By Erica Chenoweth, Published in Political Violence at a Glance, December 31, 2014

Last week, Steven Pinker and Andy Mack wrote an article reassuring Slate readers that the world is not falling apart. Despite startling increases in violence in 2014, Pinker and Mack write that we live in one of the most peaceful times in human history.

I spend a lot of my time crunching numbers about violence and its alternatives, and I tend to agree with Pinker and Mack’s assessment. Don’t get me wrong – 2014 was not a banner year for those seeking peace, but the world has been in much, much worse shape….

Despite all of the bad news you might remember from 2014, I’d like to highlight a few other key stories that you might have missed because of our very human tendency to focus on things that literally blow up….

  1. The Fall of a Dictator in Burkina Faso. Yes, the 27-year-rule of yet another dictator came to an end in Burkina Faso after months of collective protests demanding his resignation. After significant elements of the political opposition defected and security forces began to disobey orders, President Blaise Compaore had no choice but to step down. Although the army’s seizure of power leaves the future of Burkina Faso uncertain, the mostly nonviolent nature of the Lwili Revolution gives us reason to be hopeful about the country’s longer-term prospects.
  1. The Fall of a Government over Corruption Issues in Bulgaria. The “Dance with Me” campaign emerged in 2013 to protest government corruption and economic hardship. Civil society went into all-out revolt against the ruling leadership after the government appointed Delyan Peevski, a businessman with a spotty corruption record, to head up Bulgaria’s internal security service. As deepening economic crisis generated shared grievances against the entire government, the movement gathered steam. In July 2014, the entire government resigned.
  1. Nonviolent Resistance during the Ukrainian Civil War—in both Ukraine & Russia. You’ve heard all about the Ukrainian army’s operations against separatist rebels in the east. You’ve probably heard less about the growing nonviolent resistance to those separatists, including an episode in May wherein thousands of unarmed demonstrators drove these rebels out of Mariupol. Anti-war sentiment has transformed into rallies against the Kiev government’s all-out war in the east. The anti-war activists in Ukraine are not alone. They have allies within Russia itself, as seen during a thousands-strong march against the war in September.
  1. Nonviolent Resistance to the Taliban in Pakistan. In December, the Pakistani Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar, killing hundreds of children and injuring hundreds more. In response, communities throughout Pakistan have staged protests and demonstrations against armed groups throughout the country. In one episode, community members in Islamabad have surrounded and threatened to “reclaim” a Taliban-aligned mosque to begin to break down the power structures of the group.
  1. Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine and Israel. Many Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip tire of the constant question: “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” In reality, there is a great deal of nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian Territories, as well as a great number of grassroots activists with a sophisticated understanding of its strategic advantages. As the Gaza War raged over the summer of 2014, media attention was understandably distracted away from the many thousands of Palestinians engaged in nonviolent struggle for self-determination—and the Israeli soldiers who refused to participate in the war.

Read the full article here.