*We mourn the passing of Gene Sharp (1928-2018), an inspiration for nonviolent work around the globe.*
The 2011 Arab Spring has led to a revival of global interest in the phenomenon of nonviolent struggles for human rights and democracy. They are frequently seen as a powerful and constructive strategy for waging and transforming conflict.
Nonviolence might be described as a philosophy, arguing that the use of force is morally and politically illegitimate or counterproductive. It might also be described as a practice to achieve social change and express resistance to oppression.
We understand nonviolent resistance as a central dimension of conflict transformation, especially in contexts of highly asymmetrical power relations, where negotiations and reconciliation needs to be preceded by effective methods of levelling the playing field between conflict parties. Nonviolent action indeed acts as a tool in the hands of oppressed minorities or dominated groups to mobilise and take action towards empowerment and restructuring relations with their powerful opponent (power-holders or pro-status quo forces). The aim is both dialogue and resistance – dialogue with the people on the other side to persuade them, and resistance to the structures to compel change.
Nonviolent movements thus pursue the same goals as peacebuilders, namely, those of social change and increased justice through peaceful means.
Adopting the analytical lens of nonviolence helps us build bridges between research, practice and activism, and across communities or disciplines (e.g. social movements, conflict resolution, security, human rights).
Building on: V. Dudouet, Nonviolent Resistance in Power Asymmetries, Berghof Handbook Article 2011, 244
The Berghof Foundation has a long history of funding projects on nonviolence and nonviolent action, especially in Germany. We are particularly interested in pursuing (or supporting) research, training and educational activities that focus on the following dimensions of nonviolence:
In 2013, Berghof Foundation’s PhD Scholarship call invited applications on the topic of "Nonviolent Resistance". The two PhD scholars chosen for the period 2015 - 2017 are
CERCAPAZ - CERCAPAZ (Cooperación entre Estado y Sociedad Civil para el Desarollo de la Paz) is a major GIZ-administered peacebuilding programme in Colombia, which was supported by Berghof Foundation through facilitation and advice between 2011 and 2014. Out of this collaboration grew numerous lessons learned publications, including:
CNA - The Centre for Nonviolent Action in Belgrade/Sarajevo has been our partner in many activities relating to nonviolent conflict transformation, training and peacebuilding over the past two decades. One of their early contributions to the discussion in the Balkans was:
PAX is a partnership between IKV (Interchurch Peace Council) and Pax Christi from the Netherlands, which is active around the globe. PAX has been a long-standing partner in our work in the Caucasus region. Their support for nonviolent action includes:
ICNC - The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict has been a steady partner and co-funder in our work on nonviolent resistance and offers numerous online educational, media and research resources. See for example: