The Policy Implications of Nonviolent Direct Action

Seminar with Srdja Popovic, Center for Applied Nonviolent Action & Strategies (CANVAS)

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: Wednesday, 17 August 2016 10:30-14:30
Place: PRIO, Hausmanns gate 3, Oslo

The Policy Implications of Nonviolent Direct Action

​​We have the pleasure of inviting you to a public policy event on The Policy Implications of Nonviolent Direct Action

Nonviolent political movements have played a major role in many prominent events in modern history, including the US civil rights movement, the struggles against British domination in India and Apartheid in South Africa, the Arab Spring uprisings, as well as campaigns for national self-determination including Catalonia and Quebec. The policy event aims to disseminate and engage in discussions of academic research on nonviolent direct action, a phenomenon that has attracted increasing attention in recent years from both scholars and the policy community in general. 

​Important questions that will be addressed include:

  • Why do organizations seeking political change choose specific tactics?
  • Which is more effective as a force for change, violent or nonviolent resistance?
  • Do different organizations choose different strategies?
  • Do nonviolent movements tend to involve specific types of actors and interests compared to violent ones?
  • How are the strategic dynamics of conflict between the state and the opposition affected by whether the two choose to apply violent or nonviolent means?
  • How can states and international actors prevent disputes from becoming violent?

The conference will be chaired by Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Essex and Research Professor at PRIO, and Scott Gates, Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo and Research Professor at PRIO.

This policy event is held in connection with the concluding part of a RCN funded research project at PRIO: Effective Non-Violence? Resistance Strategies and Political Outcomes​.


About the main​ speaker

Srdja Popovic is one of the founders and key organizers of the Serbian nonviolent resistance group Otpor! that successfully overthrew Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. They ended Milosevic's rule in October 2000 as hundre​​ds of thousands of protestors gathered and overtook the Serbian Parliament. Following the revolution, Popovic served a term as a member of the Serbian National Assembly. In 2003, Popovic and other ex-Otpor! activists started the nonprofit educational institution the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). CANVAS has worked with activists from 46 different countries, spreading knowledge of the nonviolent strategies and tactics used by Otpor! worldwide. Apart from being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, Popovic has been listed as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2011 by the Foreign Policy Magazine. In 2014 he was listed as a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum in Davos. Popovic is also the author of the recent book Blueprint for Revolution.

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About the pa​​​nelists

Charles Butcher is a Leif Onsager fellow and associate professor of political science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. His general research interests include the dynamics of conflict, and his current research focuses on the role of labor unions in non-violent struggles and their ability to maximize participation and leverage.
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Fredrik Heldal is the Director of the Norwegian Peace Association, and works, among other things, on Norwegian arms exports, autonomous weapon systems and drones. He has a degree in modern history from the University of Bergen and has worked on conflict management and human rights related issues in Nepal, Argentina and the Philippines.
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Hans Morten Haugen is a Professor at the Faculty of Theology, Diakonia and Leadership at VID Specialized University. His research focuses on WTO Law and environmental Law, Human Rights, International Law, and Church and Social Ethics. He is the author of Kampen om Utviklingen (Cappelen Damm, 2016). He has also been a contributor to the Norwegian magazine Ikkevold (Nonviolence).
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Shabana Rehman is a Norwegian stand-up comedian, writer, speaker, and activist, who is renowned in Norway for her controversial and popular comedy style including public political stunts like Mullah-lifting and featuring bodypainted with the Norwegian flag in the newspaper Dagbladet. She is also a Communications Advisor in NOAH and a regular columnist in publications such as Aftenposten, Dagbladet and
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Torkel Brekke is a Professor of History of Religion at the University of Oslo and Deputy Director at PRIO. He is also engaged with the liberal think-tank Civita, where he is responsible for the "Civita Academy" seminar series. His publications include Fundamentalism. Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization (Cambridge University Press 2012) and the edited volume The Ethics of War in Asian Civilization (Routledge Curzon 2005). His recent research has focused on religious fundamentalism, religion in the military and the ethics of war across cultures.
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10:30-10:45:   Welcome and introductory remarks
                        Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Scott Gates

10:45-12:00:   Plenary lecture and discussion
                        Srdja Popovic, Center for Applied Nonviolent Action & Strategies (CANVAS)
                        Moderator: David Cunningham

12:00-12:45:   Lunch

12:45-13:35:   Presentations of policy briefs

13:35-14:20:   Roundtable with panelists
                        Panelists: Charles Butcher, Hans Morten Haugen, Shabana Rehman, Fredrik
                        Heldal & Torkel Brekke
                        Moderator: Scott Gates

14:20-14:30:   Concluding remarks
                        Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Torkel Brekke