Peace Briefs

Intended for a broad audience, these four-page briefs provide topical news analysis and policy recommendations related to USIP’s mission and work.

Creating Spaces for Effective CVE Approaches

Unlike other counterterrorism strategies, countering violent extremism (CVE) focuses on preventing individuals from being recruited into or joining violent extremist groups. CVE is a complex endeavor, largely because the reasons individuals become involved in extremist violence are in themselves complex and the dynamics are unique to each conflict. Using Kenya as an example, and drawing on observations from a recent visit, the author explores how promoting a more nuanced understanding of radicalization can help reach those who are at risk of being pushed and pulled into extremist violence.

Georgia Holmer

Summary

  • Countering violent extremism efforts strive to prevent at-risk individuals from being recruited into or joining extremist groups. Identifying who is at risk and who poses a threat, however, is a complicated inquiry.
  • In Kenya, as in many other places experiencing violent extremism, the young, the undecided, the coerced and others might—if properly guided—move away from rather than toward violence.
Wed, 09/10/2014 - 08:17
Countries: 

Afghanistan’s Looming Fiscal Crisis: What Can Be Done?

Afghanistan faces a fiscal crisis due in large part to worsening domestic revenue shortfalls. Averting this crisis will require strong leadership from the new Afghan government that will be replacing the Karzai administration. The country’s revenue system and collections need to be improved, corruption reduced, new revenue sources developed and expenditures cut. More international aid also is needed to help stabilize Afghanistan’s budget as the government undertakes these reforms.

William A. Byrd

Summary

  • Afghanistan faces a fiscal crisis that reflects worsening domestic revenue shortfalls since 2011, which could reach $1 billion in 2014 compared with the 2011 outlook. The massive theft and fraud at Kabul Bank, failure of mining activities to pay taxes and royalties, and mislabeling of some commercial imports as duty-free are among other contributing factors.
Wed, 08/27/2014 - 10:35
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Maximizing the Impact of Aid to Pakistan: Leverage Reform and Local Capacity

Overcoming Pakistan's many challenges, and meeting the development needs of its people, requires working through the institutions of Pakistani governance if sustainable impacts are to be achieved. U.S. aid, if offered consistently and in support of systemic institutional reform, can have a valuable catalytic role to assist and incentivize these efforts.

Richard Albright

Summary

  • The effectiveness of U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan depends on sustained funding commitments from the United States and sustained commitment to economic and institutional reform from Pakistan.
  • Weak public institutions and poor governance have greatly impeded Pakistan’s development. U.S. assistance should focus on strengthening institutions systemically.
Mon, 07/28/2014 - 09:00
Countries: 

Engaging Afghan Religious Leaders for Women’s Rights

Women’s rights programs in Afghanistan need to work with religious leaders who have moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Engaging those traditional leaders who have a track record of supporting women’s rights begins with respecting their opinions and showing the patience to build trust through dialogue. It also requires supporting processes of change that are identified locally and ensuring that local partners take the lead role in the delivery of support as much as possible.

Summary

  • As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public.
  • Religious leaders are among Afghanistan’s traditional “gatekeepers” for making local decisions, especially on questions of women’s rights, and they can be effectively engaged.
Palwasha L. Kakar
Wed, 06/18/2014 - 11:16
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Former U.N. Peacekeepers

Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan’s police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture. They are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing and form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan.

Muhammad Quraish Khan

Summary

  • Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan’s police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture.
  • Given their peacekeeping experience, they are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing, and believers in gender equality and the rule of law. They have also shown an ability to resist undue political pressure by government ministers, politicians and interest groups.
  • They form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan.
Tue, 06/10/2014 - 15:20
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Revisiting Chicago

The May 27 White House announcement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan raises serious questions about the staying power of international security funding to support the size of the future Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), as agreed two years ago in Chicago. Concerns also exist about Afghanistan fulfilling its own commitment to fund its security forces. With the ANSF largely a U.S. creation, it would be irresponsible now to turn around and undermine it.

Summary

  • Two years ago, the Chicago international summit agreed on long-term targets for the size of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and committed to continued international financial support until 2024.
William A. Byrd
Thu, 06/05/2014 - 16:39
Countries: 

The Constitutional Process in Ukraine

The Ukrainian government should promote an inclusive, participatory and transparent constitutional process. Such a process could help de-escalate the current conflict and build confidence in the central government and its willingness to integrate all constituencies into Ukraine’s political system.

Summary

  • Ukraine's weak rule of law and widespread corruption and nepotism, combined with growing concerns over a shift toward authoritarianism under President Victor Yanukovych, were among the key factors that triggered the Maidan protests.
  • Many political conflicts and failures of governance in Ukraine are rooted in the weakness of the political and judicial system, including shifts in constitutional powers, over-centralization of administrative structures and a lack of judicial independence.
Dominik Tolksdorf
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 15:58
Issue Areas: 
Countries: 

PakVotes: A Social Media Experiment in Elections Monitoring

PakVotes, an experimental project run by a Pakistani NGO and supported by USIP, brought social media platforms together with a network of reporters to track violence during Pakistan’s 2013 elections. The experience offers lessons for the future use of social media to publicize conflicts and violence during elections and other major events.

Summary

  • PakVotes, a pilot project supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), used social media platforms and a network of reporters located in areas outside of major cities in Pakistan to track violence during the 2013 elections.
  • The project offers lessons that could guide future efforts to use social media to record and publicize conflicts and the use of violence during elections and other major events.
Nadia Naviwala
Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:56
Countries: 

Why Afghanistan’s Provincial Council Elections Matter

With elections scheduled for April 5, Afghanistan’s Provincial Councils offer one of the best hopes for the future of local democracy in the country. The significance of Provincial Councils, including creating an opportunity for a new generation of young Afghans to begin political careers, has often been overlooked but has steadily increased.

Anna Larson and Noah Coburn

Summary

  • Afghanistan’s Provincial Councils (PCs) represent one of the best hopes for the future of local democracy in Afghanistan. Yet since their shaky formation in 2005, they continue to be overlooked by international actors preferring to interact with parliamentarians, ministers and appointed governors.
Wed, 03/26/2014 - 14:23
Countries: 
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Last Chance: The International Community and the 2014 Afghan Elections

Afghanistan's April 5 election could create space for political elites to address root causes of the country's continuing crisis, despite the past divergence between Afghan and international views on what elections can accomplish. With more realistic expectations, informed in part by a better understanding of the 2009 elections, the Afghans may be more determined to take this possibly final opportunity to rescue themselves from a political implosion.

Summary

  • Afghanistan’s democratic development has taken place within the tight embrace of international support and the conception of “free and fair” elections that comes with it, but Afghan and international views on what to expect from elections have diverged in the past, leading to a deepening of distrust between the Karzai-led Afghan government and the international community.
Scott S. Smith
Fri, 03/14/2014 - 14:15
Countries: 
September 2014
Unlike other counterterrorism strategies, countering violent extremism (CVE) focuses on preventing individuals from being recruited into or joining violent extremist groups. CVE is a complex endeavor, largely because the reasons individuals become involved in extremist violence are in themselves complex and the dynamics are unique to each conflict. Using Kenya as an example, and drawing on observations from a recent visit, the author explores how promoting a more nuanced understanding of radicalization can help reach those who are at risk of being pushed and pulled into extremist violence.
August 2014
Afghanistan faces a fiscal crisis due in large part to worsening domestic revenue shortfalls. Averting this crisis will require strong leadership from the new Afghan government that will be replacing the Karzai administration. The country’s revenue system and collections need to be improved, corruption reduced, new revenue sources developed and expenditures cut. More international aid also is needed to help stabilize Afghanistan’s budget as the government undertakes these reforms.
July 2014
Overcoming Pakistan's many challenges, and meeting the development needs of its people, requires working through the institutions of Pakistani governance if sustainable impacts are to be achieved. U.S. aid, if offered consistently and in support of systemic institutional reform, can have a valuable catalytic role to assist and incentivize these efforts.
June 2014
Women’s rights programs in Afghanistan need to work with religious leaders who have moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Engaging those traditional leaders who have a track record of supporting women’s rights begins with respecting their opinions and showing the patience to build trust through dialogue. It also requires supporting processes of change that are identified locally and ensuring that local partners take the lead role in the delivery of support as much as possible.
June 2014
Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan’s police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture. They are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing and form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan.
June 2014
The May 27 White House announcement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan raises serious questions about the staying power of international security funding to support the size of the future Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), as agreed two years ago in Chicago. Concerns also exist about Afghanistan fulfilling its own commitment to fund its security forces. With the ANSF largely a U.S. creation, it would be irresponsible now to turn around and undermine it.
May 2014
The Ukrainian government should promote an inclusive, participatory and transparent constitutional process. Such a process could help de-escalate the current conflict and build confidence in the central government and its willingness to integrate all constituencies into Ukraine’s political system.
April 2014
PakVotes, an experimental project run by a Pakistani NGO and supported by USIP, brought social media platforms together with a network of reporters to track violence during Pakistan’s 2013 elections. The experience offers lessons for the future use of social media to publicize conflicts and violence during elections and other major events.
March 2014
With elections scheduled for April 5, Afghanistan’s Provincial Councils offer one of the best hopes for the future of local democracy in the country. The significance of Provincial Councils, including creating an opportunity for a new generation of young Afghans to begin political careers, has often been overlooked but has steadily increased.
March 2014
Afghanistan's April 5 election could create space for political elites to address root causes of the country's continuing crisis, despite the past divergence between Afghan and international views on what elections can accomplish. With more realistic expectations, informed in part by a better understanding of the 2009 elections, the Afghans may be more determined to take this possibly final opportunity to rescue themselves from a political implosion.