Political transitions initiated through nonviolent action are more than three times as likely to end in peace and democracy than any other form of transition. Yet prominent cases such as the “Arab Spring” revolutions in Egypt and Syria — in which nonviolent action resulted in returns to authoritarianism or devastating civil war — show that this relationship is far from easy or direct. And even when some form of democracy is achieved, many young democracies struggle to gain the trust necessary for long-term peace and stability. How can movements navigate this uncertain road from a breakthrough against authoritarianism to long-term sustainable democracy?

To better understand the intersection of nonviolent action and peace processes, USIP and the Berghof Foundation hosted the third in a series of four events on people power, peace and democracy. The event series highlighted multiple groundbreaking research projects and featured insights from activists, international practitioners and policymakers that provided viewers with actionable takeaways.

Featuring new USIP research on the crucial role of inclusive dialogue and negotiation processes, this event looked at the characteristics of peace processes that most successfully foster citizen trust in a renewed social compact and long-term sustainable democratization. The discussion also provided key insights and recommendations for activists and external peacebuilding actors working to ensure successful dialogue and foster democratic outcomes — as well as how to apply those insights and recommendations in on-the-ground cases. 

Learn more about the first and second event in the series. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #PeoplePower4Peace.

Speakers

Zied Boussen
Tunisian Activist and Researcher

Veronique Dudouet
Senior Research Advisor, Berghof Foundation

Zahra Hayder
Sudanese Activist and Organizer

Roman-Gabriel Olar
Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin

Jonathan Pinckney
Senior Researcher, Nonviolent Action, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Lise Grande, moderator
President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Promoting Peace and Democracy after Nonviolent Action Campaigns

Promoting Peace and Democracy after Nonviolent Action Campaigns

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

The ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 was brought about using the tools of nonviolent action, including massive protests and nationwide strikes. Yet the transition that followed showed that initiating change through nonviolent action is no guarantee of a peaceful, smooth path to democracy. This report, based on data on 72 political transitions that occurred between 1945 and 2019, provides key insights into the kinds of mobilization, in terms of tactics and actors, that tend to be most effective in carrying transitions to a democratic outcome.

Type: Peaceworks

Democracy & GovernanceNonviolent Action

In the Struggle for Peace, Four Lessons From a Leader

In the Struggle for Peace, Four Lessons From a Leader

Thursday, May 5, 2022

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

Recent years of declining democracy and rising authoritarianism and violent conflict form what President Biden and others call the “defining challenge of our time.” Biden, like millions of people, see nonviolent struggles for freedom, such as those led by the Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as humanity’s best way to meet this challenge. Last week, though few may have realized it, the world lost a man who, over the last fifty years, helped us to understand and act on that insight: Dr. Peter Ackerman.

Type: Blog

Nonviolent Action

Sowing the Seeds of Nonviolent Action in Sudan

Sowing the Seeds of Nonviolent Action in Sudan

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

By: Marija Marovic;  Zahra Hayder

From 2013 to 2018, Sudanese civil society actors carved out a variety of civic spaces that laid the foundation for Sudan’s 2018–2019 December Revolution. This report assesses the factors that gave rise to this remarkable mobilization—in particular how civil society development ultimately enabled the Sudanese opposition to sustain a decentralized, nationwide, and robust nonviolent campaign characterized by widespread mass participation, unity of leadership and purpose, and a commitment to nonviolent discipline—and what it will take to keep the country’s democratic transition on track.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

View All Publications