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.

Women, Peace, and Security in Pakistan

A society defined by patriarchal norms and structural inequalities keeps women and girls on the margins of the society and hinders women’s participation in public and political spheres. Yet women’s participation in decisions related to peace and security in the country is essential to peacebuilding and postconflict reconstruction. This brief examines the challenges in implementing the women, peace, and security framework in Pakistan.

Zeenia Faraz

Summary

  • Conflict and crisis have adversely affected the social and economic circumstances of women and girls in Pakistan. A gender lens is needed in responses to crises.
  • Ensuring women’s participation at all levels in decisions related to peace and security in the country is essential.
  • The women, peace, and security (WPS) framework is useful for enhancing women’s participation in peace processes and applying a gender lens to postconflict reconstruction.
Wed, 02/15/2017 - 08:45
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China’s Kashmir Policies and Crisis Management in South Asia

China’s policy on the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan has a significant impact on regional stabilization and crisis management efforts in South Asia. Beijing also plays an important third-party role in helping deescalate hostilities between the two countries. This brief discusses the evolution of China’s Kashmir policies over the past several decades and examines Chinese cooperation with the United States during periods of crises between the South Asian rivals. 

I-wei Jennifer Chang

Summary

  • Since the 1980s, China’s policy on Kashmir has shifted from a strong pro-Pakistani stance to a more balanced one between Pakistan and India.
  • Chinese diplomatic support for internationalizing the Kashmir issue in the United Nations has diminished over time, though Beijing also has blocked UN action against Pakistan-linked terror groups.
  • During crises, Chinese concerns about preventing war between India and Pakistan outweighed political considerations to defend Pakistan, and Beijing worked closely with Washington to mitigate regional tensions.
Thu, 02/09/2017 - 12:39
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Islamist Groups in Afghanistan and the Strategic Choice of Violence

What causes established nonviolent groups to turn into violent organizations, and what leads organized violent groups to shun violence, even temporarily, and work within established political systems? This Peace Brief, which relies on in-depth interviews and primary source documents, explores the strategic choices Islamist groups in Afghanistan have made and make in using violence to contest government authority.

Summary

  • Islamist groups behave much like all other social movement organizations when making strategic choices to contest the power of the state. The decision to use violence is most often the result of rational cost-benefit calculations rather than ideological fanaticism.
  • A group chooses violence as a strategy only when it is motivated and capable of doing so. Motivations and capabilities are in turn determined by three factors: relative access to political power; the nature of government repression; and its access to war-making resources.
Arian Sharifi
Mon, 11/14/2016 - 16:57
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Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in War and Peace

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) can undermine long-term state stability and security even after states have transitioned out of violent conflict. This brief highlights four areas around SGBV that require urgent attention: the conflict cycle, moving beyond armed actors, protectors as perpetrators, and the role of SGBV in threatening political participation. This Brief was prepared by several members of the Missing Peace Young Scholars Network, supported through a longtime partnership between United States Institute of Peace (USIP); Human Rights Center, UC–Berkeley Law; Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO); and Women In International Security (WIIS). The Missing Peace Young Scholars propose a series of policy recommendations, keeping in mind the importance of ongoing collaboration as key to prevention and relief efforts.

Amanda H. Blair, Nicole Gerring and Sabrina Karim

Summary

  • Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) often does not stop when the war ends, and therefore continues to undermine long-term security and stability.
  • Perpetrators of SGBV are not limited to armed actors but also include government security officials, United Nations Peacekeepers, and civilians.
  • SGBV is more likely when individuals are socialized to devalue women and girls, which underscores a need for more gender-transformative programming.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 13:23

Colombia’s Peace Accord on the Missing (Spanish)

Las desapariciones forzadas son un legado de medio siglo de conflicto armado interno en Colombia.  Afectan a sectores pobres en el campo y en los centros urbanos, trabajadores, campesinos y campesinas, periodistas, defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, políticos de la oposición y lideres y lideresas afro-colombianos e indígenas.  Además, miembros de las fuerzas públicas y de la guerrilla han desaparecido en el contexto del conflicto armado colombiano.  Este informe analiza un acuerdo sobre los desaparecidos acordado en octubre 2015 entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP.  Si se cumple bien, el acuerdo ofrece la oportunidad de aliviar el sufrimiento y de ofrecer respuestas a los familiares de los desaparecidos y a toda la sociedad colombiana. English version also available.  

Resumen

  • Un nuevo acuerdo sobre los desaparecidos, firmado entre el gobierno colombiano y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) en octubre de 2015, compromete a las partes a una serie de medidas humanitarias. Estas medidas deben generar confianza y cambios institucionales para aliviar el sufrimiento de las familias de quienes desaparecieron en el contexto del conflicto armado interno en Colombia.
Virginia M. Bouvier and Lisa Haugaard
Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:19
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The Islamic State In Pakistan

The Islamic State, or Daesh, has moved its influence beyond Iraq and Syria, formally establishing its Khorasan branch in Central Asia in January 2015. This brief explores Daesh in Pakistan, how its ideology can influence both existing and potential militants, and what a comprehensive response from the Pakistani government would involve.

Summary

  • The Islamic State, or Daesh, formally established its Khorasan branch for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and nearby areas in January 2015.
  • There is currently no evidence of Daesh’s central leadership directing terrorist activities in Pakistan, but its ideology has inspired individuals and groups to recruit, raise funds, and carry out attacks to demonstrate their support.
Tariq Parvez
Wed, 09/21/2016 - 11:45
Countries: 

Building Regional Border Security Cooperation: Lessons from the Maghreb

The Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia face threats to their borders from transnational illicit networks, such as terrorist groups and criminal organizations. To address these threats, USIP convened operational border officials from the three countries through a series of workshops in spring 2016. This brief highlights the key lessons that emerged from this work: addressing border security requires understanding the underlying drivers of insecurity; border security requires states to maintain legitimacy and support from the broader population; and ground the strategy to address insecurity through operational realities.

James Cohen, Joyce Kasee Mills, Leanne McKay

Summary

  • The three Maghreb countries—Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia—share a threat from terrorist and transnational organized criminal networks, such as Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, the so-called Islamic State (also known as Daesh, ISIS, and ISIL), and arms, drugs, and human smugglers, that are active throughout the region and beyond and have exploited the vulnerabilities of national borders.
Mon, 09/19/2016 - 16:46

China’s Troop Contributions to U.N. Peacekeeping

China, traditionally reluctant to intervene, has become a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. However, given its available assets, the country has the capacity to increase its commitments and play a key role in improving peacekeeping operations. This brief examines China’s rise as a global security provider and what can be done to drive its further engagement in the peacekeeping landscape.

Summary

  • On average, China contributes more troops to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. The country dispatches high-value, hard-to-source enabler troops and has recently begun to provide combat troops, marking a significant change in its deployment profile.
  • Like other countries, China’s decisions to deploy troops are motivated by its desire to protect national interests, gain operational experience, and secure a positive reputation and high status.
Courtney J. Fung
Tue, 07/26/2016 - 11:28
Countries: 

Colombia’s Peace Accord on the Missing

Forced disappearances are a legacy of Colombia’s half-century of internal armed conflict. They have affected the rural and urban poor, labor and peasant organizers, journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders. Likewise, in the context of Colombia’s war, members of the military and guerrillas have also gone missing. This brief examines an agreement on the missing reached in October 2015 between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces. If well implemented, the agreement offers the chance to alleviate suffering and provide answers to families of the missing and to Colombian society at large. Spanish version also available. 

Summary

  • A new accord on the missing made between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC-EP) in October 2015 commits the parties to a series of confidence-building humanitarian measures and institutional changes to alleviate the suffering of the families of those who disappeared in the context of Colombia’s internal armed conflict.
  • Interactions between family members of the missing, civil society, and the state helped shape the accord and have opened opportunities for collaboration in its implementation.
Virginia M. Bouvier and Lisa Haugaard
Mon, 07/25/2016 - 12:35
Countries: 

Nationalistic Narratives in Pakistani Textbooks

History textbooks capture a state’s official narratives regarding particular events, territory, groups, or phenomena. These narratives reflect and constitute a state’s national identity and can generate the potential for conflict because of their divisiveness. This brief summarizes initial baseline research on Pakistani textbooks, revealing the importance of bureaucratic politics, and highlights several implications for education reform and national and international stability.

Summary

  • History textbooks encapsulate a state’s official narrative for its citizens, and depending on their content, can create and sustain chauvinistic attitudes toward out-groups.
  • Though complex and multifaceted, all official narratives seek to answer three questions: Who are we? Where do we belong? How far back in time do we go?
  • In Pakistan, nationalistic narratives took hold during General Zia-ul-Haq’s decade in power in the 1980s, aided by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party.
Ahsan Butt
Thu, 07/07/2016 - 16:28
Countries: 
February 2017
A society defined by patriarchal norms and structural inequalities keeps women and girls on the margins of the society and hinders women’s participation in public and political spheres. Yet women’s participation in decisions related to peace and security in the country is essential to peacebuilding...
February 2017
China’s policy on the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan has a significant impact on regional stabilization and crisis management efforts in South Asia. Beijing also plays an important third-party role in helping deescalate hostilities between the two countries. This brief discusses the...
November 2016
What causes established nonviolent groups to turn into violent organizations, and what leads organized violent groups to shun violence, even temporarily, and work within established political systems? This Peace Brief, which relies on in-depth interviews and primary source documents, explores the...
September 2016
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) can undermine long-term state stability and security even after states have transitioned out of violent conflict. This brief highlights four areas around SGBV that require urgent attention: the conflict cycle, moving beyond armed actors, protectors as...
September 2016
Las desapariciones forzadas son un legado de medio siglo de conflicto armado interno en Colombia.  Afectan a sectores pobres en el campo y en los centros urbanos, trabajadores, campesinos y campesinas, periodistas, defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, políticos de la oposición y lideres...
September 2016
The Islamic State, or Daesh, has moved its influence beyond Iraq and Syria, formally establishing its Khorasan branch in Central Asia in January 2015. This brief explores Daesh in Pakistan, how its ideology can influence both existing and potential militants, and what a comprehensive response from...
September 2016
The Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia face threats to their borders from transnational illicit networks, such as terrorist groups and criminal organizations. To address these threats, USIP convened operational border officials from the three countries through a series of workshops...
July 2016
China, traditionally reluctant to intervene, has become a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. However, given its available assets, the country has the capacity to increase its commitments and play a key role in improving peacekeeping operations. This brief examines China’s rise as a...
July 2016
Forced disappearances are a legacy of Colombia’s half-century of internal armed conflict. They have affected the rural and urban poor, labor and peasant organizers, journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders. Likewise, in the context of Colombia’s...
July 2016
History textbooks capture a state’s official narratives regarding particular events, territory, groups, or phenomena. These narratives reflect and constitute a state’s national identity and can generate the potential for conflict because of their divisiveness. This brief summarizes initial baseline...