New Database of Nonviolent Campaigns Now Available

By George Lakey

[We often hear that nonviolent methods are too idealistic to be seriously considered in “real world” struggles. This database makes it plain that nonviolence has offered a clear alternative to violence for millions through most of recorded history, but increasingly over the past century. – Ed.]


I am happy to announce that a four-year project is now ready for release to you:  430 cases (and growing) of campaigns from around the world that used nonviolent direct action.

See it here: .

Vast Resource

There are:

  • 35 cases of people’s struggles for democracy against domestic  dictatorships,
  • An additional dozen cases of people’s struggles against  repressive regimes of occupation,
  • Dozens of campaigns in the civil rights movement of the U.S.,
  • Dozens of economic justice campaigns from a variety of countries ,
  • Over 60 campaigns to demand change in environmental policies and practices,
  • Campaigns are included from local, regional, national, and  international levels ,
  • Linked cases that have happened in “waves” – the Arab Awakening of 2011, African Democracy Campaigns of early 1990s, Asian Democracy Campaigns of 1980s, Color Revolutions of 2000s, Soviet Bloc independence campaigns (1989-).

We publish only campaigns that have reached the point of completion, not those that are still ongoing.

The database is drawn from nearly all countries of the world, mostly twentieth century, but some dating as far back as 12th century B.C. in Egypt.  Each campaign is shown in two ways:  a searchable database using fields and coded assessments of degree of success, and a 2-4 page narrative showing the play-by-play interaction of the campaign with its opponent and with the allies of each.

The topics the campaigns are about are in six clusters:

  • human rights
  • democracy
  • economic justice
  • environment
  • peace
  • national/ethnic identity

It’s All Free!

You are welcome to use the database for free, for research and for teaching.  It is offered under a Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerive 3.0 Unported license.  You can check out our procedures, methods, and definitions by pushing the “About” button on the home page.

You are also welcome to consider collaboration with us as we grow the database.  Already Tufts University and Georgetown University students have helped the forty Swarthmore College students who have researched and written the cases.  There is a Research Guide and monitoring in place to ensure consistency of research approach.  This fall another Research Seminar aims to add a hundred cases to the database.

All this is brought to you by Peace and Conflict Studies, the Peace Collection, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College.  Φ

George Lakey is Visiting Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies and a Fellow at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibilities at Swarthmore College. He was recognized as Peace Educator of the Year 2010 by the Peace & Justice Studies Association. During his career as one of the world’s leading nonviolence trainers, he was a consultant in many of these nonviolent struggles. You can contact him at

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