Nonviolence Handbook

Intro to section

Planning and facilitating nonviolence training requires a range of tasks, which should be shared by a number of people.

First of all, the campaign organizers need to be aware of when 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 an experienced group to achieve new skills? Do affinity groups need training in group process?

Bombspotting - moving from a national to an international campaign

On July 8th, 1996, the International Court of Justice declared “that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law”. This offered peace movements an additional argument and a legal basis for actions of civil disobedience against nuclear weapons. In Belgium, small actions of civil disobedience at NATO's headquarters and Kleine Brogel air force base were the start of a campaign, Bombspotting, raising the issue of nuclear weapons, and the legal duty to disarm.

Peace Community of San José de Apartadó,Colombia : A lesson of resistance, dignity and courage

The peace community of San Jose de Apartado was founded in 1997 and was born in adverse conditions for nonviolent resistance. The Community is located in an area of Uraba, Colombia, where strong economic interests are at play and where armed conflict is waged between guerrillas (the FARC), state forces and (usually working in collusion with the state) paramilitaries. It is an area where political terror, assassination and intimidation has been used to eliminate leaders and activists. The Peace Community itself is formed of displaced people, people whose parents and grandparents were also victims of violence. Throughout its existence, the Peace Community has had to face campaigns to discredit it from the highest levels of national government and the media, especially under the government of Alvaro Uribe.

South Korea

Not long ago the concept ‘nonviolent way of struggle’ began to be used in Korean social movements. Still, many social activists see nonviolence negatively, as a weak, passive, non-resistant form of struggle, partly because of our own history.


Militarism and patriarchy is deeply rooted in Turkish culture. Currently, war in the 'south-east' is based on ethnic discrimination against Kurds although it is officially described as a 'war against terrorism'. Any attempt to question militarism is called 'treason'. The people most affected by the negative consequences of violence are primarily women, children and elders, and also the religious, ethnic and political minorities. Violence is so internalized in Turkish society that alternative perspectives have been made 'unthinkable' - even among those who normally question hierarchy and promote freedom and equality.

Israel - New Profile learns from the experience of others

There was a new political awareness in Israel in the mid-nineties. Increasing numbers of people were objecting to Israeli's presence in Lebanon and the loss of Israeli lives. Some were questioning the government's infringement into Palestinian lands. Demonstrations were taking place daily, particularly at major intersections, to pressure Israel to get out of Lebanon. There were several groups who were leading the grassroots movements at the time– Four Mothers, Mothers and Women for Peace, and Women in Black.

Chile: Gandhi’s Insights Gave People Courage to Defy Chile’s Dictatorship

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean junta, backed by the CIA and the Nixon Administration, overthrew the democratically elected government of Socialist President Salvador Allende. Priscilla Hayner, in her book Unspeakable Truths, Confronting State Terror and Atrocity (2001) outlines the devastating impact: “The regime espoused a virulent anticommunism to justify its repressive tactics, which included mass arrests, torture (estimates of the number of people tortured range from 50,000 to 200,000), killings, and disappearances.” The dictatorship assassinated, tortured, and exiled thousands of political opponents and visionaries.

International Antimilitarist marches

The International Nonviolent March for Demilitarisation (International March) was an annual event in Europe from 1976 until 1987 that helped spread the idea of organising through affinity groups, with nonviolence training and consensus decision-making.

Seabrook—Wyhl—Marckolsheim: Transnational Links in a Chain of Campaigns

When 18 people walked onto the construction site of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire on 1 August 1976, it was the first collective nonviolent direct action against nuclear power in the USA. Many opponents of nuclear power considered such tactics too radical. Later that month, when 180 people committed civil disobedience at the site, the organizers, the Clamshell Alliance, used nonviolence training and the affinity group structure for the first time. In the future, these elements became well-known and practised throughout the nonviolent social change movement. On 30 April 1977 over 2400 people, organized in hundreds of affinity groups, occupied the site. During the next two days 1415 were arrested, many jailed for two weeks. This action inspired the anti-nuclear power movement and created a new international model for organizing actions which consisted of training for nonviolent direct action and consensus decision-making in a non-hierarchical affinity group structure.

Actions and Solidarity campaign with South Africa

The first calls for an international boycott of apartheid South Africa were made as early as 1958, and in Britain it was seen as a major strategy to be pursued when the Anti-Apartheid Movement was launched in 1959. At the intergovernmental level, South Africa's system of apartheid was widely condemned, especially after the 1960 Sharpeville massacre: in 1961 South Africa was thrown out of the Commonwealth (then called the British Commonwealth) and in 1962 the UN set up a Special Committee Against Apartheid, the next year agreeing a "voluntary" arms embargo. Yet it was not until the 1990s that apartheid finally ended.

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