Nonviolent action campaigns have been a part of political life for millennia, challenging abuses by authorities, spearheading social reforms, and protesting militarism and discrimination. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in movements that have not only led to significant political and social reforms advancing the cause of human rights but have even toppled repressive regimes from power and forced leaders to change the very nature of their governance. In more recent decades, nonviolence has become a more deliberate tool for social change, evolving from an [ad hoc] strategy associated with religious or ethical principles into a reflective, even institutionalized, method of struggle.
Passive resistance holds its roots in certain aspects of Buddhist and Christian tranquillity and repudiation of violence. It was developed in recent times by M K (Mahatma) Gandhi in South Africa and India and by Dr. Martin Luther King of the Civil Rights Movement against racism in the USA.
This strategy is practised by deliberate civil disobedience to laws which the resisting party objects to, followed by passive obstruction of the police or military force attempting to enforce those laws. The means of resistance may extend to boycotts of the opponents' commerce, to symbolic law-breaking to force public sympathy and establishment reaction, and to intentional suicide by hunger strike or self-immolation. Demonstration marches, sit-ins, and obstruction by mass physical inertia are other forms.
Unlike conventional political movements, nonviolent campaigns usually employ tactics outside the mainstream political processes of electioneering and lobbying. Tactics may include strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations, the popular contestation of public space, tax refusal, destruction of symbols of government authority (such as official identification cards), refusal to obey official orders (such as curfew restrictions) and the creation of alternative institutions for political legitimacy and social organization.
2. Non-violence depends for its effectiveness on a highly disciplined movement; this is missing in many contemporary conflicts.
3. Non-violent civil disobedience usually succeeds when the numbers of protesters is sufficiently large. The use of force to disperse such demonstrations is a moral victory for the protesters if it succeeds and a double victory if it fails.
2. Repudiation of violent means compromises, rather than forwards, a cause.
3. Non-violence requires that the social structure being pressured be susceptible to moral pressure or public opinion. If it is not then non-violence is extremely ineffective in bringing about social change.