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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2004

Between Hard and Soft Power: The Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change - Opening Remarks and Introduction

Bill Keppler, Chairman
Remarks to the Secretary's Open Forum
Washington, DC
June 29, 2004

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Mr. Ackerman, member of the diplomatic corps, other distinguished guests, my foreign affairs colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon and welcome to the U.S. State Depart. I think you're going to find today’s program very interesting, very compelling, and a very important topic.

Before we begin today's program, I would like to remind everybody though, being the Open Forum, that any of the views or comments or opinions expressed at today's program, including those of my own, do not necessarily reflect those of the Secretary of State, the State Department or the Administration. And to facilitate a more candid and frank discussion following the presentation, today's program is closed to the media and will be “off-the-record.” However, this program will be re-broadcast in its entirety throughout the State Department and made available to all our posts overseas courtesy of the State Department's BNET communications system.

The coalition's recent war with Iraq increasingly is highlighting the limitations and consequences regarding the use of force to address global conflicts. As the world continues to confront the challenges of terrorism, civil war and strife and regional conflicts, the foreign policy community must actively seek options beyond the use of military force to combat terrorism, the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and organized crime on the one hand, and to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the other hand. At the same time, civilians from around the world, often in countries that are the sources of these global challenges, are engaging in non-violent actions to demand democratic change, an end to corruption and oppression, and to be granted human rights. Non-violent civilian-based movements have been a principal force in dissolving oppression and producing human rights and democracy for over the past 100 years. Some very compelling examples of this are the “People's Revolution” in the Philippine in 1983, the change of governments in Chile in 1980, the end of apartheid in South Africa in '89 and '90, the fall of communist regimes in Poland, Eastern Europe and Mongolia, Serbia 2000, and most recently Georgia.

I am very honored and pleased that joining us for today's program as our Distinguished Guest Speaker is one of the foremost and prominent proponents of non-violent conflict, Dr. Peter Ackerman, who is the Chair of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict.

In his presentation titled "Between Hard and Soft Power: The Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change," Dr. Ackerman will explain how indigenous civilian-based power, often misunderstood by policymakers and the news media, can be a vital tool beyond diplomacy and military force in fostering democracy and human rights. To that end, he will describe how nonviolent civilian-based movements have been a major force in displacing oppressive regimes and in producing stable civil societies.

Dr. Peter Ackerman is one of the world's leading authorities on nonviolent conflict, and is the founding chair of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, located here in Washington, D.C. He is the executive producer of the PBS TV documentary "Bringing Down A Dictator," on the fall of Serbia dictator Slobodan Milosevic. This film was the recipient of the 2003 Peabody Award and the 2002 ABC News Video Source Award.

Dr. Ackerman was also the series editor and the principal content advisor behind the two-part Emmy-nominated PBS series "A Force More Powerful," which charts the history of civilian-based resistance from Gandhi's campaign in India, to the civil rights movement here in the United States, to the dismantling of South Africa's apartheid system, to the fall of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Dr. Ackerman has spoken often on public, on television and radio, including BBC, CNN, CBC in Canada, Fox News and the National Public Radio. He has published op-eds and articles in numerous domestic and international periodicals, and has been cited often in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Weekly Standard, and a host of other newspapers.

Dr. Ackerman is also the co-author of two seminal books on nonviolent resistance: "A Force More Powerful," which is the companion book to the television series; and "Strategic Nonviolent Conflicts: The Dynamics of Power n the 20th Century."

He holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he presently is the chairman of the board of overseers. In addition, he is on the board of CARE, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the executive Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving a warm welcome to Dr. Peter Ackerman. (Applause.)


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