The Policy and Outreach Program
of the Albert Einstein Institution endeavors to provide the best
resources to date on strategic nonviolent action to groups
fighting for democracy and freedom.
Whether the goal is undermining a dictatorship, blocking a coup
d?鴡t, defending against an invasion, or demanding social
change, our aim is to help increase the skill, competency, and
effectiveness of democratic nonviolent movements to help them
Methods of Nonviolent Action
Nonviolent action has occurred in all parts of
the world. It is a phenomenon that cuts across ethnic, cultural,
religious, geographic, socioeconomic and other demographic
Nonviolent struggles have been waged on behalf of a myriad of
causes and groups (see the applications
of nonviolent action section of our site), and even for
objectives that many people reject. It has been used to prevent,
as well as to promote, change.
Some nonviolent struggles have been major successes, while
others have failed, and still others have had mixed results.
Some cases of the use of this technique in the last century are:
1. The labor and general strikes that
paralyzed Russia in the 1905 Revolution
2. Chinese boycotts of Japanese products in 1908, 1915, and
3. German noncooperation against the Kapp Putsch in
4. German resistance against the French and Belgian
occupation of the Ruhr in 1923
5. The Indian struggle for independence against British
rule from the 1920s-1940s
6. The struggle among Pashtun Muslims in the British
Northwest Frontier Province (now Pakistan) against British
rule between 1930-1934.
7. Resistance to Nazi occupation and rule between 1940-1945
in various European countries, particularly in Norway,
Denmark, and the Netherlands.
8. Nonviolent action to save Jews from the Holocaust in
Berlin, Bulgaria, Denmark, and elsewhere.
9. The ousting of the military dictatorships in El Salvador
and Guatemala in the spring of 1944.
10. The U.S. civil rights movement against racial
segregation, especially during the 1950s and 1960s.
11. Major aspects of the Hungarian revolution of 1956-57.
12. Noncooperation by French conscript soldiers in the
French colony of Algeria, which, combined with popular
demonstrations in France and defiance by the Debr魤e
Gaulle government, defeated the coup d?鴡t in Algiers in
April 1961 before a related coup in Paris could be launched.
13. The Czech and Slovak resistance against the Warsaw Pact
invasion in 1968-1969. This resistance held off full Soviet
control for eight months with improvised nonviolent struggle
and refusal of collaboration.
14. The struggles for increased freedom by dissidents in
Communist-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, especially in
East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States,
15. The Solidarity struggle in Poland, which began in 1980
with strikes to support the demand of a legal free trade
union, and concluded in 1989 with the end of the Polish
16. The nonviolent struggles to end the Communist
dictatorships in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and in East Germany,
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1991.
17. The noncooperation and defiance that defeated the
Soviet ?hard-line? coup d'鴡t in Moscow in 1991.
18. The nonviolent protests and mass resistance against the
Apartheid policies in South Africa, especially between 1950
19. The nonviolent uprising that destroyed the Marcos
dictatorship in the Philippines in 1986.
20. The defiance, protests, and marches that brought down
three Burmese governments in July and August of 1988. This
struggle, however, succumbed to a new military coup in the end
and resulted in mass slaughter.
21. The demonstrations and protests against government
corruption and oppression by Chinese students and others in
over three hundred cities (including in Tiananmen Square,
Beijing) in 1989. However these protests finally ended
following massive killings by the military.
22. The Albanian noncooperation campaign from 1990-1999
against repressive Serbian rule in Kosovo. However, when the
de facto Kosovo government lacked a nonviolent strategy for
gaining de jure independence, a guerrilla Kosovo Liberation
Army initiated violence. This was followed by extreme Serbian
repression and massive slaughters by so-called ?ethnic
cleansing,? which led to NATO bombing and intervention.
23. The movement to oust Serbia dictator Slobodan Milosevic,
which began in November 1996 with Serbs conducting daily
parades and protests in Belgrade and other cities. At that
time, however, Serb democrats lacked a strategy to press on
the struggle and failed to launch a campaign to bring down the
Milosovic dictatorship. In early October 2000, the Otpor
(Resistance) movement and other democrats rose up again
against Milosevic in a carefully planned nonviolent struggle
and the dictatorship collapsed.
24. The ?People Power Two? campaign, which ousted Filipino
President Estrada in early 2001.
These cases are a sample of nonviolent struggles
in the last century. Many more cases have occurred. These cases
are also not intended to necessarily represent of the full
variety of locations, circumstances, or objectives sought by
groups in nonviolent struggles. However, they do illustrate that
this is a technique of action used in many circumstances by many
different people for varying objectives.