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NCD. — 09. Conditions and preparation of nonviolent defence. Trans-armament
Series “Towards a nonviolent civil defence”
Slides n° 5
Conditions and preparation
of nonviolent civil defence.
Translation : Claudia McKenny Engström
Conditions and preparation of nonviolent defence
The Conditions for a nonviolent civil defence (NVCD)
Providing the population with relevant information on nonviolence
Fight against exclusion and inequalities
Foreign policy aimed at disarmament and development
Sensitizing and informing
Making unilateral disarmament possible
Transition, transfer and transformation
I - The conditions for a nonviolent civil defence
1. Providing the population with relevant
information on nonviolence :
- Theoretical knowledge (philosophy, history,
principles, strategy of nonviolence)
- Practical knowledge (training on a diversity of
techniques, resisting to provocation)
This training must start at school, and continue in high
schools, universities and lifelong learning.
Cf. Slides “Preparing NVCD”
2 – Citizens’ involvement
The civic passivity of so many French people is due to a deep
feeling of powerlessness and disgust in politics.
Because it generates efficient means of action, nonviolence
gives politics back its real meaning and nobility, thus
becoming a powerful tool for citizens’ training.
- Individuals and communities regain control of a great part of
their responsibilities today abandoned in the hands of the
- Maximal decentralisation : of politics, administration,
economy (agriculture, energy, industry, etc.)
3 - Fighting against exclusion and inequalities
Exclusion of entire strands of the population and disparity
in living conditions, access to employment, housing,
education and culture, are major obstacles to the
establishment of a NVCD.
Without waiting for society to reach perfection before
establishing civil dissuasion, it is fundamental to fight
against social disintegration : exclusion, discriminations,
unemployment, poverty, disparities and the crying injustice
that threats our democracy and national cohesion.
Nonviolence, here again, gives the poorest ones the
means to fight in social and political struggles.
The best way to prepare for the defence of
democracy in time of crisis is to reinforce it and
make it more efficient in time of peace.
The more the citizens of a country feel they live
in a just society, the more motivated they will be
to defend their society against the threats that
weigh on it.
Improving social consultation
The objective is to allow an organic consultation
between the various political and socio-economic actors
of civil defence,
in order to decide and coordinate the actions of
resistance that will best suit the field.
Polls show the French population, although still ignorant
of everything in matter of nonviolent action, yet agrees in
majority our society should make significant investments
4 - A foreign policy oriented at disarmament
and sustainable development
- Real participation to disarmament : unilateral
nuclear disarmament (France)
- Halt to the most violent aspects of globalization
(corporate land grabbing of natural resources
in the South), actions in favour of food
sovereignty, development aid, etc.
- Limitation and end to weapon trade
- Civil intervention for peace in conflict zones*
- Humanitarian aid
* cf. Slides on the topic
II - Preparing nonviolent civil defence (NVCD)
- Institutionalising research and giving it the means to
develop and coordinate
- Fundamental research : history and sociology of conflicts,
economy, administrative law, international law.
Study the population’s spirit of defence and its will to
resist in case of breach to democracy
- Applied research: design civil dissuasion: what means
should be put in place?
Improve institutes collaboration (CES, EHESS, IEP, IFRI,
IHEDN, IRIS, IRNC*)
and create specific structures in charge of implementing
different means of civil dissuasion.
* French Institutions :
CES : Centre des Études de Sécurité;
EHESS : École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales;
IEP : Instituts d’Études Politiques;
IFRI : Institut Français des Relations Internationales;
IHEDN : Institut des Hautes Études de la Défense Nationale;
IRNC : Institut de recherche sur la Résolution Non-violente des Conflits.
Fundamental research (I)
- Continue historical research on civil resistance experience and
what can be drawn from it for today
- Study the psychological laws regulating human group
behaviour of those exercising repression and those enduring it
(in case of armed resistance, nonviolent resistance)
- Classification of economic fields of activity depending on their
interest for the aggressor or dictator
- Study the means to reduce food, economic and energetic
Fundamental research (II)
- Study the possibilities offered by new technologies
(namely digital) to operate micro and discrete sabotages,
preventing third parties from taking control over vital
- Legal studies clarifying the status of fighting international
civil populations under international law and defining a
status of civil resistant, one who only uses nonviolent
means of action.
- Study defining the different axes of foreign policy and
diplomacy reinforcing the credibility of a policy of civil
- Analyse the existing measures of defence in each socio-
economic sector and their insufficiencies with regard to civil
* banking systems, etc.
- Lead experimental studies on some of the suggestions
made here in a limited sector of State or social institutions
(Prefect, Police, Telecommunication, etc.)
Ask civil servants to elaborate themselves a complete plan
regarding their own activities in case of occupation by an
2 - Education and training (I)
That is the most important axis : ideological preconceptions,
still widespread, lack of competence in the field of
nonviolent action strategy.
- Educate the people who are already motivated (activists
and nonviolence supporters)
- Train politicians, civil servants, scientists, technicians, to
develop working teams with a double competence :
people with a specific competence (legal, historical,
sociological, technical, etc.) confront this knowledge to
nonviolent approaches and strategies.
Education and training (II)
- Introduce the hypothesis of nonviolence in
already existing training centres :
IHEDN, military schools, for regular and reserve
- Organise training sessions for civil servants in
administrative or technical services, making them
capable of training in turn.
3 – Sensitizing and informing (I)
- sensitize large sectors of the population to concepts
of civil defence, inform the population via written
media (flyers, cartoons, press, etc.), television, radio,
conferences followed by debates, etc.
- clarify nonviolence from the confusion and
ambivalence that weighs on it and restricts its
- explain the problematic, give historical examples.
Sensibilisation et information (suite)
- organise sensitization days in various administrative or
- integrate a pedagogy of nonviolent civil defence in civic
education courses (in school) : reach out to the students’
intelligence and not teach them a doctrine.
- lead sensitization actions in municipalities where
representatives are convinced of their necessity
Sensitizing and informing (III)
- lead sensitization, information and training actions in
institutions where citizens get together to share their
convictions and act together :
associations of civil society
1 - Pure and simple disarmament ?
Disarmament is necessary, but it can only be achieved
under certain conditions.
1. Total and unilateral, pure and simple disarmament is
dangerous (so long as the system we are abandoning is
efficient, of course, which is not the case of the nuclear
It would leave a strategical void, and would therefore be
It is a project that would fail if it were not combined with an
alternative defence. No people can accept living without a
2 - Simultaneous multilateral disarmament ?
Multilateral, “universal, simultaneous, progressive,
balanced and controlled” disarmament is a pious hope
we have been talking about for the past 50 years.
It would mean, that at the same time, international
forces would stop and allow negotiation, that all stop
together, in good faith, which is of course never the
It is an illusion, a pretext to do nothing since “the others
That is why we suggest trans-armament as
Trans-armament means going from a system of
defence (armed defence) to another one (civil
nonviolent defence and civil dissuasion).
Trans-armament does not mean abandoning the
will to defend oneself, but the will to defend
oneself using other means, adapted to danger
yet more efficient, democratic, ethical, and more
adapted to dangers.
Trans-armament is a strategy aiming at simultaneously :
- demilitarise society
- de-specialise defence
- allow larger and larger strands of society to adopt
NVCD breaks with the militarised system is its whole
and not only with military devices :
* objectives : what do we defend ?
* actors : who does defend ?
* modalities : how do we defend ?
Choosing another system of defence
Trans-armament in not in opposition with unilateral
disarmament. It makes it possible.
It allows society to defend itself all through the process of
disarmament and social transformation:
- progressive demilitarisation of society
- implantation of non-armed means to resist against
aggression or oppression.
This process will need time and suppose fighting strong
resistances : the military structure and weapon lobby will do
everything to stop its own disappearance.
1. Transition from a system of military defence to
a nonviolent and civil dissuasion system.
Both systems can cohabitate, but with
independent structures and funding.
Photo : Political left-right cohabitation in France
(Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin).
2. Transfer of means and credits from military
defence to the preparation of the nonviolent civil
If only 5% or even 1% of the defence budget was
allocated to research on nonviolent civil defence and
the preparation of such a defence, we would be
3. Transformation of the strategy and tools of
namely the reconversion of military industries.
An added value
Already, the preparation and organisation of a
nonviolent civil defence would constitute an added-
value to our defence system and global dissuasion of
- by reinforcing or generating a will to defend against
an aggression or dictatorial, authoritarian regime
- by increasing the population’s capacity of resistance
against contemporary threats.