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

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

Dissent and Dialogue: The Role of Mediation in Nonviolent Uprisings

Dissent and Dialogue: The Role of Mediation in Nonviolent Uprisings

Monday, April 11, 2022

By: Isak Svensson;  Daan van de Rijzen

While both mediation and nonviolent resistance have been the subject of significant scholarly work, the connection of the two fields has received less attention. Using newly collected data on nonviolent uprisings Africa from the Mediation in Nonviolent Campaigns data set, this report explores several questions: When does mediation occur in the context of nonviolent campaigns? Who tends to mediate? What are the challenges, and what are the outcomes? The study offers overall takeaways, policy conclusions, and recommendations for future research.

Type: Special Report

Mediation, Negotiation & DialogueNonviolent Action

Nonviolent Action in the Era of Digital Authoritarianism: Hardships and Innovations

Nonviolent Action in the Era of Digital Authoritarianism: Hardships and Innovations

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

By: Matthew Cebul, Ph.D.;  Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, nonviolent action movements employed social media and other digital tools to orchestrate pro-democracy uprisings that took regimes by surprise. Those euphoric early days have since given way to digital repression, restricted online freedoms, and democratic backsliding as authoritarian regimes leverage new technologies to surveil the opposition and sow misinformation. This report documents how nonviolent activists are adapting to digital repression and suggests ways the United States and its allies can slow the pace of autocratic innovation in the use of these technologies.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

View All Publications