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

March 2015
By
Hassan Abbas, Nadia Gerspacher
Arming vigilantes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to work alongside struggling police forces isn't a solution -- it's a time bomb.
March 2015
By
Linwood Ham
For two decades, ensuring the U.S. isn’t complicit in gross human rights abuses by foreign police and military forces has rested in significant part on the shoulders of a law devised by Senator Patrick Leahy that bars U.S. foreign aid to individuals or institutions that commit violations. This week, Leahy exhorted more than 130 representatives of government, non-profit groups, international organizations, academia and research institutions gathered at USIP to consider the next step: how U.S. assistance can be used more effectively for both accountability and prevention.
March 2015
By
James Rupert
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has declared himself “cautiously optimistic” that he can get Pakistan’s help to negotiate a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s 13-year-old Taliban insurgency. Tonight he explained why.
March 2015
As Washington hosts Afghanistan’s new leaders this week, policy specialists and government officials have urged the United States and its allies to agree on long-term financial and security support to stabilize Afghanistan. The reformist administration of President Ashraf Ghani and his coalition partner, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, creates a fresh opportunity for governments and international institutions to strengthen the Afghan state and curtail the country’s decades-long warfare, said U.S., European, and Afghan participants in a conference at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
March 2015
By
USIP Staff
Nigeria’s next government needs to have the political will to act decisively against the Boko Haram extremist group, said Pastor Esther Abimiku Ibanga ahead of the country’s March 28 presidential election. Ibanga, a civil society leader from northern Nigeria’s Plateau state, was recently awarded the prestigious Niwano Peace Prize, which honors significant contributions to inter-religious cooperation, for her efforts to promote women’s empowerment and peace.
March 2015
By
Leanne McKay
The prosecutor has the sort of confidence wrested from 15 years of experience against the odds in a country beset by external and internal security threats. When I ask him to describe his justice system in just three adjectives, he quickly declares: “good, needs improvement and practical.” Asked to describe it from a very different perspective, though, his face turns into a grimace.
March 2015
By
USIP Staff
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani likely will use his first visit to Washington since taking office to thank the American people for their sacrifice for the cause of peace in Afghanistan, and to appeal for steadfast backing to prevent a precipitous drawdown of U.S. civilian and military support that could plunge his country back into a bloody civil war. According to experts at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Ghani will emphasize that Afghanistan’s new leadership is committed to reforming government, reducing corruption and working with its neighbors to try to negotiate an end to Afghanistan’s three decades of war.
March 2015
By
Manal Omar
Rampant sexual assault has unmade allegiances in Syria's civil war -- and it may well get worse no matter which side wins.
March 2015
By
Viola Gienger
The helplessness pours out of a crying mother in India, so silenced by patriarchal traditions that she’s afraid to speak up about the risk that her son might be drawn to radicalism. Continents away in Nigeria, police officers are ashamed to admit the poor working conditions that weaken their ability and motivation to protect their communities. The seemingly disparate scenes are elements of the same puzzle – how to combat violent extremism. And in both countries, local women activists are putting the pieces together.
March 2015
By
Maria J. Stephan and Shaazka Beyerle
Endemic corruption is padding the ranks of militant fundamentalist groups. Here's how communities are fighting back.

Latest Publications and Tools

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.
March 2015
By
Nasir A. Andisha
President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 leaves that country once again wide open for an intensified regional race for strategic influence in the country. The majority of experts—both Afghan and international—agree that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan require internationally backed regional arrangements. A recent forum involving high-profile Afghan politicians, former diplomats, and civil society leaders underscores this consensus and the long-term vision of an “Afghan-led and Afghanistan-specific enduring neutrality.” This report focuses on the historical aspects of neutrality as a first step toward neutrality-based diplomatic solutions for both the immediate Afghan conflict and the country’s long-term positioning.
March 2015
By
Fiona Mangan with Erica Gaston
Since the 2011 Arab Spring crisis, Yemen has faced ongoing serious security sector challenges. Part of this reform effort is the country’s prison system, which this report—drawing on visits to thirty-seven facilities in six governorates—documents from a systems perspective. This report provides a more in-depth assessment of detention facilities and their role within larger rule of law challenges. Opportunities for prison reform are emerging, many well within reach.
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February 2015
By
Amy Calfas
The 2014 elections in Afghanistan saw great promise for advancing the status of women, with unprecedented voter turnout among women and powerful rhetoric from presidential candidates. As the new administration sets its agenda, this report offers guidelines for Afghan leaders to fulfill their campaign promises by strengthening women’s political participation, access to justice, and involvement in the security sector. 
February 2015
By
Maria J. Stephan, Sadaf Lakhani and Nadia Naviwala
Supporting local agents of nonviolent change is critical to preventing violent conflict and advancing democratic development. Civic campaigns are key drivers of social and political development, as is clear from issues-focused movements in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and most recently the Middle East and North Africa. Effectively aiding civic movements that are fluid, diverse, decentralized, and often loosely organized is tricky. Drawn from a review of the literature and numerous interviews with international policymakers and civil society leaders, this report explores both the ways donors engage civil society and creative new approaches to supporting nontraditional actors.
February 2015
By
Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall editors
In the midst of a political shift where power is moving from central institutions to smaller, more distributed units in the international system, the approaches to and methodologies for peacemaking are changing. "Managing Conflict in a World Adrift" provides a sobering panorama of contemporary conflict, along with innovative thinking about how to respond now that new forces and dynamics are at play.
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