ERICA CHENOWETH – Last week, the Vatican hosted a conference on the theme of â€œNonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence,â€ organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace along with the global Catholic peace network Pax Christi International. In their concluding appeal to Pope Francis, the 80 conference participants recommended that he reject Just War Doctrine as a viable or productive Catholic tradition. They also recommended that he write a new encyclical laying out the Catholic Churchâ€™s commitment to nonviolence in all of its manifestationsâ€”including nonviolent action as a means of engaging in conflict, nonviolent conflict resolution as a way of resolving conflict, and nonviolence as the principle doctrine of the Catholic Church.
ERICA CHENOWITH and DR. MARIA J. STEPHAN – Since 2011, the world has been a deeply contentious place. Although armed insurgencies rage across the Middle East, the Sahel and Southern Asia, violent civil conflicts are no longer the primary way that people seek to redress their grievances. Instead, from Tunis to Tahrir Square, from Zuccotti Park to Ferguson, from Burkina Faso to Hong Kong, movements worldwide have drawn on the lessons of Gandhi, King and everyday activists at home and abroad to push for change.
INTERVIEW BY TERRY MESSMAN – Erica Chenoweth and her co-author, Maria Stephan, reveal in their book, Why Civil Resistance Works, that during the period of 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns are about twice as effective as violent ones in achieving their immediate goals of either regime change or territorial change. They also found that these trends hold even under conditions where most people expect nonviolent resistance to be ineffective.
Nonviolent campaigns were effective, for instance, against dictatorships; against highly repressive regimes that are using violent and brutal repression against the movements; and also in places where people would expect a nonviolent campaign to be impossible to even emerge in the first place â€” such as very closed societies with no civil society organization to speak of prior to the onset of the campaign.
Chenoweth conducted her research because of the skepticism that a lot of people have about the efficacy of nonviolence in these circumstances. In most of the violent insurgencies we look at, people will say the reason they are violent is because nonviolent resistance canâ€™t work in these conditions. This is why itâ€™s particularly striking that even in these types of conflicts, weâ€™re seeing nonviolence resistance outperform so dramatically.