Articles and Publications

USIP Articles, Publications and Tools provide the latest analysis of international developments and policy recommendations on world affairs issues, particularly the prevention and resolution of conflict.

Latest Articles & Analysis

April 2015
By
USIP Staff
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who led his country’s return to civilian democratic government after decades of military rule, said Africa’s traditions of consultation with elders and forms of peer review can promote public accountability and provide a way for controversial leaders who are fearful of giving up power to step down in favor of a future of statesmanship.
April 2015
By
USIP Staff
America’s foreign interests, including its security, increasingly are challenged by the world’s “fragile” states—those in which “governments are weak, ineffective or disconnected from their people,” according to Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Across the world, it is in such fragile states that poverty and violent conflict are becoming concentrated, Lindborg said in speeches this month in Texas.
April 2015
By
Garrett Nada
A former Iranian lawmaker and a former member of Congress agreed that the question of whether American politics will give President Barack Obama the leeway he needs to reach a nuclear deal with Iran remains one of the central issues as negotiations resume this week. The Middle Eastern nation and the world’s six major powers face a June 30 deadline for converting a blueprint into a final agreement.
April 2015
By
Viola Gienger
Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian divisions, fueled by regional competition among Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, also suggest a way toward a resolution, according to Yonadam Kanna, a member of Iraq’s parliament. It will take internal and international pressure for reconciliation and urgent assistance for rebuilding areas destroyed by the fighting, he said in a recent roundtable at USIP.
April 2015
By
Manal Omar, Sarhang Hamasaeed
The plan for Iraq's future needs to go deeper than defeating the Islamic State.
April 2015
By
William B. Taylor
Last year’s unexpected Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and its hybrid war in eastern Ukraine raise profound questions about the future of European security and the U.S. role in maintaining peace, says USIP Acting Executive Vice President Bill Taylor.
April 2015
By
Emily Fornof and Steven Ruder
Last week’s historic Nigerian election result—a first-ever, prospective peaceful transfer of power between civilian political opponents—could strengthen democratization efforts across Africa, according to analysts convened by the U.S. Institute of Peace. And it opens new prospects for the continent’s demographic and economic giant to strengthen governance, clean up corruption, and reverse the spread of the Boko Haram insurgency. The U.S. administration should show support for President-elect Muhammadu Buhari by inviting him to Washington after he takes office, the analysts said.
April 2015
By
USIP Staff
Kenya’s government must adopt a broader strategy to counter extremist violence such as last week’s attack by the militant group al-Shabab at Garissa University, according to two experts at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The attack killed at least 147 people, mostly students.
April 2015
By
USIP Staff
Yesterday’s announced framework for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program will limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for an end to international economic sanctions against the country. Many experts, including USIP’s Daniel Brumberg, have offered analysis of the agreement’s details, including its chances of preventing Iran from reaching a nuclear-weapons capability. Less attention has focused on the meaning of the accord for Iran and its place in the world. USIP expert and author Robin Wright says the accord and its promise to ease Iran’s deep economic crisis will boost Iran’s centrist president, Hassan Rouhani. He has said he sees it as a first step to re-integrating Iran in international relations.
April 2015
By
USIP Staff
Iran has agreed with six major powers—the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany—to limit its nuclear activities for at least a decade in exchange for an end to international economic sanctions. This agreement on principles, announced yesterday, is incomplete. More talks will be needed to decide numerous technical details, including the pace at which sanctions will be lifted. As USIP’s Robin Wright explores the ramifications of the agreement for Iran’s place in the world, USIP Special Advisor on Iran Daniel Brumberg discusses the implications of the announced accord, including the opposition to it from Israel and from many in the U.S. Congress.

Latest Publications and Tools

April 2015
By
Priscilla Clapp
Many countries have attempted to transition from authoritarian governments to democracies, with many false starts. The political transition that began in Myanmar with the elections of 2010 was heavily planned by military leaders to gradually move toward democratization while retaining many of the authoritarian structures of the previous government during the transition. As Myanmar’s success has attracted great interest and support from the international community, this study analyzes the elements that brought the transition about and the issues that threaten to arrest and complicate it in the present, to draw lessons that might apply to other countries undergoing transitions to democracy.
April 2015
By
William A. Byrd
Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election did lead to its first peaceful transfer of power. The process, however, was scarcely democratic. This report explores the election and its internationally mediated unity government outcome. Elections—when they can even be held in fragile and conflict-affected situations—tend to be more destabilizing than stabilizing. The overall lesson, as this report makes clear, points to certain critical needs for such countries: a better understanding of inherent issues, modest expectations, a long-term view, and viable political institutions. 
April 2015
By
Madiha Afzal
Why do Pakistanis continue to hold a skewed assessment of the Taliban threat to their country? What underlies their attitudes toward the Taliban, the United States, India, and religious minorities? This report draws on author interviews and fieldwork undertaken in Punjab in 2013 and 2014 as well as on a detailed curriculum and textbook study to identify and trace the roots of these attitudes and suggest ways out of the dilemma for Pakistan’s policymakers.
April 2015
By
Joylon Leslie
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.
Type
March 2015
The Initiative to Measure Peace and Conflict Outcomes (IMPACT) was launched by the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2014 with the aim of developing simple, but rigorous, data-collection tools to monitor peacebuilding programs and assess progress toward meaningful objectives, such as reducing violent incidents, resolving disputes, or increasing trust in local government institutions. The goal of the initiative is twofold: to learn important lessons that can be used to improve future programming, and to increase the ability of the field to demonstrate concretely the effectiveness of peacebuilding approaches.
March 2015
By
Lauren Van Metre, Viola G. Gienger and Kathleen Kuehnast
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military operations in Eastern Ukraine have overturned the post–Cold War norms that had provided stability and development for the former Soviet countries bordering Russia. As neighboring countries assess their own security situation based on Russia’s aggressive practices in Ukraine and the West’s response, they are actively testing the new contours of Russian and Western engagement, regional alliances and relationships, and regional conflict dynamics.
March 2015
By
Robert M. Perito
New U.N. operations in the Sahel present unprecedented challenges for U.N. peacekeeping. They involve the United Nations directly in the struggle against transnational Islamist terrorism, weapons proliferation, and illicit trafficking by international organized crime. The United Nations must operate in countries with harsh terrain, vast expanses, poor communications, and porous borders. In response, the Security Council adopted more robust mandates based on the peace enforcement provisions of the U.N. Charter. In Mali, the United Nations joined the African Union, the European Union, and France, whose forces conduct combat operations, while the United Nations used helicopter gunships and armed police units to protect civilians. In the Central African Republic, U.N. Police are authorized to control violence and arrest offenders. For the United States, there is new interest in U.N. peacekeeping and its importance to U.S. national security interests.
March 2015
Insights highlights major questions on the research and practice of peace and conflict, to more than 10,000 subscribers from around the world.
March 2015
By
Anna Larson
Political parties in Afghanistan are often dismissed by international and Afghan observers as unruly and highly personalized organizations that contribute little to the democratic process. Yet they continue to play a part in shaping the political landscape, albeit in what might be considered unorthodox ways. This report assesses their history, role, and activities over the last decade and how their future might unfold under and contribute to the country’s new unity government.
March 2015
By
Hamid M. Khan
As Afghanistan's nascent democracy works to establish the rule of law across the country, it finds itself contending with the ways that Islamic law converges and diverges from the tribal norms that shape the settling of disputes outside Kabul. Based on surveys conducted in Afghanistan, this report examines the points of tension and agreement between Islamic and customary laws, looking into both of their pasts to suggest a way forward for the Afghan state, particularly in granting greater rights and protections to women.

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