Nonviolence Handbook

What Makes a Campaign Nonviolent

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Whether or not it includes a clear commitment to nonviolence, most of the basic steps in campaigns are the same: research and collect information, educate and train, develop a strategy. What, then, is unique about a 'nonviolent campaign'? It's certainly more than simply not being violent.
Many organisations and campaigns committed to nonviolence have statements of their nonviolent principles that explain their perspectives. WRI's Statement of Principles describes what we mean when we say we embrace nonviolence:

Introduction to the section

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Planning and facilitating nonviolence training requires a range of tasks that a number of people should share.

First, campaign organisers need to be aware of when and what training is needed. Does the group need training in strategic campaign development or gender sensitivity? Is training needed to prepare a new group of people to participate in nonviolent actions or for an experienced group to achieve new skills? Do affinity groups need training in group process?

How Does Nonviolence Work?

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Nonviolence strengthens a campaign in three ways:

1. Among participants in a campaign. In fostering trust and solidarity among participants, they (ideally) are put in touch with the sources of their own power to act in the situation. Many people don't realise how creative they can be until they have support of others in trying something new.

What is Nonviolence and Why Use it

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Why are you interested in a Handbook on nonviolent campaigns? Probably because you want to make something happen, or perhaps because you want to stop something from happening. Perhaps you sense that nonviolence can offer an alternative to actions that generate hostility and ultimately prove sterile, at least from the point of view of making social change. Perhaps you just want to try something different or get some tips to improve the way your group is already organising actions and campaigns.

Forum Theatre

Forum Theatre is a form of roleplaying that can be used for public action, as described in the article Turkey- Building a nonviolent culture or in training. The basic idea is to act out a scenario, perhaps leading to an undesirable conclusion or violence, and then begin acting out the scenario again but this time either a participant in the roleplay or any other observer can shout at 'freeze' and take over a role in the scenario to try to do something differently. The second time new players act out the scenario from the beginning, but when the roleplay is interrupted with 'freeze', the roleplay resumes at the appropriate place - that is the point when someone would do the newly suggested action.

Role playing

Role playing is a simulation exercise in which participants take on roles in a given situation as preparation for encountering a similar situation or evaluating a past one. Roleplaying is used to develop a sense of tactics, individual competence, and group cohesion. The main advantage of roleplaying over other tools is that by its nature it involves people's emotions as well as their intellects in the experience. Because participants are more deeply engaged in roleplaying than they are in discussing a situation, they learn more, and probably more quickly. Roleplays are a versatile tool that can be used for many different purposes, for example: to analyze situations, theories and tactics; to understand people and their roles; to develop insight into the thoughts and feelings of ones “opponents”; to anticipate new situations; to reveal fears and anxieties and other feelings people have about an action; to develop individual and group competence and confidence; and to develop group morale.

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