Nonviolent Civic Action in Support of Human Rights and Democracy

Study 12-05-2009

Nonviolent action is increasingly used by diverse groups around the world to demand human rights, advocate for justice, establish democracy and insist on transparency and accountability in governance. It can serve as an alternative to violent struggle for people facing oppression, undercut the power of extremist and militant armed groups, and contribute to regional security and stability. This study argues that international support for nonviolent movements can be vital, but needs to be based on an understanding of the movement itself, its strategy, circumstances and needs. It must be an extension of, not a replacement for, local strategically-planned nonviolent resistance, and should be informed by close consultation with grass-roots nonviolent movements about what is welcome and appropriate. The authors propose that more should be done to make EU programmes less state-centred and to encourage ‘democratisation-from-below’, by supporting the independent organisational capacity of civil society.