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

January 2015
Talks between Iran and six major powers—the U.S., the U.K., China, France, Germany and Russia—seek a framework agreement by March 24 with technical details by June. But leaders on all sides face intense—and sometimes harrowing—domestic pressure from opponents who fear a final agreement will give away too much. Robin Wright, an author and distinguished fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, explores the dynamics of the diplomacy.
January 2015
By
James Rupert
Even having lost 50,000 people killed in terrorism-related violence over more than a decade, Pakistan was stunned by the Taliban massacre of 145 schoolchildren and others at an Army school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. With some commentators calling the event “Pakistan’s September 11,” the U.S. Institute of Peace convened experts to assess whether the country may actually have reached a decision point that could yield a more consistent and effective state campaign against terrorism.
January 2015
By
Sheldon Himelfarb and Anand Varghese
To make their mark, the architects of peacebuilding's bleeding edge need to leave the government payroll and start their own industry.
January 2015
By
Viola Gienger
The devastation wrought by the past year’s renewed conflict in Iraq -- and equally by the long slog to dislodge the Islamic State -- can be captured in the frame of a teenage boy. The new fighting atop a decade of war after the 2003 U.S. invasion brings not only further physical damage, but a dangerous breakdown of the social fabric.
January 2015
By
Erica Gaston
Yemen’s path since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising has long seemed shaky, but this week’s events have created the most serious crisis facing the country in decades. With the government’s resignation, many observers fear the complete fragmentation and breakup of the state. Erica Gaston, a former senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, explains the ramifications.
January 2015
By
Priscilla Clapp
Cascades of violent conflict in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Ukraine and elsewhere convulsed 2014, raising anxiety about how the world will fare this year. In this series, experts from the U.S. Institute of Peace explore some of the biggest tests coming up for 2015 in the struggle to prevent or resolve violent conflict. Topics will include Myanmar/Burma’s planned parliamentary elections, Iran’s nuclear program, Nigeria’s impending national elections, Afghanistan’s new government, Pakistan’s struggle with militancy and more.
January 2015
By
Colin Cookman
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 forced the Taliban to react to new facts on the ground.
January 2015
By
Sehar Tariq
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 2015
By
Palwasha Kakar and Melissa Nozell
Wazhma needed a lawyer. She could no longer stand the beatings her husband was inflicting in a marriage that she had not wanted in the first place.  As a third-year medical student, she knew she had rights and she wanted a divorce.  Hers was one of 11 cases that the Women Defense Lawyers’ Advisory Council took to court in Afghanistan over the course of a year.
January 2015
By
Manal Omar
To win hearts and minds in the Middle East, America needs to let local allies do the talking.

Latest Publications and Tools

January 2015
By
John Paden
Nigeria—its vast population evenly split between Muslim and Christian—is counting down to another presidential election, scheduled for February 2015. This report raises a number of questions about the relationship of religious identity and internal conflict and the consequences of a polarized election. Do religious symbols exacerbate or mitigate conflict, especially during an electoral season? What are the interfaith efforts to ameliorate or mitigate ethno-religious conflict? What are the consequences of a polarized election?
January 2015
By
Jason Gluck and Michele Brandt
In the wake of the Arab Spring, citizens across the Middle East and North Africa are demanding reforms from their governments. How these governments respond to their people and promote inclusive constitution-making processes may determine whether their new social compacts lead to a durable peace. This report draws from the work of scholars and constitution makers who have been exchanging ideas about how to ensure that modern constitutions incorporate the needs and aspirations of the citizens they are intended to govern. As the countries of the Arab Spring transition from authoritarian regimes and overcome ethnic and sectarian divisions, they can learn lessons from comparative constitution-making experiences—including most recently that of Tunisia—about how to achieve more consensus based social compacts and lasting peace.
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January 2015
By
Huma Yusuf and Syed Shoaib Hasan
Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh has a reputation for stability, diversity, and tolerance. It is also at a tipping point—increasingly threatened by violent extremism, crime, political corruption, tribal feuds, and nationalist and separatist movements. If the province is not to become yet another base for militants, as areas to the north already are, the government needs to act promptly and decisively. Addressing the security situation in Sindh is also integral to stabilizing Karachi, which should be a top priority, given the economic ramifications of growing turbulence in the country’s financial capital. 
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January 2015
Announcing the 2015 book and report titles from the U.S. Institute of Peace Press.  This catalog is available as a downloadable PDF.
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January 2015
By
Javed Noorani
Rich in natural resources—ferrous and nonferrous metals and strategic minerals in particular—Afghanistan faces a dual threat as international troops withdraw and international aid declines. On the one hand are inadequate government revenues. On the other is the resource curse that affects so many low-income countries. This report, drawn from case studies of five ongoing Afghan mining operations, addresses resource exploitation, its impact on the political economy and internal conflict, and possible ways forward.
January 2015
This report discusses the Justice and Security Dialogue (JSD) processes and activities which took place in the governorates of Abyan and Marib from early 2013 through early 2014. It details the research, planning, and implementation of context-drive dialogues, including outcomes, conclusions, and lessons learned.
January 2015
By
Ali Jalali
Afghanistan’s presidential election was resolved by a U.S.-brokered deal that led, ultimately, to a power-sharing arrangement within the new national unity government. This has set up tensions within the government—even as Afghanistan’s leaders face an uncertain political, economic, and security situation across the country, as international financial and military support draws down. The formation of the new government, however, also presents opportunities for serious reforms of Afghanistan’s government, which could lead to greater peace and security if seized effectively.
January 2015
By
Sean Kane
Drawing on the comparative experiences of governments negotiating with insurgencies in the Philippines, Myanmar, and Colombia, as well as a detailed examination of the Taliban’s possible constitutional demands, this report examines the 2004 Afghan constitution with respect to its potential inclusion in peace talks between government and Taliban leaders. It argues that, if the issue is handled carefully and with strategic intent, the Afghan government may be able to seize the political high ground by challenging the Taliban to justify some of its more unpopular constitutional positions to other Afghans.
January 2015
By
Kelly McKone, Maria J. Stephan, and Noel Dickover
In an era of crackdowns on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, what role can technology play in strengthening nonviolent civic mobilization? How can activists strategically apply the full range of technologies to build and sustain movements where the options for nonviolently resolving conflicts are diminishing under increased repression? Informed by discussions from a USIP workshop, this report explores avenues for engagement between activists and external actors to use technology in support of movement building. 
January 2015
By
Antonio Giustozzi and Silab Mangal
This report sheds light on the controversial 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan through the murky lens of the Taliban. How did they view it? Was the violence as high as in previous elections? What were their strategies in the lead-up? How did it affect their image, if at all? What strategies are they adopting in its wake? Are they moving closer to Afghan mainstream politics, which for the most part is still made of strongmen, manipulation, and corrupt patronage networks rather than based on liberal and democratic principles? Or is the mainstream moving closer to the Taliban, as far as the use of violence in the elections is concerned?
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