The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) was established by Congress in 1984 as an independent, federally-funded national security institution devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflict abroad.
USIP achieves its mission through its active engagements in the world’s conflict zones, teaching and training, research and analysis, and global grant-making.
The Institute’s independence gives it unique access, credibility, and convening power among a variety of stakeholders, including governments, civil society, militaries, private businesses and scholars worldwide. Its small size enables flexibility, agility, and a non-bureaucratic approach to conflict management.
USIP operates in the world’s most challenging conflict zones, and conducts active programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Burma, and elsewhere. On a daily basis, our staff mediate among parties in conflict, build local conflict management skills in fragile states, support the development of the rule of law in post-conflict environments and strengthen civil society.
USIP also serves as an important convener. The Institute welcomes world leaders to present their vision for peace, brings together bipartisan leaders to address difficult issues like genocide prevention, and fosters dialogue and collaboration among U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
Importantly, the United States Institute of Peace also is a powerful symbol, representing America’s commitment to peace and our country’s abiding interest in avoiding the staggering costs of war—both human and fiscal.
Key examples of how USIP serves the nation include:
- In Libya: USIP experts were on the ground inside Libya well before the fall of the Moammar Qaddafi regime, building relationships among opposition leaders and conducting training that led to an alliance of conflict mediation facilitators who train professionals to intervene and resolve tribal disputes peacefully. USIP has trained hundreds of mediators and facilitators in postwar conflict prevention.
- In Afghanistan: More than a year ago, USIP convened a bipartisan, Senior Level Expert Working Group to coordinate the principle U.S. agencies and NGOs working on the upcoming elections in Afghanistan, significantly enhancing the likelihood of a nonviolent Afghan presidential transition in 2014. In eastern Afghanistan, USIP established Dispute Resolution Councils in the volatile Kunar and Nangarhar provinces. Since March 2010, these councils have participated in and recorded the resolution of more than 160 cases. By strengthening existing traditional justice mechanisms and training the local populations, USIP is helping prevent local disputes from escalating into broader conflicts in an efficient and effective way.
- In Myanmar-Burma: USIP is helping to develop the skills necessary to govern a modern nation following decades of isolation and totalitarian government. In particular, Burmese leaders turned to USIP for assistance in meeting their rule of law challenges. USIP is also training religious leaders throughout the country to help them learn methods of resolving Burma’s many religious and ethnic conflicts.
- In Iraq: USIP helped organize and advise Iraqi parliamentary minority groups to give them a more effective legislative voice, and USIP mediation facilitators successfully averted Christian and Shebak sectarian violence in the disputed Kurdish border areas. Other USIP experts successfully collaborated with the education ministries of Iraq and Kurdistan on a project to revamp the Iraqi elementary school curriculum to sow democratic values, citizenship skills and a unified Iraqi civic identity.
- In Syria: In early 2012, USIP provided technical assistance to Syrian dissidents and opposition leaders as they developed their plan for “The Day After” the fall of the Bashar al-Assad regime, addressing core transitional issues such as constitutional design, rule of law, and security sector reform. This USIP support helps builds the capacity and credibility of moderate Syrian actors and lessens the likelihood or scope of post-collapse retaliatory violence.
- In South Sudan: USIP regularly convenes dialogues to help manage tensions and establish regular structured contact between security officials and civil society actors to address potential conflicts before they spin out of control.
- In Sudan: USIP helped form and advise an umbrella organization of 40 Sudanese civil society organizations interested in assuring that Sudan’s announced constitutional drafting process be inclusive, participatory and transparent, an effort that, if successful, heightens the likelihood of stability for this fragile state.
- To prevent sexual violence in conflict: USIP convenes policymakers, practitioners and military and civil society actors to address challenges associated with reporting incidents and developing effective responses to such violence. USIP also collaborates with partners in Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia, engaging both men and women in implementing practical, effective solutions to prevent and address gender violence in zones of conflict.
- To train practitioners: USIP actively supports the State Department’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, teaching conflict mediation and negotiation techniques for African security personnel for peacekeeping missions across the continent. In another effort, USIP teamed up with the U.S. Army to publish a manual to help individuals in all areas of government to prepare for the transition from war to peace that comes at the conclusion of any conflict. It is now considered the blueprint for creating successful transitions around the world. | Interagency Handbook for Transitions
USIP coordinates its work through five main centers:
Center for South and Central Asia (SCA) works to promote peace and stability in this strategically important but conflict-ridden region of the world. With experts based at headquarters and working from field offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Center:
- conducts and supports policy-relevant research and analysis on conflict dynamics;
- provides grants to civil society organizations to test innovative conflict-resolution initiatives;
- develops the capacity of government and non-government institutions through education and training activities to peacefully resolve conflicts.
The Center also supports dialogues on inter-state conflicts between influential actors from countries in the region, and hosts a wide range of public and private events in Washington.
The Center for Governance, Law, and Society (GLAS) focuses on the Institute’s thematic emphases. The Center encompasses Economics, Gender, Rule of Law, Religion, Media and Technology. These programs conduct research, identify best practices and develop new peacebuilding tools within their areas of expertise. The Center collaborates with the other Institute Centers to undertake peacebuilding projects in conflict zones around the world.
The policy and peacebuilding challenges and opportunities in the Middle East and Africa are increasingly interconnected. The Center for the Middle East and Africa (MEA)manages the Institute's work in these regions, with an eye to regional themes and linkages. The Center focuses particularly on countries in transition, the Horn of Africa, Iran, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. With an eye to both internal and cross-border conflict, the Center directs and coordinates analysis, field operations, outreach, and grant making across the MEA region in support of peaceful dispute resolution, conflict prevention, civic engagement, and good governance.
The Center for Applied Research on Conflict (ARC) publishes research and analysis on conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution. ARC aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice through timely and impactful policy-relevant reports, practitioner toolkits, and lessons learned exercises.
The Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding is the education and training leader of the United States Institute of Peace. In the field, in the classroom, and online, staff from the Academy provide education, training, tools and resources. The Academy—
- equips U.S. and international civilian, military, and nongovernmental practitioners with skills for effective peacebuilding
- provides decision-makers with the understanding and tools for crafting sound policies for conflict management and peacebuilding
- gives government officials and civil society leaders in conflict zones the skills, tools, and practice to build peace
- strengthens the capacity of educational institutions and civil society organizations to prepare future conflict managers and peacebuilders