Describing itself as a “catalyst to stimulate interest in nonviolent conflict,” the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) was founded in 2002 as a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to “develo[p] and encourag[e] the study and use of civilian-based, nonmilitary strategies aimed at establishing and defending human rights, democratic self-rule and justice worldwide.” Specifically, ICNC advocates “nonviolent conflict” — in the form of rallies, strikes, boycotts, “noncooperation,” “hiding,” “escaping,” and “using false identities” — to promote “postmodern coups,” i.e., internally-driven governmental transformations which use non-military force to achieve democracy. “Nonviolent conflict,” explains ICNC, “is an active and disruptive form of struggle” rather than “inactive, submissive, or ‘passive resistance.'”
Peter Ackerman, founder and chair of ICNC, says his organization focuses on “just getting those people who don’t want [democracy] to step aside.” Ackerman is the former chairman of Freedom House and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Advisory Council of the United States Institute of Peace. He formed ICNC with the help of Jack Duvall, who is now the group’s president.
ICNC says its activities consist mainly of “develop[ing] and disseminat[ing]” nonviolent conflict practices through the Internet, video programming, books (and other literature), meetings, conferences, seminars, training workshops, and consultation.
By ICNC’s calculus, Palestinian aggression against — and demonization of — Israel constitutes a legitimate form of “nonviolent conflict” activity. Indeed ICNC founder Peter Ackerman, speaking at the University of Virginia Law School, cited the first Palestinian Intifada as a grassroots uprising where “people undertook disruptive acts to arouse public support … and subvert the operations of government.” Embracing the narrative that the Israeli government is an oppressive regime which is illegally occupying Palestinian territories, ICNC has worked with the group Just Vision in advising anti-Israel activists vis a vis the “best practices” to use in order to make a maximum impact.
ICNC has also worked on various campaigns with such organizations as the National Endowment for Democracy, Nonviolence International, Freedom House, and the Serbian-based Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies. To clarify its agendas and recommendations, ICNC has developed a video game called “A Force More Powerful — the Game of Nonviolent Strategy,” which requires players to employ nonviolent conflict techniques to successfully topple virtual governments.
According to ICNC, illegal aliens in the United States are oppressed by immigration law and negative societal sentiment alike; thus, says the organization, the “U.S. Imiigrant Rights Movement” is a legitimate nonviolent conflict campaign. “Twelve million or more undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States,” ICNC laments, “are denied basic labor protections, mobility, education, and public services because of their immigration status.” Reasoning from that premise, ICNC praises the “vibrant social movement” that “has emerged to protect these immigrants from discrimination and from many cases of excessively repressive enforcement of immigration laws, as well as to advocate for legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.” By the same token, ICNC condemns “xenophobic anti-immigration organizations such as the Minutemen, who recruit vigilante groups of citizens to enforce immigration policies.” Antipathy toward immigrants, adds ICNC, “proliferated after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”
In addition to the Immigrant Rights Movement, ICNC also cites the Civil Rights Movement (1942-1968) and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement (1964-1973) as examples of nonviolent conflict waged successfully within the United States in recent decades.
A noteworthy member of ICNC’s board of academic advisors is Professor Stephen Zunes.
ICNC claims not to accept any funds from governments, government-related organizations, foundations, corporations, or institutions. It is financed by Peter Ackerman’s family philanthropy.