Peaceworks

In-depth background and analysis on topics that represent the full range of USIP’s work. Reports explore specific conflicts, offer comparative analysis across conflicts, evaluate peacebuilding efforts, and present new approaches to conflict through a variety of lenses, such as economics, gender, media and technology, religion, rule of law, and security sector reform.

State Strengthening in Afghanistan

Since 2001, Afghanistan’s political and social landscape has changed dramatically. However, international state-strengthening interventions have arguably had mixed results. Unprecedented aid and assistance has helped the country transition to a nascent democracy, attain a greater level of security, rebuild some of its infrastructure, and open more space for civil society participation. 

But, the diverse approaches taken by multiple actors with varying objectives have sometimes had negative consequences. Moreover, due to competing internal and external motivations and the current trends of declining aid and increasing conflict, the progress achieved may not be sustainable or have a long-term impact. This report provides lessons learned in state strengthening from 2001–14, as well as recommendations for current and future interventions.

Scott Smith and Colin Cookman, editors
Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:41
Countries: 

Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces

In the past fourteen years, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have developed into a collection of professional institutions that are both committed to their mission and highly respected. However, they still face major challenges in key areas of capacity, such as logistics, air power, and intelligence. This report assesses the ANDSF’s structure and capabilities and the conditions needed for their long-term financial and operational sustainability.

Summary

  • From inception, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have experienced shifting political and security conditions that have impacted their size, structure, mission, and capacity.
  • The ANDSF have long been dependent on U.S. financial and operational assistance, as well as support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They are expected to remain dependent on foreign aid for many years.
Ali A. Jalali
Fri, 05/20/2016 - 13:09
Countries: 

Informality in Karachi’s Land, Manufacturing and Transport Sectors

Rapid population growth, ethnicization, and a policy shift toward deregulation and privatization have contributed to a rise in informality in almost all of Karachi’s economic sectors. These factors have also diminished the state’s capacity to regulate the economy and maintain a monopoly over violence. In examining Karachi’s sizable land, manufacturing, and transport sectors, it becomes clear that informality can directly or indirectly contribute to instability, but also that instability has an impact on informality and service delivery. Some formalization of the sectors could help create the conditions for improved economic growth and enduring stability. However, the process must be guided by an empowered local government and an inclusive master plan.

Asad Sayeed, Khurram Husain, Syed Salim Raza

Summary

  • Informality is widely prevalent in almost all of Karachi’s economic sectors and has both contributed to and been impacted by instability.
  • Since the 1970s, informal employment and service delivery have been rising, mainly due to rapid population growth, a policy shift toward deregulation and privatization, and the state’s diminishing capacity to regulate the economy.
Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:49
Countries: 
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Terrorism Prosecution in Pakistan

Pakistan’s criminal justice system related to terrorism prosecution is in urgent need of reform. Conviction rates in the country’s anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) continue to be extremely low. This report highlights the numerous problems contributing to the system’s failure, including absent defense councils and witnesses, limited use of forensic evidence, poor investigative capacity, and lack of coordination between the police and prosecution. Compounding these problems is the high number of cases going through the ATCs, notably due to the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act’s broad definition of terrorism. Any reforms or new laws aimed at reducing terrorism must account for these long-standing implementation issues.

Summary

  • Despite passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) in 1997 and, subsequently, the creation of fifty-four anti-terrorism courts (ATCs), conviction rates in Pakistan continue to be extremely low.
  • Numerous amendments to the law have increased the severity of penalties for terrorism crimes, but little attention has been paid to court administration and case management.
Syed Manzar Abbas Zaidi
Mon, 04/25/2016 - 15:47
Countries: 

Afghanistan Post-2014

Geospatial analysis and mapping have a critical role to play in reconstruction efforts in conflict-affected regions. This report explains the core problem in typical data collection techniques: bias. Data is collected only where collection is safe and thus is not representative. To be more effective, development programs need more in-depth analysis of their reconstruction efforts, even in the most insecure spaces.

Summary

  • Current methods of monitoring and evaluation in conflict-affected environments such as Afghanistan have typically focused on achievements in more secure and accessible areas where international investment is higher and the population has historically been more attuned to the interests of the state.
  • The institutional interests of donors and an overreliance on quantitative data collection techniques, such as polling, has led to this bias in assessing the impact of programs.
David Mansfield
Thu, 11/12/2015 - 10:48
Countries: 

Reconciliation in Practice

Reconciliation projects face two critical challenges: the situation on the ground in postconflict settings and the gap between reconciliation theory and practice. If the society is to transition successfully to a new path forward, the critical knowledge gap must first be closed. The first step is assessing work recently completed or now in progress. How do organizations even define reconciliation? What activities are being undertaken to that end? What theories underpin intervention strategies? How do organizations measure success? This report answers these questions and points the way forward. 

Kelly McKone

Summary

  • Reconciliation projects can be loosely organized into ten overlapping intervention strategies. Related activities are associated with particular groups of participants, intended beneficiaries, objectives, and underlying theories of change. In general, practices draw heavily on contact theory.
  • Operationalizing the definition of the word reconciliation and commonly associated terms, such as trust, social cohesion, and social harmony, would be a tremendous gain in monitoring and evaluating reconciliation projects.
Thu, 08/06/2015 - 11:31
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The Politics of Disarmament and Rearmament in Afghanistan

Four international programs designed to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militias in Afghanistan since 2001 have largely failed. They have instead largely reinforced existing power relations. Perhaps their gravest impact has been to deepen patterns of political exclusion that underlie much of the violence that have driven support for the insurgency. Demilitarization, this report makes clear, is only part of a wider political process, both with Taliban leaders and between pro-government factions. Until prospects for such a process exist, no demilitarization effort is likely to contribute to peace in Afghanistan.

Summary

  • Four internationally funded disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs initiated after 2003—two targeting government-aligned militias and two targeting insurgents—have failed to make Afghanistan more secure. Instead, society has become more militarized.
  • Many shortcomings stem from the fact that the programs were shaped by the post-Bonn political context.
Deedee Derksen
Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:02
Countries: 

Perceptions of Security in Libya

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gadhafi and his regime, Libya is again on the brink of civil war. Various circumstances underlie this predicament—mistrust between regions, political power struggles, and sporadic and uncoordinated security and justice sector reforms. So that better understanding of the security needs of Libyan citizens today is possible, this report assesses the popular legitimacy of security providers in the country today and identifies their local, religious, and legal legitimacies.

Summary

  • Libya’s security sector landscape is characterized by a myriad of security actors of differing political orientations and areas of geographic control and by the relatively minor role of prerevolutionary security institutions, such as the National Police and National Army.
  • The two key sector dimensions are the nature of the actors’ de jure command and control lines and religious-political orientations.
Naji Abou Khalil and Laurence Hargreaves
Thu, 04/30/2015 - 13:43
Countries: 

Political and Economic Dynamics of Herat

The city of Herat sits in Afghanistan’s most western province, on the border with Iran, and is significant on several counts. A major trading hub and the largest city in the region, it is in some respects an exemplar for the entire country. One the one hand it is a prevailing spirit of enterprise, on the other persistent insecurity and ad hoc urban development. How the new national unity government in Kabul unfolds will have significant implications for how Herat is able to meet the challenges for its social development and economic growth.

Joylon Leslie

Summary

  • Herat’s impressive economic growth over the past decade, as elsewhere in Afghanistan, has slowed in the wake of the postelection political impasse and continued insecurity. The province is a key trading hub, and its recovery is inextricably linked to that of the national economy, which remains fragile.
Thu, 04/02/2015 - 13:10
Countries: 
Partners (HTML): 

Prisons in Yemen

Since the 2011 Arab Spring crisis, Yemen has faced ongoing serious security sector challenges. Part of this reform effort is the country’s prison system, which this report—drawing on visits to thirty-seven facilities in six governorates—documents from a systems perspective. This report provides a more in-depth assessment of detention facilities and their role within larger rule of law challenges. Opportunities for prison reform are emerging, many well within reach.

Fiona Mangan with Erica Gaston

Summary

  • Since the 2011 crisis sparked by the Arab Spring, Yemen has been in a critical political transition. Improving government institutions and rule of law are key goals. Reforming the prison system must be at the core of any strategy for improving rule of law institutions.
Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:49
Countries: 
May 2016
Since 2001, Afghanistan’s political and social landscape has changed dramatically. However, international state-strengthening interventions have arguably had mixed results. Unprecedented aid and assistance has helped the country transition to a nascent democracy, attain a greater level of security...
May 2016
In the past fourteen years, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have developed into a collection of professional institutions that are both committed to their mission and highly respected. However, they still face major challenges in key areas of capacity, such as logistics, air...
May 2016
Rapid population growth, ethnicization, and a policy shift toward deregulation and privatization have contributed to a rise in informality in almost all of Karachi’s economic sectors. These factors have also diminished the state’s capacity to regulate the economy and maintain a monopoly over...
April 2016
Pakistan’s criminal justice system related to terrorism prosecution is in urgent need of reform. Conviction rates in the country’s anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) continue to be extremely low. This report highlights the numerous problems contributing to the system’s failure, including absent defense...
November 2015
Geospatial analysis and mapping have a critical role to play in reconstruction efforts in conflict-affected regions. This report explains the core problem in typical data collection techniques: bias. Data is collected only where collection is safe and thus is not representative. To be more...
August 2015
Reconciliation projects face two critical challenges: the situation on the ground in postconflict settings and the gap between reconciliation theory and practice. If the society is to transition successfully to a new path forward, the critical knowledge gap must first be closed. The first step is...
May 2015
Four international programs designed to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militias in Afghanistan since 2001 have largely failed. They have instead largely reinforced existing power relations. Perhaps their gravest impact has been to deepen patterns of political exclusion that underlie much of...
April 2015
Three years after the fall of Muammar Gadhafi and his regime, Libya is again on the brink of civil war. Various circumstances underlie this predicament—mistrust between regions, political power struggles, and sporadic and uncoordinated security and justice sector reforms. So that better...
April 2015
The city of Herat sits in Afghanistan’s most western province, on the border with Iran, and is significant on several counts. A major trading hub and the largest city in the region, it is in some respects an exemplar for the entire country. One the one hand it is a prevailing spirit of enterprise,...
March 2015
Since the 2011 Arab Spring crisis, Yemen has faced ongoing serious security sector challenges. Part of this reform effort is the country’s prison system, which this report—drawing on visits to thirty-seven facilities in six governorates—documents from a systems perspective. This report provides a...