the program on Nonviolent Action, U.S. Institute of Peace

Guest Expert

  • Nadine Bloch, Training Director, Beautiful Trouble
  • Alysha G. Cieniewicz, Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Miranda Rivers, Program Specialist, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Lisa Schirch, Senior Research Fellow, Toda Peace Institute
  • Tabatha Thompson, Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Myanmar in the Streets: A Nonviolent Movement Shows Staying Power

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

By: Zarchi Oo; Billy Ford; Jonathan Pinckney

The people of Myanmar have opposed military rule in the past but never like this: In the face of horrific brutality by a lawless regime, Burmese have risen up in an historic national movement of nonviolent resistance. Led by young women, the fractious country has united across ethnic, generational and class lines, weaponizing social norms and social media in a refusal to accept the generals’ February 1 seizure of power.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

World Water Day: The Role of Nonviolent Action in Water Governance

World Water Day: The Role of Nonviolent Action in Water Governance

Monday, March 22, 2021

By: Jill Baggerman; Emmanuel Davalillo Hidalgo

Will people go to war over water? According to the United Nations, “Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change” in the years ahead. As access to this finite, vital resource becomes increasingly imperiled, water-related tensions will rise — both between states and within them. In recent decades, disputes between governments and local stakeholders have resulted in mass action events centered on water governance. Today, in the age of accelerating climate change, nonviolent movements will need to adapt their strategic thinking if they are to improve water governance and prevent violent conflict.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action; Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

In India, Women Propel World’s Largest Protest Movement

In India, Women Propel World’s Largest Protest Movement

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

By: Farida Nabourema

Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been protesting new farm laws on the outskirts of the Indian capital city of New Delhi since September 2020. The prominent presence of women in what is perhaps the world’s largest ongoing protest movement, and certainly the biggest domestic challenge facing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, has put a spotlight on the important role women play in agriculture in this South Asian nation; it also marks a milestone in women’s struggle for equality, and their leadership of nonviolent movements.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Nonviolent Action

Mobilization, Negotiation, and Transition in Burkina Faso

Mobilization, Negotiation, and Transition in Burkina Faso

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

By: Eloïse Bertrand

In October 2014, a massive popular uprising unseated Burkina Faso’s long-time president, Blaise Compaoré, and drove a civilian-led transition that culminated in free and fair elections in November 2015. This report shows the importance of the national culture of dialogue and consensus and the benefit of a vast, resilient network across negotiating groups. Although violence in the country has since increased, lessons from Burkina Faso’s transition can inform the dynamics of popular mobilization, negotiations, and prospects for long-term peace and democracy in other settings.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

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