Nonviolent action (also sometimes referred to as people power, political defiance, and nonviolent struggle) is a technique of action for applying power in a conflict by using symbolic protests, noncooperation, and defiance, but not physical violence.

Nonviolent action may involve:

1. Acts of omission—that is, people may refuse to perform acts that they usually perform, are expected by custom to perform, or are required by law or regulation to perform;
2. Acts of commission—that is, people may perform acts that they do not usually perform, are not expected by custom to perform, or are forbidden to perform; or
3. A combination of the two.

As a technique, therefore, nonviolent action is not passive. It is not inaction.

Nonviolent action is action that is nonviolent.

What are the applications of nonviolent action?

Nonviolent action can and has been used to:

• Dismantle dictatorships
• Block coups d’état
• Defend against foreign invasions
• Expel foreign occupation
• Provide an alternative to violence in extreme ethnic conflicts
• Challenge unjust social and economic systems
• Develop, preserve and extend democratic practices, human rights, civil liberties and freedom of religion
• Resist genocide

For more information, see the applications of nonviolent action section on our web site.