Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

Scholarship & Research

Articles

Does Nonviolent Resistance Foster Peace?

In February 2006, as Nepal entered its tenth year of civil war, with several failed ceasefires, there was little prospect for peace with the Maoist rebels. Yet, two months later, after forming an alliance with Nepal’s Seven Party Opposition, the Maoists joined a national strike. This initiated a pro-democracy nonviolent movement that successfully removed King Gyanendra from power and led to a peace agreement, achieving in a few months what the armed rebellion had failed to achieve in ten years. The case of Nepal reminds us that ordinary people are not powerless actors in the context of civil war […]

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Scholarship & Research

Demand Escalation: How Nonviolent Movements Raise the Heat on Powerholders

In places as diverse as Algeria, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, France, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, people first came together to seek redress in a certain policy space (in the form of a “reformist” campaign) before escalating their demands for a leader’s removal or seeking greater systemic change (in the form of a “maximalist” campaign). In a recent project, I identify this “demand escalation” phenomenon as an increasingly prominent path of unscheduled government change and find that it is not unique to the current generation, limited to a certain regime type, or a specific geographical region. […]

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Scholarship & Research

What Role Does Social Trust Play in Civil Resistance?

For popular nonviolent campaigns to work, they must effectively mobilize both activists and bystanders while maintaining nonviolent discipline. In a world of diminishing social trust, this becomes exceptionally difficult. I address this challenge in my forthcoming ICNC research monograph, examining how trust shapes two important elements of civil resistance: mobilization and nonviolent action across Africa. […]

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Movement Commentary

Civil Resistance against Climate Change: Insights from Australia

Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future burst onto the world stage in 2018 to demand urgent action on the climate crisis. These movements organized strikes, blockades and demonstrations, building on the work of activists before them. But how frequently do climate activists use civil resistance? How do they sustain their campaign and organizing despite various challenges and repressive responses by the opponents and their allies? And what has civil resistance against climate change been able to achieve?

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Scholarship & Research

From Civil War to Civil Resistance to… Peace? Transforming Conflict in Nepal

Between 1996 and 2006, Nepal experienced a civil war that resulted in the deaths of over 17,000 people. The beginning of the conflict caught by surprise political leaders and international observers alike. The country had just transitioned to a parliamentary system—brought about by the largely nonviolent Jana Andolan or “People’s Movement” of 1990—and many believed Nepal was on a stable and peaceful path toward democracy. Just as remarkable, however, was how the conflict ended […]

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Scholarship & Research

Civil Resistance Breakthroughs: A Democratizing Force?

We are in one of the largest waves of nonviolent resistance in history. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop massive uprisings in Thailand, Belarus, Myanmar, and elsewhere as ordinary citizens use nonviolent tactics to challenge entrenched authoritarians and demand reform. Yet, even as more and more people have hit the streets to push for change, the Varieties of Democracy project reports that global democracy has never been weaker and the long trend of growing autocracy has only accelerated. What can be done to turn this around? […]

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Scholarship & Research

Nonviolent Movements and the Recognition of Governments: What Implications for International Law?

On June 6, 2019, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union suspended the Sudanese government from the activities of the African Union. The suspension was a reaction to the unconstitutional change of government in Sudan. However, the coup d’état against long-time dictator Omar Al-Bashir had already occurred two months earlier on April 11, 2019, when members of the Sudanese Armed Forces removed Al-Bashir from office against the backdrop of a country-wide nonviolent movement. […]

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Ideas & Trends

Interpreting a Garden of Wildflowers: The Glossary of Civil Resistance

English language terminology in the field of civil resistance is like a garden of wildflowers, shaped by sometimes competing forces. On the one hand, the garden reflects locally rooted ideas and cultures: vibrant, natural, and defying simple efforts to constrain it. It’s an outgrowth of various micro-climates. Over time, some flowers (key terms) get more sunlight than others. New flowers also emerge, brought in on the wind from elsewhere. The garden evolves, as does the soil from which it grows. […]

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Scholarship & Research

Resisting Stolen Elections: Lessons from the Philippines, Serbia, Ukraine, and Gambia

Discussion has grown for months about how the upcoming U.S. election results could be contested and possibly subverted. No one knows for certain what will happen, but there are precedents we can learn from about how attempts to overturn election results have been stopped. Four cases in recent decades—one in Southeast Asia, one in Africa and the other two in Eastern Europe—involved an incumbent president or party attempting to steal an election only to have it reversed through large-scale nonviolent direct action. This article looks at these cases, and identifies key lessons. […]

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Scholarship & Research

Religious Groups as Movement Allies: Where Strategic Nonviolent Action and Moral Nonviolence Meet

Religious groups energize movements their resources and influence, bringing with them rich traditions of moral nonviolence and making movements more resilient in the face of opposition. These groups’ moral nonviolence—a belief in the sacredness of nonviolent action and in the impermissibility of violence—advances the goals of broader movements that use nonviolent action as a strategic resistance method. How does this interaction play out in more concrete terms? I can speak on at least one important historical case, which is the subject of my research: Argentina during its 1976-1983 Dirty War. […]

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