Mediating Mass Movements
People power is a defining feature of our time. In 2019, movements in Sudan and Algeria forced entrenched military dictators from power. In Hong Kong, millions of citizens have taken to the streets to demand democratic self-rule. Chile, Colombia, Lebanon and Iraq faced popular uprisings by citizens railing against corruption, government incompetence and dysfunctional political and economic systems. These protests are happening at a time of resurgent authoritarianism, marked by a 13-year global decline in civil and political rights and an erosion of the rule of law. Widening inequality, rampant corruption, and the fraying of social contracts between governments and their citizens are at the roots of many of these conflicts. The current Covid-19 crisis has, in many places, stalled one of the most visible people-power actions, mass protest, as citizens practise social distancing and stay at home. However, recent mass protests in the US in response to police brutality and systemic racism, along with solidarity protests around the world, have shown that people are willing to take to the streets even in the midst of a pandemic. This paper outlines different strategies for mediating mass movements and addresses the challenges both mediators and movements face when negotiating in complex environments. It will explore three cases and discuss opportunities for strengthening the engagement of mediators with movements.