External Support to Democracy and Human Rights Movements: Proposing a Doctrine of a Right to Assist

This is the third event of a three-event series co-sponsored by ASIL and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) examining the intersections of civil resistance movements and international law, and was developed originally as a project of the American Society of International Law’s Signature Topic Initiative.

A growing body of evidence shows that nonviolent civil resistance movements are integral to driving democratic development, and therefore long-term stability and peace in the world. This raises the question of how pro-democracy and human rights movements can be better supported by a range of sympathetic external actors.

A report from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) proposes a doctrine called the "Right to Assist" (R2A) to address this question. In addition, a newly published multi-year research study by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth casts light on what forms of external support are most impactful for these movements. Drawing from these works, and the experience of activist and organizer Farida Nabourema, this event will discuss practical, legal, and other ramifications of external assistance to civil resistance movements.

  • Hardy Merriman, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
  • Farida Nabourema, Togolese Civil League
  • Maria Stephan, Co-author The Role of External Support in Nonviolent Campaigns: Poisoned Chalice or Holy Grail? (PDF)

Tabatha Thompson (moderator), U.S. Institute of Peace