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.
Images of this year’s grassroots movements for social and political change—such as the ouster of authoritarian rulers in Sudan and Algeria—reiterate that women worldwide are driving campaigns that can strengthen democracy and reduce violent conflicts. Yet 20 years after the United Nations proclaimed the need for women at the center of the world’s peacebuilding and stabilization efforts, they remain marginalized in those official processes. So when USIP and a program at the University of Denver organized a training initiative this summer for 14 women leading civic movements for social change, a message glared from the mountain of nominations received from experts and groups working on the world’s violent crises.
Esta guía de acción busca tender puentes entre los profesionales en la construcción de la paz y la acción no violenta a fin de que se usen métodos de manera estratégica y con eficacia en el camino hacia la transformación de conflictos. Muestra cómo el diálogo, las habilidades de acción directa y los enfoques se pueden sinergizar para avanzar la justicia y la paz sostenible.
It began with a few supporters of Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement meeting at a Bogota cultural center. That gathering, in January of this year, soon led to the creation of a WhatsApp group—a platform to discuss how to how to defend the interests of peace amid concerns about the policies of the new government. By mid-July, a spontaneous citizens movement of thousands of Colombian leaders was making its voice heard. Its objectives: to strengthen popular support for the previous government’s peace deal with the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and to support the peace process with the National Liberation Army (ELN).
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