Mass movements are a defining feature of our time. In the past few years, protestors have forced entrenched military dictators from power, demanded democratic self-rule, and railed against corruption, governmental shortcomings and unequal social and economic systems.
In Mediating mass movements, Maria J. Stephan, Director of Nonviolent Action at the US Institute of Peace, explores the potential for peacemakers in mediating mass protests, from the challenges of engaging with often leaderless movements to the benefits of incentivising nonviolent pathways and dialogue early on.
In the publication, Dr Stephan examines countries where mediating mass movements have played a pivotal role towards peace. In Sudan, for example, after several months of mass civil resistance and a military coup that deposed President Omar al-Bashir, mediators worked for months to negotiate an historic power-sharing agreement between military and civilian leaders, setting up a Transitional Council for a transparent transfer of power in August 2019.
Drawing from the cases of Ecuador, Nicaragua and Sudan, as well as other mass movements over the last few years, Dr Stephan outlines strategies to transform disruptive tactics from threats to opportunities. She argues that mediation can help prevent the escalation of violence and resolve underlying issues, helping bridge the divides between movements, governments and other power-holders.