USIP Timeline


USIP's Creation

1976 Senators Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Vance Hartke of Indiana introduce a bill to create a George Washington Peace Academy to advance the “state of peace among nations and cooperation between people.” Senator Harrison Williams (New Jersey) would later note that “legislators have been proposing policies for peace since George Washington. From 1935 to the present [1980], over 140 bills were introduced on this subject.” Congress agrees that a peace academy warrants exploration.
1979 President Jimmy Carter appoints members of a commission to conduct further research on establishing a United States Academy of Peace. Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii chairs the commission, which holds public hearings nationwide. It reports that “citizens and organizations across the nation testified that there is a need for a national commitment of resources” to peacemaking and conflict resolution.
1981 The commission formally recommends the creation of a national peace academy. Senators Mark Hatfield, Spark Matsunaga and Jennings Randolph (West Virginia), along with Congressman Dan Glickman (Kansas), sponsor bills based on the recommendation.

Congress passes the United States Institute of Peace Act as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act. The bill directs the new institute to conduct education, training, research and information services “to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts … without recourse to violence.” President Ronald Reagan signs it into law.


The Early Years: Focus on Research, Education

1986 A staff of three opens the Institute’s first office in a townhouse facing Lafayette Park, less than a block from the White House. USIP’s first programs focus on grants, fellowships, research and education; the Institute’s early years do not include direct work in conflict zones.
1987 USIP holds its first National Peace Essay Contest for high school students. That annual event, and a successor contest since then, engage thousands of high school students and teachers nationwide each year. The contest winners are brought to visit USIP and other institutions in the nation’s capital.
1987 The Institute creates the Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace to bring scholars and practitioners to pursue research at USIP. Through this program and others, the Institute has supported hundreds of fellows in their research and writing on issues of peace and conflict.
1992 After USIP has moved to various office spaces around Washington, Congress authorizes it to raise private donations to build a permanent headquarters. Fundraising for this private-public partnership eventually is led by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and the University of Notre Dame’s president emeritus, the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh.

Reflecting the transformation of global politics and conflict following the Cold War’s end and the collapse of the Soviet Union, USIP hosts a major conference titled Managing Global Chaos. A resulting book, Managing Global Chaos, soon becomes a widely used text at universities, including U.S. military academies.


USIP Begins Direct Work in Conflict Zones

1995 USIP begins its first direct work in a conflict zone, supporting the post-war stabilization of Bosnia. The Bosnia program eventually includes training in conflict resolution, negotiation and other skills for U.S., Bosnian and international officials, and for personnel of non-government assistance organizations. USIP also sponsors interfaith dialogues to reduce root causes of the country’s violence. In Washington it hosts working groups to apply lessons from the conflict to future work in the Balkans and elsewhere.
1996 Congress authorizes the transfer to USIP of a parking lot owned by the Navy on the National Mall, at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue. The land is designated to become the Institute's eventual headquarters.


USIP convenes "Virtual Diplomacy," a ground-breaking two-day conference to explore the impact of the technology revolution on international security and conflict management. The conference jump-starts a new thread of USIP work, using emerging technologies to prevent conflict.

USIP’s work in Bosnia leads to a wider Balkans Initiative  to promote stability in the nations of the former Yugoslavia following nearly a decade of violent conflict.

2001 The Institute convenes national security officials, including aides and the national security advisors of outgoing President Bill Clinton and incoming President George W. Bush. The conference, called Passing the Baton, begins a USIP practice of hosting current, former and incoming national security leaders as U.S. administrations conduct their transitions of power.
2001 USIP Press publishes Turbulent Peace, updating its main textbook on conflict management. Turbulent Peace becomes a leading classroom text in the field.

New Work: Iraq, Afghanistan, Technology

2003 As the U.S. prepares for military intervention in Iraq, USIP provides analysis on the challenges to be faced after military operations. Amid the intervention, USIP works to reduce conflict and promote stability, beginning its operations on the on the ground within weeks after major combat ends. USIP’s efforts include training Iraqi officials and civil society leaders in managing conflicts among the country’s disparate communities. It facilitates dialogues among religious and ethnic groups and helps in the restoration of a legal and judicial system in Iraq.
2004 For fiscal year 2004, the Bush administration and Congress approve $10 million in extra funding to extend USIP’s work in Iraq and similar work amid the conflict in Afghanistan.
2005 Congress appropriates $100 million for the construction of USIP’s permanent headquarters.
2006 At Congress’ request, USIP facilitates the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and the former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Representative Lee Hamilton. The Institute publishes the group’s report on the situation in Iraq and its implications for the Middle East and the United States. The report informs policymakers and the public and is eventually downloaded millions of times from USIP's website.
2007 USIP continues its publication of prominent textbooks for university peace studies. The new volume, Leashing the Dogs of War, wins an Outstanding Academic Title Award from the library journal CHOICE.
2007 At the request of Iraqi community leaders and the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, USIP intervenes in Mahmoudiyah, a region south of Baghdad nicknamed the “Triangle of Death” for its intensive sectarian and clan warfare. With Iraqi civil society and tribal leaders and local officials, USIP facilitates a peace accord that allows normalization of life, an economic recovery and a reduction in U.S. forces in the area. The Mahmoudiyah peace accord is part of a growing pattern, following the 1990s, of direct USIP interventions to mediate local conflicts in countries as disparate as Iraq, Nigeria, Kosovo and Colombia.
2008 USIP expands its work in Afghanistan by opening an office in Kabul. USIP has worked in Afghanistan since the early months of the U.S.-led international intervention there in 2002. It has provided research to U.S. and NATO forces on traditional Afghan methods of resolving conflicts. It works with Afghans who create national campaigns to encourage voting and oppose violence during elections. It offers training and support to civil society groups and civil servants who work to resolve local conflicts, oppose corruption and press for better governance.
2008 In Washington, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz join in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Institute’s headquarters, just north of the Lincoln Memorial.
2009 USIP hosts current and former U.S. foreign policy leaders, and nearly 1,900 others, for its second Passing the Baton conference at the transition from the administration of President George W. Bush to that of President Barack Obama.
2011 USIP moves into its new headquarters building, designed by architect Moshe Safdie.
2012 The Institute launches the PeaceTech Initiative to gather engineers, technologists and data scientists along with peacebuilding specialists to develop and use technology tools for conflict management and building peace.
2014 USIP creates a non-profit corporation, the PeaceTech Lab, to advance its work for peace in conflict zones. PeaceTech Lab focuses on using technology tools, new methods of data collection and analysis, and multimedia content.
2015 USIP and its Iraqi partners facilitate a peace accord that averts revenge killings in the region of Tikrit. After extremists of the Islamic State (ISIS) massacre 1,700 Shia Iraqis, some Shia accuse local Sunni residents of complicity and Sunnis flee their homes. By 2016, with the peace accord in Tikrit holding, more than 306,000 displaced people return home.
2016 The government and armed rebels in Colombia sign an accord to end a 52-year-old insurgency, one of the world’s longest such conflicts. For more than a decade, USIP has worked to help marginalized groups—including women, youth and minorities—make themselves heard in the peace process. Research has shown that about half of such peace accords fail within five years, and that their inclusiveness is a critical determinant of their success.