Negotiating Civil Resistance

Source: Anthony Wanis-St and John and Noah Rosen, United States Institute of Peace, 2017

From the summary:
Reviewing the literature on negotiation and civil resistance, this report examines the current divide between the two and digs deeper to identify the fundamental convergences. It builds on these findings to illustrate why negotiations and negotiation concepts are essential to the success of civil resistance campaigns. Using historical examples, it then examines the dynamics of negotiation in the context of these strategic domains.

– Nonviolent uprisings and protest movements can help channel popular discontent into positive political and social change.
– Negotiation can enable opposition movements to more effectively press for such change.
– Despite enormous complementarities, civil resistance activists and negotiation scholar-practitioners have tended to develop separate communities of practice and divergent theories.
– Rights advocates often focus on ends; the conflict resolution community emphasizes processes and methods.
– Demands of a movement can be structured to make either pragmatic, incremental gains toward justice or peace, or far-reaching, transformative changes to restructure a system.
– Movement leaders need to recognize the three key purposes of a demand: collectivizing, dramatizing, and generating momentum.
– Direct action campaigns should increase the social power of a movement by mobilizing key populations and establishing the moral high ground of the movement vis-à-vis the target regime.
– Effective direct action has a clear target, whether a policy or a regime.
– Broad-based participation that moves beyond demonstration and becomes transgressive shows the opponent that obedience and compliance cannot be taken for granted.
– The leverage nonviolent movements have depends on the quality and strength of the negotiated agreements within the coalition and with the regime. Such negotiations are far from a mere formality: the process of unpacking an old regime and rebuilding a functional, harmonious society is usually a process, rarely a definitive end-state.
– Rather than marking the formal end of a civil resistance campaign, negotiation is essential to successfully initiating, expanding, and sustaining it.
– Despite clear and important cleavages and divergence between the negotiation and conflict resolution field, on the one hand, and the civil resistance field, on the other, their convergence is promising.