The ICNC Summer Institute at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, (formerly FSI, the Fletcher Summer Institute) is the leading professional education program in the world focusing on the advanced, interdisciplinary study of civil resistance.
Civil resistance campaigns for rights, freedom, and justice are capturing the world’s attention as never before. Nonviolent campaigns against corruption in countries such as Guatemala, Moldova, and Cambodia; against dictatorship in Burkina Faso; to protect democracy in Hong Kong; for police accountability in the United States; for indigenous rights in Latin America; and for women’s rights in India are all examples in recent years of a profound global shift in how political power is developed and applied.
Since 2006, more than 450 participants from nearly 100 countries have gathered at the ICNC Summer Institute to learn and share knowledge. The program is taught by leading international scholars, practitioners, organizers and activists from past and current struggles. It provides both a firm academic grasp of the subject of civil resistance as well as a practical understanding of the use of nonviolent struggle in a variety of conflicts for a wide range of goals.
Organized by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) in conjunction with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the program offers a certificate in the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict.
When: June 19-24, 2016
Where: The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Cost: Registration fees for participants are listed below.
Almost all sessions of the ICNC Summer Institute were recorded, and videos of the presentations can be viewed below
Civil Resistance in Historic Context, with Hardy Merriman, June 20, 2016.
Civil resistance movements over the last two decades in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas reveal how ordinary people can use nonviolent tactics—such as strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations and other actions—to achieve rights, freedom and justice. Building on this legacy, in recent years the frequency of movements has accelerated, and they increasingly shape societies, countries, and international politics. Yet, the phenomenon of civil resistance often remains overlooked or misunderstood by external observers. It defies conventional wisdom that unarmed people mobilizing by the thousands or millions can defeat armed, wealthy and organized adversaries who seem to have all the advantages. This presentation will focus on why civil resistance works, what its long-term record and outcomes are and how it will increasingly affect social, economic and political change.
Movement Emergence and Sustainability, with Dr. Mary King and Philippe Duhamel, June 20, 2016.
Great expectations without the ability to sustain a movement will not produce tangible change. Most successful movements that can bring about tangible social and political change have a capacity to sustain mass participation, often over a number of years and despite repression and interruption. What are some of the skills, approaches, understandings, and practices that support movement resilience and success? In this session, we will seek to throw light on the remarkably important challenge of sustaining a mobilization. A group exercise will elicit knowledge from the experiences of participants. The session’s organizers will also share some firsthand insights based on those experiences.
Strategy and Tactics, with Ivan Marovic and Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh, June 20, 2016.
In this session we will introduce strategic planning, campaigning and tactical choice as essential components of effective civil resistance and offer a strategic framework for analyzing social movements. We will look into different elements of a strategic plan and see how different movements approached the process of developing strategies. We will also examine different tactics available to organizers and explore issues involved in tactical choice. During this session special emphasis will be put on strategic goals and campaign objectives, against which a movement’s success should be evaluated.
We will also examine how movement’s methods, structure and organization relate to its strategy and how participation of the general public, defections on the opponent’s side and other factors relate to movement’s strategy. Last, we will introduce two practical tools of analysis to use when developing a strategic plan, campaign, and tactics: Pillars of Support and Spectrum of Allies. Attendees will participate in an activity designed to practice using these tools.
Nonviolent Discipline and Violent Flanks, with Dr. Erica Chenoweth and Philippe Duhamel, June 21, 2016.
This session will look at the impact of violent flanks on the success rates of unarmed mass movements. What happens when groups start using violent means of insurrection — such as targeted kidnappings, assassinations, guerrilla ambush, etc. — alongside civil resistance movements? What happens when less lethal forms of violence — such as the use of projectiles against police lines or indiscriminate and anonymous vandalism against public and private goods — start to fray nonviolent discipline? Do violent flanks increase the leverage of nonviolent campaigns? Or does violence against the regime, even when provoked, undermine the necessary public participation, and the potential for regime repression to backfire? This session will present the latest research about the interplay between unarmed civil resistance movements and violent flanks. Finally, an exercise will invite participants to look at potential ways nonviolent discipline can be buttressed and sustained by specific interventions.
Panel: Gender and Civil Resistance, with Anne-Marie Codur, Dr. Mary King, and Althea Middleton-Detzner, June 21, 2016.
Although the term gender refers to women and men, this panel will initially seek to fill in perceptional gaps concerning the contribution of women to civil resistance and will provide an historical exploration of examples of women’s activism, which have too often been ignored or downplayed by official historical records. Most women’s activism has been nonviolent direct action, and has been instrumental in developing the techniques of civil resistance.
In the modern era, their involvement in the political and social struggles of their times, on behalf of their own communities or on behalf of oppressed communities other than their own, has been a catalyst to spur them to organize and fight for women’s rights as equal citizens to men. Despite acute repression, women have provided the crucial driving dynamism in countless struggles. They possess strategic advantages and under varying circumstances have been able to accomplish what their male peers could not. Even in deeply patriarchal societies, women have been able to exploit successfully tradition and customary political space, allowing them to take action as wives, mothers, and nurturers. The panel will also raise questions about gender justice within movements and, moreover, mention how examining the intersection of women and civil resistance can illuminate issues of intersectionality in movements across the globe.
How and Why Movements Cause Defections, with Sharon Nepstad, June 21, 2016.
The central strategy of a civil resistance struggle is two-fold: 1) to devise campaigns in which citizens withhold various forms of power from the opponent; and 2) to persuade the state’s traditional supporters to defect, cutting ties to the regime and casting their support with the movement. Precisely who are these traditional allies? What factors can cause them to defect? In this breakout session, we will examine the factors that can persuade business leaders, religious leaders, and security forces to cut their ties to the state. In terms of security forces, we will explore the various responses that troops can take when faced with organized civil resistance and an unjust regime. We will reflect on the positive and potentially negative consequences of military defections on civil resistance struggles.
External Actors, with Maria Stephan, June 22, 2016.
Local nonviolent activists and movements, along with the tactics and strategies they use, will always be the primary drivers of bottom-up change. However, external actors, both governmental and non-governmental, can play an important role in supporting those activists and movements and shaping the environment for civic activism. At the same time, there are challenges and risks inherent in external support for local nonviolent movements. This session will problematize external support and address the following questions: What are the principles that should guide external support? Which criteria should be used to determine which groups/movements to support? What are some of the most important external actors? Which tools (diplomatic, financial, technical, advocacy, etc.) do governmental and non-governmental actors have to support nonviolent activists and movements? What are examples where those tools have been used effectively, or ineffectively? What are the most significant risks and opportunities involving external support to movements? How can the former be mitigated and the latter seized upon?
James Lawson Award Luncheon, June 22, 2016.
Founded in 2011, the James Lawson Award for Achievement in the Practice, Study or Reporting of Nonviolent Conflict is presented annually during the ICNC Summer Institute. It is awarded to practitioners, scholars, international actors and journalists whose work serves as a model for how nonviolent resistance can be developed, understood and explained.
For this award, we recognize one or more individuals or organizations who:
- Demonstrate strategic insight and creativity in waging nonviolent struggle;
- Capture the dynamics of nonviolent civil resistance through media and bring greater attention to this phenomenon; or
- Provide education and teaching that generates interest, passion, and in-depth thinking about the history, theories and strategies of nonviolent civil resistance.
The award itself is named after Reverend Dr. James Lawson, one of the foremost strategists of the US Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the organizer of one of the most significant campaigns in that movement—the 1960 Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-ins. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called James Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”
The Language of Truth: Mind and Meaning in Nonviolent Movements, with Jack DuVall, June 23, 2016.
The understanding of how nonviolent movements can be effective has focused mainly on strategic planning, tactical diversity and sequencing, mobilization, muting repression, and other elements of nonviolent conflict. These are all important, but equally so is the content of what the movement stands for, shown through ideas and language used by participants, leaders and citizens. This language can and should reflect the deepest sources of believing in the movement’s purpose, otherwise its intensity and endurance may ebb, along with its meaning for those whose hopes have been raised. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “When people decide they want to be free – once they make up their minds to that – there is nothing that can stop them.” Movements are built in shared conscious space, and require cognitive formation, reason, subjective force, and truth-telling. Fannie Lou Hamer, the great US civil rights campaigner, said, “If we want to be a free society…we have to stop telling lies.” Vaclev Havel, the leader of the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia, called it “living in the truth.”
Nonviolent Defense against External Aggression, with Dick Shultz and Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, June 23, 2016.
This presentation will highlight how some authoritarian regimes destabilize their regional neighbors relying on unconventional or hybrid methods that include overt and covert political, psychological and paramilitary actions to augment their military strength and project their power. Russia has spearheaded the use of hybrid warfare methods to annex Crimea and de-stabilize the eastern Ukraine that posed serious challenges for NATO and, in particularly, its three Baltic state members. For the Baltic states, developments in Ukraine has led each to consider possibly adopting the Civilian-Based Defense (CBD) strategies as a possible deterrent and defense against Russian hybrid operations. This presentation will discuss the key assumptions, concepts, and requirements of CBD as they were conceptualized prior to and during the Cold War, reflect on why the Baltic States developed post-1991 national security strategies that included civilian resistance and CBD, why they moved away from it after joining NATO, and why they are now reconsidering it as part of a mixed strategy. The second part of this session will present results of the national surveys that are relevant to understanding societal potential for civil resistance actions in the context of national defense, discuss briefly historical cases of nonviolent defense and conclude by looking into challenges and opportunities for adopting nonviolent defense strategies as part of national security planning and policies.
Nonviolent struggle and conflict transformation strategies share a common commitment to “social change and increased justice through peaceful means” (Lederach, 19956, 15). This interactive session will discuss the complementary and overlapping aspects of nonviolent resistance, peacebuilding and transitional justice within a broad definition of conflict transformation. Via case studies and presentation of the latest research, participants will receive and share timely, practical and cutting edge ideas and information about strategies that integrate top down and bottom up approaches to nonviolent change and positive peace. ICNC Associate Director Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh and Senior Advisor Nicola Barrach-Yousefi and specialist Simon Robins (via skype from London) will present and frame the issue based on new field research, participant Ram Kumar Bhandari from Nepal will share stories of his work and efforts to integrate both nonviolent action and peacebuilding strategies in conflict and post-conflict contexts, and Chaminda Dilhanake Hettiarachchi will discuss the transitional justice process in Sri Lanka.
Diasporas and Civil Resistance, with Amber French, Bekele Woyecha, and Daniel Tulibagenyi, June 23, 2016.
This session will explore the roles that diasporas play in civil resistance movements. We will examine them as unique actors who function as movement actors and as external actors in the transnational space – both on the inside and out. We will first discuss an analytical framework for understanding diaspora engagement in civil resistance, and examine some active diasporas and the types of civil resistance activities in which they engage. Moving further from the conceptual to the concrete, participants Bekele Woyecha and Daniel Tulibagenyi will present on the activities of the Ethiopian and Nigerian diaspora, respectively. During this session will also engage in peer learning through facilitated discussion on key questions such as, what types of civil resistance methods do successful diaspora groups engage in? What factors impact the spaces in which diasporas engage in these activities? What are the processes or mechanisms by which diasporas bring about change?
Civilian Agency in Disrupted Societies and Countering Violent Non-State Actors, with Alex de Waal and Oliver Kaplan, June 24, 2016.
Civilians would seem powerless when facing violent and heavily armed actors in settings of civil conflict, and yet communities in various countries have found ways to avoid violence. The first half of this presentation will discuss the various strategies that communities from around the world have used to retain autonomy and self-rule in the face of competition among multiple armed groups. It focuses on how social cohesion among civilian communities affords them greater chances to implement collective strategies to deceive and influence armed actors and defend their communities. We will explore how these strategies vary in their organizational requirements, contentiousness, and probable effectiveness and consider the conditions under which they are most likely to succeed.
In the second part of this presentation, we will focus on the war-affected societies of north-east Africa with particular attention to South Sudan. In order to understand and promote the role of nonviolent civilian agency, we need first to understand the nature of power and the dynamic of armed conflict. The men who organize violent politics use a political business model, buying or renting political services and loyalties. Those who most successfully resist, and who promote alternative methods of political conduct, need comparable political business skills. The key qualities of the effective nonviolent political businessperson include a wide personal network of contacts, good political intelligence and assessment, and a reputation for reliability and personal integrity. Nonviolent action is a vocation rather than a profession. Effective anti-violent strategies may call upon those elements in society most resistant to monetization, such as attachment to land and respect for the dead.
Campaigns against Corruption, with Shaazka Beyerle, June 24, 2016.
Corruption undermines democracies and characterizes dictatorships. It’s linked to poverty, inadequate provision of social services, lax safety standards, human rights abuses, environmental destruction, land grabbing, organized crime, and violent conflict. Over two decades of top-down efforts to curb it have yielded modest outcomes. But when citizens flex their people power muscles in organized campaigns and movements, they often impact graft, gain improvements in their communities, practice bottom-up democracy, and start the process of shifting norms and practices. This session will highlight some of these cases that expand the arena of nonviolent action. We’ll also touch on alternative definitions of corruption and the dynamics of civil resistance to impact corruption and impunity – which involve disrupting and transforming systems of injustice.