Lecture: How to Topple a Dictator


Location: Hesburgh Center Auditorium

Srdja Popovic

Featuring Srdja Popovic

Global expert in the art of nonviolent protest and peaceful revolution

Recently named one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” Popovic is the founder of Otpor!, the Serbian youth movement that surged to over 70,000 members and eventually toppled dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

After the revolution, he and fellow activists founded the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action & Strategies (CANVAS), where he teaches a new form of protest that is changing the nature of peaceful revolutions. CANVAS has worked with people from 37 countries, including Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran, and Venezuela, spreading knowledge on effective nonviolent strategies and tactics.

How do you start, build, and complete a peaceful revolution? Popovic will draw on his firsthand experience and lay out a set of skills that can be followed through to sweeping social and political change worldwide. He will look at how past youth movements have successfully toppled dictatorships, pointing to the importance of unity, planning, and discipline, and explaining the difference between “complete” and “incomplete” revolutions.

Some starting points: Use the Internet, but use it wisely. Rely on humor and slogans. Pick the battles you know you can win.

“There are things you need to avoid if you don’t want your movement to be doomed,” he says. “One is violence."

CANVAS’ teachings are available in a documentary, “Bringing Down a Dictator.” Its manual, “Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points,” has been translated into 16 languages, including Farsi and Arabic.

Sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.