Fostering a Fourth Democratic Wave is a joint project between the Atlantic Council and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), aimed at catalyzing support for nonviolent pro-democracy movements fighting against authoritarian rule. If the United States and democratic allies are to prevail in this era of great power competition, they need an actionable, evidence-based plan for pushing back on authoritarianism and supporting a new wave of democratic transitions, which we refer to as the “Fourth Democratic Wave.”  

The project recognizes that civil resistance movements—using tactics such as strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, and a range of other nonviolent tactics—are one of the most powerful forces for democracy worldwide and therefore central to reversing the last fifteen years of democratic recession. The project will result in a three-part Playbook centered on steps the United States and its allies can take to support pro-democracy civil resistance movements, which are at the core of democratic transitions.

The Playbook will: 

1. Propose new approaches and tools to support civil resistance movements.

2. Advance a new international norm — the “Right to Assist” pro-democracy movements — and identify steps to advance and implement it.

3. Develop strategic and tactical options to constrain authoritarian regimes and drive up the cost of their repression.

Key activities

Defeating the Authoritarian Threat: A Playbook for Democratic Resurgence
The playbook will draw on cutting edge research to articulate effective strategic and tactical options.

Engage scholars, experts, and activists on democracy and human rights across all major regions to address topics critical to effective international support for civil resistance movements.


The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and the world.