Individuals and organizations facing restrictive, oppressive and/or authoritarian forms of governance may be able to employ hundreds of nonviolent methods to amplify their voices, challenge power dynamics and press for reform. Tactics include protests, boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience and alternative institutions. Nonviolent resistance has been shown empirically to be twice as effective as armed struggle in achieving major political goals. The U.S. Institute of Peace promotes nonviolent approaches through education and training in strategic nonviolent action and movement-building; applied research on such movements and the efficacy of outside support; and publications that inform the work of policymakers to advance alternatives to violence.
The weeks of peaceful protests by millions of Hong Kong residents opposed to the erosion of their civil liberties turned violent Monday. After days of aggressive police crackdowns that injured protesters and drew criticism from international human rights groups, hundreds of protesters bashed through doors into the city’s legislature yesterday. USIP specialists discuss the escalation of the conflict between residents and the city’s authorities—and the implications for one of the territory’s largest protest movements since Britain handed it over to Chinese control two decades ago.
From Kenya to Ukraine to Guatemala, citizen-led campaigns are fighting against corruption and demanding government accountability and transparency. Government donors and private foundation have increasingly supported such efforts. But, how does foreign funding impact the goals social movements seek to achieve and the tactics they use to get there? How does foreign funding impact a social movement’s ability to mobilize the masses? And what should external funders consider when supporting social movements? USIP’s Davin O’Regan discusses the finding of a forthcoming USIP Peaceworks examining the impact of external support to social movements focused on transparency and accountability.
In the last two months, dictators in Sudan and Algeria were forced to step down because of popular pressure, demonstrating the power of nonviolent resistance to movements in places like Nicaragua and Venezuela. “When large numbers of people engage in various forms of noncooperation … that is where the real power of nonviolent resistance comes from,” says Maria Stephan.
The impetus behind SNAP comes from case study research that highlights how grassroots activists, organizers, and peacebuilders engaged in nonviolent action and peacebuilding can use approaches from both fields together to strategically plan and more effectively prevent violence, address grievances, and advance justice. While scholars such as Adam Curle, John Paul Lederach, Lisa Schirch, Veronique Dudouet, and Anthony Wanis-St. John have explored synergies between the two fields for decades, the SNAP guide is one of the first to offer practical modules and exercises meant to help practitioners operationalize the combined approach at the grassroots