Nigeria faces a series of critical challenges. Elections are looming for the spring of 2011 and this always generates severe tensions. Pressure will be on the electoral commission and other officials to conduct more credible elections than most previous elections. While violence in the Niger Delta subsided temporarily after an amnesty was declared for rebels in 2009, kidnapping and sabotage of oil installations are on the rise again. The amnesty process suffered several serious shortcomings. Violent conflict between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria, and particularly in Plateau State and Bauchi, seems to allude containment.

U.S. Policy Today for Africa Tomorrow

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 14:00
Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:30
A Conversation with Ambassadors Carson, Lyman and Moose

On July 22, Ambassadors Carson, Lyman, and Moose discussed U.S.-Africa Engagement at USIP. 

Home to burgeoning economies and brutal civil conflicts – sometimes coexisting in the same country – Africa is increasingly prominent in the foreign policy agendas of world powers. In early August, President Obama will convene most of the heads of state of the 54 nations of Africa in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever summit between U.S. and African leaders. There will be no shortage of issues to discuss, from how to harness Africa's economic growth and lift large sections of its population out of poverty, to growing trade between the U.S.

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Water Security and Conflict Prevention Summit

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 08:30
Tue, 09/10/2013 - 14:00

On September 10, 2013, U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), and the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) hosted a summit on the growing concerns in water security and the risks for increased conflict.

Water is an undeniable, un-substitutable, and powerful factor in everyone’s life, from sustaining individual lives to defining both economic and social policies and practices. As populations and demand expand while supplies decline, access to water will become increasingly difficult, raising the prospects for conflict over this precious resource. By 2025, experts estimated that 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions of absolute water scarcity.

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Nigerian Dilemmas

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 14:00
Mon, 06/17/2013 - 15:30

USIP recently published two Special Reports. One by Aaron Sayne, entitled What’s Next for Security in the Niger Delta, focused on the unfolding situation in the Niger Delta. The other, Midterm Challenges in Nigeria by John Paden, looks at the run-up to the elections and the need to examine whether mechanisms for avoiding conflict are sufficient.


International attention focused on Nigeria tends to fixate on terrorism. But there are other pressing issues. One is the Niger Delta where an amnesty for rebels has reduced the level of violence but has not settled the grievances of those in the Delta against the state and federal governments. Another is the run up to 2015 elections which hopefully will not generate the same level of violence that followed the last elections.

Type of Event or Course: 

The Current Situation in Nigeria

Nigeria faces a multitude of challenges, from Boko Haram’s activity in the north, to militant group threats to the country’s stability in the middle belt, to the unresolved tensions in the Niger Delta in the south. These risks are renewing and exacerbating tensions in multiple sections of the country as political parties jockey for position ahead of the 2015 elections.

The United Institute of Peace (USIP) provides education, grants, training and resources to those working for peace in Nigeria.

Sat, 09/13/2014 - 08:12
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PeaceGame: Peacemaking in an Era of Violent Extremism

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 08:00
Fri, 12/05/2014 - 17:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the FP Group, publisher of Foreign Policy magazine and, invite you to the next installment of PeaceGame on December 5, 2014.  This third biannual PeaceGame will examine peace keeping and peace making issues as they relate to the rise in global violent extremism. All attendees are invited to contribute to the conversation throughout the day with live, interactive polling and open mic questioning.

Framing Panel I: The Economic Roots of Extremism
The morning panel will feature two experts on the economic roots of extremism and two experts on Nigeria. The Nigeria experts will discuss the rise of extremism and Boko Haram and the economic roots of extremism in Nigeria, including poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality. Drawing from the example of Nigeria, the extremism panelists will discuss how economic drivers of support for Boko Haram are similar (or different) to those that gave rise to radicalized groups in other countries (e.g. Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia). The economic issues identified in the panel will be the centerpieces of the scenario to follow.

Scenario I: Exploring the Economic Drivers of Radicalization and Extremism in Nigeria
The first scenario will focus on the economic roots of extremism in northern Nigeria. It will bring together experts playing the role of Nigerian and international actors who can play an active role in quelling the rise of Boko Haram via programs that focus on economic issues, such as job creation, entrepreneurship, or engaging the international and local private sector.

Framing Panel II: The second panel will be a discussion on how political factors, including political marginalization, ethnic and tribal dynamics, or human rights abuses by the security forces are fueling the rise of extremism.

Scenario II: Exploring Political Drivers of Extremism and Radicalization in Nigeria
The afternoon scenario will explore the political discord underlying the situation in Nigeria, examining issues around inclusion, marginalization, and security in the context of the 2015 election. At play is the tension between the democratic process and Boko Haram’s basic premise that democracy is a tool of western oppression and that an Islamic caliphate is the only system that will genuinely address their grievances.

Closing Panel: “Lessons for the World: Opening New Fronts for Peacemakers”
In this last session, the Nigerian and extremism expert observers will identify the most important lessons of both scenarios, not just for Nigeria but for other specific situations in which they may be expert, including but not limited to, elsewhere in Africa, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

During the PeaceGame, participants will assume the roles of various actors party to the Nigerian conflict. Their statements should not be construed as representing their own personal views or the views of their respective organizations.

The event will be followed by a reception.

Employing PeaceGame’s innovative, scenario-based, multi-media model, the event is built around two scenarios that explore both the economic and political causes of radicalization and support for violent extremism in the context of the current situation in Nigeria.

Please join us for an in-depth look at several vital and little understood dimensions of extremism and an exploration of ideas for coping and defusing extremism worldwide. Participate on Twitter with #PeaceGame.

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Religious Leaders Countering Extremist Violence: How Policy Changes Can Help

Constructive actions such as these underpin a set of recommendations developed by more than a dozen religious leaders, scholars and other activists and presented recently to U.S. and United Nations policymakers. Among the suggestions was to increase assistance to constructive faith-based organizations, taking care to support their work without endangering their lives and legitimacy, so they can be in an even stronger position to prevent and counter radicalization.

Nigeria Activists Find Gaps in Violence Prevention Efforts for 2015 Elections

Nigeria's February 2015 general elections have been described by former Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, as being both "intensely watched and extremely important." The vote poses risks as the country struggles with internal conflicts, but it also presents possibilities for citizen engagement and political stability.  Yet a workshop we conducted recently in the capital Abuja exposed some critical gaps in efforts to prevent election-related violence similar to the politically-driven communal clashes that have roiled this oil-rich nation in the past.

Our two-day workshop in September, conducted in partnership with the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)-Nigeria, was aimed at preparing representatives from 20 Nigerian civil society organizations to take proactive steps toward a peaceful electoral process. USIP's work to prevent election violence in Nigeria dates back to 2007.

Jacqueline H. Wilson and Debra Liang-Fenton
Wed, 10/29/2014 - 10:10
Type of Article: 

Brett G. Sylvia

Military Fellow

Please submit all media inquiries to or call 202.429.3869.

For all other inquiries, please call 202.457.1700.

Brett Sylvia, a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army, came to the U.S. Institute of Peace as a fellow in the summer of 2014 after recently completing command of a battalion conducting combat operations in Western and Southwestern Afghanistan.

Inclusive Approaches to Community Policing and CVE

What happens when community policing—a strategy that promotes collaboration between the police and a community to ensure safety and security—is implemented in transitional societies, in marginalized communities, or to prevent violent extremism or to engage women in providing community-level security? To ensure that they are not doing more harm than good, security, gender, and peacebuilding practitioners must both expand their understanding of policing methodologies and related assumptions and reconcile sometimes competing objectives.

Georgia Holmer with Fulco van Deventer


  • Accountable and effective policing institutions are key to stability in volatile environments, especially societies transitioning from conflict or authoritarian rule. From a development or peacebuilding perspective, community policing can aid in reform of security institutions and give civil society an active role in the process.
  • Community policing—simultaneously an ethos, a strategy, and a collaboration—helps promote democratic policing ideals and advance a human security paradigm.
Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:29
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Articles & Analysis

October 31, 2014

As the militant group calling itself “Islamic State” stormed across northern Iraq and Syria in recent months, prominent imam Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah and more than 100 other Muslim leaders flew into action, drafting a condemnation of the insurgent group’s actions with an appeal to Islamic jurisprudence. In Burma (Myanmar), as Muslims have faced persecution from Buddhist extremists, some Buddhist monks offer shelter in their monasteries. In Nigeria, the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram this year prompted Muslim and Christian leaders like Pastor Esther Ibanga to...

October 29, 2014
Jacqueline H. Wilson and Debra Liang-Fenton
September 24, 2014
Shannon Zimmerman and Megan Loney
July 23, 2014
Sheldon Himelfarb

Our Work in the Field

Nigeria's February 2015 general elections have been described by former Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, as being both "intensely watched and extremely important." The vote poses risks...

From Northern Ireland to Somalia to Pakistan, police leaders and ministry officials attending a series of courses that USIP co-hosted on community policing expressed surprise that they faced common challenges -- from the threat of violent...

Religion is often seen as the cause of strife around the globe, but in reality, it can provide the foundation for what helps to end conflict. USIP’s work, from Indonesia to Pakistan, demonstrates that religion can play a positive role in managing...

The April 2011 elections in Nigeria marked a pivotal period for the country. The European Union dubbed the tumultuous 2007 elections “the worst they had seen anywhere in the world.” Given this, there were concerns that the 2011 elections would...

Learn More


Nigeria's February 2015 general elections have been described by former Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, as being both "intensely watched...
What happens when community policing—a strategy that promotes collaboration between the police and a community to ensure safety and security—is implemented in transitional societies, in marginalized...