19 Jan
  • By Social Change
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Why People Joined the Protest? A Nonviolence Research Project (2017-2018)

Popular nonviolent uprisings have been a powerful force of change in many developing countries around the world. These civil resistance movements use nonviolent tactics such as strikes, demonstrations and boycotts that do not pose a direct physical threat to the opponent to realize political goals. Past research has shown that nonviolent uprisings are more effective than violent uprisings at unseating dictators and tend to result in higher levels of democracy, lower probabilities of armed conflict onset, and the development of vibrant civil society: factors that are crucial for addressing the economic development and poverty of developing countries. Yet, the dynamics of nonviolent uprisings are poorly understood, especially in comparison to violent insurgencies. Remarkably, there is a huge knowledge gap why people actually participate in nonviolent forms of contention, as opposed to violent forms of contention or non-participation. Thus, the main explanation for the success of nonviolent uprising has been their ability to mobilize larger numbers of people.

 

Nepal is a country that has had two successful nonviolent uprisings in 1990 and 2006. On April 24 2006, the 240-year-old feudal Monarchy was abolished and a peace process was initiated to end a decade long Maoist armed struggle. The impetus for these momentous events was a 19-day, nonviolent protest movement. Following the abdication of the Monarchy, the first Constituent Assembly (CA) was elected, declaring Nepal as a federal democratic republic state, and the Maoist rebels were mainstreamed into competitive party politics. This movement was also a turning point in the sense that human rights violations have declined and civil liberties have improved since the April Uprising. Surprisingly, this uprising has received relatively little attention from the wider research community.

 

This project aimed to shed light on the 2006 April uprising by a Nepalese-Swedish research team. The main objective for Nonviolence Research project was to observe general trends concerning factors influencing the decision of citizens to participate – or not – in the nonviolence protests. This research has provided an opportunity to exchange knowledge, strengthen institutional collaboration, and exchange information between Nepalese and Swedish peace and conflict researchers. It built a unique survey database on participants and non-participants in the 2006 nonviolent uprising, a database that has generated research on the under-studied nonviolent experiences of Nepal.  In this collaborative research project, the Nepalese research partner has mainly contributed with the context expertise and the Swedish research partner mainly with research expertise. This has benefited project outputs and outcomes as well as favor knowledge exchange in the long-run. Thus, this research project, in addition, aims to establish collaborative relationships within Nepal between Nepalese research institutes as well as between academic and independent research scholars focused on peace and conflict related issues.

 

Based on the finding of this survey, CSC will be publishing the research report and journal article within 2019.