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Trends in Nonviolent Resistance and State Response: Is Violence Towards Civilian-based Movements on the Rise?

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Nonviolent mass movements are the primary challengers to governments today. This represents a pronounced shift in the global landscape of dissent. Through 2010, such movements tended to be surprisingly effective in removing incumbent leaders from power, even when they experienced some repression from the government. But from 2010 through May 2016, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns declined dramatically. I speculate that although there are several probable reasons for this decline, repressive adaptations of authoritarian governments against such campaigns may be part of the story. I summarize some of the common methods of "smart" repression that many authoritarian governments have adopted in response to the growing effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. The article concludes by identifying the potential consequences of such trends for those concerned with atrocity prevention.
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     () -
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Trends in Nonviolent Resistance and State
Response: Is Violence Towards Civilian-based
Movements on the Rise?
Erica Chenoweth
University of Denver
Allyson.Hodges@du.edu
Abstract
Nonviolent mass movements are the primary challengers to governments today. This
represents a pronounced shift in the global landscape of dissent. Through 2010, such
movements tended to be surprisingly efective in removing incumbent leaders from
power, even when they experienced some repression from the government. But from
2010 through May 2016, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns declined dramati-
cally. I speculate that although there are several probable reasons for this decline,
repressive adaptations of authoritarian governments against such campaigns may be
part of the story. I summarize some of the common methods of “smart” repression
that many authoritarian governments have adopted in response to the growing efec-
tiveness of nonviolent resistance. The article concludes by identifying the potential
consequences of such trends for those concerned with atrocity prevention.
Keywords
nonviolent resistance – dissent – repression – protest – conict
Introduction
On March 14, 2016, a car bombing in central Ankara killed dozens of peo-
ple and wounded hundreds more. In response to this bloody event, Turkish
President Erdogan announced his intentions to strengthen terrorism laws
by widening the scope of the denition of terrorist activity. His proposed
denition of terrorism would include those who support or incite terrorist
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violence— including journalists, educators, legislators, and activists deemed
to sympathize with the groups. Although passed under the pretext of the third
major terror attack in Turkey in 2016 alone, it occurs in a broader context of a
widespread, nonviolent popular movement against Erdogan’s government that
will not go away. The so-called Gezi Park protests, which began in response to
plans to build a parking garage in popular park in Istanbul, quickly escalated
into a series of heavy-handed interactions between police and largely peace-
ful protestors and transitioned into full-scale calls for Erdogan’s removal. The
campaign regularly points to examples of repressive state behavior, such as the
police killing of a protesting teenager, to justify its ongoing struggle.
This latest security measure, which is far more draconian and wide-ranging
than existing Turkish counter-terrorism laws, threatens to make the ongoing
movement even more vulnerable to various forms of direct and indirect re-
pression. Critics have expressed concern that these recent laws would make it
easier for the Turkish government to intimidate, harass, and brutalize nonvio-
lent activists who have been organizing this sustained campaign against Er-
dogan’s government since 2013. Yet notably, if the Turkish government adopts
such measures, the repression will be legal, meaning that abuses by security
forces abuses will occur with greater impunity than before. Regardless, by
broadening the government’s ability to use coercive instruments to delegiti-
mize and suppress such actions, the Turkish government has shown that it is as
fearful of a nonviolent popular movement as a protracted terrorist campaign.
Turkey is not alone. Many countries around the world today—from Burundi
to China to Macedonia to Brazil to Iceland—are in the midst of mass popular
uprisings challenging entrenched power. As I detail below, such uprisings have
involved decidedly more nonviolent (albeit disruptive) dissent over time. Some
governments respond to them with varying levels of coercion and conciliation,
whereas other governments (e.g. Russia, Iran, etc.) have adopted more preven-
tive approaches to nonviolent mass dissent. Few studies have evaluated the
implications of this shift for atrocity prevention and “responsibility to protect”
(2) as a humanitarian doctrine.
In this article, I demonstrate the rise of nonviolent mass movements as
the primary challengers to governments today and how this represents a pro-
nounced shift in the global landscape of dissident activity. I show that through
2010, such movements tended to be surprisingly efective in removing incum-
bent leaders from power, even when they experienced some repression from
the government. I also show that from 2010 through May 2016, the success
rates of nonviolent campaigns have declined dramatically, and I speculate that
although there are several probable reasons for this decline, repressive adapta-
tions of authoritarian governments against such campaigns may be part of the
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
1
2
The episodes are dened as violent in accordance with the Correlates of War criteria of at
least 1,000 battle deaths (and at least 100 committed by either side). They are dened as non-
violent when the primary actors are unarmed and rely on peaceful albeit disruptive tactics
such as protests, boycotts, blockages, sit-ins, strikes, etc. These are all episodes where the
contentious endured for at least a week, and the specic tactics were linked to one anoth-
er. For more detail, see Erica Chenoweth. ‘The Major Episodes of Contention Data Set, v1.’
Unpublished data set, University of Denver (2016).
Erica Chenoweth, ‘Why is Nonviolent Resistance on the Rise?’ Diplomatic Courier (28 July
2016).
story. I summarize some of the common methods of “smart” repression that
many authoritarian governments have adopted in response to the growing ef-
fectiveness of nonviolent resistance. The article concludes by reviewing recent
literature on how nonviolent action works in repressive contexts and identify-
ing the potential consequences of such trends for those concerned with atroc-
ity prevention.
The Shifting Landscape of Dissent
Since the 1960s, the use of resistance by unarmed civilians in the context of
mass, nonviolent uprisings has increased dramatically. Figure1 illustrates the
onset of major episodes of contention, which are dened as protracted con-
icts where at least 1,000 people are engaged in contentious action regarding a
maximalist claim—the removal of the incumbent leader from power or terri-
torial self-determination. This trend represents an important shift in the glob-
al landscape of dissent—from violent to relatively nonviolent forms of dissent.
Why the increase in nonviolent struggle? Chenoweth notes at least three
reasons for this shift. First, between 1940 and 2010, nonviolent resistance
became increasingly efective by the decade, achieving an aggregate suc-
cess rate of over 50% during the entire period. As greater numbers of people
recognize the power of nonviolent struggle, they are more likely to turn to it
themselves. Second, new norms and doctrines—such as 2—have brought
about real changes in basic awareness of human rights among people in the
world, as well as a greater willingness of populations to challenge tyrants on
the expectation that dictators can no longer suppress people with impunity.
Another related factor may be the relative decline in available support for
armed insurgencies that existed during the Cold War. Whereas the United
States and the Soviet Union waged proxy wars by backing particular armed
groups or states in their spheres of inuence through the late 1980s, the col-
lapse of the Soviet Union decreased both supply and demand for this practice.
As a consequence, blatant human rights abuses embolden populations to
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That said, it is notable that incidences of nonviolent resistance have been on the rise since
Gandhi’s world-renowned nonviolent struggle for Indian Independence, which preceded the
appearance of the Internet by more than half a century.
It is notable that violent resistance has also declined in its efectiveness since the 1970s.
mobilize, while the threat of international intervention ties the hands of gov-
ernment leaders regarding how they respond to such mobilization. Third,
changes in communication technology—particularly the rise of the Inter-
net—may help to explain why nonviolent resistance in on the rise.
How Efective is Nonviolent Resistance Today?
Through 2010, nonviolent mass movements tended to be surprisingly efective
in removing incumbent leaders from power or achieving territorial indepen-
dence, even when they experienced some repression from the government
(Figure2). However, since 2010, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns have
declined by a staggering rate (about 20% below the average).
Contrary to popular belief, this decline in efectiveness has not occurred
because of a general escalation in outright brutality by opponent govern-
ments. In the current decade, fewer than 15% of nonviolent campaigns have
experienced mass killings—a lower-than-average proportion compared with
previous decades. In other words, nonviolent campaigns in the current era
1900–1909
1910–1919
1920–1929
1930–1939
1940–1949
1950–1959
1960–1969
1970–1979
Nonviolent (n=237) Violent (n=235)
1980–1989
1990–1999
2000–2010
2010–2016
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
 The onset of major episodes of contention, 1/1/1900–5/1/2016
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
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Erica Chenoweth and Evan Perkoski, ‘Do Nonviolent Uprisings Deter Mass Killings?’ Unpub-
lished manuscript, University of Denver, 2016.
 Ibid.
 Ibid.
Benjamin Valentino, Final Solutions: Genocide and Mass Killings in the 20 Century (Ithaca,
: Cornell University Press, 2004).
have been among the least exposed to mass killings by their own governments
since 1955.
In fact, Chenoweth and Perkoski nd that nonviolent resistance campaigns
are far less likely than armed campaigns to elicit mass killings. Notwithstand-
ing exceptions such as Tiananmen Square and the Rabaa Massacre, from 1955–
2013, only 23% of nonviolent campaigns during that entire period experienced
a mass killing compared to over 68% of violent campaigns. Chenoweth and
Perkoski speculate that this is because ordering and carrying out mass killings
in the context of a widespread popular uprising carries signicant political
risks when the uprising does not directly threaten the lives of security forces.
Specically, they nd that mass killings are especially unlikely in cases where
the uprisings elicited defections among security forces.
In his seminal book, Valentino argues that the most common category
of mass killings of civilians takes place in the context of counterinsurgency
campaigns during civil wars. Mass killings are typically organized by elites
when they perceive their power to be threatened existentially—a situation
1940–1949
1950–1959
1960–1969
1970–1979
1980–1989
1990–1999
2000–2010
2010–2016
Nonviolent (n=237)Violent (n=235)
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
 The success rates of major episodes of contention, 1/1/1940–5/1/2016
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Chenoweth and Perkoski, ‘Do Nonviolent Uprisings Deter Mass Killings?’ See also Scott
Straus, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda (Ithaca, : Cornell
University Press, 2008).
 Benjamin Valentino, Paul Huth, and Dylan Balch-Lindsay, ‘Draining the Sea: Mass Killing
and Guerrilla Warfare,International Organization 58/2: 375–407 (2004).
 Courtney Ryals Conrad and Will H. Moore, ‘What Stops the Torture?’ American Journal of
Political Science 54/2: 459–476 (2010).
 Alexander B. Downes, Civilian Victimization in War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
2008).
 Alexander B. Downes and Kathryn McNabb Cochran, ‘Targeting Civilians to Win?
Assessing the Military Efectiveness of Civilian Victimization in Interstate War,’ In Erica
Chenoweth and Adria Lawrence (eds.), Rethinking Violence: States and Non-state Actors in
Conlict (Cambridge:  Press, 2010).
 Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York:
Viking Books, 2011); Joshua, Goldstein, Winning the War on War (New York: W.W. Norton,
2011).
 By this denition, a mass killing takes place when a government kills at least 1,000
unarmed people in a single episode of violence. Jay Ulfelder and Benjamin Valentino,
‘Assessing Risks of State-sponsored Mass Killing,’ Unpublished manuscript, available at
: http://ssrn.com/abstract=17033426. Last accessed 23 December 2015.
most likely to arise during internal armed conict where guerrilla movements
create this perception. As threatened elites conclude that they must deprive
such movements of their bases of support, Valentino argues that those elites
tend to adopt coercive methods that often directly or indirectly result in wide-
spread civilian fatalities. Traditional security forces—police, internal security
agents, and in some cases the military—are likelier to cooperate with orders
to implement atrocities when they, too, are under constant threat of armed
attack. Therefore, regimes experiencing a sustained armed insurgency pos-
sess the motivation and capacity to carry out such attacks on civilians. Un-
der the context of violent dissent, then, it is likely that civilians will sufer
from scorched earth counterinsurgency tactics, torture, and state terror.
Indeed, Downes suggests that civilian victimization has a strategic logic, and
that it often succeeds in its grisly aims, although later studies question whether
this is the case. Regardless, it is clear that civil wars and mass atrocities often
go together. Further corroborating this correlation, as violent uprisings and in-
surgencies have declined worldwide, mass killings (as dened by the Political
Instability Task Force Atrocities Dataset) have also declined.
That said, the relative paucity of mass killings in the context of nonviolent up-
risings does not mean that these contentious episodes experience no violence
from their opponents. Davenport suggests that all forms of dissent provoke
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 Christian Davenport, ‘State Repression and Political Order,’ Annual Review of Political
Science 10:1–23 (2007).
 Sabine Carey, ‘The Use of Repression as a Response to Domestic Dissent,Political Studies
58/1:167–186 (2010).
 Cullen Hendrix and Idean Salehyan, ‘A House Divided: Regime Factionalism and Repres-
sion in Africa,’ Journal of Conlict Resolution (forthcoming).
 Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of
Nonviolent Conlict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011); Chenoweth and Perkoski,
‘Do Nonviolent Uprisings Deter Mass Killings?’.
 Christopher Sullivan, ‘Undermining Resistance: Mobilization, Repression, and the En-
forcement of Political Order,Journal of Conlict Resolution (forthcoming).
 There may be several other reasons for this decline in efectiveness. First, because non-
violent resistance has become such a popular and widespread practice, it is possible that
those wielding it do not yet have the requisite skill sets to ensure victory. For example,
Kurt Weyland has shown that radicals in various European capitals mobilized against
their dynastic sovereigns with a sense of false optimism, having witnessed a successful
revolution in France in February of 1848 (Kurt Weyland, ‘The Difusion of Revolution:
“1848” in Europe and Latin America,International Organization 63/3:391–423 (2009)).
They essentially drew what Weyland calls “rash conclusions” about their own pros-
pectsfor success and attempted to import the French revolutionary model into their own
coercion to some degree—what he calls the “law of coercive responsiveness.”
But the scope, scale, and intensity of that repression varies based on whether
the uprising is primarily nonviolent, the size and diversity of the movement’s
participation, the ethnic identity of diferent government institutions, and
the willingness of security forces to follow orders.
Most security forces are willing to engage in some lethal violence against
unarmed dissidents. Although there tend to be limits to their willingness to
commit acts of mass violence when they perceive few immediate threats to their
own lives, security forces used lethal repression against over 80% of nonviolent
campaigns occurring during the 1900–2006 period. Since 2007, however, this
trend has increased to nearly 92%, indicating that limited applications of brute
force remain common tools that authoritarian leaders use to combat challenges
from nonviolent campaigns. Sullivan suggests that mass repression that com-
bines elements of inltration, surveillance, targeted repression, and widespread
state terror can destroy an opposition movement. And although the majority
of mass nonviolent campaigns has succeeded in the end, facing sustained lethal
repression from the opponent is a major challenge for any campaign.
A propos of the current topic, the ability of authoritarian governments to
adopt more politically savvy repressive tools may be part of the reason for the
decline in success rates in the past six years. As the success of nonviolent
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contexts, failing miserably. Second, a higher proportion of nonviolent uprisings since 2010
possess “violent anks”—segments or groups within the campaign that destroy property,
engage in street ghting, or use lethal violence alongside a predominantly nonviolent
movement—than in previous decades. Violent anks tend to undermine participation
rates in nonviolent movements while discouraging security force defections (see Erica
Chenoweth and Kurt Schock, ‘Do Contemporaneous Armed Challenges Afect the Out-
comes of Mass Nonviolent Campaigns?’ Mobilization: An International Quarterly 20/4:
427–451 (2015)). Whereas the most successful decades of nonviolent resistance featured
highly disciplined campaigns of nonviolent action, today almost 50% of primarily nonvi-
olent campaigns possess some degree of violent activity from within. Third, governments
may have become more adept at keeping key members of their coalitions inoculated from
temptation to defect, either through side payments and privileges, promises of power, or
shares in sovereign rents. This explanation has some merit, since the number of defec-
tions by security forces has decreased from 30% from 1900–2007 to 20.8% from 2007–2009
(dropping even lower—to 17.6% from 2010 through 1 May 2016).
 Erica Chenoweth, ‘Trends in Civil Resistance and Authoritarian Responses,’ in Maria J.
Stephan and Mat Burrows (eds.), Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? (Washington,
: Atlantic Council, 2015).
 Thomas Carothers and Saskia Brechenmacher, Closing Space: Democracy and Human
Rights Support Under Fire (Washington, : Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 2014).
 William J. Dobson, The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy
(New York: Anchor, 2012); Steven Heydemann, Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab
world. Saban Center Analysis Paper Series 13, Brookings Institution. October (2015);
Regine Spector, ‘The Anti-Revolutionary Toolkit,’  Analyst, 13 December 2006; Regine
Spector, and Andrej Krickovic, ‘Authoritarianism 2.0: Non-Democratic Regimes are
resistance has become more widely known, such uprisings have become more
salient for tyrants.
Authoritarian Adaptations
Authoritarian leaders have begun to develop and systematize sophisticated
techniques to undermine and thwart nonviolent activists. Some authori-
tarian regimes have adopted methodical strategies for the prevention of and
response to nonviolent dissent, which focus on reinforcing the loyalty of elites,
inltrating and dividing opposition movements, and reinforcing public claims
to legitimacy. Some have categorized this phenomenon as a broader trend in-
volving the “closing of space for civil society,” while others have argued that
this represents an “upgrading” of authoritarian governance to stabilize such
regimes more generally. Few existing studies systematically catalogue the
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Upgrading and Integrating Globally,’ Paper presented at the 49 Annual International
Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, , 26 March 2008.
 Dobson, The Dictator’s Learning Curve; Spector, ‘The Anti-Revolutionary Toolkit.’
 This table is adapted from Spector, ‘The Anti-Revolutionary Toolkit’; Spector and
Krickovic, ‘Authoritarianism 2.0: Non-Democratic Regimes are Upgrading and Integrat-
ing Globally,’ and Chenoweth, ‘Trends in Civil Resistance and Authoritarian Responses.
diferent forms of smart repression available to diferent regimes, although
many qualitative accounts do exist. I classify some of these activities accord-
ing to their primary foci in Table1.
Certainly none of these categories is mutually exclusive; many authoritar-
ians seem to use many of these strategies simultaneously. And in all prob-
ability, few of these authoritarian adaptations are new. Governments have
long used these particular tactics to prevent or subvert dissent of all forms.
But what is new is many regimes’ concerted attention on nonviolent forms
of dissent as a particularly insidious kind of uprising. Whereas in previous
 Methods of authoritarian adaptation against nonviolent resistance
Strategies to Reinforce Elite Loyalty
Pay of the inner entourage
Co-opt oppositionists
Use public brutality against accused defectors to deter further defections
Strategies to Suppress or Undermine the Movement
Use direct violence against dissidents or their associates
Counter-mobilize one’s own supporters
Plant plain-clothes police and agents provocateurs
Solicit the help of paramilitary groups and pro-state armed militias
Inltrate the movement and engage in surveillance
Pass pseudo-legitimate laws and practices that criminalize erstwhile legal
behaviors
Add administrative and nancial burdens to civil society groups
Strategies to Reinforce Support among the Public and Other Observers
Blame foreigners and outsiders
Mischaracterize domestic oppositionists as terrorists, traitors, coup plotters, or
communists
Conceal information through censorship and spin
Remove foreign journalists from the country
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 Spector, ‘The Anti-Revolutionary Toolkit’; Spector and Krickovic, ‘Authoritarianism 2.0:
Non-Democratic Regimes are Upgrading and Integrating Globally.
 Staf Writer, ‘Russian Military to Order Major Research to Counter “Color Revolutions,”’
RT.com, 19 June 2015. Accessible at https://www.rt.com/politics/268378-russian-military-
color-revolutions/, last accessed 31 May 2016.
 Anika Binnendijk and Ivan Marovic, ‘Power and Persuasion: Nonviolent Strategies to
Inuence Security Forces in Serbia (2000) and Ukraine (2004),Communist and Post-
Communist Studies 39:411–439 (2006); Terence Lee, ‘The Armed Forces and Transitions
from Authoritarian Rule: Explaining the Role of the Military in 1986 Philippines and
1998 Indonesia,’ Comparative Political Studies 42/5:640–669 (2009); Ore Koren, ‘Military
Structure, Civil Disobedience, and Military Violence,Terrorism and Political Violence
decades, governments may have underestimated the potential of nonviolent
mass movements to threaten their hold on power, they appear increasingly
unlikely to make this mistake today. Precisely because of the growing efec-
tiveness of nonviolent struggle, some governments have recently adopted sys-
tematic strategies to undermine and contain nonviolent uprisings with much
greater intentionality and coordination than in previous decades.
For instance, Spector and Krokovic note that many Russian, Chinese, and
Iranian ocials increasingly see nonviolent popular uprisings as “soft coups”
meant to expand Western inuence and interests. Russia in particular has
led a number of cooperative initiatives among other states designed to prevent
“color revolutions,” which senior Russian ocials deem to be a form of Western
political inltration and subversion in rival regimes. This has resulted in joint
eforts to develop, systematize, and report on techniques and best practices for
containing such threats among Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Venezuelan, Bela-
russian, Syrian, and other national authorities. Russian authorities have even
commissioned years-long research studies on ways to efectively repress such
movements, with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explaining this pri-
ority as follows: “We must understand how to prevent [color revolutions] and
how to teach the younger generation so that it supported the calm and gradual
development of our country.”
As a result of this adaptation and coordination, the world is likely to witness
an increase in the use of these strategies in a more consistent manner across
diferent authoritarian regimes. When such measures fail, we may also be like-
ly to see governments intensifying coercion with greater frequency. Whether
such eforts escalate to mass killings likely depends upon the willingness of se-
curity forces to cooperate with the ruling regime. But security force defection
is extremely unpredictable, since security forces rarely reveal preferences for
defection publicly until the moment of disobedience itself. As a result, it is
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26:688–712 (2014); Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, The Dictator’s Handbook:
Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics (New York: Public Afairs, 2011).
 Sullivan, ‘Undermining Resistance: Mobilization, Repression, and the Enforcement
of Political Order;’ Christian D. Davenport, How Movements Die (New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2015); Jef Goodwin, No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Move-
ments, 1945–1991 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Fabrice Lehoucq, ‘Does
Nonviolence Really Work?’ Comparative Politics 48/2:269–287 (2016).
 Erica Chenoweth and Jay Ulfelder, ‘Can Structural Factors Explain the Onset of Nonvio-
lent Uprisings?’ Journal of Conlict Resolution (forthcoming).
 Chenoweth and Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent
Conlict.
 Brian Martin, Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backre (Lanham, Md: Rowman and
Littleeld, 2007); David Hess and Brian Martin, ‘Repression, Backre, and the Theory of
Transformative Events,’ Mobilization 11/1:249–267 (2006). Gene Sharp refers to this pro-
cess as “political jiu-jistu.”
dicult to anticipate whether a nonviolent uprising will yield shifts in security
force behavior (and therefore reduce its risk of exposure to a mass killing) at
its outset.
Nonviolent Dissent in Repressive Regimes
Assuming that mass atrocities do take place, can nonviolent resistance per-
sist or succeed in these conditions? The evidence is somewhat mixed. Some
are skeptical that that movements experiencing systematic inltration,
coercion, and censorship can remain viable against committed regimes. But
Chenoweth and Ulfelder nd regimes with poor human rights records are the
most likely types of regimes to face nonviolent uprisings in the rst place.
Moreover, Chenoweth and Stephan nd that nonviolent uprisings are still
twice as likely to succeed in the face of lethal repression as armed uprisings.
In fact, it is actually quite common for nonviolent campaigns to emerge in
response to incidents of repression—a process that Brian Martin calls “back-
re.” For example, the United States Civil Rights Movement emerged both
because and in spite of systematic oppression of Blacks in the United States.
The same could be said of the more contemporary Movement for Black Lives.
The recent Arab Uprisings were also precipitated by repressive incidents (e.g.
adenial of a license for fruit vendor Mohammed Bouzizzi in Tunisia, the brutal
killing of Khaled Said in Egypt, and the torture and killing of several young boys
from Deraa in Syria). Such research and cases suggest that nonviolent resistance
is possible—albeit dicult—even in many repressive contexts. Martin argues
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 Goodwin, No Other Way Out; Lehoucq, ‘Does Nonviolence Really Work?’.
 Christian D. Davenport and Benjamin Appel, ‘Stopping State Repression: An Examina-
tion of Spells, 1976–2004,’ Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Po-
litical Science Association, Washington,  (2014); see also Christian D. Davenport, State
Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace (New York: Cambridge University Press,
2010).
 Elisabeth Wood, Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and
El Salvador (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
 Jacques Semelin, Unarmed Against Hitler: Civilian Resistance in Europe, 1939–1943 (West-
port: Praeger, 1993); see also Jacques Semelin, Claire Andrieu, and Sarah Gensburger
(eds.), Resisting Genocide: The Multiple Forms of Rescue (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2004).
 Veronique, Duduoet, ‘Dynamics and Factors of Transition from Armed Struggle to Non-
violent Resistance,’ Journal of Peace Research 50/3:401–413 (2013).
that movements can prepare for (and increase the likelihood of) backre by
portraying a repressive act as unjust, unfair, excessive or disproportional;
communicating information about the action to relevant audiences; and pos-
sessing a plan to counter censorship and regime propaganda. In other words,
backre is more likely to take place when movements prepare and organize
their responses, rather than improvising responses to repressive incidents.
This line of research also suggests that movements have considerable agency
in dealing with repressive regimes—their choices are not simply to turn to vio-
lence or submit to their grisly fates, as some argue. Instead, they can manage
repression in ways that actually increase their chances of success in the long
run, meaning that authoritarian regimes are often confronted with a dilemma
about whether, how, and to what degree they can deploy coercion to prevent
or suppress nonviolent movements.
In situations where atrocities are already taking place, some suggest that
nonviolent resistance can hasten the end of the crisis. For example, Daven-
port and Appel show that although nonviolent resistance on its own seldom
ends repressive spells, nonviolent uprisings can lead to democratization, and
democratization can end repressive spells in turn. Wood shows how civilian
mobilization, particularly through strikes organized by labor unions, helped
to resolve the civil wars in El Salvador and South Africa, while also leading
to democratization. In his groundbreaking studies of nonviolent action dur-
ing genocide, Jacques Semelin shows how various methods of noncoopera-
tion and resistance against the Nazis and their collaborators saved thousands
of lives. Duduoet nds that many armed insurgencies have turned to civil
resistance, and that this shift has precipitated the end of civil wars in Nepal,
El Salvador, South Africa, and elsewhere. Chenoweth, Hendrix, and Hunter
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 Erica Chenoweth, Cullen Hendrix, and Kyleanne Hunter, ‘Introducing the Nonviolent
Actors in Violent Contexts ( ) Dataset,’ Paper presented at the 2016 International
Studies Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia.
 Desiree Nilsson, ‘Anchoring the Peace: Civil Society Actors in Peace Accords and Durable
Peace,International Interactions 38(2):243–266 (2012).
 Oliver Kaplan, Resisting War (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming); Oliver
Kaplan, ‘Protecting Civilians in Civil War: The Institution of the  in Colombia,’ Jour-
nal of Peace Research 50/3:351–367 (2013); Cassy Dorf, Civilian Autonomy and Resilience in
the Midst of Armed Conlict, PhD thesis, Duke University (2015); Shane Barter, ‘Unarmed
Forces: Civilian Strategy in Violent Conicts,’ Peace and Change, 37/4:544–571 (2012).
 Oliver Kaplan, ‘Nudging Armed Groups: How Civilians Transmit Norms of Protection,
Stability: International Journal of Peacekeeping and Development 2/62:1–18 (2013).
 Patrick G. Coy, ‘Nonpartisanship, Interventionism and Legality in Accompaniment:
Comparative Analyses of Peace Brigades International, Christian Peacemaker Teams,
and the International Solidarity Movement,International Journal of Human Rights 16/7:
963–981 (2012).
 Kaplan, Resisting War.
 Jonathan Sutton, Charles Butcher, and Isak Svensson, ‘Explaining Political Jiu-jitsu:
Institution-building and the Outcomes of Regime Violence against Unarmed Protests,’
Journal of Peace Research 51/5:559–573 (2014).
note that organized, nonviolent popular uprisings played a prominent role in
ending theLiberian civil war. And Nilsson suggests that peace agreements
are far more durable after civil wars when they explicitly involve civil society
groups.
There is some evidence that nonviolent resistance often emerges as a way to
protect civilians in the context of civil war. Such methods have been surpris-
ingly efective in providing civilian protection in Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Syria. Coy illustrates the promise of unarmed accompaniment as a de-
terrent to human rights abuses during conict. Kaplan suggests that latent
levels of community organization can be important preconditions for success-
ful nonviolent resistance to armed actors.
Recent research by Sutton, Svensson, and Butcher likewise suggests that
organizational capacity is a vital aspect of movement resilience to lethal
government violence. In examining state-led one-sided violence against
unarmed demonstrations from 1989–2004, they nd that none of the dem-
onstrations succeeded in the face of one-sided violence unless they were
linked to a largercampaign infrastructure. However, among those nonviolent
demonstrations that were linked to broader campaigns, 46% succeeded in
spite of one-sided violence by their opponent regimes. This suggests that re-
searchers should be interested in not only measuring protest events, but also
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 Kaplan, Resisting War. Chenoweth, Hendrix, and Hunter present new data identifying in-
cidents of nonviolent resistance in the context of African civil wars, which include orga-
nizational capacity incidents (such as meetings and communications) as well as manifest
public events (such as protests, strikes, and demonstrations). Chenoweth, Hendrix, and
Hunter, ‘Introducing the Nonviolent Actors in Violent Contexts () Dataset.’
 Spector, ‘The Anti-Revolutionary Toolkit’; Spector and Krickovic, ‘Authoritarianism 2.0:
Non-Democratic Regimes are Upgrading and Integrating Globally;’ Chenoweth, ‘Trends
in Civil Resistance and Authoritarian Responses;’ Carothers and Brechenmacher, Closing
Space.
identifying diferentmeasures of organizational capacity within movements
and civil society as a whole.
Implications for Mass Atrocity Prevention
What should academics and policymakers make of the growing incidence of
nonviolent dissent and its implications for diferent forms of violence against
civilians? First, researchers and policymakers should recognize the emerging
prominence of nonviolent resistance as the primary mode by which people
press for social and political change around the world. They should acknowl-
edge that because of the historical efectiveness of this technique of popular ac-
tion, authoritarian regimes now consider such movements the primary threat
to their sustainability. As a result, such regimes are adapting and solidifying
numerous measures to prevent the emergence of such movements. Because
many of these actions and practices are often subtle, legal, and/or censored,
they present considerable challenges for those attempting to resist them.
A fairly robust (albeit imperfect) international regime allows international
actors to prevent or respond to overt violations of human rights, direct abuses
of civilians, and mass killings. But no such systematic approaches exist regard-
ing these more subtle measures that, taken as a whole, can amount to equally
sinister deprivations without direct attribution of responsibility. Extant studies
of the phenomenon are largely qualitative at this point. As a consequence,
data on these adaptive repressive tools are not yet available in any databases
where one could use techniques to evaluate trends in their use or their aggre-
gate impacts. Those studying repression and human rights violations should
hasten identication of and data collection on these new adaptations to assist
in early warning of potential human rights abuses.
Second, researchers and policymakers should recognize that governments
have perpetrated mass killings against about 20% of nonviolent movements
since 1955. While this is a much lower proportion than that of civil wars,
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atrocities against civilian movements remain a grave possibility in many cases.
Leaders who perceive these movements to be deeply threatening and who are
able to maintain the loyalty of their security forces are the most likely to com-
mit such acts. As such, a major policy implication of this nding is that foreign
governments that can coordinate defections among security forces—by pro-
viding safe passage, asylum, and/or immunity—may help to reduce the risk of
mass killings against nonviolent movements.
Third, researchers and policymakers should recognize that civilian self-help
in the context of mass atrocities is most likely where communities have al-
ready established organizational capacity through community groups, church-
es, educational initiatives, cooperatives, and other non-state institutions. As a
result, researchers interested in dissent should measure not just manifest pro-
tests or strikes, but also indicators of organizational capacity through which
people can plan, train, coordinate, and build popular participation. Moreover,
a primary concern for policymakers should be to support and encourage the
development of civil society specically meant to build trust and coordina-
tion capacity in societies deemed “at risk” of internal crisis. Those interested in
civilian protection in the long term should view community capacity-building
initiatives as vital deterrents against mass atrocities and violence against civil-
ians more generally.
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... Estas diferencias pueden haber sido influenciadas por el presidente Donald Trump quien tendió a centrarse en los aspectos violentos y destructivos de las protestas, a pesar de su carácter abrumadoramente pacífico, calificando a los manifestantes de turbas violentas, matones, terroristas, anarquistas y saqueadores. De hecho, el enfoque de Trump no era demasiado diferente del de los líderes autoritarios que exageran la violencia y la destrucción de la propiedad asociadas a las protestas con el fin de ganar apoyo para los esfuerzos de mano dura para reprimir las protestas de la oposición (Chenoweth, 2017). ...
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... Estas diferencias pueden haber sido influenciadas por el presidente Donald Trump quien tendió a centrarse en los aspectos violentos y destructivos de las protestas, a pesar de su carácter abrumadoramente pacífico, calificando a los manifestantes de turbas violentas, matones, terroristas, anarquistas y saqueadores. De hecho, el enfoque de Trump no era demasiado diferente del de los líderes autoritarios que exageran la violencia y la destrucción de la propiedad asociadas a las protestas con el fin de ganar apoyo para los esfuerzos de mano dura para reprimir las protestas de la oposición (Chenoweth, 2017). ...
... Estas diferencias pueden haber sido influenciadas por el presidente Donald Trump quien tendió a centrarse en los aspectos violentos y destructivos de las protestas, a pesar de su carácter abrumadoramente pacífico, calificando a los manifestantes de turbas violentas, matones, terroristas, anarquistas y saqueadores. De hecho, el enfoque de Trump no era demasiado diferente del de los líderes autoritarios que exageran la violencia y la destrucción de la propiedad asociadas a las protestas con el fin de ganar apoyo para los esfuerzos de mano dura para reprimir las protestas de la oposición (Chenoweth, 2017). ...
... Estas diferencias pueden haber sido influenciadas por el presidente Donald Trump quien tendió a centrarse en los aspectos violentos y destructivos de las protestas, a pesar de su carácter abrumadoramente pacífico, calificando a los manifestantes de turbas violentas, matones, terroristas, anarquistas y saqueadores. De hecho, el enfoque de Trump no era demasiado diferente del de los líderes autoritarios que exageran la violencia y la destrucción de la propiedad asociadas a las protestas con el fin de ganar apoyo para los esfuerzos de mano dura para reprimir las protestas de la oposición (Chenoweth, 2017). ...
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Non-violent movements are rarely confined to the borders of the societies in which they take place. International actors are prone to take a side in the face of such resistance. Yet knowledge is limited on external actors’ effects on outcomes of non-violent protests abroad. Thus, we zero in on the strategic logic behind major powers’ involvement decisions regarding such movements, and the impact those decisions have on campaign outcomes. We find that major powers tend to undermine non-violent movements when target states are strategically important; we find also an indirect link between major power support for movements and security force defections in target states, thus improving success prospects for the protestors. Our research adds a dyadic international dimension to the question of external support during non-violent resistance movements and expands the current knowledge base regarding the identity and direction of support.
... Second, governments may be learning and adapting to nonviolent challenges from below. 16 Several decades ago, authoritarian regimes frequently found themselves surprised by the sudden onset of mass nonviolent uprisings, and governments struggled to find ways to suppress these movements without triggering increased popular sympathy and support for the repressed. Elites may also have underestimated the potential of people power to seriously threaten their rule. ...
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What options are available to civilians faced with war? While civilians tend to be portrayed as helpless victims—and sometimes are—we know that they are not inert. Borrowing from Albert Hirschman, I propose that civilians’ strategies can be understood in terms of flight to safer areas, speaking out to or against armed groups, as support for armed groups, and combinations of these three strategies. This study introduces a simple, intuitive schema for understanding civilian strategies and illustrates it with examples drawn from several armed conflicts. The schema demonstrates that not only do civilians make decisions which enable them to survive bloody conflicts, but also that their strategies may influence armed groups and the course of a given war.
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Can local organizations give civilians the capacity to protect themselves from civil war violence? Civilians have traditionally been considered powerless when facing armed groups but new research suggests organized communities may promote security through non-violent strategies such as resolving disputes between neighbors and managing relations with macro-armed actors. This paper analyzes whether and how these ‘mechanisms’ designed to retain community autonomy functioned in the community-case of the Peasant Worker Association of the Carare River (ATCC) in Colombia. The Carare civilians developed a local institutional process to investigate threats against suspected armed group collaborators to clarify the ‘fog of war’ and reform civilian preferences to participate in the conflict. This process is evaluated in reference to existing hypotheses about violence in civil wars such as the balance of territorial control using qualitative evidence from original field research. A unique within-case database created through focus-group sessions with community ‘conciliators’ is used to analyze not only acts of violence, but also threats that were defused. Despite the prevalence of conditions that would predict persistent violence against civilians, the local institution itself proved to be a critical factor for both explaining and limiting levels of violence. The results suggest civilian choices and their consequences did not merely result from the capabilities or choices of armed actors.
Article
Is peace more likely to prevail when the peace accord includes civil society actors such as religious groups, women's organizations and human rights groups? This is the first statistical study that explores this issue. The article develops key claims in previous research regarding the role of civil society actors and durable peace, and proposes a set of hypotheses that focus on legitimacy in this process. The hypotheses are examined by employing unique data on the inclusion of civil society actors in all peace agreements in the post-Cold War period. The statistical analysis shows that inclusion of civil society actors in the peace settlement increases the durability of peace. The results further demonstrate that peace accords with involvement from civil society actors and political parties in combination are more likely to see peace prevail. The findings also suggest that inclusion of civil society has a particularly profound effect on the prospects for overall peace in non-democratic societies.
Article
International non-governmental organisations deploy international observers as unarmed bodyguards to promote human rights and protect local citizens threatened by political violence. The political dynamics associated with three prominent organisation's whose fieldwork extensively utilises the accompaniment tactic are comparatively examined along three lines of inquiry: their respective degrees of nonpartisanship, interventionism, and engagement in illegal activities through the practice of civil disobedience. How do the real or perceived partisanship, interventionism and respect for local law of an accompaniment organisation impact the actions of those citizens and state forces that it is trying to deter from violating human rights? How do they impact the supporters of the accompaniment organisation as they lobby host governments? An argument is made that those local activists who are provided with international accompaniment are likely better served through nonpartisanship, i.e. the accompanier's lack of involvement in the work of local activists, and through more moderate forms of interventionism, including adherence to local laws.
Introducing the Nonviolent Actors in Violent Contexts (nvavc) Dataset
  • Erica Chenoweth
  • Cullen Hendrix
  • Kyleanne Hunter
Erica Chenoweth, Cullen Hendrix, and Kyleanne Hunter, 'Introducing the Nonviolent Actors in Violent Contexts (nvavc) Dataset,' Paper presented at the 2016 International Studies Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia.