Building on past research projects, the Toda Peace Institute convened a working group on Nonviolent Action and Conflict Transformation that included key activists, strategists and theorists to develop a three-year action plan. The plan will guide Toda's work to strengthen and improve the design of nonviolent social movements and conflict transformation processes. The Toda Peace Institute plans to work in collaboration with other groups to commission research, policy briefs, and action programmes. In particular the working group seeks to bridge conceptual and practice gaps between nonviolent movements resisting injustice and authoritarianism and the actions of peacebuilding practitioners and scholars working for dialogue and negotiated solutions to economic, social and political problems. In particular, the Toda Institute is interested in how these related fields can work together to address deep social and political divisions, global populism, "democratically-elected" authoritarian regimes, and authoritarian challenges to democratic processes.
The working group met at the Airlie House Conference Centre just outside of Washington DC on July 24-25, 2017. The working group focused on two key questions:
- What type of research or meetings might help nonviolent action and conflict transformation processes better complement each other?
- What kind of synergy between nonviolent action and conflict transformation processes could address "democratically-elected" authoritarian governments and democratic backsliding where local communities, media, corporations and government all play important roles in oppression?
The working group identified a range of policy dilemmas and 'wicked problems' that might be addressed with commissioned research, policy briefs and problem solving workshops aimed at helping social movement leaders and activists work in collaboration with peacebuilders and conflict transformation specialists.
The working group prioritised the research and practice gaps both in terms of their importance in general, as well as the relevance or appropriateness for the Toda Peace Institute to address them. This report summarises the key recommendations for Toda, and then lists the other research and practice gaps that other groups may want to address.
In the coming months, the Toda Peace Institute will take these recommendations and will make choices on where to focus in the next three years.