The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has played a key role in promoting peaceful governance through collaborative civic engagement in Iraq since 2003. USIP’s core mission is to strengthen local capacities to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts peacefully by assisting Iraqis to develop the tools and institutions necessary to peacefully resolve disputes. We work across the community, provincial and national levels, and above all seek to provide Iraqis with the tools to act as citizens and peace builders. Our Iraqi partners in government and civil society have facilitated dialogue with multiple stakeholders across the country that address the roots of the conflict and propose concrete solutions.

Learn more about The Current Situation in Iraq and USIP’s work

President Barzani of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:00
Wed, 05/06/2015 - 11:45
Ties With U.S., Baghdad, and the War Against ISIS

On May 6, 2015, the Atlantic Council and the U.S. Institute of Peace welcomed H.E. Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on his first visit to the U.S. in three years. The President discussed on the challenges and priorities of Iraqi Kurdistan in the war against ISIS, the Kurdistan region’s relations with the U.S. and the future of the broader Middle East.

Read the event coverage, Iraq Kurdistan Region President Barzani Stresses Unified Fight Against ISIS.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is fighting a full-fledged war against ISIS, while at the same time grappling with a refugee crisis and severe financial difficulties. The regional government’s complex relations with Turkey and Iran, as well as with the Iraqi central government, are problematic as well. The region has significant oil and gas wealth, yet has struggled to benefit from it because of disagreements with Baghdad over energy development strategy, revenue sharing, export policy, and other issues of state sovereignty.

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Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 04/28/2015 - 15:30

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion and launch of "Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace," a book that tells the extraordinary stories of "ordinary" people from eleven conflict zones. This event included a moderated discussion with the book's author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews, followed by a reception and book-signing session.

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother -- from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

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Using the Arts to Promote Human Rights in Peacebuilding

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 14:00
Wed, 04/22/2015 - 16:00

Genesis at the Crossroads, a Chicago-based organization that uses the arts in peacebuilding, joins the U.S. Institute of Peace on April 22, 2015 to host an interactive panel discussion on building peace and human rights—and the role that the arts and artists can play.

Genesis at the Crossroads uses education and the arts — including innovative performances of music, dance and other genres — to creatively promote human rights, inter-ethnic dialogue and the building of peace. Join us April 22 for a conversation with academic, artistic and human-rights specialists about this intersection of human rights and the humanities. As part of a “new conversation for human rights in peacebuilding,” panelists will discuss how to mesh human rights concerns with the reconstruction of societies and governments following war or other violent conflict.

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Religion and Gender in Extremist Violence: A Discussion with Human Rights Defenders

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 13:30
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00

Former President Jimmy Carter calls discrimination and violence against women and girls one of the most serious and pervasive -- yet ignored -- violations of human rights. Escalating violent religious extremism fuels this pattern. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Carter Center were pleased to host this event, which addressed ways in which human rights defenders in Libya and Iraq are working to build peace with particular attention to the role of religion and gender. 

carter center logoReligion often is used to justify violence and the unequal status of women. More than ever, these problems are interrelated, and efforts that address them in isolation fail to produce comprehensive, long-term strategies.

Manal Omar, Welcoming Remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

Karin Ryan, Remarks
Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Project Director, Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative, The Carter Center

Panel Discussion: 

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
  • Mubin Shaikh
    Counterterrorism, CVE and De-radicalization Expert in Canada
  • Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
    Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  • Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
    Director, Al-Firdaws Society, Iraq
  • Susan Hayward, Moderator
    Interim Director, Religion & Peacebuilding Center, USIP

Q&A with audience

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Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Local and Regional Dimensions

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:00
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion analyzing factors that have contributed to sectarian tension in Pakistan and the surrounding region.

Sectarian divisions are growing in Pakistan. Contemporary public opinion surveys suggest these religious communal identities are hardening and violent militant organizations – drawn primarily but not exclusively from the Sunni Deobandi tradition – are increasingly targeting rival religious minorities, killing thousands across the country in attacks over the past decade.

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Ending Wars to Build Peace

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:30
Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:45
Conflict Termination Workshop

Designing a conflict termination strategy is an essential but often overlooked component of warfighting. Improperly planned or incorrectly implemented, a failure to effectively terminate a conflict will leave open the original issues that brought on the war and likely create the conditions for future conflict.


The famous British military theorist, B.H. Liddell-Hart, observed after World War I that the logical conclusion of any war is peace.  In his 1976 commentary to Clausewitz's On War Bernard Brodie wrote "… war in all its phases must be rationally guided by meaningful political purposes."  In the last century the United States has fought many wars and not one has resulted in its intended outcome or the establishment of a peaceful world order, but in reality has left us to deal with many unintended consequences.

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Consolidating Democratic Gains or Cementing Sectarian Divides?

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:30
Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:30
Prospects for Iraq’s April 30 Elections

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) are pleased to present a panel of experts to share their perspectives on Iraq’s rapidly approaching April 30 national elections, which will take place against a backdrop of sharpening sectarian divisions and an increasingly precarious security environment.


Later this month, Iraqis will go to the polls to elect new members of the Council of Representatives, the country’s legislative body, as well as members of provincial assemblies in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Preparations for the April 30 elections have been turbulent to date, with looming questions regarding the ability of displaced Iraqis to participate in the polls; the controversial disqualification of certain candidates; and the now-rescinded resignation of the commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the body charged with organizing the polls.

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Governance and Stability in Iraq

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 14:00
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 17:00
Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq and Discussions with Members of the Council of Representatives

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the National Defense University (NDU), and the Iraqi American Community Center (IAC) hosted H.E. Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives for public remarks and a discussion on governance, services, transition, and peace and stability in Iraq.

Read the event coverage, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Calls for Reconciliation, U.S. Pressure.

Despite regional geopolitical tensions from Syria, high levels of violence, and political differences, Iraq has braved its external and internal obstacles to remain on course to hold its national elections scheduled for April 2014. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, the relationship between the federal, regional, and provincial levels and devolution of powers will remain at the core of Iraq’s politics, and with significant implications for governance, services, security, and overall peace and stability in the country.

The schedule of events was as follows:

2:00pm to 3:15pm | Remarks by H.E. Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq

  • William B. Taylor, Opening Remarks
    Vice President for Middle East and Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • H.E. Mr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, Keynote Remarks
    Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
  • Q&A Discussion

3:15pm to 3:30pm | Intermission

3:30pm to 5:00pm |Town Hall Discussion with Iraqi Members of Council of Representatives

  • Sarhang Hamasaeed, Moderator
    Senior Program Officer for the Middle East and Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Ezzat al-Shebander
    Member of Council of Representatives
  • Nada al-Juburi
    Member of Council of Representatives

This event was hosted jointly by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the National Defense University, and the Iraqi American Community Center.

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Iraq’s Transition: Remarks by Iraqi Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Noori al-Maliki

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 10:00
Thu, 10/31/2013 - 11:15

The United States Institute of Peace hostedt Iraqi Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Noori al-Maliki for public remarks and a discussion on U.S.-Iraq relations, and the current challenges facing Iraq and the region, October 31st, 2013.

Read the event coverage, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki Urges Greater U.S. Support

Jim Marshall, Opening Remarks and Moderator
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Amb. Beth Jones, Introductory Remarks
Acting Assistant Secretary of State – Near Eastern Affairs

H.E. Noori al-Maliki, Keynote Remarks
Prime Minister of Republic of Iraq

Moderated discussion

Iraq has made significant progress since the last of U.S. troops left the country in December 2011, but continues to face serious challenges. Iraq’s economy became stronger, provincial and regional elections were organized, and the country has made steady steps toward regaining its regional and international stature. At the same time, the country is struggling with high levels of violence and other spillover effects from Syria, as it tries to hold national elections in 2014 and find a workable common vision of governance.

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Amidst Iraq’s Turmoil: What Can We Do?

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 14:00
Mon, 05/06/2013 - 15:30

How are Iraqis coping with the current crisis, and how can they be better engaged by the international community?  What policy levers do the U.S. or other international actors have to help promote stability?  What lessons can be applied across the increasingly porous and insecure boundaries of the Middle East?

Read the event coverage, Panel at USIP Urges More U.S. Activism in Iraq, Syria

For well over a year, Iraq’s political, security, economic, and social well-being continues to be shaken by internal and external events that have implications for stability in the country and the region. Despite gains, recent events on the ground have taken a swift turn. Internal displacement, the rise of armed groups, and recourse to violence present serious challenges in maintaining peace and sustained development within the country.

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Articles & Analysis

Worldwide deaths from terrorist incidents jumped 80 percent in 2014 compared with the year before and were concentrated in five major conflict zones, according to the third annual Global Terrorism...

Gopal Ratnam

The international system to aid people displaced by conflict is strained beyond the breaking point. Faced with the greatest flood of displacement since World War II—and with no end in sight—...

Fred Strasser

Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has been crucial for containing the Islamic State’s rampage and sheltering Iraqis fleeing the extremist group’s brutalities, urgently needs greater engagement from the...

Gopal Ratnam

Videos & Webcasts

Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has been crucial for containing the Islamic State’s rampage and sheltering Iraqis fleeing the extremist group’s brutalities, urgently needs greater engagement from the...

The devastation wrought by the past year’s renewed conflict in Iraq -- and equally by the long slog to dislodge the Islamic State -- can be captured in the frame of a teenage boy. The new fighting...

From a campaign for peaceful elections in Afghanistan to a...

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USIP Staff
Iraq has been ravaged in recent years by cycles of warfare, a growing refugee crisis, crippling sectarianism, and the violent spread of the self-styled Islamic State extremist movement (also known as...
In the midst of a political shift where power is moving from central institutions to smaller, more distributed units in the international system, the approaches to and methodologies for peacemaking...