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Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict

Mary B. Anderson and Marshall Wallace
Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict
ISBN: 978-1-58826-876-1
ISBN: 978-1-58826-877-8
ISBN: 978-1-62637-426-3
2012/193 pages/LC: 2012037173
Also of Interest:  Do No Harm:  How Aid Can Support Peace—or War by Mary B. Anderson and Zones of Peace by Landon Hancock and Christopher Mitchell, editors

Also available as a Nook Book from Barnes & Noble

"Opting Out introduces a compelling set of cases describing communities that disengaged from conflict, raising fascinating questions regarding local capacities for peace as well as the drivers of mobilization.... Engaging and approachable."—Kate Role, International Studies Review

"A masterly work with refreshing insights and a compelling narrative."—Swadesh M Rana, ACUNS

"An important addition to the literature on preventing armed conflict. The authors do an excellent job highlighting the ways in which ordinary communities can stay out of war by making conscious, collective choices."—Kelly Rae Kraemer, International Journal on World Peace

"An exciting book [that] ... shakes up many of our ideas about conflict prevention work and how it can happen when local communities are determined to ensure it."—Mari Fitzduff, Building Peace

"A terrific contribution to the field of peacebuilding. War zones are too often portrayed as armed factions fighting and local people tragically caught in the middle, victims with little recourse.  Anderson and Wallace provide us with further evidence that local communities are resilient and innovate a range of creative options ... in this case, opting out!"—John Paul Lederach, University of Notre Dame

"This [book] is on an important subject, and I congratulate the authors for their pioneering study of conflict prevention."—Former President Jimmy Carter


A Global Observatory Must-Read Book in Peace and Security!

How do ordinary people, neither pacifists nor peace activists, come to decide collectively to eschew violent conflict and then develop strategies for maintaining their region as a nonwar area despite myriad pressures to the contrary?

Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace analyze the experiences of thirteen nonwar communities that made conscious—and effective—choices not to engage in the fighting that surrounded them. Tracing the steps that these communities took and the strategies that evolved in each setting in response to local circumstances, the authors find lessons, as well, with broader relevance for international efforts to prevent violent conflict.


Mary B. Anderson is the author of Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace–or War and Rising from the Ashes: Development Strategies in Times of Disaster. She retired from her position as executive director of CDA Collaborative Learning Projects in 2009. Marshall Wallace is director of the Do No Harm Project at CDA Collaborative Learning Projects and also directed CDA's Steps Toward Conflict Prevention Project.


  • Preventing Violent Conflict.
  • Steps on the Path to Preventing Violent Conflict.
  • Maintaining Community Cohesion.
  • Leadership, Consultation, and Communication.
  • Engaging with Armed Groups.
  • International Involvement and Influence.
  • From Options to Strategies.
  • Afghanistan: Strategies of Resistance.
  • Bosnia: Cross-Ethnic Solidarity.
  • Colombia: A Story of Community Refusal.
  • Mozambique: The Spirit of Mungoi.
  • Rwanda: Muslims Reject Genocide.
  • The Relevance of Nonwar Communities.
  • Appendix: Project Case Studies.
No rights in South Asia