The Olive Branch

Welcome to USIP's Olive Branch blog, a place for timely analysis, views from the field and an exchange of ideas about how to build peace and end or prevent conflict. Through its work in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and beyond, the Institute blends its expert analysis with its field work, a dynamic in which each must always inform the other on parallel tracks. We hope that this blog will reflect that spirit of combining thought with action. And we invite you to browse our posts and then send us your own ideas, comments or reflections.

Each blog post and comment posted on the Olive Branch represents the views of the author and not necessarily that of USIP, a non-partisan, congressionally-funded organization that does not advocate for policy positions.

April 21, 2014
Iraqis demonstrate a remarkable degree of support for democracy, considering the renewed violence of the past year and the effects of sectarianism and corruption on their lives, according to a poll conducted as the country prepares for its first parliamentary elections since the U.S. withdrew its forces in December 2011.
Countries
Comments: 0
April 10, 2014
The good news about the protests that erupted in Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this year was that they had nothing to do with ethnicity, despite lingering divides almost two decades after a war that killed some 100,000 people. But the demonstrations may do little good without political influence to spur change.
Countries
Comments: 0
April 8, 2014
Nothing prepared me for the coffee-black water coming out of the taps.  It happened just as a large and delicious breakfast was set out for us in a compound dining room and we were starting to wash our hands in sinks at the side. Sudden, dark, and a bit shocking, the water seemed like a betrayal of all the honest hospitality of our generous hosts. We quickly shifted to washing with bottled water and proceeded without further disruption.  Still, the image of that dirty water where clean water had flowed before seemed like a sign that something larger was badly broken.
Issue Areas
Countries
Comments: 0
April 3, 2014
Young people make up more than half – 68 percent – of Afghanistan’s population. That capacity to influence the upcoming presidential and provincial elections on April 5, paired with unprecedented enthusiasm during the campaign, is the ideal combination to propel a positive change.
Countries
Comments: 0
April 1, 2014
Peace is more than just silencing guns. That was the upshot when Colombian human rights defenders gathered at USIP recently to discuss the ongoing peace process between the FARC guerrillas and Colombia’s government and how the talks can advance justice in the aftermath of a deal. Days later, in a development unrelated to the gathering, the Colombian government took a step in that direction.
Countries
Comments: 0
April 1, 2014
When we discuss elections in well-established democracies, the question is generally about who will win. For Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential and provincial balloting set for April 4, the question most people seem to be asking is: will the country survive this vote? In this continuation of a two-part series yesterday and today, USIP Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs Scott Smith reflects on the long road toward this monumental transition and the scenarios that could emerge from the impending vote.
Countries
Comments: 0
March 31, 2014
When we discuss elections in well-established democracies, the question is generally about who will win. For Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential and provincial balloting set for April 5, the question most people seem to be asking is: will the country survive this vote? In a two-part series today and tomorrow, USIP Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs Scott Smith reflects on the long road toward this monumental transition and the scenarios that could emerge from the impending vote.
Countries
Comments: 0
March 28, 2014
Iraqi Chief Justice Madhat Al-Mahmood said the country’s judicial system has developed significantly in the past decade, despite the resurgence of violence in the past year. But the courts still need more personnel and training and a greater public awareness of human rights and the rule of law, he said.
Countries
Comments: 0
March 27, 2014
Tahseen Alzrikiny, a journalist in the city of Diwaniyah, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, wanted to tell the story of the farmers in the area who were struggling with structural and environmental barriers in cultivating their rice crops. He found the technology to make it possible at a USIP PeaceTech Camp. 
Countries
Comments: 0
March 26, 2014
Female Afghan rappers, a series of theater performances and a forum where more than 200 women challenged presidential candidates on their platforms have helped engage Afghanistan’s citizens in their country’s crucial electoral season this year as part of USIP’s Peaceful Elections Campaign.
Countries
Comments: 0