Nonviolence Training

US civil rights movement:Thumbnail

In 1942, radical pacifists formed the Nonviolent Action Committee of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which trained teams to provide leadership in antiracist and antimilitarist work. Out of that grew the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which in 1945 became the first organization to develop nonviolence trainings in preparation for involvement in the civil rights movement.

History of nonviolent movements

Look at the history of your country and you will find episodes of nonviolent action - demonstrations, strikes, boycotts or other forms of popular non-cooperation. They might not be referred to as "nonviolent action", and might not even be mentioned in school books, but they are there, a potential source of inspiration and evidence that nonviolent action in your context is not the invention of foreign agitators. The causes will vary - for the rights of workers and peasants, freedom for slaves, the right to vote for women or people without property, for racial equality, for gender equality, for freedom from occupation, against corruption, against price rises, against military corruption - in short encompassing a range of forms of injustice and domination. However, it was not until the twentieth century - and in particular the campaigns of Gandhi in South Africa and India - that movements discussed nonviolent action as a conscious strategy for social transformation.

Introduction - you and your group

This handbook is written for groups. Perhaps a group that has come together for a specific cause or with a specific theme, perhaps a group based on friendship or affinity in what you feel about the world, perhaps even a group formed for one occasion. Even an individual stand usually depends on having some group support. The campaigns section of the handbook tends to be groups who plan to stay together in the long term, while the section on preparing for action might also be just for those who happen to join up for a specific event.

Introduction to nonviolence training

Nonviolence training can help participants form a common understanding of the use of nonviolence in campaigns and actions. It is a participatory educational experience, where we can learn new skills and unlearn destructive and oppressive behaviours taught in society. Nonviolence training can strengthen a group, developing a community bond while people learn to work better together. Nonviolence training can help us understand and develop the power of nonviolence. It gives an opportunity to share concerns, fears and feelings, and discuss the role of oppression in our society and our groups. Individually, training helps build self-confidence and clarify our personal interactions as well as those of the group. The goal of nonviolence training is the empowerment of the participant and to be able to engage more effectively in collective action. The process includes the use of various exercises and training methods, some of which are included in this handbook.

Introduction to nonviolent action

This handbook has been produced by War Resisters' International (WRI) drawing on the experience of groups in many countries and different generations of activists. At the heart of every nonviolent campaign is the resourcefulness and commitment of the activists, the quality that they or their message has to reach people - to raise questions about how things are, to stir people out of their resignation about what is happening or might happen, to find allies, and to demand a say in decisions that affect their / our lives. That is why one of the notions central to nonviolent action is "empowerment" - a sense of how you can make things happen, especially if you join with others. At various points in this handbook we describe some of the advantages of nonviolent action and give examples of how it works. If there are some terms in the handbook unfamiliar to you, there is also a glossary explaining them.

European Peace Action Forum at the European Social Forum

Malmö 17-21 September 2008

As part of the European Social Forum in Malmö, several antimilitarist and peace groups are organising the European Peace Action Forum.

The forum will focus on 4 themes: NATO and the militarisation of the EU, nuclear weapons, militarisation of space, and the international military industrial complex.

War Resisters' International Nonviolence Training Exchange

Bilbao, Basque Country, 26th - 29th of October 2008

WRI's Nonviolence Programme aims to strengthen and deepen our understanding of nonviolence, both from a strategic and campaigning point of view, and to develop and provide tools and support to groups using nonviolence. To advance further towards this goal, WRI is organising an International Nonviolence Training Exchange in Bilbao, the Basque Country from the 26th to the 29th of October, 2008.

Training Exercises

Wars vs Nonviolence

(30 min)10/10 Strategies - This exercise helps people learn about the rich history of nonviolent campaigns, getting a better understanding of campaigns, tactics and movements. Break into small groups of 5-6. One person in each group needs to list numbers 1 to 10 on a piece of paper. Groups are "competing" with one another to see who can do the task in the fastest time, as opposed to our usual cooperative style. Each group is to list 10 wars as quickly as possible, raising their hands when they are done. Facilitator should note the time.

Brainstorming

Why we choose nonviolence?

Brainstorming is a group technique designed to generate a large number of ideas in a limited amount of time. Most of us have probably used brainstorms in our political work to develop descriptions (i.e. What is nonviolence?) or answer question with as many ideas as possible to consider (i.e. What tactics would help us reach our goals?). It is a good tool to use at meetings and nonviolence training as it gets people energised by the flow of answers. It also helps to listen to more voices within the group.

Gender in Nonviolence Training

Speech by Isabelle Geuskens, Program Manager IFOR-WPP


Thank you for inviting me to speak here this morning!

My remarks here today are from the perspective of peace movement that holds active nonviolence as its core value since 1919, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR).  They are largely based on the experiences of one of its programs, the Women Peacemakers Program.

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