Dr. Erica Chenoweth / ICNC Academic Advisor, Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School, University of Denver
Stephen Zunes / Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of San Francisco; Co-Chair, ICNC Academic Advisors Committee
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Time: 2:30pm – 4:00pm
Description: This session will look at the role of strategic nonviolent resistance in transitions from authoritarianism to democracy. Some of these have taken place through dramatic mass uprising with hundreds of thousands occupying central squares in the capital city. There have also been cases of nonviolent struggles against autocratic regimes that were unable to topple the dictatorship in a revolutionary wave, but did succeed in forcing a series of legal, constitutional, and institutional reforms over a period of several years which eventually evolved into a liberal democratic order. Both of these kinds of transitions have taken place across different regions and against different kinds of authoritarian systems. Constitutional reform, the independence of the judiciary, civilian control over the military, free media, and honest elections are often the focus of continued activism.
This session will explore the evidence that successful nonviolent campaigns tend to usher in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war than when violent insurgents succeed. We will both challenge the dominant, top-down, institutional and elite-based approaches to democratization and identify likely pathways through which civil resistance bolsters democratic consolidation and civil peace. Finally, we will observe how even the long-term effects of failed nonviolent campaigns are more favorable to democracy than the long-term effects of successful violent campaigns.