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.

September 17, 2014
The brutality of the extremist militants who call themselves “The Islamic State” is a strategy in itself and must be met by powerful counter-measures that address the core causes of the conflict, said Manal Omar, USIP’s associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa, at the recent launch of the U.S. Senate’s Human Rights Caucus.
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September 12, 2014
Promoting a "culture of peace," as called for in a 1999 United Nations General Assembly resolution, requires "dynamic and creative leadership," the inclusion of women and sufficient funding, USIP's Kathleen Kuehnast told an annual UN forum in New York this week.
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September 12, 2014
The plan for a “unity government” in Afghanistan that includes both of the top presidential candidates will test the integrity of the country’s constitution, according to a legal scholar who was chairman of the commission that conducted public consultations for the final 2004 constitution. USIP Program Officer Lillian Dang interviews Mohammad Hashim Kamali, an influential expert on Islam and legal issues and a United Nations advisor on constitutional reform.
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August 28, 2014
Life for women in Afghanistan can be tragic, and often heartbreaking, as the struggle for protection under the law continues across the nation's fractured physical and institutional landscape. The story of a young girl from Herat, a province in western Afghanistan, clearly illustrates the legal hurdles Afghan women still face, an issue USIP researchers have explored in the field since 2011.
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August 18, 2014
How can technology support activists using nonviolent conflict approaches in difficult places?  A two-day workshop at the United States of Peace (USIP) that gathered 70 civic activists, policymakers, technologists, NGO leaders, and education professionals sparked eight distinct, innovative projects that will aim to overcome limits to mobilizing citizens in repressive places.
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August 13, 2014
Will Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki defy efforts to replace him? Will it break apart into several separate states? Should its neighbors do more to challenge the militants rampaging across the border with Syria? And are we giving this group legitimacy by acceeding every time their leaders change the organization's name -- "Islamic State" or their earlier moniker, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"?
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August 5, 2014
The high-profile U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington this week is an opportunity not to be missed. Fifty leaders of African nations are convening in with President Barack Obama in a demonstration of America’s commitment to Africa’s own priorities for economic growth, security and democratic development. The U.S. can draw on Africa’s impressive progress and its enormous potential by jointly developing an all-embracing strategy to confront the continent’s central challenges: violence and institutional weakness.
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July 25, 2014
Afghans surprised international observers and even themselves in two rounds of presidential elections this year to select a successor to President Hamid Karzai. An audit of the runoff results is underway to determine the winner, but turnout was far higher than expected and incidents of violence far lower. USIP, which conducts extensive analysis and an array of programs to promote peace and stability, photographed and interviewed Afghans from nine locations to collect their reflections on these milestones of transition.
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July 22, 2014
In an era when Western citizens are averse to protracted and costly military interventions, and corrupt regimes around the world feed instability, there’s a pressing need to identify violence-prevention approaches that hold the greatest promise. During a professional life working with non-violent activists and movements, I’ve developed a keen appreciation for the power of purposeful mass mobilization and strategic non-violent action led by and for local communities to advance rights, justice and good governance.
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July 11, 2014
It is with broken hearts and the deepest of sorrows that we at USIP write this blog post. On June 25, the world lost a cherished peacebuilder and heroine to many, Salwa Bughaigis. She was killed at her home in Benghazi, shortly after voting in the parliamentary elections. Her husband, Essam Gheriani is presumed kidnapped by the same perpetrators. The U.S. Institute of Peace has been honored to know both of them, and our team has been personally moved by their sacrifices for freedom in Libya.
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