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A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment

Volume One -> A. Introduction to Nonviolent Action -> A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment

Nonviolent intervention by members of social movements or transnational networks has become an increasingly common way to oppose forms of militarism, injustice or oppression, and/or to express solidarity with those suffering. Some of these protests, for example sailing into nuclear testing zones, are covered later in this bibliography in relation to peace and green movements.

Intervention to prevent war – Maude Royden’s proposal for a ‘Peace Army’ to create a barrier against Japanese aggression in China in the 1930s is an early example – has proved difficult to implement for political, strategic and practical reasons. But plans to provide ‘human shields’ and to interpose between the two sides were attempted in relation to both the 1991and the 2003 Gulf War.

Intervention to demonstrate transnational solidarity has since 2000 resulted in a range of projects designed to support Palestinians against Israeli repressive measures and in some cases has helped to increase international awareness of the issue. Several references are included in this section.

Intervention with limited objectives, such as monitoring conflict or providing protective accompaniment to threatened individuals has also increased in recent years with some success. The interventions organised by Peace Brigades International and the Nonviolent Peace Force are intended to ‘create space’ for civil society actors. While raising human rights concerns with the local authorities and also internationally, those intervening avoid making condemnatory statements. Studies of individual organisations are appended to relevant entries.

This section includes a number of comparative studies of intervention and accounts of some specific cases. A major source, surveying the practices of recent peace teams in the field, as well as selection, training and support of personnel, only available in electronic form is:

An overview of types of nonviolent intervention undertaken by different organisations, and theoretical discussion of the role it can play is provided by Section II of Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) . Theoretical contributions are:

Andoni, Ghassan ; Arraf, Huwaida ; Blincoe, Nicholas ; Khalili, Hussein ; McLaughlin, Marissa ; Sainath, Radhika ; Sandercock, Josie, Peace Under Fire: Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement, London, Verso, 2004, pp. 240

Collection of news reports, web-logs and diaries of International Solidarity Movement activists engaged in nonviolent resistance to Israeli military action in the occupied territories, including contributions relating to Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, who were both killed.

Bbatia, Bela ; Dreze, Jean ; Kelly, Kathy, War and Peace in the Gulf: Testimony of the Gulf Peace Team, Nottingham, Spokesman Books, 2001, pp. 181

Account by participants of transnational team which went to Iraq to try to intervene between the two sides in the 1991 Gulf War. (See also Robert J. Burrowes, ‘The Persian Gulf War and the Gulf Peace Team’ in Moser-Puangsuwan and Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders, pp. 305-18 – 209 below.)

Blumberg, Herbert H.Hare, Paul, Liberation without Violence: A Third Party Approach, London, Rex Collings, 1977, pp. 368

Covers both ‘partisan’ nonviolent action, e.g. against extension of a military camp on Larzac plateau in France, and ‘nonpartisan’ nonviolent intervention to try to prevent violent conflict, e.g. the role of the Gandhian peace brigade (Shanti Sena) in the Ahmedabad riots of 1969. Parts 3 and 4 analyse examples of partisan and nonpartisan intervention by international teams operating a transnational level. Several chapters are listed later in the bibliography. Part 5 analyses processes of change through the third party approach. With extensive bibliographical guide, pp. 288-341.

Boardman, Elizabeth F., Taking a Stand: A Guide to Peace Teams and Accompaniment Projects, Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 2005, pp. 177

Chapters on Christian Peacemaker Team, Voices in the Wilderness project in Iraq, Peace Brigades International and the International Solidarity Movement. Descriptions by participants of work done by these groups, who runs them and what is involved in joining them.

Coy, Patrick G., “We Use it, but Try not to Abuse it”: Nonviolent Accompaniment and the Use of Privilege by Peace Brigades International, American Sociological Association, 2000

See also Coy, Patrick G., Cooperative Accompaniment in Sri Lanka with Peace Brigades International In Smith, Jackie ; Chatfield, Charles ; Pagnucco, Ron , Transnational Social Movements and Global Politics: Solidarity Beyond the State Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press , , 19971997 .

Eguren, Luis Enrique ; Caraj, Marie, New Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders, (supersedes 2004 edition), Brussels, Protection International, 2009, pp. 213

Griffin-Nolan, Ed, Witness for Peace: A Story of Resistance, Westminster, John Knox Press, 1991, pp. 237

Account of border and conflict monitoring in Nicaragua in 1980s (in attempt to restrain the US-backed Contras and gather evidence on impact of foreign policy), and also of accompaniment of Guatemalan refugees returning home in 1989. (Extract in Moser-Puangsuwan; Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision (A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment) , pp. 279-304 – see 209 below). The approach adopted in Nicaragua was extended to other parts of Central America and to Colombia in the 1990s. See also: Witness for Peace, Ten Years of Accompaniment, Washington DC, Witness for Peace, 1994.

Kelly, Kathy, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison, Petrolia CA, Counterpunch, 2006, pp. 173

Kelly participated in the Gulf Peace Team and later co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, breaking sanctions against Iraq. See also: ‘Kathy Kelly and Milan Rai, ‘Voices in the Wilderness: Campaigning against Sanctions on Iraq 1995-2005’, in Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp.143-49.

Keyes, Gene, Peacekeeping by Unarmed Buffer Forces: Precedents and Proposals, Peace and Change, Vol. 5, issue 2/3, 1978, pp. 3-10

Mahony, Liam ; Eguren, Luis Enrique, Unarmed Bodyguards: International Accompaniment for the Protection of Human Rights, West Harford CT, Kumarian, 1997, pp. 288

Authoritative account by former-volunteers-turned-researchers of work of Peace Brigades International (PBI) in countries in Central and South America and in Asia. The authors interviewed generals connected with the Guatemala death squads to see how far PBI had inhibited the squads. See also: Liam Mahony, Human Rights Defenders Under Attack, London, Peace Brigades International-UK, pp. 20, marking PBI’s 25th anniversary, downloadable from: For one volunteer’s more recent account; Louise Winstanley, ‘With Peace Brigades International in Colombia’, Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp.108-11.

Moser-Puangsuwan, Yeshua ; Weber, Thomas, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision, Honolulu, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace, 2000, pp. 369

Analyses different kinds of ‘intervention’ and notes history of earlier 20th century attempts. It provides accounts of transnational actions round the world designed to mobilize protest, provide assistance, promote reconciliation and development, witness human rights violations and ‘accompany’ endangered individuals, highlight danger (e.g. of nuclear testing), demonstrate solidarity, or to prevent or halt war. Includes chronology and summary of actions with suggestions for further reading.

News, Peace, Special issue on ‘interventions’, Issue 2441, December 2000 - February 2001, 2000

Examines different types of interventions, including nonviolent direct action, and reviews some relevant books.

Olson, Theodore, The World Peace Brigade: Vision and Failure, Our Generation Against Nuclear War, Vol. 3, issue 1, 1961, pp. 34-41

The World Peace Brigade was founded in 1962 to develop the potential of transnational action. Its first project in Central Africa was planning a march in support of Zambian claims to independence (the march became unnecessary); the second was the Delhi Peking Friendship March to promote understanding at the time of the brief border war between India and China.

For more on the Brigade, see Prasad, Devi, War is a Crime Against Humanity: The Story of War Resisters’ International, London, War Resisters’ International, 2005, pp. 325-31.

Rigby, Andrew, Unofficial nonviolent intervention: Examples from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 32, issue 4 (November), 1995, pp. 453-467

Also available (with discussion of issues raised) as ‘Nonviolent intervention’ in Randle, Challenge to Nonviolence (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 51-74 (online at

On more recent interventions in Palestine (excluding International solid-arity) see also Ann Wright, ‘The Work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)’ and Angie Zelter ‘International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine’ in Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , pp. 135-42.

Schweitzer, Christine ; Howard, Donna ; Junge, Mareike ; Levine, Corey ; Stieren, Carl ; Wallis, Tim, Nonviolent Peace Force Feasibility Study, 2002

Wallace, M.S., Security Without Weapons: Rethinking Violence, Nonviolent Action, and Civilian Protection, London, Routledge, 2016, pp. 264

Exploration of discourses that legitimate violence and importance of challenging them in the practice of nonviolent intervention.  The author focuses on the civil war in Sri Lanka between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, and then analyzes the peacekeeping role of the Nonviolent Peaceforce Sri Lanka in 2008.

Weber, Thomas, From Maude Royden’s Peace Army to the Gulf Peace Team: An Assessment of Unarmed Interpositionary Peace Forces, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 30, issue 1, 1993, pp. 45-84

Weber, Thomas, Gandhi’s Peace Army: The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping, Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press, 1996, pp. 293

Foreword by Elise Boulding. Examines how the Gandhian movement in India developed Gandhi’s idea that nonviolent volunteers should act in place of armed police (for example to quell riots) and provide a nonviolent alternative to the army. Includes substantial bibliography pp. 267-84.