Nonviolent Civil Resistance: Implications for International Law & Law-making

This is the second 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.

Populations around the world are increasingly engaging in both reformist and revolutionary nonviolent civil resistance in order to pursue rights, freedom, and justice. Research shows that these movements have impacts, not just on political outcomes but also on the emergence and stability of democratic forms of governance.

What are the implications of this trend for key areas of international law? Taking account of civil resistance entails re-theorizing some foundational concepts in international law, such as sources of law, sovereignty, and the nature of “war,” and suggests some ways of moving from a state-centered international legal framework to an approach that recognizes individual and group actors as law-makers, particularly in the area of human rights.


  • Todd F. Buchwald (moderator), Former Ambassador, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State
  • Elizabeth Wilson, Rutgers Law School, Institute for Information Policy and Law; and author of People Power Movements and International Human Rights: Creating a Legal Framework (PDF)