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August Newsletter: Want long-term stability? Civil disobedience is the answer.

Think non-violent movements are passé? Are Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Betty Williams oh-so yesterday? (Do you even know who Betty Williams is?) If you think creating political, economic, and social change through non-violent resistance is only for people in vegan-leather sandals gnawing on raw almonds, think again.


Research examining 323 campaigns from 1900 to 2006 against dictatorships and foreign occupation or those promoting territorial self-determination revealed that non-violent resistance succeeded about 54 percent of the time, compared to 26 percent for violent campaigns. Yes, non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to succeed compared to their violent counterparts. And, yet, the primary response to conflict in Syria, Nigeria, Yemen, Ukraine, etc., etc., is to provide “military assistance.” GC360 encourages our readers to get off the bus to crazy town and, instead, revisit the power of blockades, boycotts, digital activism, and other forms of non-violent civil disobedience.  This month’s recommended reads show that history is on the side of non-violence.

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By excluding women, Mali’s peace process is inherently flawed

This excellent article by Mégane Ghorbani reveals how broken peace building efforts have been, ignoring underlying, systemic problems that are generated and fueled by local and international actors. Yes, Malian women were largely excluded from substantively participating in brokering the peace deal and ensuring its effective implementation. Ghorbani’s article goes further, however, by highlighting the fact that violence against women is not only a result of the recent conflict, but “is also rooted in the liberal international order, in particular the extensive implementation of structural adjustment programmes in this region in the 1980s and 1990s. The crisis in Mali thus manifested in a society ‘affected by three decades of economic restrictions that have caused nothing but unemployment, mass poverty, inequalities, corruption and impunity’.” She also notes that although Mali’s technical and financial partners supported the recommendations of Malian women concerning participatory crisis management and followed through with funding for them, there was “major misappropriation of World Bank and IMF funds [by the State], and women never benefited from the funds allocated to Mali.” Read the full article to learn the many reasons for conflict and the many ways efforts to build peace can go wrong.

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Five Lessons from the Congo’s Instability

While this article is about efforts to stabilize the the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it could just as easily be about Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, or a number of other countries. According to Ian Quick, a former member of the United Nations stabilization mission in the DRC, when stability activities began in the early 2000s, international actors assumed there was a complete lack of authority in those parts of the country not under formal state control. This was never the case. In fact, there was an “ecosystem of local actors and political and civic structures for regulating how people lived together.” No kidding. Humans have lived for thousands of years — and still do — without “state assistance.” Advice for those conducting stabilization activities: 1) read some history and 2) understand that humans will always establish some form of governance in order to fill a “government” void or prevent anarchy (think tribes, clans, small towns in Idaho, and the like). If  not, don’t delude yourselves into believing that you can help. Read the full article to learn about other unrealistic assumptions that held sway in the DRC.

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