ICNC Publishes Special Report on Peacebuilding and Civil Resistance

Powering to Peace: Integrated Civil Resistance and Peacebuilding Strategies

(Reposted from: ICNC)

By: Véronique Dudouet, ICNC Special Report Series
Date of publication: April 2017 (44 pages)
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This report explores the complementary ideas and practices that civil resistance and peacebuilding approaches present, each from different points along the conflict transformation spectrum. Both strategies oppose violence in all its forms, and seek to pursue just peace by peaceful means. However, they take different approaches to conflict transformation, both in their analyses of the primary causes of violence and how they respond to conflict. The report then describes how civil resistance and peacebuilding can work in tandem throughout the four stages of transformation of asymmetric conflicts. Concrete examples are provided to illustrate the respective functions of constructive conflict (through civil resistance) and conflict mitigation (through peacebuilding) in transitions from latent to overt conflict, from resistance to dialogue and negotiation, and from conflict settlement to sustainable peace. It highlights in particular:

  • the crucial importance of civil resistance as a violence prevention/mitigation instrument and as a pre-negotiation strategy for oppressed groups, enabling them to wage necessary conflicts through nonviolent means, thereby putting pressure on incumbent elites to redistribute power equitably;
  • the usefulness of peacebuilding’s conflict mitigation methods to translate civil resistance gains
    into mutually acceptable negotiated outcomes and to reconcile polarized relationships in the
    wake of nonviolent struggles; and
  • the need for sustained civil resistance in post-conflict or post-war societies in order to prevent
    and oppose autocratic backlashes, to resist anti-emancipatory, and ‘neoliberal’ tendencies within
    post-war peacebuilding operations, or to put pressure on all stakeholders to implement their
    commitments to progressive state reforms and social justice.

The conclusion highlights takeaways for researchers, nonviolent activists and educators, peacebuilding practitioners and international agencies seeking to support constructive, effective conflict transformation.

About the Author

Véronique Dudouet is senior researcher and program director at the Berghof Foundation (Berlin), where she manages collaborative research projects on non-state armed groups, negotiations, post-war governance and civil resistance. She conducts regular policy advice, peer-to-peer advice and training seminars for or with conflict and peacebuilding stakeholders. She also conducts consultancy research for various civil society organizations and international agencies, and serves as Academic Advisor of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in Washington. She holds an MA and PhD in Conflict Resolution from Bradford University (UK). She has authored numerous publications in the field of conflict transformation, including two books: Post-war Security Transitions: Participatory Peacebuilding after Asymmetric Conflicts (Routledge 2012), and Civil Resistance and Conflict Transformation: Transitions from Armed to Nonviolent Struggle (Routledge 2014).

Launched in 2017, ICNC’s Special Report Series aims to bridge the gap between academic, policy and other practitioner communities. ICNC Special Reports draw on cutting-edge research to show the intersection of civil resistance and other fields such as peacebuilding, conflict resolution and international development.

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