Abstract

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. Kosovo’s nonviolent resistance successfully unified the masses against the regime with a distinctive innovation of building solidarity by reducing violence. In particular, it reduced murders in blood feuds. Kosovo emerged from war with comparatively low violence for a post-conflict society burdened with organized crime. We contrast Kosovo with societies where more people were killed by criminal violence after peace agreements than in wartime. Reconciling blood feuds 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.

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