Democracy Defense: Advice from Activists Around the World - Webinar

This interactive webinar featured presentations by scholars and activists who took part in people power defense of democracy and elections. Speakers included:

  • Our host is author and activist Maria J. Stephan
  • Philippine professor and activist Joaquin Gonzalez
  • Serbian professor and nonviolent organizer Ivan Marovic
  • Gambian organizer and activist Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan
  • Brazilian organizer and activist Joana Varon
  • American professor and author Stephen Zunes

Time Stamps: 

Michael Beer - NVI Welcome

Maria J. Stephan - Host - 1:38

Joaquin Gonzalez - 6:20

Ivan Marovic - 15:45

Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan - 23:35

Joana Varon - 33:15

Stephen Zunes - 47:07

Question and Answer / Discussion - 56:00


Co-sponsored by:  Nonviolence International, Beautiful Trouble, BlackOUT Collective, and OR Books 

Host and Contributor:

Maria J. Stephan's (USA) career has bridged the academic, policy, and non-profit sectors, with a focus on the role of civil resistance and nonviolent movements in advancing human rights, democratic freedoms, and sustainable peace globally. Stephan is the co-author (with Erica Chenoweth) of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, which was awarded the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Prize by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science, and the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She is the co-author of Bolstering Democracy: Lessons Learned and the Path Forward (Atlantic Council, 2018); the co-editor of Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? (Atlantic Council, 2015); and the editor of Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization and Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave, 2009). Stephan, a native Vermonter, received her PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Joaquin Gonzalez (Philippines/USA) is the Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University in California. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Dr. Gonzalez was a street activist in the 1986 People Power Revolution which peacefully removed a long-time Philippine authoritarian ruler. He started out as a volunteer with the non-partisan National Movement for a Free Elections (NAMFREL) tasked to ensure that votes were properly cast and counted.

Ivan Marovic (Serbia) is an organizer, software developer and social innovator from Belgrade, Serbia. He was a student organizer and one of the leaders of Otpor, a resistance movement which played a critical role in the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. After a brief time in politics, it was time to grow up and move to more serious things, so Ivan started developing video games like A Force More Powerful and People Power, and platforms for local organizing like Moba. He successfully stayed out of politics for two decades, the time he spent advising activists and organizers around the world on strategies for citizen self organizing and movement building. Ivan holds a BSC in Process Engineering from Belgrade University and MA in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan (Gambia) is an award winning Pan African Advocate of the year 2018 and was named as 100 most influential young people leaders in Africa in 2019. As a human rights activist he organized widespread protests to get long Gambia dictator Yaya Jammeh to step down. Muhammed Lamin the Movement Coordinators of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity. A Pan African grassroots Movement of the people and organizations working to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the Peoples of Africa to build the Future we want – a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity. Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan is a Gambian with a back ground on community organizing, youth and women development, campaigns for social change, policy advocacy, movement building and none violence activism.

Joana Varon (Brazil) Executive Directress and Creative Chaos Catalyst at Coding Rights, a women-run organization working to expose and redress the power imbalances built into technology and its application, particularly those that reinforce gender and North/South inequalities. Technology and Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy from Harvard Kennedy School and affiliated to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Former Mozilla Media Fellow, she is co-creator of several creative projects operating in the interplay between activism, arts and technologies, such as,, #safersisters, Safer Nudes,, Net of Rights and

Stephen Zunes (USA) is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he served as founding director of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, and a contributing editor of Tikkun.

He is the author of hundreds of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010).

Short clips from webinar:



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