Nonviolent Resistance Movements Against Domestic and Foreign Actors: The Example of Tunisia and Timor-Leste
A range of factors may affect the success or failure of nonviolent political movements. I study whether these factors differ for nonviolent campaigns in intrastate versus interstate conflicts. There has been quite a lot of literature studying the reasons why nonviolence is successful and how it can be more successful than violent resistance; unfortunately, few studies contrast intrastate and interstate nonviolent movements. I completed a comparative case study of two countries: Tunisia, which saw an intrastate movement, and Timor-Leste, which saw an interstate movement. Both of these cases were defined as success in nonviolence, and I identified factors deemed necessary for success including the number of groups represented, loyalty shifts in the security forces, tactical diversity, external state sponsors, international sanctions, and the effects of regime suppression. With these cases, external state support played a much more important role in the interstate conflict in Timor-Leste. In addition, Tunisia’s security forces played an important role in the success of the movement, though this was not the case for Timor-Leste. These results suggest that the international context may change the effectiveness of nonviolent strategies. Violence is widespread, and understanding how nonviolence can succeed is one of the first steps in establishing more sustainable peace.