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.

How to Spur Afghan Reforms: The Limits and Benefits of Incentives

Although not a magic bullet, incentive programming can help shape dialogue with the new Afghan administration. What are incentive programs? How do issues such as stakeholder participation, Afghan capacity and consequences of success or failure affect policy decisions for incentive programs? In addressing these questions, this PeaceBrief points the way to more effective incentive programming.

Summary

  • Donors have increasingly sought to condition assistance funds for Afghanistan, particularly as a result of inadequate reforms during the Karzai administration.
  • Since its negotiation in 2012, the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework has been the basis of most donor incentive decisions on Afghanistan.
  • Donors need to consider who benefits from incentives, how resources and requests align, Afghanistan’s capacity to implement reform and the consequences of success or failure.
Trent Ruder
Thu, 11/20/2014 - 09:15
Countries: 

Pakistan’s Resurgent Sectarian War

The violence across the Middle East has energized sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict in Pakistan. This report gives an overview of the history of conflict between Sunni Deobandi and Shia militant and political organizations in Pakistan and offers warnings about further radicalization there and its effects on the politics of the state.

Summary

  • Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks.
Arif Rafiq
Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:18
Countries: 

Licensing Afghan Opium for Medicinal Use

Opium production continues to increase in Afghanistan, but there are no easy, one-dimensional solutions to this problem. Afghanistan unfortunately will not be able to join the small group of countries that produce licit opium for medicinal purposes. The opium it currently produces is both illegal and high-cost. Trying to introduce licit production runs the risk that large-scale illicit production will continue in parallel. In the long term, it is unlikely that Afghanistan could compete in the global market with lower-cost, more efficient growers of licit opiates.

William A. Byrd and David Mansfield

Summary

  • With large increases in Afghan opium cultivation and production in 2013 and 2014, there is a risk that resulting frustration may give rise to a search for extreme but unproductive solutions.
  • There are no easy solutions to the illegal narcotics problem. The proposal that Afghanistan could shift to licensed production of opium for pain medications will not work.
Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:05
Countries: 

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
Countries: 

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.

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.
Richard Albright
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
Countries: 

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
Countries: 
Partners (HTML): 

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.

Dominik Tolksdorf

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.
Thu, 05/22/2014 - 15:58
Issue Areas: 
Countries: 
November 2014
Although not a magic bullet, incentive programming can help shape dialogue with the new Afghan administration. What are incentive programs? How do issues such as stakeholder participation, Afghan capacity and consequences of success or failure affect policy decisions for incentive programs? In...
November 2014
The violence across the Middle East has energized sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict in Pakistan. This report gives an overview of the history of conflict between Sunni Deobandi and Shia militant and political organizations in Pakistan and offers warnings about further...
September 2014
Opium production continues to increase in Afghanistan, but there are no easy, one-dimensional solutions to this problem. Afghanistan unfortunately will not be able to join the small group of countries that produce licit opium for medicinal purposes. The opium it currently produces is both illegal...
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...
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,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.