National Peace Essay Contest

The National Peace Essay Contest is a yearly competition that provides scholarships to high school students, however it is currently inactive. For information on other contests for high school students, please see our Contests for Students page.

2014 contest winners

For the past 27 years, the contest has encouraged high school students to explore peacebuilding. Many NPEC winners have gone on to study foreign policy issues in college or have pursued careers in international affairs. Up to 53 winners receive college scholarships and, in 2014, the three national winners were invited to an Awards Program in Washington, D.C.

2013-2014 Essay Contest Winners Announced

This year, the U.S. Institute of Peace's National Peace Essay Contest staff organized an exciting program for the three national winners during their three days in Washington. Activities included:

  • A challenging three-day research project, which involved a scenario in which they had to prepare a post-conflict country for elections
  • Meetings with knowledgeable speakers such as distinguished foreign policy scholars, practitioners, public officials in Congress, and foreign diplomats
  • Visits to historic national memorials and museums
  • An awards lunch to honor ceremony to announce the order of the national winners.

2014 marks the National Peace Essay Contest’s 27th year, and it is also a year of transition: after nearly three decades of essays, we are putting the contest on pause to spend some time evaluating the program and exploring the best ways to engage high school students in issues of peacebuilding. The Global Peacebuilding Center, which has been extending the Institute's work with high school students and teachers over the past several years, will continue this work and will be developing several new initiatives for this audience, drawing on input from our longstanding and valued NPEC contacts and others. Please visit to learn more about USIP’s work with young people.

2013-2014 Contest Resources

Other Resources


Directions for entering the National Peace Essay Contest

Students: Please follow these instructions to participate in the contest.

  • Let your coordinator know about your intention to enter the contest. Ask the coordinator to review the directions for entering the contest, both the student section and coordinator section.

National Peace Essay Contest 2013-2014 Topic and Question

Security Sector Reform, Political Transition, and Sustainable Peace

Transitioning to peace and democratic governance raises challenging questions about how to handle security forces. What do you do with a police force that has been trained to serve a repressive government and protect the status quo? What do you do with an army that has been fighting in a civil war? What do you do with rebel forces that may know how to fight but know very little about civilian life?

Gender, War and Peacebuilding

2012- 2013 National Peace Essay Contest
Short Description: 

In 2013, over 1,100 students submitted entries to the National Peace Essay Contest, while more than 1,000 more participated in related writing and other classroom exercises in high schools around the country.

Learn More About the Contest