Nonviolent Direct Action

People blocking the main gate at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) 15 February 2010

People blocking the main gate at Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Berkshire, UK 15 February 2010

Peace campaigners speak out for issues that are important to them and try to bring about change without using violence.

Although peace campaigners use traditional ways of speaking out such as displaying posters and banners and signing petitions, some peace activists also choose to use ‘nonviolent direct action’ techniques to confront and try to stop what they believe is wrong. Their goal is to prevent a political organisation or other organisation from carrying out a practice which they object to.

Campaigners block an entrance to Aldermason AWE by sitting with their hands glued together, making it difficult for the police to move them.

Examples of direct action include blocking roads or building entrances,  breaking into and occupying government or other property, rallies and sit-ins, to name just a few.

People protesting against nuclear weapons, for example, sometimes use direct action techniques.  Such techniques were used particularly during the 1980s.  In the United Kingdom (UK) activists have broken into and occupied United States air bases and blocked roads to prevent military vehicles from going onto bases. In the UK groups also set up semi-permanent “peace camps” outside air bases such as Molesworth and Greenham Common.

More recently, people have used nonviolent direct action to protest again economic and social inequality in the ‘Occupy’ movement.  In London, for example, protesters set up tents and ‘occupied’ an area outside St Paul’s Cathedral.  For more information about the Occupy London movement see

Some who use direct action techniques have been arrested for doing so. Do you think people should have the right to protest using nonviolent direct action techniques?


About thepeacemuseumuk

THE ONLY MUSEUM OF ITS KIND IN THE UK. Preserving and enhancing the heritage of the peace movement, we provide inspiring opportunities for people to engage with concepts of peace, cohesion and conflict resolution. Artefacts,education, exhibitions, resources for teaching and learning. We use creative activities linked to the National Curriculum and RE and incorporate 21st Century emerging technology, to facilitate interaction with our collection, artefacts and archive material. Based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England twitter @PeaceMuseumUK Email: Tel 44 01274 434009 44 01274 780241
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