Nonviolence and Social Empowerment


edited by Chris Ney

Timed to coincide with the launch of its new Nonviolence Programme, War Resisters' International finally publishes articles based on presentations at its 'Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Study Conference" in February 2001. While not complete, these articles reflect some of the discussion at the conference. which was the result of a process over several years. In a report of the conference, War Resisters' International wrote: "The conference program stretched the bow from personal experiences with empowerment and disempowerment, over working in groups and organisations to social movements and to international cooperation (or disempowering tutelage?) (...)"

More than providing new answers this conference raised new questions, and again raised old questions in new circumstances. "Globalization" or its effects ran as a topic through many plenaries and working groups. What are the effects of globalization on the social movements? What possibilities exist to counter the "globalization of multinationals" with a "globalization from below", a globally connected resistance, that is empowered by its variety?'

Chris Ney kindly agreed to edit case studies submitted for the conference, and War Resisters' International would like to thank him for his work, and is glad to be able to finally make these resources available to a wider public online.


  • Empowerment: just another phrase?

    By Vesna Terselic

    This article considers whether empowerment is simply a new buzz word or a better way to understand people's movements. Terselic works with AntiRatna Kampanja (ARK), Croatia and was awarded the Right Livelihood "alternative Nobel" award
  • What Power Do We Want??

    By Cecelia Moretti

    Does power always corrupt or should it be seized? An examination of the possibilities for the use of power without domination. Moretti is a Vice-Chair of War Resisters' International and lives in Buenos Aires.
  • Empowerment and women

    by Phushpa Bhave

    Offers a feminist critique of empowerment as a manifestation of patriarchy's obsession with power. Bhave is a feminist and professor residing in Mumbai (Bombay) India.

  • Collective identities: trap or tool for empowerment?

    by Andreas Speck

    Using the gay rights movement as an example, this article examines the possibilities and pitfalls of identity politics. Speck is on the staff of War Resisters' International in London and an organizer of the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment project.
  • Be realistic, demand the impossible

    by Howard Clark

    Social movements past and present have offered empowerment to their participants, but how permanent are the changes they promote? Clark is a long time nonviolent activist and past staff person for War Resisters' International.
  • Empowerment: International Dimensions

    by Andreas Speck

    A critical evaluation of War Resisters' International's work to empower anti-militarist activists across national lines. Speck is on the staff of War Resisters' International in London and an organizer of the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment project.
  • Fear--a sign that we are alive

    by Roberta Bacic

    A basic human emotion, fear reminds us that we are challenging boundaries and a recognition of its proper place is an important part of any activist effort. Bacic is a human rights activist from Chile who is currently on the staff at War Resisters' International's London Office.



  • Peace in Bougainville and the Work of the Leitana Nehan Women's Development Agency

    by Kris Hakema

    The dramatic story of conflict resolution during a bloody civil war in Papua New Guinea. Hakema's family has played an active role in promoting nonviolence and reconciliation in PNG after their home was destroyed during the civil conflict there.
  • Resisting the War in Yugoslavia
    by Bojan Aleksov

    Describes the author’s experiences as a war resister during the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the impact of his decision on himself, friends, and activist colleagues. Aleksov was imprisoned for resisting conscription to the Yugoslav army.
  • Paradise Invaded: The U.S. Navy Bombs Puerto Rico
    by Roberto Rabin

    With massive public support, the longest continuous CD campaign in U.S. history seeks to end military training on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Rabin is spokesperson for the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques.


  • Deterrent Nonviolence

    by Jorgen Johansen

    A people's campaign stops construction of new power plants by organizing, training and threatening to commit civil disobedience; construction is halted without a single arrest. Johansen is a professor and veteran nonviolent activist in Sweden and Norway.

  • The Chipko Movement

    by Prasad Bhatt

    A successful campaign to save the forests in India's Himalayan region from destruction. Bhatt is a Gandhian and a leader of the effort to stop destruction of the trees.


  • Dalit Organising in India

    by Bijay Singh

    Despite laws banning discrimination against dalit (untouchable) castes, many forms of oppression continue to exist-a practice challenged by the Dalit and Adivasi Liberation Trust efforts toward empowerment. Singh works to empower his community through consciousness-raising efforts.

  • The Experience of the Youth Network of Medellin Colombia

    by Martin Rodriguez

    In a city known around the world for violence, a grassroots group uses art and self-expression to empower and change the lives of young people.
  • Inside Out

    by Keith Goddard

    Details the development of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and anti-gay campaigns and statements of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
  • Nonviolent struggle in Kosovo

    by Howard Clark


  • The Movimento Sem-Terra in Brazil

    by Dawn Plummer

    In a nation noted for its savage social inequalities, a movement of landless people presses the claims of displaced peasants and urban homeless people through nonviolent action and education. Isernhagen lives in Sao Leopoldo in Southern Brazil.
  • Self-Employed Women's Union, South Africa

    by Khoboso Nthunya

    More than a decade after the end of apartheid, economic inequality challenges South Africa-a challenge addressed by the women's self-employed union. Nthunya is a South African activist based in Durban.
  • Democracy In Seattle's Streets

    by Chris Ney

    A firsthand report of the nonviolent direct action that stopped the WTO in Seattle and changed the world's perceptions of one of the strongest international finance bureaucracies ever created.
  • Swadhina

    by Saswati Roy

    Swadhina uses grassroots economic development projects as a means of promoting empowerment among India's tribal women. Roy works with Swadhina, the host of the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment conference.


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