Religion and Peacebuilding

Religion is an important component in many conflict zones and a powerful tool for preventing violence. USIP has been a pioneer in religion and peacemaking, seeking new ways to combat violent extremism across all beliefs.

Islam, Culture and Sexism: What Needs to Change?

Tue, 10/13/2015 - 13:00
Tue, 10/13/2015 - 14:30
Muslim Women Campaign for Gender Equality

ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria declare that Islamic scripture justifies their taking of refugee women as sex slaves. Men in some Muslim societies cite their religion in defending “honor killings” of women. In the West, many commentators proclaim Islam inherently sexist, and some governments ban the veils traditionally worn by many Muslim women. Amid the turmoil, a growing cohort of female Islamic scholars says Muslim women are marginalized not by the Quran but by patriarchal cultural practices and interpretations of their faith. On October 13, 2015, USIP will screen the recent PBS documentary “Gender Equality in Islam,” and host a discussion on how women can understand and advance the gender-equitable principles of the faith.

Read the event coverage, Islam, Culture and Sexism: Making Change with Religious Learning.

“Gender Equality in Islam” presents the work of Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, a longtime University of Richmond law professor and Islamic scholar who in 1993 founded Karamah, an organization that educates Muslim women about Islamic principles of justice and gender equity. Karamah’s executive director, Aisha Rahman, who is featured in the film, will join other experts to discuss the importance of education and other tools that women need to interpret and promote Islam’s defense of women’s rights.

Type of Event or Course: 

A Different Route to Countering Violent Extremism: What Works?

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 09:30
Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:30

From Paris to northeastern Nigeria to Burma, violent extremism has emerged as a critical threat to peace and stability. Military and police responses make headlines, but many governments, civil society organizations and individuals also are doing painstaking work to build resilience, support alternative narratives, reduce underlying divisions and ultimately counter the allure of militant groups. State Department Counselor on Counterterrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism, Eric Rosand, joins the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum on Tuesday, April 14, at the U.S. Institute of Peace for a discussion of the results of these efforts, and how to build on effective approaches.


The Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum (CPRF) provides a monthly platform in Washington for highlighting innovative and constructive methods of conflict resolution. Established in 1999, the forum’s goals are to (1) provide information from a wide variety of perspectives; (2) explore possible solutions to complex conflicts; and (3) provide a secure venue for stakeholders from various disciplines to engage in cross-sector and multi-track problem-solving.

Type of Event or Course: 

Religion and Gender in Extremist Violence: A Discussion with Human Rights Defenders

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 13:30
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00

Former President Jimmy Carter calls discrimination and violence against women and girls one of the most serious and pervasive -- yet ignored -- violations of human rights. Escalating violent religious extremism fuels this pattern. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Carter Center were pleased to host this event, which addressed ways in which human rights defenders in Libya and Iraq are working to build peace with particular attention to the role of religion and gender. 

carter center logoReligion often is used to justify violence and the unequal status of women. More than ever, these problems are interrelated, and efforts that address them in isolation fail to produce comprehensive, long-term strategies.

Manal Omar, Welcoming Remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

Karin Ryan, Remarks
Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Project Director, Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative, The Carter Center

Panel Discussion: 

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
  • Mubin Shaikh
    Counterterrorism, CVE and De-radicalization Expert in Canada
  • Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
    Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  • Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
    Director, Al-Firdaws Society, Iraq
  • Susan Hayward, Moderator
    Interim Director, Religion & Peacebuilding Center, USIP

Q&A with audience

Type of Event or Course: 

After Peshawar: Domestic Security in Pakistan

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 01/27/2015 - 15:30

December 16, 2014, may well have been Pakistan’s September 11. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace for a panel discussion assessing Pakistan’s domestic security situation in the wake of the attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar.

In the wake of the brutal attack that day, Pakistani civilian and military policymakers came together to formulate a new National Action Plan, making fresh pledges of concerted action against the full host of militant groups operating within Pakistan.

The new security agenda has led to a controversial amendment of the Pakistani constitution to institute new military-run courts for terrorist suspects. Capital punishment has resumed. New initiatives seek to curtail terrorist financing and media access. And combat actions continue in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Type of Event or Course: 

Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Local and Regional Dimensions

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:00
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:30

The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion analyzing factors that have contributed to sectarian tension in Pakistan and the surrounding region.

Sectarian divisions are growing in Pakistan. Contemporary public opinion surveys suggest these religious communal identities are hardening and violent militant organizations – drawn primarily but not exclusively from the Sunni Deobandi tradition – are increasingly targeting rival religious minorities, killing thousands across the country in attacks over the past decade.

Type of Event or Course: 

Peacebuilding in Central African Republic: The Views of Top Religious Leaders

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 14:00
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:30

Please join us for a discussion with the highest-ranking Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant leaders in CAR, Imam Omar Kabine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou, as they discuss their efforts to foster dialogue and social cohesion across religious dividing lines, and lay out a strategic vision for the future of the country through their Interfaith Peace Platform.

Read the event coverage, Central African Republic: Religious Leaders Call for Dialogue Backed by Grassroots.

In the Central African Republic, the situation remains precarious as ethno-religious violence continues despite the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. In this context, religious leaders committed to peacebuilding provide a particularly important perspective.

Type of Event or Course: 

Inside Iran

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 09:30
Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:00
With Robin Wright and David Ignatius

Two long-time Middle East experts have recently returned from Iran. Their discussions with cabinet members, ayatollahs, hardliners, Members of Parliament, economists, opposition figures and ordinary Iranians offer rare insights into Iran’s increasingly vibrant political scene since President Rouhani took office and the implications of the new nuclear agreement. Robin Wright and David Ignatius offer fresh perspectives on what’s next.

Read the event coverage, Wright, Ignatius Analyze Iran Developments

Please join us for a moderated discussion on these and other issues important to Iran, its internal politics, and its relations with the world. Join the conversation on Twitter with #InsideIran.

This event will feature the following speakers:

Type of Event or Course: 

Current Challenges to Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt

Fri, 06/14/2013 - 10:00
Fri, 06/14/2013 - 12:00

On Friday, June 14, two Egyptian religious leaders, Grand Mufti Mohamed Ali Goma’a and Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, discussed the challenges their communities face in the democratic transition of their state.


After decades of authoritarian rule, Egypt’s transition to democracy is tackled incredible challenges including political, social and economic reform, infrastructural development, and the ongoing religious sectarianism.

Type of Event or Course: 

Egyptian President Resigns after Peaceful Protests

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned on Feb. 11 after weeks of peaceful protests. USIP takes a comprehensive look at the situation and its implications.


UPDATED: February 15, 2011

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11 after weeks of peaceful protests. USIP takes a comprehensive look at the situation and its implications.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 14:35
Type of Article: 

Notes from Sudan

Ahead of the country's critical 2011 referendum on whether the South should secede from Sudan, USIP is dedicated to help resolve internal conflicts and help ensure the country's future stability and security. In "Notes from Sudan," USIP's Jon Temin writes about his recent tour of the country to get an update on the status of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of civil war in Sudan and learn about preparations for the 2011 referendum and the 2010 national elections. 


Jonathan Temin

by Jonathan Temin

Fri, 08/21/2009 (All day)
Type of Article: 

Articles & Analysis

Fred Strasser

Myanmar’s transition to representative democracy took a critical step on Nov. 8 as the nation held the first general election since almost 50 years of military rule ended in 2011. While ballots are still being counted, the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, appears headed to winning control of parliament. Priscilla Clapp, a former American diplomat in Myanmar and U.S. Institute of Peace specialist on the country, discusses the implications of the voting for democracy and the challenges that lie ahead.

Fred Strasser

Men in some Muslim societies cite the Islamic faith in defending “honor killings” of women and marriage for child brides. In the West, many commentators proclaim Islam inherently sexist, and some governments ban the veils traditionally worn by many Muslim women. Amid this turmoil, growing numbers of female Islamic scholars cite the Quran to argue that Muslim women are marginalized not by the true tenets of their faith but by patriarchal cultural practices. 

Osama Gharizi

While the mass bloodshed of Syria’s civil war so far has spared many Kurdish and Arab farming villages in Syria’s far northeast, the war has exacerbated communal tensions there. So recently, 14 religious, tribal and civic leaders from one locality traveled to neighboring Iraq for talks to ease those tensions and prevent an outbreak of violence.

Videos & Webcasts

Muslim women worldwide need to reclaim the place as leaders that the Islamic faith accorded them in its early centuries, USIP Acting Vice President Manal Omar told guests at a June 25 iftar...

Nigeria’s next government needs to have the political will to act decisively against the Boko Haram extremist group, said Pastor Esther Abimiku Ibanga ahead of the country’s March 28 presidential...

As Tunisia struggles to build a stable democracy from its 2011 Arab Spring revolution, it must overcome terrorist attacks, high unemployment, a refugee crisis and the threat of social turmoil. The...

Our Work In The Field

Learn More

There are currently no upcoming classroom courses.

Online Courses

Peter Weinberger
This course presents a set of "soft skills" for participants who engage with religious peoples for partnerships, programming and project implementation.
It touches on often-contested issues such as gender and women’s voices, religious freedom, discussing personal beliefs in the public sphere, and how to integrate religion and programming.


Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen examines the obstacles and opportunities that women religious peacebuilders face as they navigate both the complex conflicts they are seeking to resolve and the power dynamics in the insti­tutions they must deal with in order to accomplish their goals.
USIP Staff
The country’s transition from military rule to representative democracy is complicated by entrenched political and economic interests, religious and ethnic cleavages, and difficult negotiations with an array of armed groups to settle decades-long internal conflicts. As peace talks drag on, the nation’s parliamentary election, slated to take place in late 2015, threatens to exacerbate tensions within and among groups. In addition, the constitution unfairly prohibits  the main opposition candidate, Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, from standing for president. Myanmar also faces the imperative to address communal (particularly Buddhist/Muslim) violence intensified by narratives spread on social media and elsewhere that inflame prejudice and violence.