Poverty, joblessness and economic stress are widely accepted to be fuel for violent conflict. Yet the peacebuilding effects of economic intervention on stability and violence are largely unknown. With the world and U.S. policymakers facing a growing number of conflict and humanitarian crises, determining what works and why in economic programs is a matter of increasing urgency. The U.S. Institute of Peace hosts research projects that seek to answer critical questions about the relationship of development, stabilization and violent conflict, and hosts a regular working group on economics and peace. Learn more in USIP’s Insights Newsletter on the issue.

U.S. Special Envoy Speaks on Sudan and South Sudan

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 11:00
Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:00
Amb. Donald Booth on the U.S. Role in Seeking an End to Violence

Ambassador Donald Booth is completing almost two and half years as the U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. He will discuss the lessons learned from recent international initiatives to end violent conflict in both countries, and the road ahead for that effort and for the U.S. role.

Despite a national dialogue in Sudan, fighting continues in Darfur and in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Negotiations toward ending hostilities between the government and armed opposition groups are deadlocked.

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Cultural Heritage: A Target in War, an Engine of Peace

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 08:45
Mon, 10/24/2016 - 17:30
Stories from Afghanistan and ‘Turquoise Mountain’ on Preserving Culture to Curb Violence

In 2001, Taliban fighters dynamited Afghanistan’s massive Bamiyan Buddha statues, carved into cliff faces, into rubble. Serb forces burned Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Sarajevo National Library in 1992 and ISIS extremists recently razed ancient temples in Palmyra, Syria. Such deliberate destruction of cultural heritage is so damaging to civilizations that the world recognizes it as a war crime. But the power of cultural heritage, so targeted in war, also can provide instruments to build peace. An October 24 symposium in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution will use recent experience, notably in Afghanistan, to examine the often unrecognized power of cultural heritage. The discussion will explore new ways that it might serve worldwide to prevent, or recover from, violent conflict.

Read the event coverage, Can Afghanistan Write New Future in Calligraphy?

Recent wars offer no greater example of cultural heritage turned to healing than the work in Afghanistan of the charity Turquoise Mountain, the subject of a stunning, 11-month exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution. “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan,” at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, shows how historians, artisans, young students and communities are preserving and renewing traditions, crafts, economic livelihoods and a historic district of Kabul. This symposium at the U.S.

The agenda is now available.

8:45 - Registration and Coffee in the atrium

9:15 - Welcome: Nancy Lindborg, President, USIP

9:20-9:25 - Hila Alam, Minister Counsellor, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.

9:25-9:35 - William Hammink, Assistant to the Administrator, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID

9:35-9:45 - Mark Taplin, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

9:45-10:45 Panel 1: What is Cultural Heritage and (Why) Does it Matter?
Moderator: Molly Fannon, Director, Office of International Relations and Global Programs, Smithsonian Institution

  • Dr. Julian Raby, Dame Jillian Sackler Director, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
  • Dr. Derek Gillman, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Art History and Museum Leadership, Drexel University

10:45-11:00 Break

11:00-12:15 Panel 2: Looking Back: 15 Years of Cultural Heritage Initiatives in Afghanistan
Moderator: Barmak Pazhwak, Senior Program Officer, Asia Center, USIP

  • Dr. Tommy Wide, Assistant Director of Special Projects, Freer and Sackler Galleries
  • Majeed Qarar, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Washington D.C.
  • Jolyon Leslie, Architect
  • Laura Tedesco, Cultural Heritage Program Manager, U.S. Department of State

12:15-1:15 Lunch
Calligraphy demonstration in the atrium with Sughra Hussainy, visiting Turquoise Mountain artist
Portal Installation

1:15-2:30 Panel 3: Looking to the Future: New Generation, New Technology, New Approaches
Moderator: Scott Liddle, Country Director, Turquoise Mountain Afghanistan

  • Amar Bakshi, Founder and CEO, Shared_Studios
  • Adam Lowe, Director, Factum Arte
  • Dr. Bastien Varoutsikos, Research Fellow, Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), Paris
  • Lina Rozbih, Managing  Editor, Ashna TV, Voice of America

2:30-2:45 Tea and Coffee

2:45-4:15 Panel 4: Looking Out: Comparisons, Lessons, Inspirations
Moderator: Katherine Wood, Senior Arts Adviser, USIP

  • Harry Wardill, Director, Turquoise Mountain Myanmar
  • Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Office, Smithsonian Institution
  • Tess Davis, Executive Director, The Antiquities Coalition
  • Joanna Sherman, Founder and Artistic Director, Bond Street Theater

4:15 Closing remarks:  Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution

4:30 Reception

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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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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim: What Works in Development

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:00
Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:00
Kim to Offer New Data on Progress in 'Sharing Prosperity' with the World’s Poor

As a prelude to the 2015 World Bank annual meeting, the president of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, presented new data from over a half-century of development practice on what works in reducing economic inequalities and boosting the incomes of the world’s poor. With USIP President Nancy Lindborg, President Kim also examined how economic development can work in tandem with peacebuilding efforts to build more sustainably peaceful societies.

Read the event coverage, World Bank Chief Urges End to Extreme Poverty, Rethink for Development in Conflict Zones.

In a forum October 1, Dr. Kim discussed practical approaches that the World Bank has used to open economic opportunities for the “bottom 40 percent”—those with the lowest incomes in each of the world’s countries. That opening of opportunity is central to narrowing the gaps between rich and poor. Dr. Kim drew on evidence from a half-century of work by the World Bank Group, and for the first time, presented preliminary data on how 89 countries are faring in boosting the prosperity of the poorest 40 percent.

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Beyond Security: Why a U.S.-Tunisian Strategic Partnership Matters

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 14:30
Wed, 05/20/2015 - 15:30
A Conversation with H.E. President Beji Caid Essebsi

The President of Tunisia, His Excellency Beji Caid Essebsi, gave remarks and took questions at the U.S. Institute of Peace on May 20, during his first visit to the United States since taking office in December. As Tunisia works to keep its largely peaceful transition on track, President Essebsi addressed the challenges Tunisia is confronting and the opportunities it offers.

Read the event coverage, Tunisian President: U.S. Is Key to Arab Political Futures

Recent violence in North Africa, including renewed unrest in Libya to the south, has increased religious and political tensions in the region, making security a priority for Tunisia. But Tunisia’s democratic gains and stability also hinge on economic growth and educational initiatives that could advance Tunisia's reform agenda and secure a more prosperous future for its citizens.

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The Asia Foundation's 2014 Survey of the Afghan People

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:30
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:30

The United States Institute of Peace was pleased to host a presentation of the findings of The Asia Foundation’s 2014 Survey of the Afghan People.

With the conclusion of the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history and the continuing drawdown of foreign troops, what do the people of Afghanistan think are the most critical issues facing the country? This survey, based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of nearly 9,300 Afghan citizens, reveals their views on security, national reconciliation, the economy, development and essential services, governance and political participation, corruption, justice, gender equality and access to information.

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Pakistan: Economic and Stabilization Prospects

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:00
Tue, 04/08/2014 - 16:30
A discussion with Pakistan's Finance Minister, Honorable Mohammad Ishaq Dar

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion with Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Honorable Mohammad Ishaq Dar, on how the Pakistani government views the country’s present economic situation, the challenges it faces, and its efforts to course-correct since it took office in June 2013.

Read the event coverage, Pakistan’s New Government Seeks Exit from Economic Malaise

The Pakistani civilian government is closing in on its one-year mark in office. The government, known for its business and economy-friendly outlook, continues to deal with tough economic, development and energy challenges that have hindered fast-paced recovery. While economic growth forecasts project improvement, a number of key reforms in the tax structures, privatization, civil service and the like remain elusive.

Type of Event or Course: 
Issue Areas: 

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.

Read the event coverage, USIP Hosts International Gathering on Water Security and Conflict Prevention

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.

Type of Event or Course: 

An Uphill Battle: Counter-Narcotics Issues and Policies During Afghanistan's Transition

Wed, 06/12/2013 - 14:00
Wed, 06/12/2013 - 16:00
A Discussion with Minister of Counter-Narcotics and Other Senior Afghan Government Officials

U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a public discussion with Afghan Minister of Counter-Narcotics, Minister Zarar Ahamad Muqbel Osmani, on the state of counternarcotics issues and policies in Afghanistan. A panel discussion followed with Governor Wesa of Kandahar, Governor Naeem of Helmand, Governor Kupalwak of Farah, and Deputy Minister of the Interior Ahmadi.

Welcoming Remarks by Jim Marshall, President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Presentation by Minister Zarar Ahamad Muqbel Osmani, Ministry of Counternartcotics

Panel Discussion on Specific Regional and Law Enforcement Issues Featuring:

  • Deputy Minister Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, Ministry of the Interior
  • Governor Tooryalai Wesa, Kandahar Province
  • Governor Mohammad Naem Baloch, Helmand Province
  • Governor Akram Kupalwak, Farah Province

Moderated by William Byrd, Afghanistan Senior Expert, U.S. Institute of Peace

Question & Answer Open Discussion

As Afghanistan continues to navigate its future, the constant challenge of the opium economy and drug industry continues to plague the Afghan people and their leaders.

Type of Event or Course: 
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The Water-Security Nexus in Pakistan

Thu, 05/30/2013 - 10:00
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion on May 30, 2013 from 10:00 am until 11:30 am on USIP’s new PeaceWorks, “Understanding Pakistan’s Water-Security Nexus”, and the opportunities and pitfalls of peacebuilding through environmental policy in South Asia.


Because of overuse and misuse, Pakistan is headed toward a serious water crisis. The U.N. is expected to downgrade Pakistan from ‘water stressed’ to ‘water scarce’ by 2030. While issues between India and Pakistan often garner the most attention, water conflicts within Pakistan’s borders have the explosive potential to poison inter-ethnic and inter-provincial relations and turn simmering tension into violence.

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Articles & Analysis

USIP Staff

Seven weeks past an election that stirred talk of U.S. isolationism, national security aides from the incoming, outgoing and previous administrations held private discussions January 9 that found a broad point of consensus: The United States must lead more, not less, in the world. The meetings, among more than 80 past, present and future officials and independent foreign policy analysts, opened a bi-partisan conference on national security issues convened by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and five foreign policy think tanks. Strikingly, after a sharply divisive election campaign, “the...

Joshua Levkowitz

While the people of Afghanistan are more disillusioned than ever with their government amid the country’s crises, public sympathy for the Taliban and their allies is eroding, according to the biggest annual survey of Afghans’ opinions. For the second straight year support is growing, if still narrow, for women’s rights to education and jobs outside the home.

Fred Strasser

Three weeks ago, trucks carrying goods from China began offloading containers to ships at the Pakistani port of Gwadar, marking the operational opening of the Chinese built-and-financed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The scale of the $51 billion infrastructure scheme will change Pakistan in ways that offer hope for easing its internal conflicts and its destabilizing fear of international isolation, experts said in a discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace. 

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Our Work In The Field

Afghanistan, Tunisia, Poland, Iraq
Afghanistan, Tunisia, Poland, Iraq
Afghanistan, Tunisia, Poland, Iraq

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Grant McLeod
The 2010 collapse of Kabul Bank, at the time a critically important institution in Afghanistan’s banking system, exposed major regulatory and transaction-related deficits in the system that permitted a large degree of fraud. The involvement of the political elite in the fraud made recovering funds and prosecuting cases extremely difficult. The resolution of the criminal elements and recovery of missing funds have faced the same challenges as before and have fared little better under current president Ashraf Ghani. Strengthening the system of financial oversight offers the best opportunity for success. Donor programs, including the IMF and World Bank, may support the necessary reform.
USIP Staff
For almost two decades, the illegal exploitation of natural resources has contributed significantly to the financing of violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Both armed groups and criminal networks within the Congolese army have financially benefited from the production and trade of minerals, timber, charcoal, and wildlife. The persistent political warfare supported—and in part driven—by this commerce has led to atrocities that include gender-based violence and recruitment of child soldiers. Efforts to address these sources of conflict financing, including United Nations sanctions against the armed groups and their networks as well as U.S. legislation regarding minerals from conflict zones, have not explored the potential of bringing criminal prosecutions under Congolese and interna-tional law.