Code of Conduct for Non Violent Protest and Activists

We believe that legitimate activism must have principles of conduct that advocate non-violent and peaceful approaches.  We believe that protest is a last resort to change, and must have as its objective, peaceful conflict resolution that respects fairness and human rights.

We commit to peaceful and non-violent protest or activism, and will respect the following principles:

 Just Cause

  •  The cause must be just and  non-trivial. The cause of peace is an honorable one.
  • We stand for peace, non-violence  and human rights.  We will respect  and speak the truth.  We stand for public trust and the public interest.
  • We will know what we want to achieve  and what defines success.  We will  build on small successes.  We will be realistic.
  • We know that just cause means the adoption of just methods.  We believe that all protest should be conducted in parallel with efforts at education,  mediation, dialogue or negotiation.   We know this takes patience and hard work. We believe that protest is an avenue of last resort.  We encourage an ongoing dialogue on any other peaceful or constructive alternatives.
  • We will encourage the creation of  safe spaces for dialogue. We will seek to develop lines of communication with those who which we have differences.    We believe that cooperation is more effective than the exercise of  power or through adversarial relationships.


  •  We will know ourselves, our rights and our values.  We believe the highest identity possible is that of a responsible global citizen. We will stand for our highest personal values, even in the heat of a protest that has gotten out of hand.
  •  We will understand and respect the rights of others.
  • We will respect the values of non-violence and compassion. We believe that the care of others and the ethic of justice define us as human beings. We will be responsible and peaceful champions of humanitarian and human values.


  •  We will do no harm.   We respect the property of others.
  • We will not use highly emotive  messages that are designed to incite anger, hate, or violence.
  • We do not condone the abuse of  power by protest organizers or protesters.
  • We will respect the law and the police.
  • We will understand the possible harm and risks of collateral damage involved in protest and resolve to avoid them.
  • We will seek to keep the media or public debate on the issues and not any disruptive or violent behaviors of  either the protesters or police.


  •  We will be responsible and  accountable for the consequences of our actions, intended or unintended.
  • We do not condone wrongdoing in ourselves or each other and will responsibly speak up when it occurs. We will not abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • We will have a strong organizing  committee, who ensures that all involved understand our prohibitions  against violence, understand how a peaceful protest is be conducted,  understand prohibited behaviors, and what to do if they occur.
  • To ensure and retain the public  trust and to live our values, we will report transgressions to the organizers or the authorities.  We      will identify and name any perpetrators of violence or vandalism and cooperate with authorities when necessary to deal with them.

 The lines that non-violent activists and protestors cannot cross:

  •  No violence!
  • Do no harm!
  • No property damage!
  • Respect the rights of others!
  • Obey the law!
  • No racism!
  • No religious discrimination!

In the cause of peace,

Freely given for non-profit uses. © May 2012 v4. All rights reserved

PAUL MAILLET CENTER FOR ETHICS Tel: 1-613-841-9216. Email: pmaillet@

  1. […] Paul Maillet crafted a Code of Conduct for Non Violent Protest and Activists (2012), and he included sections for these important aspects: Just Cause, Identity, Non-violence, Accountability. His code says that the “cause must be just and non-trivial,” and of especial relevance to an information community, it “encourage[s] the creation of safe spaces for dialogue.” I think most of us can agree that the cause the protesters were demonstrating for – those of human rights, ending political corruption, and ending dictatorships – were both just and non-trivial. These protesters were not merely complaining about life being hard; they were demonstrating to show their rulers and the world that their lives were in danger, their rights threatened or non-existent, and the systems were corrupt. These revolutionaries created a safe space for dialogue through their use of digital and social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the use of mobile phones allowed them to share information with each other, their extended networks, and the rest of the world. Although measures were taken by several governments to deny access to these platforms (see last week’s post), the protesters persevered and, in many cases, were able to effect change. […]

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