Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

IPPNW Statement on COVID-19
As Covid-19 overtakes the world, the interconnectedness of our modern human family has never been clearer. Hopefully, more people and world leaders will now come to understand what IPPNW has long advocated: working proactively to prevent threats to global health and survival, rather than waiting to respond to the next pandemic or the use of nuclear weapons, is imperative. It is time to end the diversion of resources to militarism and war, and the stationing of thousands of civilization-ending nuclear weapons on 24-7 hair-trigger alert.  It’s time to prioritize social investments that promote and protect human health and wellbeing. IPPNW adds it’s full-throated endorsement to the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire in order to conquer coronavirus.  “End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.”

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

IPPNW was founded in 1980 by physicians from the United States and the former Soviet Union who shared a common commitment to the prevention of nuclear war between their two countries. Citing the first principal of the medical profession—that doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat—a global federation of physician experts came together to explain the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war to policy makers and to the public, and to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.

IPPNW received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

 

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International - Professor Abul Aziz Said

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Professor Abul Aziz Said

Check out this video produced by our friends at Nonviolence International NY.

Abdul Aziz Said co-founded Nonviolence International in 1989 and devoted his life to inspiring students to promote peace and global understanding.

He is a Syrian-born writer and was a professor of international relations for 60 years at American University, where he was the founding director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution department at the School of International Service. Read more about his impressive life and legacy in this American University profile
This video is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.
Please check back for more. 
Beautiful Trouble’s irreverent guide to activism in the time of pandemic

Our good friends at Beautiful Trouble just posted this wonderful piece on Waging Nonviolence, an impressive project that got its start as a fiscally sponsored partner of NVI. 

We celebrate their loving and irreverent approach to this challenging moment. See excerpt below and read the full piece on Waging Nonviolence.


HOLY SH*T! 7 things to do instead of hoarding toilet paper

Beautiful Trouble’s irreverent guide to activism in the time of pandemic

We’re facing down a global pandemic. If you find yourself saying “Holy shit! What do I do?!” you’re not alone.

A renegade bug is showing how deeply broken our system is. Beyond the absolutely critical tasks of taking care of yourself, harm-reduction, social distancing, hand-washing, and looking out for those around us who are most struggling, we must also make that brokenness plain.

We do not get to choose the historic moments we are born into, but we do get to choose how we respond. And as we recover, and put our world back together, we have a chance to put it back together differently and better.

In that spirit, we’ve done a roundup of the most creative and effective social movement responses to COVID-19, filtered through seven of the most relevant tools from the Beautiful Trouble toolbox, with links to resources compiled especially for this moment:


Read the full important and timely piece on Waging Nonviolence.

Sudan’s Democratic Revolution: How They Did It by Stephen Zunes

By Stephen Zunes who thanks the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict for supporting his research.

Sudan’s Democratic Revolution: How They Did It
Sudans new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 (AP Photo, File)

When the turbulent and often tragic history of the past decade in the Middle East and North Africa is written, the 2019 pro-democracy revolution in Sudan will likely be considered one of the few bright spots. One of the world’s most brutal dictatorships—in power for over 30 years—was overthrown in a massive nonviolent civil insurrection involving millions of Sudanese, and a liberal technocratic civilian administration put into place. Whether civilian democratic rule will survive the serious challenges still facing the country remains to be seen, but for now a key question is:  how did they do it?

One of the world’s most brutal dictatorships was overthrown in a massive nonviolent civil insurrection, and a liberal technocratic civilian administration put into place.

Sudan did not fit into what some Western analysts see as the conditions for a successful pro-democracy civil resistance movement. The regime was thought to be too oppressive, too entrenched, and too successful in their divide-and-rule tactics of the large and ethnically heterogeneous nation. Their reactionary Islamist rule disempowered women. Civil society had been decimated under the three decades of military rule and the Sudanese people were seen as too impoverished, uneducated, and isolated. Over five million of the country’s brightest, most educated, and most ambitious potential leaders had emigrated. Wealthy Gulf monarchies were helping to prop up the military regime.  And most of the West had largely written off Sudan as a hopeless case.

Despite this, starting in December 2018, a movement emerged which eventually brought millions of Sudanese into the streets. By April 2019, General Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by fellow military officers. Protests continued and, despite hundreds of additional deaths, by August the military stepped down in favor of a civilian-led transitional government.

The reasons for their success appear to include the following:

There was precedence: Long before the Arab Spring, the Eastern European revolutions, and other popular democratic uprisings which caught the world’s attention, the Sudanese had toppled dictatorships in 1964 and 1985 through massive civil resistance campaigns.

One advantage was that some of the main elements of the repressive apparatus of the regime—the police, intelligence, military, and special forces—were divided, and the opposition did an excellent job of exacerbating those divisions and using them to the movement’s advantage. Another factor was that the African Union and the Europeans were on the movement’s side, thanks in part to efforts of the exile community and others to mobilize their support. An additional factor was that business people, even those who had supported the ruling party, realized that—for the sake of the economy and therefore their own self-interest—they had to end their support for military rule and support democratic governance.

The Sudanese regime was also simply incompetent. The economy was in shambles.

The Sudanese regime was also simply incompetent. The economy was in shambles. Education, transport, health care, agriculture and other basic infrastructure had deteriorated significantly during their three decades in power. They had lost the southern third of the country along with most of the oil reserves when South Sudan became independent in 2011. International sanctions added to chronic corruption and mismanagement in weakening the economy of an already impoverished nation. Despite its brutality, the state was in many respects weak. Young Sudanese had had enough. They felt they had no future and they had nothing more to lose.

More important was what happened on the ground. A critical factor was the scope and the scale of the movement. Unlike some civil insurrections—which were almost exclusively in the capital with mostly middle class support—the Sudanese revolution took place all over country, in all the different regions, with diverse class and ethnic participation. Professional associations played a key leadership role, but popular resistance committees were also active in even the poorest neighborhoods. Indeed, the ability to build such a broad coalition of forces was vitally important, given the size and complexity of the country.

For decades, the regime tried to divide Sudanese by North and South, Arab and non-Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim. The pro-democracy protesters recognized that national unity was critically important and consciously resisted efforts at divide-and-rule.

For example, though historically in the Arab-dominated part of the Sudan, greater Khartoum is a multi-ethnic urban area, as those from minority regions fleeing violence and poverty have flocked to the capital area. When the protests began, the regime tried to blame the uprising on Furs, the people indigenous to the Darfur region who have been subjected to a genocidal campaign by the regime. In response, the largely-Arab but multi-ethnic protesters began chanting “We are all Darfur!” In solidarity, protesters in Al Fashir, the Darfur capital, started chanting “We are all Khartoum!”

Related to this diversity was the strong participation and leadership by women, which not only helped increase the numbers of protesters, but provided a perspective that encouraged nonviolent discipline.

Related to this diversity was the strong participation and leadership by women, which not only helped increase the numbers of protesters, but provided a perspective that encouraged nonviolent discipline, democratic process, greater credibility, and better popular perception of the movement and its goals. Under al-Bashir’s rule, women had been severely repressed in terms of dress codes, employment, and even the ability to leave home without the accompaniment of a close male relative. A frequent theme illustrated in murals, signs, and elsewhere during the revolution involved the Kandaka, a matrilineal dynasty of powerful queens from the first millennium BCE. It served as an inspiration for women and a reminder that the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, which severely circumscribed their rights was not inherent to Sudanese history or culture.

Perhaps the single most important factor was nonviolent discipline. Remaining nonviolent despite enormous provocation made it difficult for the regime to depict the movement in a negative light. Nonviolence gained the movement sympathy it would have otherwise lost through violent tactics and made it possible for people to feel more comfortable joining the protests, thereby increasing their numbers.

The opposition stressed the importance of maintaining nonviolent discipline not out of any moral commitment to nonviolence per se, but because of an understanding that tactically and strategically it was the best way they could win. If they had used violence, the regime would always have the advantage. By choosing what amounted to a different weapons system—peaceful protests, sit-tins, strikes, and more—they were unable to depict the protesters as terrorists who would bring violence and chaos.

The Sudanese opposition had engaged in violent struggle previously. Beginning in 1993, operating out of bases in Eritrea, an armed guerrilla movement was launched but it never got far, failing to provoke a more widespread popular uprising. The rebellion formally ended in 2005. Similarly, repression against the civil insurrection of 2013 resulted in many protesters fighting back and was crushed within days after scores of civilian deaths.

Recognizing that both armed struggle and rioting played into the regime’s hands, the opposition recognized that nonviolent discipline was critical.

Recognizing that both armed struggle and rioting played into the regime’s hands, the opposition recognized that nonviolent discipline was critical.

Importantly, the pro-democracy movement did not stop when al-Bashir was pushed aside by the military in April.  Unlike in Egypt, where the opposition naively trusted the military, the Sudanese demanded they step down and allow for civilian leadership. A result was the June 3 massacre, causing well over 100 deaths. But this seemed to underscore to the military that they would have to engage in massive violence to suppress the rebellion which would discredit them further and put them in an even more untenable situation.

There is still much to do to consolidate democracy and civilian rule in Sudan. Though civilians dominate the transitional government, the military and other elements of the old guard are still part of the system.

The toppling of al-Bashir and his military backers is still an amazing accomplishment, however. It demonstrates that whatever the structural obstacles may be, good strategic thinking and tenacity by a popular opposition movement can ultimately win. This should be a lesson to those struggling for greater political freedom and social justice through the greater Middle East. Indeed, if an unarmed democratic civil insurrection can succeed in a country like Sudan, it can succeed almost anywhere.


Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor 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.


For a quick post about a mural in Sudan thanking Stephen Zunes and NVI's longtime Executive Director Michael Beer, please see: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/sudan_mural

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International - Daryn Cambridge

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Daryn Cambridge

Check out this video produced by our friends at

Nonviolence International NY

https://daryncambridge.com/

This is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.

Here is the full interview with Daryn:

While you are on this page meeting Daryn, you might also enjoy this video on teaching and learning peace online.

 

 

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International - Shaazka Beyerle

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Shaazka Beyerle

Check out this video produced by our friends at

Nonviolence International NY.

Shaazka Beyerle is a senior research advisor for USIP's Program on Nonviolent Action.

This is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.

Please check back for more. 

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International - Phil Bogdonoff

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Phil Bogdonoff

Check out this video produced by our friends at

Nonviolence International NY.

Phil Bogdonoff was the first director of Nonviolence International. 

This is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.

Please check back for more. 

Beer on the Road for Peace

Michael Beer, our longtime Executive Director, is off to Korea and Japan to promote peace. His first destination is PyeongChang for the Peace Forum that seeks to strengthen the unification initiatives from the 2018 Winter Olympics.  The PyeongChang Peace Forum is an effort involving the Olympics and peace co-hosted by the President of the Korean Olympic Committee. Conference participants will also visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The Peace Forum will also address issues of world-wide militarism and war. We hope to initiate some new campaigns against war and militarism so we hope everyone will read the closing resolutions and announcements expected on February 12.

Michael will join a delegation to Tokyo to meet with potential hosts and venues for a convocation of sports people and peace activists at the time of the Olympics and the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This would be the first of a series of such convocations to be held every two years in connection with the summer and winter Olympics. The current partners in the initiative include members of the International Olympic Committee, former Olympic and Paralympic athletes, representatives of sports and peace organisations and some leading peace and disarmament organisations including Basel Peace Office, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and the World Future Council. We hope to strengthen the global peace movement and deepen connections between sport and peace and the spirit of Olympism.

Follow along with him on this trip by checking our website in the coming week. 

To support this important work, please visit: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate


This just in... Michael sent a group photo from the opening session. See more about this impressive event at: http://ppf.or.kr/en/




Recap: The PyeongChang Peace Forum in South Korea

Written by Micheal Beer, Director of Nonviolence International

I have just returned home from the PyeongChang Peace Forum in South Korea! The Peace Forum worked to help develop an action plan to end the Korean War, building on the rapprochement of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games between North and South Korea. We also discussed how best to link UN sustainable development goals with the pursuit of global peace.  To accomplish these goals, the Peace Forum is developing an action plan with four tracks:

 Sports and Peace 

The Peace Forum addressed the role of sports in peace, including the role of the Olympic Truce Foundation and the International Olympic Truce Center. During this discussion, I asked the keynote speakers: “What more can the Olympics do to lessen a focus on nationalism and increase its role in promoting peace and international understanding?” (noted on the slide at 0:47 in the video) As an organization, we feel this is an important issue that represents a broader need to consider how all of the work we do is interconnected. 

Nonviolence International seeks to invigorate the role of sports in promoting peace by organizing events this summer surrounding the Olympics. This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the founding of the United Nations whose primary purpose was to stop the scourge of war.  We hope to remember these monumental events during the Olympics this summer. Details should be forthcoming by the beginning of March.

Peace and Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs)

SDGs are incredibly important to the well being of humanity and the planet. Peace is not just incorporated in Article 16 but cuts across many of the SDGs. Unfortunately, we had an early report from civil society leaders that countries are falling short of their pledges. At Nonviolence International, we simply take this as further motivation to pursue our work across the world and spread the mission of nonviolence. 

Other initiatives are also responding to the increased need to push for action. Peace 2045 is a new campaign calling on all countries to pass laws and constitutional changes that will outlaw war in each country by the year 2045. Additional campaigns include Stand Together Now that is pushing for sustainable development, and UN2020 which is calls for strengthening the United Nations more broadly. 

Peace and Economy 

This track largely focuses on efforts to improve the economy of Korea through unification and cooperative efforts between North and South Korea with regards to railroads, roads, trade, and tourism.

Michael Beer and international attendees at the never used Railway station in the Demilitarized Zone of Korea.

Peace and Ecology

This track emphasizes the relationship between peace and the environment. At the Peace forum, we discussed turning the Demilitarized Zone into an eco-peace park and an international Peace Zone, upon the reunification of North and South Korea. 

Many of us traveled to the DMZ to see the horrific scar of Korea. The barbed wire, the guns, and the checkpoints were a reminder of the mistrust, the misallocation of resources, and the existential dangers of modern war.

Nonviolence International supports the vital efforts to promote peace which were promoted at this conference. Nonviolent civil society movements, as well as nonviolent government policies, are urgently needed to end militarism, violent crime, and structural violence. 

We’ll update you soon upon the publication of the Action Plan for peace and our efforts to promote nonviolence and peace at the Olympics in August in Japan.


Michael Beer has provided an update on the PyeongChang Peace Forum he attended in February. The committee recently released their message for peace which includes: peace between North and South Korea, transformation of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and peace deliberations at the Tokyo Olympic games in Summer 2020. Click here to read the PyeongChang Peace Forum's Action Plan. 

         

 

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International -Founding NVI

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Mubarak Awad

Check out this video produced by our friends at Nonviolence International NY.

 

Mubarak Awad co-founded Nonviolence International in 1989 and devoted his life to educating about the power of nonviolence. 

Mubarak has been an adjunct professor at the American University in Washington, DC since 1989 at the School of International Studies. He focuses on promoting peace dialogue and transforming post-conflict societies, as well as teaching graduate courses on the methods and theory of nonviolence.

This video is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.
Please check back for more. 
Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International - Barbara Wien

Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International

Barbara Wien

Check out this video produced by our friends at

Nonviolence International NY.

Barbara Wien, professor at American University and peace educator of the year, discusses the effectiveness of nonviolent protest. Barbara tells us about the many nonviolent movements she has worked with, her students, and how protests can shift the conversation.

This is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.

Please check back for more. 

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