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.

January 14, 2015
In the aftermath of the horrific Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that left more than 140 people dead, most of them children, a national consensus against terrorism may be emerging in Pakistan. Also developing is a new style and approach for civil society activism.
January 14, 2015
During the year of “transition” in Afghanistan in 2014, attention was focused on whether or not the government would survive. The greatest threat was not Taliban violence but a possible breakdown of the elite consensus during the election and a return to civil war. The transition, however, has also...
January 9, 2015
A recent flare of attacks in northern Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram illustrates the potential for more widespread unrest, especially as the country nears elections next month, and the trend highlights the need for political leaders to take action to prevent further violence, USIP experts...
January 7, 2015
His career was rooted in college friendships with a Ghanaian and a Nigerian. It propelled him through posts in four foreign countries and a peace mediated in a local community in Africa that has held for more than 10 years. David Smock, USIP’s vice president for Governance, Law & Society and...
January 5, 2015
Assigning special envoys and special representatives helps in tackling major foreign policy issues, and the approach will almost certainly continue to be used as conflicts span borders and threats proliferate. That means identifying the correct envoy for any particular conflict is essential,...
December 31, 2014
From a campaign for peaceful elections in Afghanistan to a radio program engaging youth in South Sudan, USIP worked with civil society, political leaders and others in 2014 on a range of actions to prevent, mitigate or resolve violent conflict during a particularly chaotic year in global affairs....
December 31, 2014
A slew of news reports coming out of Afghanistan in the past week have picked up two dominant themes: Afghans are frustrated that the new government has still not selected a cabinet, and they now attribute the ongoing economic and security crisis to the fact that no ministers have been appointed to...
December 30, 2014
Religion is cited as the basis for too many conflicts that actually center more on competition over economic advancement and political power, according to David Smock, director of USIP’s Religion and Peacebuilding Center. In a discussion at the Rumi Forum, Smock and USIP colleagues Palwasha Kakar...
December 23, 2014
Ukraine and the countries of Central Asia wouldn’t seem to have much in common other than their former Soviet past. But post-Soviet Russian ambitions may be linking them in unexpected ways. The outcome of Ukraine’s current effort to consolidate its democracy, against Russia’s resistance, has...
December 22, 2014
Inbar Shaked Vardi and Mouran Ibrahim are 14 years old but speak in a way that many adults in the maelstrom of the Middle East can’t muster – of Arab-Jewish “shared living,” a step even beyond mere co-existence. When their school, the flagship Max Rayne campus of the Hand in Hand Jewish-Arab...