Conflict Analysis and Prevention

Strategies to avert violent conflict can only succeed if they are grounded in clear analysis of its roots and causes. What attracts youth to violent extremism? How does corruption inflame inter-communal tensions? Such questions, and action that flows from the answers, lie at the heart of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s mission. Through research and interventions, USIP seeks, for instance, to prevent electoral violence and build early warning systems to avert genocide and mass atrocities. Partnerships with outside experts are key to such efforts as the 2006 Iraq Study Group and the current Study Group on Fragility.

Supporting Burma’s Transition to Democracy

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 11:15
Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:45
Subtitle: 
The Role of Diplomacy and Development

Burma’s evolution away from five decades of military rule has offered the United States its most significant opportunity in years to engage with the country’s people and government in the pursuit of democracy, development, peace, and human rights. In countries undergoing political transitions, U.S. policy coordination, decision-making and traditional development tools often struggle to keep pace with the challenges. Experts and U.S. officials discussed lessons learned recently in Burma, also known as Myanmar—and of ways they may be applicable to the U.S. role in similar environments.

Read the event coverage, U.S. Eyes Military Ties With Myanmar, Official Says.

Five years after Burma began its political transition the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Aung San Suu Kyi won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections in November. A few weeks ago, the country swore in President U Htin Kyaw as its first non-military, elected chief executive in 54 years.

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India-Pakistan Crises and the American Role

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 13:30
Mon, 03/14/2016 - 15:00
Subtitle: 
How Has Washington Intervened and Can it Act Now?

Eight days after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan met suddenly in December to renew diplomatic dialogue between their countries, a squad of guerrilla fighters, apparently from Pakistan , disrupted the effort with an attack on India’s Pathankot air force base. The governments quickly postponed a planned meeting of their foreign secretaries. A pattern of such crises has recurred over the past decade and a half, and the United States often has sought to quietly mediate to avoid war between the nuclear-armed neighbors. What lessons can we learn from those experiences, and how should U.S. diplomats prepare for future disruptions?

Read the event coverage, Is the United States Ready for the Next India-Pakistan Crisis?

A panel of scholars and analysts who have helped manage U.S. relations in South Asia will join USIP’s Moeed Yusuf to examine these and related issues. They will assess the Pathankot attack and past crises, including roles the United States can play in mediating them. The discussion will address changes in the India-Pakistan relationship since the 2008 attack by Pakistani guerrillas on Mumbai, and prospects for regional relations as the two sides respond to Pathankot and debate the renewal of a comprehensive dialogue.

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Domestic Dimensions of China's Foreign Policy

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 09:00
Thu, 04/07/2016 - 16:30
Subtitle: 
How Internal Dynamics Shape China's Actions Abroad

No country weighs more heavily on America's economy, cybersecurity and strategic posture in Asia than China. China's foreign policies are being shaped by changes within the country that can be hard to measure and evaluate. USIP and Georgetown University gathered a dozen experts for a daylong assessment of how China's internal economic, political and security pressures are influencing policies critical to the United States and peace and security around the world.

Read the event coverage, Puzzled by China’s Foreign Policy? Look Inside Instead.

China's international behavior and its domestic agenda are closely intertwined  across a wide range of policy issues.  For example, China's energy needs have  driven many of its overseas investments. The government's concerns about the ethnic autonomy  or separatist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang, respectively, shape its strategy toward South Asia and Muslim countries. President Xi Jinping's attempts to consolidate power domestically affect his international priorities and are changing the role of China's army , especially through the anti-corruption campaign.

9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-9:45 Welcome

Thomas Banchoff, Vice President for Global Engagement, Georgetown University
Ambassador William B. Taylor, Executive Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

9:45-11:00 The Domestic Political and Economic Situation
This panel will address how the domestic political and economic situation is shaping Chinese foreign and security policy. As China modernizes, how are the expectations of the people changing and what are the ways this may impact Chinese external behavior? How does the economic slowdown change China’s strategic priorities?  How have recent economic and political developments affected China’s attitudes toward “non-interference” overseas? How does the economic climate shape the relationship between the people and Party? What are the sources of Chinese nationalism and does it constrain or empower China internationally? How are concerns about separatist movements, as well as the new threat of ISIS, shaping China’s strategy toward South Asia and Muslim countries? How do the demands of domestic censorship shape China’s approach to cyber internationally?  

Scott Harold, Full Political Scientist and Associate Director, Center for Asia-Pacific Policy, RAND Corporation
Jessica Chen Weiss, Associate Professor of Government, Cornell University 
Melanie Hart, Director, China Policy, Center for American Progress
Moderator: Jennifer Staats, Director for China Programs, United States Institute of Peace

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-12:30 Contentious Elite Politics
This panel will address the leadership characteristics of Xi Jinping, the degree of factionalism at the highest levels of the Party, and the causes and effects of the anti-corruption campaign. How do elite politics shape Xi’s approach to foreign and security policy? Are certain groups empowered at the expense of others? What are the broader repercussions of his anti-corruption campaign? Are there any important trends in the Party’s relationship with the state that have implications for China’s role on the world stage? Are there voices at the top that want to see China play a more active role in shaping peace and conflict dynamics in other countries and regions?

Chris Johnson, Senior Advisor and Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
Richard McGregor, Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center 
David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
Moderator: Kristen Looney, Assistant Professor, Georgetown University

12:30-14:15 Networking Luncheon

14:30-15:45 The Changing Role of the PLA
This panel will address the PLA’s relationship with the Party and the people. As the military professionalizes, is it developing an independent voice and influence in policy making? Xi has prioritized soft modernization – the improvement of recruitment, retention, training and force development. How do changing societal factors impact the desire to improvement the quality of the force? What is the public perception of PLA and how does the relationship between society and the military impact Chinese external security behavior?  How has the effort to modernize the PLA affected China’s participation in peacekeeping missions and other training activities?  Are there elements of the PLA that want to see China take a more active role in influencing peace and security dynamics in other countries?  What steps might the PLA take to protect China’s overseas interests?

Phillip Saunders, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University
Jacqueline Deal, President, Long-Term Strategy Group
Kristen Gunness Chief Executive Officer, Vantage Point Asia LLC
Moderator:  Oriana Skylar Mastro, Assistant Professor, Georgetown University

15:45-16:15 Concluding Remarks: Alternative Futures?
Oriana Skylar Mastro, Assistant Professor, Georgetown University
David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University
Jennifer Staats, Director for China Programs, United States Institute of Peace

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Money, War and the Business of Power in the Horn of Africa

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:30
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:00
Subtitle: 
Obstacles for Lasting Peace

Renewed violence in South Sudan, rising malnutrition in Somalia and a dramatic refugee exodus from Eritrea conspire to undermine sporadic progress in the Horn of Africa. Underlying it all is a political marketplace fueled by money and power. On January 28, a panel of regional experts, including Alex de Waal, author of The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power, discussed the complex interplay between politics and money in the region and the implications for the international community.

Read the event coverage, Patronage and Peace in the Horn of Africa.

The Horn of Africa has experienced both advances and setbacks in recent years. In South Sudan, the hope following independence has been tarnished by the outbreak of war and the troubled peace process. In Somalia, al-Shabab and rising malnutrition slows progress on state building. And Eritreans fleeing their country’s oppression accounted for the third-largest group of refugees entering Europe last year, after Syria and Afghanistan. Across the Horn of Africa, corruption, militarization and military patronage undermine regional stability and sustainable peace..

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Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: On 5th Anniversary, What’s Next?

Thu, 01/14/2016 - 14:30
Thu, 01/14/2016 - 16:00

Five years ago this month, the Tunisian people’s protests calling for respect of their civil liberties resulted in the downfall of the 24-year authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the start of a rocky but largely peaceful process toward an inclusive political system. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the International Republican Institute commemorated the 5th Anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution and examined the issues facing the country in the coming year and how the international community can help.

Read the event coverage, Tunisia’s Revolution: Five Years On, What Lies Ahead.

Tunisia is confronting the regional rise of violent extremism that has led to terrorist attacks in its own country, spotlighting the struggle to balance security and human rights. Its frail economy remains a danger to social peace, with unemployment even higher than when the Jasmine Revolution began. Many of Tunisia's youth are especially vulnerable to these factors.

The panelists considered these issues as well as specific decisions coming up in 2016, including the political situation, decentralization and economic reform.

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Iraq: Can Good Governance Erode Support for Militants?

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 13:00
Wed, 01/06/2016 - 14:30

Extremist groups like ISIS have seized control in swaths of Iraq and Syria in part because they tout themselves as an alternative to corrupt and inept government at all levels. USIP hosted a discussion on January 6, 2016 highlighting new research by the global humanitarian and development organization Mercy Corps on the connection between citizens’ perceptions of governance and public support for armed opposition.

Read the event coverage, Iraq Research: Sense of Injustice Is Key to Violent Extremism

Panelists explored how good governance may erode the pull of sectarian identity politics, and showcase instances when governance successes have appeared to reduce support for armed opposition and violence. USIP experts discussed the research results in light of what the Institute’s staff and partners on the ground have learned in the course of their conflict mitigation and peacebuilding work. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #GovernanceIraq.

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A Fight Worth Fighting: Rallying the World Against Corruption

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 10:00
Thu, 12/10/2015 - 23:30

On December 10th, 2015 the U.S. Institute of Peace, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State held a discussion with Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield and other experts on how to make progress against the scourge, part of a week of activities to mark the United Nations-designated International Anticorruption Day

Read the event coverage, Corruption Poses Unparalleled Threat, U.S. Official Says.

Endemic corruption undermines the rule of law, weakens legitimate government institutions and ultimately has become a critical worldwide security issue.

The panelists will highlight ongoing challenges in fighting corruption worldwide, the case of recent anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine, and the key role that both civil society and governments must play in fighting corruption locally and globally. The speakers’ remarks will be followed by questions from the audience.

Join the conversation on Twitter with #Anticorruption and #BreakTheChain.

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Renewed Violence in the Central African Republic: The Roots of a Political Crisis

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:30
Mon, 11/30/2015 - 14:00

When a fresh wave of violence broke out in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui at the end of September, the transitional government and the international community struggled to respond. Dozens died, hundreds were injured, and thousands fled their homes. Amid this increase in violence, CAR faces the daunting task of holding a constitutional referendum and general elections in the next two months. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the Great Lakes Policy Forum brought together the editors of Making Sense of the Central African Republic and several contributing authors on November 30 for a panel discussion on the roots of the recent crisis and the potential for peaceful, democratic change.

Read the event coverage, Risk to Central African Republic Lies in Avoiding Mistakes of the Past, Experts Say.

Leaders and citizens of the Central African Republic, with the support of the international community, are currently focusing resources and energy on laying the groundwork for a peaceful constitutional referendum and elections in the coming months. But sustained peace in in the country will require longer-term efforts as well, because the recent crisis is rooted in decades of poor governance and persistent insecurity.

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Implications for Afghanistan: The Taliban Seizure of Kunduz

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:30
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 16:30
Subtitle: 
For Washington and Kabul, Renewed Questions of Stability

The Taliban’s two-week seizure of Kunduz in September revealed weaknesses in Afghanistan’s security forces and unforeseen Taliban capabilities. It has generated deep concerns about stability, security, the future of the peace process, and underappreciated humanitarian issues. On October 28, USIP will convene experts to analyze Kunduz and its fallout, including President Obama’s decision to extend the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016.

The fall of the northern city of Kunduz to the Taliban ignited serious concerns about the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces to maintain stability in their country. While Afghan forces recaptured Kunduz  with international support, Taliban forces continue to pressure other northern cities while carrying out operations elsewhere.

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Celebrating Peace: 70 Years of the United Nations

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 19:00
Wed, 11/04/2015 - 20:30
Subtitle: 
The SDGs, Goal 16, and a Vision for Peaceful Inclusive Societies

The United Nations is celebrating its 70th year, and with this landmark anniversary, has chosen to integrate peace into the architecture that will govern development for the next 15 years. On November 4, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area will host Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, for a discussion on how to turn commitments of peace into action in today’s global development assistance systems.

Read the event coverage, U.N. Eyes Early Human Rights Intervention to Promote Development.

Recurring humanitarian crises, overstretched development programs, and tenuous peace processes – all occurring in fragile states – call for a united effort to nurture states and societies to address the issues that plague their countries.  The inclusion of Global Goal 16 – to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies – in the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is an important achievement. The challenge now becomes translating that commitment into reality in systems and strategies for global development assistance.

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Articles & Analysis

By:
Fred Strasser

The two-day World Humanitarian Summit held recently in Istanbul drew criticism for the absence of top global leaders, but it actually broke ground in several ways, experts said in a discussion hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace and Oxfam America. The summit spotlighted the need for “radical change” in a relief system built for the era after World War II rather than today’s small wars, insurgencies and fragmenting states that have unleashed the second-biggest flood of displaced people in history, said Ray Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America.

By:
Fred Strasser

A common strategy for state-building and development aid to transitional nations—getting basic services to the population—will fail to establish a government’s legitimacy unless citizens are included in the process, a leading researcher on conflict management said at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

By:
Viola Gienger

In the violent conflict tearing across the Middle East and North Africa, fully half of the pieces needed to complete the security puzzle may be missing almost entirely: women. As extremist groups and military forces parry with the weapons of war and politics, the pivotal role that women could play in restoring peace and security has largely been cast aside, as old-school thinking perpetuates the idea that gender equality is a problem for another day, according to experts and a new study just published by USIP.

Videos & Webcasts

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Our Work In The Field

Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

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There are currently no upcoming classroom courses.

Online Courses

Jeffrey Helsing
This dynamic course is a case-based introduction to the process of conflict analysis. Good conflict analysis is the foundation of any conflict management process, from prevention to mediation to reconciliation.
A nuanced understanding of the context and dynamics of a conflict can determine the effectiveness with which you intervene in a conflict, prevent further harm from being done, help determine priori

Publications

By:
Courtney J. Fung
Initially opposed to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), China has become a consistent advocate of the principle, endorsing its application in multiple countries while urging a constrained, multilateral approach to the use of force. This brief examines the trajectory and significance of China’s support for R2P. Given the country’s rising role in shaping the rules of global governance, continuing to gain its buy-in will be crucial in achieving the principle’s mandate.
By:
Paula M. Rayman, Seth Izen and Emily Parker
The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 fifteen years ago. The resolution addresses the disproportionate impact war has on women and reaffirms their important role in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace processes. This report pulls from interviews conducted with academics, activists, government officials, and nongovernmental leaders in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Tunisia. It examines the benefits and challenges of the resolution in these countries as well as its potential in the Middle East and North Africa region.