Issue Areas

Our mission is to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflicts around the world by engaging directly in conflict zones and providing analysis, education and resources to those working for peace. Explore our analysis, tools and programs by topic.

Strategies to avert violent conflict can only succeed if they are grounded in clear analysis of its roots and causes. What attracts youth to violent extremism? How does corruption inflame inter-communal tensions? Such questions, and action that flows from the answers, lie at the heart of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s mission. Through research and interventions, USIP seeks, for instance, to prevent electoral violence and build early warning systems to avert genocide and mass atrocities. Partnerships with outside experts are key to such efforts as the 2006 Iraq Study Group and the current Study Group on Fragility.

A handful of extremist movements—including ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and Al-Shabab—fuel the world’s most violent wars, concentrated in collapsed or fragile states in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. These conflicts, and associated terrorism, often stem from social and political grievances that are best addressed through peacebuilding approaches such as strengthening dialogue and mediation skills and supporting the rule of law. USIP conducts research, convenes experts, produces policy briefs, and conducts programs on the ground in conflict zones with the aim of reducing violent extremism. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on the State of the Field.

Poverty, joblessness and economic stress are widely accepted to be fuel for violent conflict. Yet the peacebuilding effects of economic intervention on stability and violence are largely unknown. With the world and U.S. policymakers facing a growing number of conflict and humanitarian crises, determining what works and why in economic programs is a matter of increasing urgency. The U.S. Institute of Peace hosts research projects that seek to answer critical questions about the relationship of development, stabilization and violent conflict, and hosts a regular working group on economics and peace. Learn more in USIP’s Insights Newsletter on the issue.

Education is a critical way to help prevent violent conflict from becoming deadly. Through the Global Peacebuilding Center (GPC), the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding and other venues, USIP provides a variety of educational resources to people around the world.

Scholars, peacebuilders, and governments increasingly recognize that analyzing violent conflicts through the perspective of gender is critical to peaceful solutions. In addressing gender from Africa to Northern Ireland, the U.S. Institute of Peace focuses on four principal themes: women preventing extremist violence; stopping sexual violence in conflicts; the role of gender in violent conflict; and encouraging non-violent notions of masculinity in transitional societies. The Institute advances these goals through symposia, support for grassroots groups, and facilitated dialogue. Its publications and training materials inform policymakers and help strengthen the influence of women leaders in conflict settings. Learn more in USIP’s State of the Field fact sheet.

Seizing the airwaves, broadcasting divisive messages, blocking Internet access and intimidating journalists are just some of the well-known tactics used to ensure control over information and promote violence. Less well developed is the capacity of the media for building peace. Learn about USIP’s efforts to better harness the power of media for peacebuilding.

Mediation and facilitation are two broad categories of tools used in conflict management, resolution and prevention. For example, a neutral third party can mediate between warring factions and help facilitate meaningful and productive conversations to manage, resolve or prevent conflict from becoming violent.

Countries that are emerging out of conflict face multiple challenges – ranging from transitional justice issues, building civil society, writing new constitutions, creating new rule of law systems and security forces as well as rebuilding the domestic economy.

Religion is an important component in many conflict zones and a powerful tool for preventing violence. USIP has been a pioneer in religion and peacemaking, seeking new ways to combat violent extremism across all beliefs.

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

The unprecedented pace of scientific and technical innovation has provided conflict managers with a range of new tools and opportunities, from the social networks that coordinated activists during the Arab Spring to the crowd-sourcing technologies that helped prevent election violence in Kenya. USIP focuses on harnessing these technologies to prevent conflict.

USIP helps to build professional, sustainable, and locally supported security institutions that promote democracy and the rule of law by assisting U.S. and foreign governments in reforming security sector institutions and developing a cadre of experts through education and training.

Capacity building, as well as sharing lessons learned and expertise help improve our nation’s ability to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts – and thereby reduce the risks for violent conflict around the world. Training exercises include negotiation, mediation, facilitation and communication, among other peacebuilding skills

Today’s generation of youth worldwide is the largest in history and forms the majority in many countries affected by armed conflict. As the demographic most easily enticed by militant groups but also a powerful force for constructive action, young people are key to a peaceful future. Through research, grants, and other support, the U.S. Institute of Peace conducts programs that, for example, address divides between and within Arab and Israeli societies, support peace education for university students in Afghanistan, and provide leadership and conflict management training for young leaders in the Middle East and Africa.