As of July 1, 2005, the Program on Nonviolent Sanctions and Cultural Survival has closed, after a long, productive, and distinguished trajectory under the leadership of David Maybury-Lewis.
PONSACS studied situations of conflict in order to better understand their nature and the capabilities of nonviolent actions in support of human rights and civil liberties. The Program rationale is based on the simple premise about the nature of political power – that it is rooted in and continually dependent upon cooperation and obedience, and that each can be withdrawn.
PONSACS combines a quantitative approach through PANDA (Protocol for the Assessment of Nonviolent Direct Action), an automated early warning system, with on-the-ground research of conflict regions provided by anthropological insights. These two strands of research work to identify conflict regions before they erupt into violence and to actively promote nonviolent alternatives to armed conflict.
Program research, analysis, and direct interventions focus largely on conflicts between culturally distinct groups in situations of sharp structural asymmetry with emphasis on disputes over land and natural resources and indigenous rights. Program affiliates are currently involved in research on Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, the Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, the Upper Amazon, and Nicaragua, as well as social movements in Africa and Asia.