ICNC's Webinars are a series of online talks and visual presentations on critical ideas, cases, and questions related to civil resistance and nonviolent movements. They are intended for students and educators, scholars and researchers, activists and practitioners, policy audience and the media. Since the series began in 2010 we have reached thousands of participants from around the world.
These hour-long webinars are offered on a regular basis during the year and include presentations, panel discussions and interactive question and answer periods. PowerPoint presentations are included for later use by participants. Preliminary readings may also be recommended prior to the presentation and would be available in advance to those who register for the webinar.
Webinars are streamed live and the recordings are posted on ICNC’s website for future viewing. ICNC offers a modest honorarium to webinar presenters.
This ICNC Academic Webinar was presented on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 by Mary King, author, whose works include, among others: "Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement," "A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance," and her latest book, "Gandhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924-1925 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change." King is also a professor of peace and conflict studies at the UN-affiliated University for Peace and an ICNC academic advisor.
In this webinar, King will talk about the main findings of her most recent book “Gandhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924-1925 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change.” In the Indian village of Vykom (now in Kerala, India,) a 1920s nonviolent struggle sought to open to everyone the roads surrounding the Brahmin temple there. For centuries, almost anyone could walk these roads, except for so-called untouchable Hindus. From April 1924 to November 1925, what Mohandas K. Gandhi called a satyagraha was waged to gain access for excluded groups to the routes encircling the temple compound. As the 604-day campaign persisted, it gripped British India and beyond, while revealing extreme forms of discrimination practiced by the upper castes: untouchability, unapproachability, and unseeability. The campaign, however, suffered from specific strategic shortcomings. Leadership quandaries abounded while excessively optimistic planning left the campaign directionless. The outcome of the campaign suggests that the conversion – an important mechanism of change theoretically achievable in successful nonviolent struggles – should be redefined to reference an ideal. When civil resistance is chosen to fight deep-seated social pathologies like racism and untouchability, a “settlement” may be out of reach. Instead, strategies of management, comparable to confronting a chronic disease, may be preferable. King’s findings stress the need to undertake research with unknown, ignored, forgotten, lost or misrepresented civil resistance campaigns or movements, as they hold important lessons for current and future nonviolent struggles.
You can follow us on Twitter directly (@nvconflict) or by searching for #ICNCWebinars. We will be live-Tweeting the webinar with Mary King so come join us to ask questions for the presenter!
This ICNC Academic Webinar was presented on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 by Juan Masullo Jiménez, Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute (EUI).
In this webinar, Juan will tell us the compelling story of a community of ordinary campesinos (farmers) who have lead a longstanding, sustained and organized effort to nonviolently resist armed opponents in Colombia's longstanding civil war. The case study of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado (PCSJA) leaves us with an important message regarding the scale at which ongoing peace efforts in Colombia can be advanced. National peace negotiations usually take place between high-level representatives of warring parties, without involving authentic grassroots peacemakers such as the PCSJA.
You can follow us on Twitter directly (@nvconflict) or by searching for #ICNCWebinars. We will be live-Tweeting the webinar so come join us next week to ask questions for the presenter!
Watch webinar below:
Responses to questions for Juan after the webinar are below:
Q:What role, if any, did international accompaniment play into the struggle?
A: The role of international accompaniment is central to the Peace Community struggle. In fact, many villagers highlight that they are where they are thanks, to a large extent, to their international support network, which includes, but goes beyond, international accompaniment. I would qualify, however, by noting that its role is less important when it comes to understanding the emergence of the Community than its persistence and developments over time. During the process of consultation and coordination prior to the creation, as well as when the community was declared in March 1997, there was no international accompaniment as such (in the form of physical accompaniment, at least). The day of the public declaration there was presence of international actors, but it would be a somehow inaccurate to call it “accompaniment”. In fact, the first accompaniment the community had (in the form of “unarmed bodyguards”) was national. International actors that today play a central role, such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Operazione Colombia and Peace Brigades, came into the picture later through an interesting process of brokerage and coalition formation. Today, the first two have constant presence in two of the Community’s settlements and the third has its office in the capital of the Municipality and is constant communication with the Community.
Q:How did you get involved in nonviolent resistance?
A: I have been interested in the Colombian civil war in particular and in the phenomenon of civil war in general for many years now and have conducted different types of research on related topics. In doing so (and influenced by the work of other scholars), I felt we were missing something important as most of the work being done on the topic (at least in the fields of political science and sociology) focused on armed groups as the main actors (leaving civilians aside) and violence as the central interactions (leaving nonviolent ones aside). Not happy with this narrow (although understandable) focus, and also having a strong interest in the study of social movements and collective action, I decided to study other actors and other types of interactions that also take place in civil war. Being Colombian and knowing about the existence of the Peace Community and other experiences of the sort, it was an almost natural step to do research on nonviolent resistance. This goes without saying that, beyond my academic interests, since I heard about the Peace Community and other resisting communities in Colombia and abroad, I have deeply admired what they do. I was fascinated by the mere fact of seeing people defying heavily armed groups without resorting to any type of violence. This resonated well with the teachings and preachings on (principled) nonviolence coming from Easter philosophy and religion that I have been studying and following for a long time.
This ICNC Academic Webinar was presented on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 by Tendor Dorjee, Activist and Writer, and former executive director of Students for a Free Tibet.
This webinar will take parts of Tendor Dorjee's ICNC Monograph and use that to analyze the strategy and history of the civic struggle in Tibet over the last six decades. Contrary to a perception, fueled by Chinese propaganda during the 2008 Tibetan uprising, that the Tibetan struggle is heading toward extremism, this webinar will show that since the 1950s, the movement has moved toward a tighter embrace of nonviolent resistance. The webinar will examine this evolution, analyzing central themes, purposes, challenges, strategies, tactics and impacts of three major Tibetan uprisings over the last six decades. Tibetans are now waging a quiet, slow-building nonviolent movement, centered on strengthening the Tibetan national and cultural fabric via what Dorjee calls "transformative resistance." This is happening in an immensely repressive political environment, which shows that there is a way to mobilize people power against even one of the most ruthless regimes in the world.
Watch webinar below:
Responses to questions for Tendor after the webinar are below:
Q:Can you say more about Lhakar's effectiveness? I am asking because the documentary "Tibet in Song" shows how Beijing cracks down on any assertion of Tibetan identity. Also, has the protest against mining been replicated elsewhere, and with the same success?
A: Lhakar has been one of the most effective homegrown campaigns we've seen in Tibet. It's true that China clamps down on almost every assertion of Tibetan identity, as you saw in the film "Tibet in Song," but there are still small pockets of space for action that one can find within China's repressive system. When Tibetans assert their identity in simple and personal ways, such as eating Tibetan cuisine, writing in Tibetan script, or refusing to speak Chinese at home, it is hard for Chinese authorities to punish these acts even if they would like to. Regarding the question about mining, there have been some successful campaigns in other places. Recently, Tibetans in Dzatoe and Kyegudo have waged anti-mining campaigns with some measurable success so far. But it is hard to tell whether these two campaigns were directly inspired by the success of Markham.
Q:You've mentioned a common vision, which we know is critical for success of a nonviolent movement. Can you talk a little bit more about where this stands for the Tibet movement, how it's being developed with all the challenges of repression and diaspora and dispersion of activists, and next steps?
A: In recent years, articulation of a common vision for Tibet has become increasingly tough. The Tibetan government in exile pursues autonomy for Tibet as its goal while many Tibetans outside the establishment advocate independence, the former advocates a highly conciliatory diplomatic approach while the latter wants to push for a more confrontational grassroots approach. But this doesn't mean that a common vision cannot be developed. One area of commonality is the fact that both camps emphasize the use of nonviolent methods and the rejection of violence, and this commonality can be turned into a foundation for united action. It is hard to dismiss the debate between independence advocates and autonomy advocates as unimportant, because the debate is absolutely necessary and also a result of both camps caring deeply about the cause. Nevertheless, we could say, let's continue the debate in a more civil and less hostile fashion, but let's also start working together on more immediate and achievable campaigns around, say, environmental issues, political prisoners' release, anti-mining mobilization, etc. Focusing on these concrete campaigns rather than remaining trapped in a never-ending ideological tug-of-war will make the Tibet movement more united as a force, and therefore more of a challenge to China.
Q:How has the Chinese government's responses to these protests changed from the 1959, 1989 to 2008 protests?
A: The Chinese government's response to Tibetan protests has been consistently ruthless and brutal. But after each successive uprising and crackdown, the Chinese authorities' methods of repression become more sophisticated. Especially in 2008, the Chinese government made strategic use of its media and information monopoly over Tibet, especially CCTV footage captured on surveillance cameras. For days and weeks, it circulated to domestic and international media images of Tibetans rioting in the streets of Lhasa, while censoring all images of the mass violence used by Chinese authorities on Tibetan protesters. They also immediately expelled all foreigners from Tibet in an attempt to prevent any reporting other than its own. In the 1987-88 uprising, many foreigners documented and broadcast Chinese brutalities against Tibetans, causing China a huge loss of face. In 2008, China wanted to make sure foreigners didn't get the opportunity to do that, and proceeded to lock off the entire region from foreigners and reporters. So it is clear that Chinese government response to the Tibetan protests are getting more sophisticated.
Q:In Egypt and other recent nonviolent movements, technology has played a huge part. How is the Tibet movement embracing technology as a tool in this nonviolent movement?
A: Technology has played an unexpectedly important role in the Tibet movement. In the past, Tibetan elders used to worry that the advent of technology, and all the flash and seduction it comes with, would distract the youth from our traditional heritage and undermine the movement to protect Tibet's cultural as well as political identity. However, once Tibetans began to overcome their fear of technology and put it to service, we quickly realized that it could serve multiple purposes. In the ‘90s, radio stations such as VOA, RFA and Voice of Tibet, which were the only alternative sources of information in Tibet, became a lifeline between Tibetans in Tibet and those in exile. In the last ten years, thanks to advancing digital and information technologies, news and information from Tibet travel to the outside world much faster. Until a few years ago, it used to take up to a month for exiled Tibetans to learn about the arrest of someone in Tibet, but now real-time communication over tools such as email, Skype, QQ, and Wechat allows exiles to get such news within hours, even minutes. All this is changing the landscape of the political movement, opening up new possibilities for organizing and mobilization.
Q:How could Tibetans reach out to other groups in China, such as Uyghurs or Chinese workers, farmers and Chinese intellectuals to create a diverse and multi-ethnic coalition for greater political rights? Is this possible, and how?
A: I think it is possible, but it won't be easy. There are many barriers between Tibetans and Chinese that prevent them from working together even when there are common grievances. Many of these barriers are cultural and have existed for centuries, while other barriers are political and created by the government. However, in the meantime, Tibetans might find it easier to reach out to non-Chinese groups such as Mongolians and Uyghurs, who are undergoing many of the same existential problems as Tibetans. For example, both Tibetans and Mongolians have a huge nomadic population who are being driven to the edge by the Chinese government's ethnocidal policies. Although difficult, it might not be entirely impossible for Tibetans and Mongolians to start a joint movement against policies such as relocation of nomads from their ancestral grasslands.
Presented by: Gerardo Gonzalez, Sociologist and Lecturer at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) and the Universidad Metropolitana
This webinar talk will analyze the civic struggle in Venezuela that took place in 2014. Using Peter Ackerman and Hardy Merriman‘s Checklist for Ending Tyranny, the presentation will evaluate the skill-based and organizational capabilities of protesters as well as trends of nonviolent conflict in the country last year. Although Venezuela´s political crisis has received significant international media attention, no scientific analysis has been done on the relationship between civil resistance, nonviolent action and political polarization in the country. The webinar will examine the interactions between different actors involved in the conflict, tactics employed by protesters, and analyze why organizers failed to meet their goals. The Venezuelan opposition led by the student movements, opposition parties, civic organizations and parts of civil society planned a number of civil resistance actions but their efforts to expand participation and protest activities were hampered by media censorship and, more importantly, by a lack of nonviolent discipline. Violence undermined the momentum of the movement and helped support the narrative put forth by the government. Finally, the webinar will discuss challenges and opportunities for public dissent and mobilization in spaces where communication and information are censored and societal distrust among two equally divided and opposing groups is high, which are the characteristic features of Venezuelan society.
Enforced disappearance has been used by undemocratic and democratic regimes as well as violent groups for decades. It is considered one of the most severe crimes because it consists of simultaneous violations of various interrelated human rights norms and has widespread pernicious psychosocial effects on the society. Despite the terrible impact, enforced disappearances have not necessarily led to civic disempowerment. On the contrary, the relatives of the disappeared persons have often engaged in strategic collective actions as a way to resist nonviolently the crime and its demobilizing effects. Those most affected have created solidarity groups or mutual aid associations to help victims’ families, confront perpetrators and raise awareness about disappearances. Various nonviolent actions of defiance mobilized people, made violations visible not only on a domestic but also an international stage and, in some cases, imposed costs and constraints on governments that resulted in the adoption of search protocols, passing new anti-disappearance legislation, or acknowledgement of crimes committed by responsible authorities. Arguably, in some cases these efforts have even been successful in preventing further disappearances. This webinar will present various examples of nonviolent organizing and actions against forced disappearances and their role and impact.
This ICNC Academic Webinar was presented on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 by Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of San Francisco; Co-Chair, ICNC Academic Advisors Committee.
Not all successful unarmed civil insurrections against dictatorships take place in a 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 failed 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 that eventually evolved into a liberal democratic order. These more gradualist transitions have taken place across different regions and against different kinds of authoritarian systems. This webinar will tell the story of pro-democracy movements in three of these countries — Brazil, South Korea and Kenya — and how they were able to force, over time, autocratic governments to agree to substantive democratic reforms. By focusing on the role of civil society, this presentation challenges dominant, top-down, institution- and elite-based approaches to democratization.
This ICNC Academic Webinar was presented on Thursday, March 19, 2015 by Barry L. Gan, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University.
The concept of civil resistance presumes the notion of a large-scale struggle as a means to initiate a sustained political change. These struggles must be multilayered, in that they should not aim primarily to disrupt an adversary's business but rather to transform a society as a whole. Additionally, they should be multidimensional, consisting of direct as well as constructive nonviolent actions. But the typical actions by which civil resistance has been practiced in recent years, most notably in the Arab Spring, have been aimed at power at the top, an approach that ignores a key principle of nonviolent action-that power resides in the masses. They seem to have neglected that the emotions of people who sit on the fence, who are neither with the power structure nor opposed to it, play a major role in power shifts. And ultimately, a change merely in power at the top means no real change in the institutional structures that oppress people in the first place. Meaningful change requires a longer-term approach directed at changing the mind-sets of the masses of people and at changing institutions, not necessarily the officials in those institutions. In the end, it is a continued development of new understandings of power, wielded from the bottom up, developed democratically, practiced over time, understood by many, that will change an oppressive culture.
Watch recorded presentation
Responses to questions for Barry after the webinar are below:
Q:The presentation alluded to the idea that change should take the form of what Gene Sharp called "conversion," which is a force that reverses the adversary's views using moral persuasion. However, scholars of civil resistance generally agree that this type of mechanism of change (conversion) has been marginal to the success of nonviolent resistance. In other words, it is an ideal that everyone would like to aspire to, but it is not a practical instrument to bring about change in the real world of popular uprisings. This contradicts some of the main points of your presentation which has to do with bringing the opponent to your side by moral example. Could you comment on this seeming contradiction and effectiveness of moral persuasion versus economic and social disruption in undermining brutal dictatorships?
A: The presentation did indeed allude to the concept of conversion, but by conversion I did not mean necessarily the conversion of one's adversaries. More important is the conversion of the masses of people at the bottom of the pyramid who initially believe that they have no stake in the struggle. It is nonviolence and the suffering that is imposed on the grievance group that wins over, that converts, the masses of people who sit on the fence. Leaders are not likely to be converted to their opponents' points of views. I agree. But masses of people who are initially indifferent are much more likely to be converted by observing nonviolent activists than by observing violent ones. Furthermore, to the extent that nonviolent activists are seen as disruptive rather than constructive in their engagement, they are less likely to convert those who are initially indifferent, those who sit on the fence, those who are neither opponents nor collaborators.
Q:What is the boundary between development and resistance as you have defined it? Those in the development community sometimes criticize actors using civil resistance as being disruptive, thus discouraging the use of extra-constitutional organizing. Your arguments seem to align themselves with those held by the people from the developmental community that emphasize the importance of dialogue and negotiations over nonviolent direct actions in bringing about change. The issue is that no dictators have been toppled because of simple dialogue and negotiations without a real people power movement – often in the form of contentious actions –that stood behind them. Resistance in that sense seems to be a positive feature of nonviolent actions and is the very element that distinguishes nonviolent organizing from processes such as economic development. Dictators love to talk about the latter to stress the necessity for stability and peace that guarantee their rule. I would like to hear your perspective on this in the light of some parts of your presentation that had a critical view on civil resistance.
A: Major political change is not an either/or proposition. It's not a matter of civil resistance versus development. More importantly, civil resistance should not be the aim of those seeking political change. Political change should be the aim. And civil resistance is but one tool, and not even always a necessary tool. Stephen Zunes documented much positive political change in three countries in the webinar that followed this one. And none of the political change that he documented involved massive disruption and resistance to bring down a dictator. Au contraire. See the response to Question 1 above: to the extent that those who sit on the fence see efforts for major political change merely as reactionary resistance instead of positive development, they are less likely to get off the fence, less likely to add to the power of a movement, which might best not be called a resistance movement but an alternative movement.
Q:Among scholars who study civil resistance, this term is used to describe a large variety of actions other than demonstrations and protests. In your presentation, however, you criticized it saying that it is not necessary to bring about a successful outcome for a movement. Instead of defining civil resistance with such a narrow scope (e.g. disruption, obstruction), shouldn’t the criticism be directed toward those that rely upon physical actions in the street, rather than those that advocate and practice civil resistance in its entirety (for example, a landless people’s movement in Brazil or for that matter, a number of anti-communist movements in Central Europe)?
A: I have no issue with widening the concept of civil resistance, but I hesitate to call all forms of opposition to existing policies as resistance, a needlessly belligerent term. A constructive programme can be construed as resistance, and indeed it is likely to be construed as resistance and thus crushed if those who pursue the constructive programme call it resistance. But if it is simply called a constructive programme, a new way of doing things, then it is less likely (1) to be targeted by an oppressive regime in its early stages (2) more likely to succeed in its later stages, and (4) less likely to attract the sorts of people who enjoy antagonizing, and (4) more likely to attract the kinds of people who want a constructive alternative. Similarly, I take issue with the use of the term obstructive, just as I have some issue with the term resistance. In a sense, the term civil resistance or at least the term civil obstruction is almost—I say almost—an oxymoron. Obstruction for obstruction's sake, resistance for resistance's sake, are ultimately counterproductive to building a power base. One must always be open to dialogue, which need not cede one's growing power. The resistance must be a resistance of conscience, not something aimed at harming another. If it is aimed at harming another, then it's not nonviolent.
Q: One might say that two different types of self-reliance exist. The first kind could be called "egoistic" or "selfish" self-reliance, in which people are indirectly in cahoots with a ruling government or their community’s adversary for their own enrichment and well-being. They value stability and economic prosperity over systemic change and are thus aligned with those who want to preserve status quo. The other kind- “selfless self-reliance” - is more similar to what Gandhi advocated: communitywide self-reliance. This type of reliance involves thousands or millions of local actors who work to develop parallel instutions, ruling structures, and/or other capacities so that they can function outside of the boundaries set for the rest of society. How does one encourage the use of community/selfless self-reliance while simultaneously discouraging egoistic self-reliance?
A: This is a good question, and I'm not sure I have a good answer for it. All I can say is that (1) it may not be an either/or proposition when it comes down to actual practice. That is, one may find both sorts of people engaged in self-reliant activities, various motives and aims in any population. And (2) the power of example will prevail unless so much power is aligned against it.
Q:What if self reliance is not possible in that sense? Take for instance Palestine or South Africa where if you look at the progression of the nonviolent movements self-reliance was sadly never an option as water sources, electricity was nationalized by repressive regimes they fought against. With Gandhi it was a lot easier to become self-sufficient as it was very localised whereas on a macro level to change an entire system of racism it is in that sense harder to do. What is your view on this?
A: It is not my place to counsel Palestinians, who have suffered since the inception of the State of Israel, on being patient. Their struggle is a long one, to be sure, and many have been born and died during the course of that struggle. The same holds true for South Africa. However, we can look back at South Africa and see that, in the end, nonviolent action prevailed. And in the end, I am confident that nonviolent action could prevail in Israel/Palestine. Until recently, the Palestinians have had a difficult time publicizing their nonviolence, and, as in Burma, the nonviolent movement has not been helped by activists who engage in violence. The violence has been most counterproductive to an earlier coming to terms between the parties.
Q:I am originally from Tajikistan but I live here in the USA. What would be your advice to those people who live outside but still want to see their parents, friends, people in free and fair society?
A: First, what do your parents, friends, and others in Tajikistan want? Do they want to leave, or do they want to stay? If they want to leave, you know what to do since you have left. If they want to stay, then the answers are the same as in the presentation. Your parents, friends, and relatives should work to build alternatives that initially do not threaten the powers that be. Develop power that makes the leaders irrelevant. Heed the advice of Srdja Popovic, one of the Otpor leaders and the author of "Blueprint For Revolution." I quote him at length in one chapter in my own book Violence and Nonviolence: An Introduction. He speaks of the difficulties facing Syria shortly after war erupted there. His advice was sage: boycotts, especially economic boycotts not active violent struggle, are a very effective tool against repression and a better option than violence against an oppressive regime. But from the outside, you might work to develop micro-loans, not just for friends and family but a much larger program that builds power in the base. Work to develop exchange programs—student exchange programs, professor exchange programs. Work to foster as much interaction as possible between people from home with those in other countries. Educate others like myself, who are generally ignorant of the situation in Tajikistan, about Tajikistan. Do this on a one-to-one basis. Do this on a larger scale. Writing letters to representatives in Congress is less effective than writing op-ed pieces, which they are more likely to read and which will reach many more people.
Recorded discussion from live ICNC webinar conducted on February 26, 2015
Police brutality and militarization have reached crisis proportions for people of color in the United States. Youth, students, clergy, educators, lawyers, civil rights leaders, and hundreds of community grassroots coalitions and national organizations have come together to nonviolently resist repressive violence and a lack of accountability through mass organizing, rallies, teach-ins, protests, speakouts, and marches. Consciousness and mobilization are spreading and scaling-up, particularly on college campuses. The narrative and discourse about policing and laws are changing in cities and towns across the nation. What is the vision of this peaceful civil resistance movement? What strategies, goals and methods are being tried in the Ferguson-St. Louis area of Missouri? How can the movement ensure nonviolent discipline among its participants? What is this movement seeking as redress against police repression and overreach? What is the movement's real adversary? How must the movement define its interactions with the police? What cutting-edge, long-term solutions will keep our communities safe and united? This webinar will aim to address these questions in addition to discussing community dialogues and truth telling hearings (see http://www.thetruthtellingproject.org/) that have been organized in St. Louis, Missouri for March 13-15th, 2015, following a historic 50th Anniversary march on the bridge in Selma Alabama.
-Pastor Cori Bush, Kingdom Embassy International -Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Civil Rights Activist and Distinguished Senior Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University -Dr. David Ragland, Visiting Professor at Bucknell University -Barbara J. Wien, Professorial Lecturer at American University
Based on a newly-published edited book Civil Resistance and Conflict Transformation. Transitions from Armed to Nonviolent Struggles (Routledge August 2014), this webinar will provide some insights on the interplay between civil resistance, armed insurgency and conflict transformation. Particular focus will be placed (both conceptually and empirically) on the phenomenon of armed groups shifting their conflict-waging strategies from violent to nonviolent means, especially in contexts which cannot be resolved by force but are also 'unripe' for conventional de-escalation methods such as negotiation and political integration. Relying on evidence from such various settings as South Africa, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua, Mexico, Colombia, Nepal and Egypt, the webinar talk will review the dynamics of organizational and strategic shifts from armed to unarmed conflict and factors inducing such transitions - from a change of leadership and a pragmatic re-evaluation of the goals and means of insurgency in the light of evolving inter-party power dynamics, to the search for new local or international allies and the cross-border emulation or diffusion of new repertoires of action.
Recorded discussion from live Webinar conducted on Tuesday, October 7, 2014
This webinar analyzes the unfolding "umbrella revolution" in Hong Kong. International media have reported on how hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong protestors have maintained nonviolent discipline and order. International observers see images common to nonviolent movements around the world: strength in number, determined faces in front of riot police, slogans, songs, and more. Beneath such broad strokes of similarities, Hong Kong is unlike other cases given the constitutional structure of "one country, two systems" agreed to between Beijing and London. While Hong Kong has only semi-democracy, people are free to protest. While the police sometimes make arbitrary arrests, the independent judiciary inherited from the colonial era routinely releases activists. This constitutional structure presents a very open political space unseen in the rest of China and yet makes it difficult for activists to mobilize the largely contented population. Against this backdrop, the unprecedented use of riot police and the firing of tear gas seemed to have galvanized popular support for the protesters fighting for genuine democracy and increased sympathy for their nonviolent actions.
Recorded discussion from live Webinar conducted on April 9, 2014
An ICNC-moderated webinar discussion brought together four Ukrainian guests with backgrounds in academia, journalism, activism, and policy to talk about the political conflict in Ukraine. A number of false narratives have emerged that branded the Maidan Revolution as violent, driven by radicals and external powers. After the invasion of Crimea and its annexation to Russia some commentators suggested that the outcome of the referendum reflected the preferences of the majority of the Crimean population and the political change represented by the annexation of Crimea to Russia was in fact engineered peacefully, which contrasted with the supposedly violent nature of the Maidan Revolution that brought down the Yanukovych regime.
This webinar addressed the prevailing misconceptions that emerged around the conflict in Ukraine. It discussed the origin, goals, strategies and tactics behind the Ukrainian Maidan movement, as well as its composition and its responses to the state-sponsored repression. Webinar discussants talked about the role of a violent minority - a radical flank in the movement - and reflected on the impact of external actors in the Ukrainian struggle. How, and more importantly why was the Yanukovych regime ultimately brought down? In the final part of the conversation, the speakers offered their views on the ongoing mobilization of the Ukrainian society against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and against a possible Russian invasion of other parts of Ukraine, as well as civic organizing to support but also pressure the Ukrainian government to implement needed reforms.
-Nataliya Gumenyuk, Ukrainian journalist, Co-Founder of Hromadske.TV -Olga Onuch, Newton Fellow, University of Oxford / Research Fellow, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute -Dmytro Potekhin, Trainer and consultant in strategic planning and nonviolent resistance -Olena Tregub, Policy expert of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and a writer for Kyiv Post
Sharon Erickson Nepstad, University of New Mexico Wednesday, November 13, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
Recent studies have emphasized that security force defections can greatly improve the odds that civil resistance movements will achieve their goals. Yet we still know relatively little about the factors that influence defections and the long-term consequences for nonviolent struggles. In this webinar, I briefly describe a variety of security force responses, from shirking to desertions to mutiny. Then I summarize ten factors that shape whether security forces remain loyal, side with civil resisters, or divide internally. To illustrate these factors, I explore several cases from the Arab Spring.
I examine Egypt, where the military sided with civil resisters. I also analyze Bahrain, where the military remained loyal to the state. Finally, I examine Syria, where the military split, leading to civil war. I show how the political rulers often use patronage and ethnic or sectarian favoritism to keep troops loyal but how these same factors can actually contribute to security forces' decision to withhold cooperation from the state. I conclude the webinar by examining some of the problems that may arise when defectors join the opposition and some ways that civil resisters can address these issues to maintain their autonomy and control of the movement.
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at University of San Francisco; Co-Chair, ICNC Academic Advisors Committee Thursday, October 3, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
The power of strategic nonviolent action in successful pro-democracy insurrections against autocratic regimes has been well-documented. Less well known has been the role of strategic nonviolent action in defending democracies against attempted coup d'états. This webinar examines the history and theory of civil resistance against efforts by the military or other undemocratic elements to overthrow democratic governments and replace them by autocratic regimes.
Starting with a review of Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins' monograph The Anti-Coup, the presentation then looks at a series of case studies from Latin America and elsewhere during the past century, particularly in recent decades. The presentation concludes by examining cases where nonviolent civil insurrections have prompted the military to force out the president and the ensuing struggle to insure the interim military leaders allow for a genuine transition to democracy.
Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director, Education and Research at ICNC Thursday, June 6, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
The modern practice of civil resistance sprang from the ideas about the underlying nature of political power and agency of people that began to be formed much earlier in history than many realize.
In fact, as the newly edited book Recovering Nonviolent History. Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles shows, in the last two centuries, many societies - regardless of geographical, cultural, religious, or political settings - engaged in successful nonviolent resistance to defend themselves from foreign domination and protect their national communities.
In the age of revolutions, rise of violent nationalism, independence wars, brutal anti-colonial struggles and major internal and regional wars the history hides important nonviolent campaigns that were led by ordinary people with the aim of reclaiming their rights to self-rule.
This webinar talk will discuss the power and dynamics of civil resistance, bring up stories of unarmed struggles, often buried beneath eulogized violence, and account for denials of civil resistance in national annals.