Rule of Law

Fostering the development of the rule of law is central to conflict management. USIP’s engagement is vital to strengthen the rule of law and provide people access to justice in the newly transitional countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

Learn more about USIP's Rule of Law center

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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Displaced Women: From Violations to Voice

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:30
Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:30
Afghanistan, India and Pakistan Cases Show How to Strengthen Women and End Impunity

People forced from their homes amid conflict—the majority of them women—face threats of deprivation, discrimination and a militarized society. During a forum hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace and  the Women’s Regional Network, speakers discussed possible model solutions in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan for displaced women and girls.


The study, conducted by the Women’s Regional Network, suggested the use of regional tribunals and “community conversations” as possible mechanisms for exploring women’s experiences, fears and contributions, and for strengthening their often unrecognized contributions to justice, peace and social reintegration.

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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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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.

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Seeking Security: Georgia Between Russia and ISIS

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 15:00
Wed, 08/19/2015 - 16:00
Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli Speaks on Challenges to Georgia and the Black Sea Region

As world headlines focus elsewhere, international security remains at risk in Georgia: Russian troops, in July, continued a creeping seizure of new Georgian territory, including part of a strategic pipeline. ISIS was recruiting fighters throughout the Caucasus for its war in Syria. Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, in Washington to meet with top U.S. officials, made her remarks at USIP August 19. She discussed how her country is navigating regional security threats that have deepened in the 18 months since Russia attacked Ukraine.

Read the event coverage, Georgia, Facing Russian Pressure, Needs NATO Path, Defense Chief Says.

Minister Khidasheli made her first visit to Washington as defense minister just weeks after little-reported events that underscore Georgia’s continued importance to regional security. In July, Russian troops, who invaded in 2008, quietly advanced from South Ossetia to take over part of a BP-operated oil pipeline that supplies Europe. Georgia placed major orders with Western firms for defensive radar systems compatible with those of NATO. The trans-Atlantic alliance conducted its first exercises in Georgia involving troops from multiple member states.

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LGBTI Rights: Global Activism, U.S. Diplomacy

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:00
Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:00
Gender Minorities Seek Constitutional Protections

As lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities campaign for constitutional rights across the world, USIP gathered the United States’ new special envoy on the issue, along with international LGBTI activists, to discuss the movement and its future. Ambassador Randy Berry joined campaigners from South Africa, Ireland, Fiji, and Grenada in the May 26th forum, which was co-hosted by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).

Read the event coverage, After Ireland Vote: Various Roads to LGBTI Rights.

While only a few countries now protect LGBTI rights in their constitutions, the inclusion of those protections increasingly has become an indicator of the strength and consolidation of democracy.  And constitution-building processes in various countries have opened a social and political space of tolerance and equality within which gender minorities are continuing to claim their rights.

Welcoming Remarks:

  • Nancy Lindborg
    President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Key Note Address:

  • Randy Berry
    Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LBGT Persons, U.S. Department of State


  • Sumit Bisarya
    Constitution Building Programme
    International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance
  • Michael Dafel
    Doctoral Candidate, University of Cambridge
  • Eric Gitari
    Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in Kenya
  • Monine Griffith
    Director, Marriage Equality, Ireland
  • Richie Maitland
    Co-founding Director, Groundation Grenada
  • Michelle Reddy
    Programme Director, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
  • Jason Gluck, Moderator
    Senior Program Officer, Rule of Law, U.S. Institute of Peace


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Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 04/28/2015 - 15:30

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  The U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion and launch of "Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace," a book that tells the extraordinary stories of "ordinary" people from eleven conflict zones. This event included a moderated discussion with the book's author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews, followed by a reception and book-signing session.

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother -- from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

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Empowering Women in Countries with Mixed Legal Systems

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 08:45
Fri, 05/01/2015 - 17:15
Justice Sector Training, Research and Coordination (JusTRAC) Symposium

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the University of South Carolina Rule of Law Collaborative hosted a public event examining the obstacles and strategies for the empowerment of women in countries with "mixed" legal systems on May 1, 2015.

At the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton made her famous declaration that “Women’s rights are human rights.” Yet two decades later, women still face formidable legal obstacles, especially in countries with “mixed” systems of common, civil, customary, religious and/or tribal law. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the University Of South Carolina Rule Of Law Collaborative hosted a day-long symposium examining the ramifications and potential approaches.

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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).

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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...

Nancy Lindborg

For 35 years, the International Day of Peace on September 21 has served as a rallying point for governments, organizations and ordinary people working to help end violent conflict around the world.

James Cohen

From the Panama Papers to an op-ed by Secretary of State John Kerry to a hearing in the U.S. Senate, signs are growing that the U.S. is beginning to understand the threat that widespread corruption poses to U.S. national security and international stability, and that a solution will require global coordination. One concrete measure can start turning that realization into action. 

Videos & Webcasts

As Vice President Joe Biden visits Ukraine this week, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor underscores that domestic corruption—in the economy and government—remains the key weakness in...

Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has been crucial for containing the Islamic State’s rampage and sheltering Iraqis fleeing the extremist group’s brutalities, urgently needs greater engagement from the...

Experts from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) discuss the meaning of the term "rule of law," and the ways that USIP works to promote the rule of law around the world.

Our Work In The Field

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Sarah Chayes
The Fragility Study Group is an independent, non-partisan, effort of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for a New American Security and the United States Institute of Peace. The chair report of the study group, U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of State Fragility, was released on September 12. This brief is part of a series authored by scholars from the three institutions that build on the chair report to discuss the implications of fragility on existing U.S. tools, strategic interests and challenges. 
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.