Nonviolent struggle in Kosovo

Howard Clark

Kosovo was not an obvious place for a nonviolent struggle. The Kosovo Albanian value system is based on a concept of honour closely linked with weaponry: take away the weapon, goes one saying, and you take away honour--a man's most important possession is his gun. The history is not one of unity but of clan rivalries, not organized collective resistance, but banditry and bloody rebellion.

Empowerment: just another phrase?

Vesna Terselic

Buzz words. You catch them here and there--in peace, environmental or women's initiatives and United Nations documents. They change from season to season, from year to year. "Empowerment" has appeared in the language of my colleagues who are working on social change as an attempt to explain to ourselves and to others what we are actually doing.

The Movimento Sem-Terra in Brazil

Dawn Plummer

Historical Roots of the MST

Brazil is one of the most unequal societies on the planet--1% of landowners own 44% of all Brazilian land (an area larger than the continental United States). Understanding the history and social implications of that inequality is essential background for understanding the situation of the landless in Brazil today.

What Power Do We Want?

Cecilia Moretti

It isn't easy to think about the kind of power we want, especially when we believe in a freedom that is opposed to any kind of authoritarianism. It becomes even more difficult because, over the centuries of human history, the word power itself has been contaminated with notions of authority and domination.

Self-Employed Women's Union, South Africa

Khoboso Nthunya


Self-Employed Women's Union (SEWU) is an independent trade union established in 1993 to represent the interests of self-employed and survivalist women engaged in the informal sector of the South African economy. SEWU is not affiliated with COSATU (South Africa's main labor union congress) because its members are women from different political parties.

Democracy In Seattle's Streets

Christopher Ney

It was in Chile, as an international observer of the 1988 plebiscite that voted Augusto Pinochet out of office, that I first saw the dramatic transformative power of nonviolence. I saw it the second time in Seattle during the protests of the meeting of the World Trade Organization.

Collective identities: trap or tool for empowerment?

Andreas Speck

Collective identities--"we" as queers, or whatever group you like--are often perceived as empowering by providing a sense of belonging. At the same time, by the very existence of these collective identities produce new boundaries of "in" and "out" and new norms of behavior that limit people's freedom to be and to do. Thus, identity can be disempowering and even threaten people's lives, in the case of nationalist or homophobic attacks.


Saswati Roy

Sumitra, Champa, Samprada, Sushama, Kalabati, Salma are some of the tribal women living in remote corners in the state of Orissa in India who we have met during our recent visit to their villages. The women's organization with which I work, Swadhina, has been encouraging and promoting women's groups in these villages for the past five years. These women live in distant villages located in hilly forest regions. Their lives are integrally linked to the forest, which has been their source of food, fodder and wood for fuel.

Be realistic, demand the impossible

Howard Clark

Look back at an experience of empowerment. I wonder if the experience now seems that it was just a passing feeling you had at the time. Back then, you or your group somehow gathered the strength to make a difference--or at least feel that you made a difference. You may have changed something permanently, but the feeling was ephemeral. It wore off. A sense of empowerment is something that needs to be recreated continually.

The Intifada: from violence to more violence

Marwan Darweish

Overall situation

The thrust of the peace process that resulted in the 1993 Oslo agreement was to bring the Palestinians and Israelis to an interim negotiated settlement. It set out steps that focused on building mutual trust between the two peoples. After the signing of the Oslo agreement, which included the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), there was a gradual implementation of the terms of the agreement and the beginning of Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories.

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