Did Nonviolent Resistance Fail in Kosovo?

26 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2016 Last revised: 12 Jul 2016

See all articles by Aleksandar Marsavelski

Aleksandar Marsavelski

University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law

John Braithwaite

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet)

Furtuna Sheremeti

KU Leuven

Date Written: July 5, 2016


A standard narrative is that nonviolence failed in Kosovo: the Milosevic regime was ended by a NATO bombing campaign. This essay exposes errors in this narrative. Nonviolent resistance inside Kosovo succeeded in unifying the Kosovar masses against the Milosevic regime. That solidarity was crucial to victory. A distinctive innovation of Kosovo’s nonviolence was that it built solidarity by decisively reducing violence. In particular, it reduced murders in blood feuds. Kosovo emerged from war with a comparatively low rate of violence for a post-conflict, post-communist society with a large organized crime problem. We contrast Kosovo with post-conflict societies where more people are killed by criminal violence after their peace agreement than were killed in the war. Learning to reconcile blood feuds restoratively as part of Kosovo’s nonviolent campaign for freedom contributed to this accomplishment. Nonviolent resistance campaigns can be evaluated through a criminological lens whereby averting war is just one means to reducing death rates from intentional violence.

Keywords: nonviolent resistance, peacebuilding, Syria, Kosovo, blood feuds

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Marsavelski, Aleksandar and Braithwaite, John and Sheremeti, Furtuna, Did Nonviolent Resistance Fail in Kosovo? (July 5, 2016). RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/112, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2804900 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2804900

Aleksandar Marsavelski

University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law ( email )

Trg RH 14

John Braithwaite (Contact Author)

School of Regulation & Global Governance (RegNet) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

Furtuna Sheremeti

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000

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