Berghof Foundation

United States Institute for Peace (USIP)

Virtual Session 18

Synergizing Nonviolent Action and Peacebuilding

Nonviolent social movements play a crucial role in mobilizing local populations for peace and setting the stage for conflict transformation. Yet peacebuilders often struggle in knowing how to engage with movements, while movement activists are often skeptical of peacebuilding. In this session we discussed the roles that mass movements play in peace processes, and inversely on the role of mediation and dialogue in conflicts involving mass protest movements.

Main Questions
  • What are the long-term outcomes of nonviolent revolutions, particularly for democratization and peacebuilding?

  • What is nonviolent action’s impact on dialogue and negotiation processes during political transitions?

  • What are the merits of combining nonviolent action and peacebuilding skillsets and approaches for more effective conflict transformation?

Key Theses, Thoughts and Ideas

Nonviolent action is integrally linked to peacebuilding since it shifts power without violence to enable a just settlement of conflicts. Political transitions initiated through people power movements lead to stable democracy, especially if movement leaders participate actively in negotiation arenas during the transition.

Peacebuilding agencies can support social movements to be more effective by training activists in framing their struggles inclusively, maintaining nonviolent discipline, building large coalitions, depolarizing antagonistic relations, and preparing for meaningful participation in peace/negotiation processes.

It can be challenging for foreign government agencies (such as GIZ) to work with nonviolent opposition movements, and other international actors may be more ‘natural’ allies such as transnational advocacy campaigns.


Alba Purroy
Oportunidad AC, Women Project Coordinator, Venezuela
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Dr. Jonathan Pinckney
United States Institute of Peace, United States
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Kathrin Lorenz
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
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Véronique Dudouet
Berghof Foundation, Germany
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Current Topics

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The FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum is a series of events on current and overarching challenges and trends in peacebuilding. With the Peacebuilding Forum, we want to provide future-oriented impulses for the development of peacebuilding and strengthen the visibility and importance of the policy field in its entirety.


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und Entwicklung (FriEnt)
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