Post Conflict Reconstruction

Countries that are emerging out of conflict face multiple challenges – ranging from transitional justice issues, building civil society, writing new constitutions, creating new rule of law systems and security forces as well as rebuilding the domestic economy.

For 130 Million People, a Need for Longer-Term Relief

Mon, 11/14/2016 - 09:30
Mon, 11/14/2016 - 11:00

More than 130 million people worldwide require humanitarian assistance to survive because of crises or disasters, including violent conflict, according to the United Nations. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May focused on how development and humanitarian institutions can cooperate to bring meaningful change for the world's most vulnerable people. Continue the discussion on November 14 with the U.S. Institute of Peace and leaders of the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as they consider possible approaches such as flexible and multi-year funding, strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law, and working more closely with local communities.

Read the event coverage, World Bank Seeks Crisis Flexibility for Long-Term Impact.

Many violent conflicts have become chronic. In order to build sustainable peace, humanitarian relief must also contribute to or complement long-term development goals.  While discussions at the World Humanitarian Summit raised meaningful questions about how humanitarian and development sectors are responding to protracted conflict, institutions are still trying to improve the response even as the needs grow more urgent. 

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Myanmar’s Difficult Path Toward Peace

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 10:00
Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:00
Prospects for Ending Myanmar’s Ethnic Conflict, and Ways the International Community Might Help

International attention toward Myanmar has focused largely on the country's transition from a half-century of military rule toward democratic governance. But ending nearly 70 years of civil conflict among the country's ethnic nationalities remains essential to the country's stability and success. In its first eight months, the elected government of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has invited more of the country’s ethnic armed groups to join new peace talks. Still, fighting has continued and in some places worsened. On November 4, the U.S. Institute of Peace will gather specialists on the peace process to examine its current state and highlight ways that the international community can help.

Read the event coverage, Myanmar Peace Process: Slow Progress, Delicate Steps.

In October 2015, several of Myanmar’s ethnic armed organizations signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government of former President Thein Sein. Since taking office in March, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has likewise made peace its priority. It convened its 21st Century Panglong Conference in August, bringing nearly all of the country’s ethnic armed groups into a nascent dialogue process. Since then, fighting in Shan, Kachin, and Karen states has expanded, and fresh clashes in Rakhine state continue to undermine trust and confidence in the process.

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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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Evolving Conflict Dynamics in the Central African Republic

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:00
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:00
Updates from the Field

Despite holding its first peaceful, democratic elections earlier this year, the Central African Republic remains vulnerable to a resurgence of the conflict that began in 2012. An estimated 2.3 million people require humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, and a stalled disarmament process allows armed groups to continue operating with impunity in many parts of the country. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a discussion with experts from the field on the crucial next steps needed to achieve disarmament, end the violence and begin reconstruction and reconciliation.

Following the inauguration of President Faustin Archange Touadéra in March of 2016, his government set disarmament of armed groups as its main priority. He has sought to actively engage the armed groups on the design of a process for disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating these forces, but most of these factions remain unsatisfied with the proposed path and refuse to disarm. Instead, they continue to control large swaths of the country, including important transport routes.

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U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of ‘State Fragility’

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 09:00
Mon, 09/12/2016 - 11:15
Recommendations for the Next U.S. Administration and Congress

Much of today’s regional disorder and global upheaval is driven by fragile states—those with a frayed social compact between their people and government. State fragility fuels problems from the unprecedented refugee crisis to turmoil in the Arab world, and from pandemic diseases to some of humanity’s deepest poverty. To meet this challenge, three Washington foreign affairs institutions made recommendations to the next administration and Congress to produce a more strategic, disciplined, and sustained U.S. approach. The study’s chairs—William Burns of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Michèle Flournoy of the Center for a New American Security, and USIP’s Nancy Lindborg—publicly launched their report.

Read the event coverage, Burns, Flournoy, Lindborg Press Urgency of Fragile States.


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How to Stabilize Iraq: A Marine in Congress Speaks

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 15:00
Tue, 09/13/2016 - 16:00
Seth Moulton, Armed Services Committee Member, on a Study of U.S. Policy

As U.S. troops help Iraqi armed forces in their offensive against ISIS militants, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton recently made a recent fact-finding visit to Iraq and returned to Washington arguing that the United States should broaden and energize its efforts in the country. Moulton-a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former Marine infantry officer in Iraq-has urged a broader U.S. policy of support for political reforms and political rapprochement among Iraq's communal factions. USIP hosted a discussion with Congressman Moulton and USIP President Nancy Lindborg on Iraq, ISIS and the broader Middle East.

Read the event coverage, Ex-Marine Lawmaker Seeks Diplomatic ‘Surge’ in Iraq.

After months of reviewing U.S. policies in Iraq, Congressman Moulton wrote in a June 2016  opinion piece in The Washington Post that U.S. policies "have yet to articulate a political plan to ensure Iraq's long-term stability." The congressman, who represents northeastern Massachusetts' Sixth District, released a set of recommendations that he argues are critical to defeating ISIS and helping stabilize the Middle East in September at a public event at USIP. He has urged greater support U.S.

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Frontline Diplomats and Development Workers

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 09:30
Wed, 06/22/2016 - 12:00
Balancing Mission and Risk in High Threat Environments

Diplomats as well as humanitarian and development professionals are “frontline civilians,” often working in conflict zones despite the risks. Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace on June 22 providing a progress report and discussion of how the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are implementing their new strategy for lowering and managing those risks, based on the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).

Read the event coverage, How to Cut Danger—And Accept Risk—in Civilian Missions.

QDDR called for the State Department and USAID to “continue to balance our values and interests with the inherent risks of 21st-century diplomacy and development.”  Preparation and the mental and physical care of these frontline civilians—before, during and after their assignments—must be paramount and must take into account their different objectives and needs. Leadership must explain to Congress and the American people why such risks must be taken and what is done to minimize, though not eliminate, dangers to civilians in advancing essential diplomacy.

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Colombia: Human Rights Defenders Building Sustainable Peace

Thu, 02/18/2016 - 14:00
Thu, 02/18/2016 - 15:30

Despite widespread optimism that a peace agreement will soon be reached in Havana, the war in Colombia continues, marked by a rise in attacks on human rights defenders. The U.S. Institute of Peace and its co-sponsors held an event to hear four winners of last year’s National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia discuss the challenges they and their fellow advocates face in their regions, and the role of human rights defenders in building sustainable peace in Colombia.

For the past four years, international humanitarian agencies working in Colombia have sponsored this competitive national prize to acknowledge the courageous work of individuals and of local and regional organizations that work to protect and promote human rights in the country. Four of last year’s five recipients were on hand for the discussion, courtesy of the Swedish humanitarian agency Diakonia, which has sponsored their visit to the U.S.

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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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Implications for Afghanistan: The Taliban Seizure of Kunduz

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:30
Wed, 10/28/2015 - 16:30
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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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.

USIP Staff

Nine months after the Central African Republic (CAR) held free, peaceful and democratic elections for president and parliament, the country continues to struggle for stability and progress. Half of the country remains in need of humanitarian aid, and an increase in violent incidents since September threatens to destabilize any progress made to date. At the end of November, clashes between factions of the ex-Séléka, a formerly united alliance of primarily Muslim armed groups, left 85 dead, 76 injured and 11,000 newly displaced. The targeting of a specific ethnic group in the fighting, the...

Videos & Webcasts

Iraqi government troops and allied Kurdish forces opened their assault on the city of Mosul before dawn today, fighting to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city from guerrillas of the Islamic State...

The recent U.S. designation of genocide to describe the ISIS extremist group’s killings and persecution of minorities as well as Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria highlighted the long history of...

Four years after the formation of a federal government in Somalia, the country has built nascent institutions, but it will need years of financial and security support to make the new state...

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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Daryn Cambridge, Maria Stephan & Althea Middleton-Detzner
This course provides a multidisciplinary perspective on nonviolent, civilian-based movements and campaigns that defend and obtain basic rights and justice around the world, and in so doing transform the global security environment.
The rise of nonviolent, people power movements around the world has become a defining feature of the 21st century.


William J. Burns, Michèle Flournoy, Nancy Lindborg
The new administration, a coming change in leadership at the United Nations, and an emerging global consensus about the fragility challenge make this an opportune moment to recalibrate our approach. The United States cannot and should not try to “fix” every fragile state. Nor can we ignore this challenge; all fragility has the potential to affect U.S. interests to some extent, especially when left to fester. There is simply too much at stake for our interests, our partners, and the global order. A sound and realistic policy framework is urgently needed to help our policymakers determine where, when, and how to invest scarce resources and attention to maximum effect.
Many of the three million-plus internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in Iraq wish to return to their homes in areas no longer controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But weak security and informal justice in these areas make safe return a challenge. IDPs, civil society organizations, and official stakeholders met in Baghdad, Karbala, and Kirkuk under USIP’s Justice and Security Dialogue program to voice concerns about and offer suggestions for safe return. This Special Report summarizes these discussions, which could guide policymakers seeking to resolve the IDP crisis and sustain security in Iraq.