Nonviolent Action and Inclusive Peace
We’re in a time of profound political, economic, and social change. Rising authoritarianism and populism are eroding protections for fundamental freedoms. Repression and violence are perpetuating exclusion and “otherness.” Most recently, the challenges wrought by the global COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated nationalist and populist politics, and further hindered meaningful civic participation, community engagement, and innovation in governance. An increase of people-powered collective responses are the result of failing institutional checks and balances.
Nonetheless, people around the globe are reclaiming and exercising their power to challenge these deeply entrenched systems that engender insecurity, poverty, and deep inequality and distrust.
The world is witnessing a resurgence of grassroots mobilizing on a scale unseen for decades; from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Chile, Belarus, Myanmar, to here in the United States. These nonviolent movements give people the ability to reclaim their rights, seek justice, and challenge deeply entrenched power imbalances. They give people a way to collectively uplift their demands and set a vision for their future.
At Humanity United, we believe that as countries transition from conflict to peace there is a unique opportunity to support the intersection of peacebuilding approaches and nonviolent action to create safe, inclusive, and enabling environments for sustainable peace.
Peace processes offer an opportunity to negotiate a more inclusive social contract between citizens and the state. And while awareness of the important role inclusion has increased over the past few decades, particularly in ensuring that negotiated settlements actually prevent or end violent conflict, influential powerholders continue to wield a disproportionate amount of power and resources. These powerholders – which may include government officials, corporate elites, or non-state criminal networks – maintain their control and resources to influence negotiation and implementation processes at the exclusion of others.
At HU, we want to support communities that are impacted by these power dynamics and who are choosing nonviolent action and peacebuilding in pursuit of inclusive and responsive systems of governance and justice. By investing in nonviolent collective action – as a means to expand individual and collective skills; boost associational autonomy; and deepen participation in dialogue, mediation, and negotiation processes – we hope to increase citizens’ capacity to manage violent repression while deepening their collective power. Equally, we believe that by investing in efforts to make peace processes more inclusive, participatory, and rooted in community and local peacebuilding initiatives, communities can break entrenched cycles of violence.
HU’s Role and Support
With this in mind, Humanity United has embarked on a years-long process, in partnership with nonviolent peacebuilders from around the world, to identify how we can best support the people at the center of building peaceful and prosperous societies that are inclusive, responsive, and sustainable. Our work on Nonviolent Action and Inclusive Peace (part of our larger Peacebuilding strategy) will support nonviolent social movements and their allies to deepen trust and participation, bolster the inclusion of marginalized communities, ensure that civil society groups are prepared for negotiations with power-holders, and help set the stage for peace agreements that manifest a society’s vision for change.
This work will pay special attention to the following areas, though it will remain responsive to the needs of the people at the center of change:
- Safer and Nonviolent Social Movements: Creating safe spaces for movements and their allies to engage and support one another, as well as serve as a platform for building, sharing, and educating their communities in pursuit of sustainable peace.
- Inclusive Mediation: Mediators play a critical role in shaping inclusive processes and outcomes that generate ‘win-win’ solutions, all while grappling with a landscape of complex and compounding conflict risks. We will continue to help mediators prepare to engage with today’s political, socio-economic, and technological challenges that are rapidly altering mediation as we know it.
- Disinformation: Combat disinformation that can sow disruption and chaos in moments of transition, particularly on platforms where conspiracy theories that create alternative un-factual realities proliferate. Facebook and Instagram are where many people now develop their political identities. Unfortunately, these platforms can erode the pursuit of a vibrant and diverse public square that facilitates the inspiration, ideation, and co-creation necessary to support and build efforts to change the systems that suppress human rights and contribute to human suffering.
- Kleptocracy and State Capture: Corruption lies at the heart of many of the world’s protracted and violent conflicts. It is a major threat to peace, economic prosperity, and stability. Endemic corruption and state capture facilitate deep insecurity, impunity, and violence. By better understanding the complexity and sophistication of the systems that undergird kleptocracy and state capture, our partners can be more strategic in their actions and effectively empower citizens to have a more significant voice in seeking a peaceful and prosperous future.
We strive always to walk in partnership with peacebuilders at the front lines and support their vision for the future. At this time, our work supports moments of transition in Sudan and Zimbabwe. Humanity United has longstanding partnerships with dedicated partners who are carrying forward a broad understanding of the challenges in their countries, and are at the forefront of seeking solutions in partnership with others.
We believe this work is catalytic. However, it’s also risky for those working to transform their societies. We are acutely aware that as a U.S.-based organization we are not directly impacted by the consequences of foreign societal shifts. Therefore, we arrive at this work humbled by this knowledge, committed to supporting the vision of those working for change in their own communities, and determined to be flexible and supportive as needs and challenges arise.
Our work will be guided by the following principles:
- Do No Harm Principles that guide all our peacebuilding work
- Partners must be explicitly committed to nonviolent disciplines
- A movement’s goals must be consistent with internationally recognized human rights
- All partners must be separate from a registered political party
- Our partners (not HU or any other outside institution) must set and hold the vision for the change they seek in their societies
We believe that a strategy is not something we “have”, rather it’s something we “do” in partnership with others. As such, HU will cultivate the space for our partners, experts, and those at the cutting edge of bridging deep social divides to explore the various approaches, methods, and tools at the nexus of nonviolent civil resistance and peacebuilding. We invite you to join us on our journey to ensure dignity and freedom for all.