Dr. Peter Ackerman
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Nonviolent conflict is a contest between nonviolent civil resisters and their (often violent) adversaries. In this contest, each side has different strategies and tactics that they can employ to try to win. Civil resistance movements wage their struggle through political, economic, and social pressure, and they have a wide variety of tactics at their disposal to do this. A movement’s adversary often tries to wage its struggle through violent means, which has a completely different dynamic and tactical repertoire than nonviolent methods.
In this asymmetric contest between violent and nonviolent actors, the side that is best organized, most skillful, and most strategic, is more likely to prevail. Therefore, the skillful and strategic choices that civil resistance movements make are of critical importance to their outcome.