Centre pour l’action non-violente (CENAC)

Identity card

CENAC defines non-violence with the pithy statement “Not a porcupine, not a doormat”, i.e., do not injure gratuitously, but do not allow yourself to be walked on. The Centre was created in Lausanne in 1968 and initially called the Centre Martin Luther King - CMLK. It was renamed the Centre pour l’action non-violente - CENAC in 2004.

The Centre was built on the Gandhian movement because the association feels that:

  • non-violent action is central,

  • the end is part of the means,

  • conflict, unlike violence, is an intrinsic part of all societies,

  • Gandhi’s ideas have a political dimension,

  • Gandhi has influenced ideas in the West.

This perception does not limit non-violence to a means of protest. Rather, non-violence itself defines the foundations of the society it wishes to build. The ‘Manifesto for a non-violent alternative’ adopted in 1982 by the General Assembly of the Fédération romande des mouvements non-violents, is a concrete example of a Gandhian movement. Gandhi considered non-violence a dynamic above all else, and the CENAC adheres to this idea as well. So conflicts can be considered opportunities to construct fairer and more balanced relationships, and to use combativeness to progress in life—without injuring and without allowing oneself to be walked on. Gandhi’s contributions were an important inspiration to Martin Luther King in his fight to defend the civil rights of black people in the United States.

CENAC’s actions are built on four pillars: inform, train, increase awareness and support.

CENAC PROVIDES A DOCUMENTATION SERVICE with an extensive bibliography on the theme of non-violence: its history, heros, and related current events. The centre publishes a NEWSLETTER on this theme for its members.

It provides an A LA CARTE TRAINING SERVICE to meet the needs of private and public organisations.

It loans explicit EXHIBITS on the theme of non-violence.

CENAC is in CONTACT with many organisations pursuing similar goals in Switzerland and abroad. In Switzerland: International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Group for a Switzerland without an Army In France: Movement for a Non-violent Alternative, Peace Movement, Union Pacifiste de France, Silence.

CENAC supports a VISION OF SOCIETAL CHANGE with its offer of documentation on possibilities for renewal proposed and experimented with by the major figures of non-violence, and by providing training to organisations interested in such change. It demonstrates its commitment to a TRANSITION by supporting non-violent actions aimed at change based on cooperation rather than competition and respect for others rather than profit at all costs.

To support this societal change, CENAC plans to support the creation of a university department to teach non-violence, so that future leaders of society learn to orient their actions in the direction of a progressive change in mindsets and behaviours, for a more harmonious society.


CENAC hopes to encourage non-violence everywhere: in the home, in schools, companies and political and social institutions.

Modes of action

  • training
  • books, reviews publishing
  • development of teaching material
  • legal and citizen watch, diffusion of information

Thematic areas

  • governance
  • migration
  • peace
  • ethics
  • citizenship