Reference Materials For Nonviolent Demonstrations

From the Iraq Peace Pledge (2002):

I agree to the following guidelines in opposing war on Iraq:
  1. Our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward all we encounter in our actions;
  2. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person;
  3. Our actions and words will not dehumanize any person or cause harm, injury or further isolation;
  4. We will not destroy or damage any property;
  5. We will carry no weapons;
  6. We will not bring any drugs or alcohol, other than for medicinal purposes;
  7. We will not run or resist arrest; we will remain accountable for our actions as a means of furthering our witness to the injustice of this war.

From the Nevada Desert Experience Nonviolence Covenant (1999):

As a participant, I agree to abide by the following nonviolent discipline, and as part of the preparation for this witness, I will reflect on these commitments:

From School of the Americas Watch Nonviolent Discipline (1999):

As participants today, we will reflect upon and abide by these commitments:

From Pax Christi Omaha Pledge of Nonviolence (1991):

As a member of this community gathered, to give witness at SAC, I agree to the following pledge as part of my preparation for participation.
  1. We will harbor no hatred or anger but suffer the anger of the opponent.
  2. We will refuse to return the assaults of the opponent.
  3. We will refrain from shouting, insults and swearing.
  4. We will protect opponents from insults or attack.
  5. If arrested, we will behave in an exemplary manner. We will not evade the legal consequences of our actions.
  6. As members of the nonviolent witness, we will follow the directions of the designated coordinators. In the event of a serious disagreement, one should remove oneself from the action.
  7. Our attitude as conveyed through words, symbols and actions will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect toward all people we encounter, including police officers, sheriffs, state troopers and SAC security personnel.
  8. We will not bring or use any drugs without prescriptions.
  9. We will not run or use any threatening motions.
  10. We will not carry anything on ourselves that could be construed as a weapon.
  11. Plans for our prayerful witness are shared with the authorities.
The term "opponent" is taken from Mahatma Gandhi and is meant to indicate one with whom we are in opposition but whom we do not consider to be the enemy. The enemy is the sinful activity, not the person(s) involved in it.

Suggestions from the DPTJC web site (2001):

Here is a set of guidelines often used by groups engaging in nonviolent actions.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action NONVIOLENT COMMITTMENT STATEMENT (2002):

In preparation for nonviolent presence at _________________________ today, I commit myself to:


Nonviolence requires a code of integrity. Everyone involved must agree to a common set of principles, or the media may focus on the bad conduct of a few participants rather than the original reason for the action. Even worse, the actions of a few who provoke the police may result in unforeseen violence and increased criminal charges for the whole group. Be careful who you work with, and get everyone to agree on a set of guidelines such as the following:

A Nonviolence Code of Ethics

A nonviolent discipline usually asks participants in demonstrations to abide by certain rules, such as these:
  1. We will regard each individual as a human being with dignity.
  2. While not denying our feelings, we will harbor no hate. Should others express violence toward us, we will not return violence.
  3. We will protect others from attack. We will be alert to the people around us and will be aware of when others need assistance. We will support each other in peacekeeping.
  4. We will not use threatening motions.
  5. We will not carry any weapons.
  6. Our attitude will be open and friendly, showing respect toward all people we encounter, including law enforcement officers.
  7. We accept responsibility for our nonviolent actions.
  8. For a definition of Code of Ethics, clike here

Nonviolence Agreement

Each large action typically has its own nonviolence agreement, but below is one that has been used at many actions with some notes on what they mean. These guidelines for action form an agreement between the participants of the action about what behavior is acceptable. When every affinity group agrees to these guidelines, then everyone in the action knows what they can expect from everyone else. By having a clear set of criteria, it is easier to know who belongs at the action — those individuals or affinity groups who do not adhere to the guidelines can be asked to leave (by the nonviolence monitors or others).

By making it clear in advance to ourselves, the opposition, and others that we will be nonviolent, spelling out exactly what that means, acting that way, and insisting that everyone act that way at our actions, we make it easy to deny accusations of violent behavior and we build a reputation as being nonviolent and trustworthy.
  1. Our attitude — as conveyed through words, symbols, and actions — will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect towards everyone we meet.
    This includes both people we are working with and our “opposition” before and during the action. You should at least be able to pretend friendliness and lovingness. If you need to rage at authority figures, go do it somewhere else — it is not useful at this action.
  2. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
    Violence includes insults, snide comments, snottiness, guilt-tripping, obnoxious gestures and facial expressions.
  3. We will not damage property.
    The issue of property damage tends to shock and appall people.
  4. We will not bring or use any drugs or alcohol other than for medicinal purposes.
    We want everyone to be as clear-headed as possible and we want the issue of illegal drugs to be moot.
  5. We will not run.
    This means both that we will not run away and that we will not run from place to place — running tends to get people’s adrenaline flowing and to think that there is something exciting going on that they should run to also — encouraging a mob response.
  6. We will carry no weapons.
These are not rigid rules but guidelines for action. There may be situations where it makes sense to run, etc. You and your affinity group must use your own judgement.

Duty of the Peacekeepers.


For more:

Web Sites:
The Nonviolence Web
The War Prayer, By Mark Twain
Reading List:
Tolstoy, Leo; [1894, 1984] The Kingdom of God is Within You. Lincoln, NE. University of Nebraska.