On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, key organizations within two movements received the James Lawson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonviolent Conflict, in recognition of their extraordinary use of civil resistance to challenge injustices that impact millions worldwide: corruption and slavery.
In Mauritania, the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) is at the forefront of a nonviolent struggle against slavery that has led to the liberation of thousands from Mauritania’s system of coerced servitude. Despite arrests of its leadership, IRA continues its work to free slaves and end discrimination against oppressed groups in Mauritanian society.
In Kenya, HAKI Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) are leading organizations that empower and mobilize communities to engage in grassroots nonviolent action to end corruption, impunity, poverty, and marginalization as experienced by regular people in Mombasa and the coastal region.
All three organizations have been subject to harsh government repression for their actions.
- For more information on the 2016 award ceremony, read the ICNC Summer Institute 2016 press release.
Watch the video of the awards ceremony below
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. The 14 laureates to date represent a broad range of people with relationships to past and ongoing movements.
The award is named after the Reverend Dr. James Lawson, who in the 1960s organized and led one of the most effective campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance in the 20th century: the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, which added significant momentum to the US Civil Rights Movement. In the years that followed he was involved in the strategic planning of other major campaigns and actions and was called “the mind of the movement” and “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world” by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Specifically, the award recognizes 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.
Past Lawson Award Laureates
Iyad Burnat, Head of Bil’in Popular Committee, Palestine
- Watch the 2015 Lawson Award Ceremony at the ICNC Summer Institute.
- Read the 2015 Lawson Award press release.
- Read about, and watch a video interview with Iyad Burnat on openDemocracy.
- Order a copy of Iyad Burnat’s book, Bil’in and the Nonviolent Resistance.
- Read “Eleven years of protesting Israel’s occupation” in Al Jazeera, which mentions Iyad Burnat and the award.
Yorm Bopha, Cambodia, Land Rights Activist
Howard Clark, United Kingdom (posthumous), Peace Activist, Scholar, Former Chair of War Resisters International
Kumi Naidoo, South Africa, Former Executive Director of Greenpeace International
Jacques Semelin, Distinguished Genocide and Civil Resistance Scholar, France
- Watch the 2014 Lawson Award Ceremony at the ICNC Summer Institute.
- Read “A life in nonviolent resistance: remembering Howard Clark” on openDemocracy, a compilation of “writings and videos from across Howard’s career, together with contributions from ICNC and some of his closest colleagues, in a celebration of his work.”
- Read “James Lawson Award helps to build the legacy of activism” on Waging Nonviolence.
Evgenia Chirikova, Russia, Environmental Activist, Co-Founder of Defend Khimki Forest
Mkhuseli Jack, South Africa, Former Organizer of Anti-Apartheid Movement
Oscar Olivera, Bolivia, Leader of Movement against Water Privatization in Cochabamba
Jenni Williams, Zimbabwe, Founder of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise
- Watch the 2013 Lawson Award Ceremony at the ICNC Summer Institute.
- Read this Public Radio International article about Evgenia Chirikova.
- Read this Deutsche Welle interview with Jenni Williams.
- Read this article on Oscar Olivera in la Razon (in Spanish).
Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives, Former President, Global Climate Activist
- Watch the 2012 Lawson Award Ceremony at the ICNC Summer Institute.
Nada Alwadi, Bahrain, Human Rights Researcher, Journalist and Lecturer
Lhadon Tethong, Tibet/Canada, Director, Tibet Action Institute
Ghada Shahbender, Egypt, Member, Board of Trustees, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Mary King, Distinguished Civil Resistance Scholar, Educator, Civil Rights Era Activist
- Read about the ceremony in Waging Nonviolence.