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War Resisters' International Nonviolence Programme

WRI's Nonviolence Programme promotes the use of active nonviolence to confront the causes of war and militarism. We develop resources (such as the Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns) and provide nonviolence training to groups seeking to develop their skills. The programme has a specific focus on supporting campaigns against the arms trade and other 'war profiteers', and publishes a quarterly magazine, called War Profiteers' News.

WRI exists to promote nonviolence. Our statement of principles explains: "Nonviolence can combine active resistance, including civil disobedience, with dialogue; it can combine non-cooperation -- withdrawal of support from a system of oppression -- with constructive work to build alternatives. As a way of engaging in conflict, sometimes nonviolence attempts to bring reconciliation with it: strengthening the social fabric, empowering those at the bottom of society, and including people from different sides in seeking a solution." WRI realises that for "some, nonviolence is a way of life. For all of us, it is a form of action that affirms life, speaks out against oppression, and acknowledges the value of each person".

WRI's Nonviolence Programme:

  • empowers grassroot activists in nonviolent campaigns, through resources, publications and by leading training in nonviolence;
  • coordinates regional nonviolence trainers' networks;
  • educates the WRI and wider network of the connections between economics and war.

We believe the goals of peace and justice will eventually be achieved through the persistent work of grassroots movements over time, in all countries and regions. Our mission is to foster these movements, helping them gain and maintain the strength needed for the journey they face, and to link them to one another, forming a global network working in solidarity, sharing experiences, countering war and injustice at all levels.

Resources for nonviolent change

Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns

The Spanish edition of WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent CampaignsThe Spanish edition of WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent CampaignsThe WRI network is built on mutual solidarity, support, and learning from each other's experiences. We work hard to ensure that these skills and experiences are shared with movements for social change well beyond our own circles. An important means of doing this is producing tools and educational resources based on the experiences of activists in our network, and in 2014 WRI published the second edition of our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, a book to accompany and support social change movements. The book – written by over 30 seasoned activists - has been translated into over ten languages, and several thousand copies have been sold. A wide variety of movements, campaigns, trainers and individual activists from around the world have made use of the Handbook.

Empowering Nonviolence

From April 2017, the Handbook – and lots of other content – will be available online in the form of the Empowering Nonviolence website. Empowering Nonviolence allows users to browse the content of the Handbook, helping to make activists and movements more effective in their campaigning and direct action, more strategic in their planning, and to become more sustainable, as they learn from others and share stories and ideas.

New Worlds in Old Shells

When we think of nonviolent social change we often think of protests, direct action, banners, placards, and crowds in the street. Often these actions are saying “No!”, resisting the causes of violence and war, and they are very necessary. As important though, are the communities and organisations “building a new world in the shell of the old”, saying “yes!” by putting into practise the emancipatory, nonviolent, empowering ways of working and living we hope – one day – everyone will experience. Gandhi coined the word “constructive programmes” to describe this sort of social change, and we are currently writing a new publication – called “New Worlds in Old Shells”.

New Worlds in Old Shells will describe how different groups and communities have built new institutions – occupied factories, reclaimed land, community gardens, alternative governments, radical media, and local currencies – to show how we can move away from the violent and destructive cultural and economic structures that are so prevalent in our world today.

Nonviolence Training

The Nonviolence Programme is a direct response to needs expressed by activist groups for nonviolence training and resources, especially focusing on campaign strategies for nonviolent direct action (NVDA). The training tools and materials we use are designed to facilitate the groups that contact us in the processes they initiate and lead. We do not prescribe a particular way of taking action; our goal is to train and empower local nonviolence trainers, to build independent, local capacity with the groups we work alongside.

The best nonviolence training comes from within the same context in which the group undergoing the training is working. We believe in the value of sharing training tools, ideas, stories and contexts, so another focus of the project is organising international nonviolence trainers' exchanges.

Another important feature of WRI's approach to nonviolence training is our emphasis on the strategic planning and internal dynamics (with a particular focus on gender dynamics) and decision-making processes of activists groups. This focus is crucial for building a movement's long-term sustainability.

Because the Nonviolence Programme works on long term, sustainable change, our impact can be hard to measure. However, its successes in bringing nonviolence trainers together – and producing resources used by grassroots movements – are clear examples of the potential of the programme.

Campaigning against war profiteering

Members of WRI take action against the ADEX arms fair in South Korea, 2015Members of WRI take action against the ADEX arms fair in South Korea, 2015Economics is one of the key causes of war - wherever there is a military conflict, someone is profiting from it.

WRI looks at war profiteering in a broad sense - all companies and initiatives that benefit financially from military conflict. This includes the arms trade, companies profiteering for the privatisation and outsourcing of the military, companies extracting natural resources in conflict zones, financial institutions investing in arms companies, and many others.

WRI's main effort goes into sharing examples of successful strategies against war profiteering and bringing people together who are taking action against the industry of war.  We publish a quarterly magazine called War Profiteers' News (in English and Spanish), and by organising events to bring campaigners and researchers together to share strategies against war profiteering. In 2015 we gathered members and friends of the WRI network in Seoul, for a seminar called “Stopping the War Business”, where campaigners shared experiences and strategies of countering war profiteering. The seminar coincided with the ADEX arms fair, where we took nonviolent direct action together.