How can nonviolent movements maintain momentum when the COVID-19 pandemic makes protesting on the streets a threat to the health and safety of their members? Coronavirus has presented major challenges for activists and nonviolent movements around the world who are working to advance peace and justice. From Hong Kong to Algeria, activists and peacebuilders are confronting the need to innovate tactically and adapt their strategies amid national lockdown orders, social distancing, and other measures intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.


On May 19, USIP hosted activists and peacebuilders from South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela for a discussion on how nonviolent movements are confronting and adjusting to their new operating environments, how they are spreading awareness about the virus and safety measures in their communities, and how they envision the post-coronavirus era in their societies.  

The panelists also shared how they maintain resilience against repression and use opportunities created by the pandemic to advance their demands for peace and justice. The discussion also includes external actors offering insights into how international donors can provide support to grassroots groups and movements in ways that help them to respond flexibly to their changing environments and to better meet the needs of their communities. 
 

Speakers

Maria Stephan
Director, Nonviolent Action, U.S. Institute of Peace

Nelson Kwaje 
Director of Programs, #DEFYHATENOW

Rajaa Altalli 
Co-founder and Co-director, Center for Civil Society and Democracy

Alba Purroy 
Social Activist; Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding Trainer

Michael Silberman
Global Director, Mobilisation Lab 

Katherine Zavala
Director of Grassroots Partnerships, Thousand Currents

Related Publications

Motives, Benefits, and Sacred Values: Examining the Psychology of Nonviolent Action and Violent Extremism

Motives, Benefits, and Sacred Values: Examining the Psychology of Nonviolent Action and Violent Extremism

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.;  Michael Niconchuk;  Sarah Ryan

What motivates one person to engage in acts of violent extremism, while others choose to pursue change through nonviolent action? This report is based on pilot research into the psychological and social dynamics of a nonviolent resistance group—Algeria’s Hirak movement—that employs some of the same measures used to study participation in violent extremist organizations. A deeper understanding of these dynamics, it is hoped, will help practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to identify and support paths away from violent extremism and to strengthen and sustain engagement in nonviolent action.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent ActionViolent Extremism

New Evidence: How Religion Aids Peaceful Change

New Evidence: How Religion Aids Peaceful Change

Thursday, September 30, 2021

By: Jason Klocek, Ph.D.;  Miranda Rivers;  Sandra Tombe

The pullback in 2021 of international military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa’s Sahel region not only shows the limits of such foreign interventions. It forces policymakers to more urgently examine other ways to support the sustainable social changes that can stabilize violence-stricken nations. New USIP research sharpens an insight about one powerful method to achieve such changes—nonviolent, citizens’ movements that improve governance and justice. Effectively, the research shows, religion helps more often than we may think. Of more than 180 nonviolent campaigns for major political change since World War II, a majority have involved religion in some way.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionNonviolent Action

Precarity and Power: Reflections on Women and Youth in Nonviolent Action

Precarity and Power: Reflections on Women and Youth in Nonviolent Action

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney, Ph.D.;  Miranda Rivers

Examples abound of women and youth on the front lines of recent nonviolent action campaigns—from Alaa Salah leading demonstrators in Sudan in 2019 to the thousands of young people marching against the coup in Myanmar in early 2021. Yet significant social, cultural, and economic barriers can prevent both women and youth from participating in nonviolent action. This report, based in part on firsthand reports from activists in seven diverse countries, sheds light on these barriers and makes concrete recommendations for maximizing the impact of women and youth in nonviolent action.

Type: Peaceworks

Nonviolent Action

Comment—et quand—le pouvoir populaire peut faire avancer la paix dans un contexte de guerre civile

Comment—et quand—le pouvoir populaire peut faire avancer la paix dans un contexte de guerre civile

Thursday, August 19, 2021

By: Luke Abbs;  Marina G. Petrova

Malgré une brève accalmie due aux restrictions liées à la COVID-19, ces dernières années ont été témoins de l'une des plus grandes vagues de résistance non-violente mondiale de l'histoire récente, 2019 étant largement surnommée “l'année de la protestation.” Ces mouvements – du Myanmar à la Colombie en passant par l'Inde – sont largement axés sur la lutte contre l'autoritarisme ou la réparation des injustices sociales. Moins annoncé et discuté est le rôle de l'action non-violente dans les contextes de guerres civiles et des processus de paix. La non-violence stratégique peut également favoriser la paix dans ces contextes, mais le timing et les tactiques sont la clé du succès.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

View All Publications