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Trends in Nonviolent Resistance and State Response: Is Violence Towards Civilian-based Movements on the Rise?

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image of Global Responsibility to Protect

Nonviolent mass movements are the primary challengers to governments today. This represents a pronounced shift in the global landscape of dissent. Through 2010, such movements tended to be surprisingly effective in removing incumbent leaders from power, even when they experienced some repression from the government. But from 2010 through May 2016, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns declined dramatically. I speculate that although there are several probable reasons for this decline, repressive adaptations of authoritarian governments against such campaigns may be part of the story. I summarize some of the common methods of “smart” repression that many authoritarian governments have adopted in response to the growing effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. The article concludes by identifying the potential consequences of such trends for those concerned with atrocity prevention.

Affiliations: 1: University of Denver,


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