Press Releases

    22 November 2004

    Discussion Forum at the VIC Explores Relevance of Non-violence as a Strategy for Political Change

    VIENNA, 22 November (UN Information Service) -- “Strategic Non-violent Conflict and the Democratic Option -- A history of non-violent strategies for political change towards democracy” was the subject of a film screening and discussion at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) today. The event, which was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Information Service, Vienna provided a forum for the media, permanent missions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), educational and training institutions and the public to meet Peter Ackerman, Chair of the International Center on Non-violent Conflict (ICNC), Washington D.C, and co-producer of the series, and Berel Rodal, Vice Chair, ICNC.

    A highlight reel from the documentary series “A Force More Powerful” and “Bringing Down a Dictator” was screened, followed by a lively discussion where members of the audience expressed their views on the concept of civilian-based resistance and how it could work in present-day circumstances. Many in the audience shared their memories of the cases that were cited in the documentary, and posed questions to the panel on a variety of issues.

    The award-winning documentary series focuses on civilian resistance to dictatorship and political repression which was produced for the US Public Broadcasting System and subsequently broadcast in 70 other countries. It has been translated into French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi and other languages, and has been made available by ICNC to educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and activists.

    The episodes cover Gandhi's famous 1930 Salt March, the Danish resistance to the Nazi occupation, the anti-apartheid movement, the solidarity movement in Poland, and the Serbian student movement, which led to the fall of the dictator Milosevic, and more. The series has its own website with lesson plans for teachers, discussion questions, simulation guidance, and references to additional resources. Mr. Ackerman is also the co-author of an accompanying book to the series, about the history of non-violent action for justice.

    “We believe that ICNC ideas and initiatives are more likely to make a difference wherever in the world they are needed if they benefit from and are the fruit of international collaboration,” said Mr. Ackerman, at the occasion. “We aim to continue to work to change how modern media affects understanding of the nature of the conflict, and how the media and new technology may help shape the struggles for freedom and rights in novel ways in the future,” he added.

    The ICNC was founded in Washington two years ago, to work with NGOs, universities and think-tanks, media and activists to raise awareness of the record, nature and potential of civilian-based, strategic non-violent resistance to oppression and to secure human rights, and help create tools to advance the effectiveness of such action.

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