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

May 2015
By
USIP Staff
Following Ireland’s constitutional referendum to legalize same-sex marriage, the newly appointed senior U.S. diplomat on human rights for gender minorities said he is “incredibly optimistic” about the prospects for the global campaign to guarantee such protections. Still, U.S. Special Envoy Randy Berry and an international group of activists said May 26 that gender-rights movements in many countries face tougher political landscapes than in Ireland and must rely heavily on more legalistic approaches to winning constitutional protections for their minorities.
May 2015
By
Priscilla Clapp
It is a mistake to view the desperate boat migration currently unfolding in Southeast Asia’s Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal as simply a manifestation of the sad plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, and thereby to conclude that the solution lies only in Myanmar. In fact, it is a much wider regional and even global problem that will require a complex set of separate but related actions to bring about a humanitarian solution.
May 2015
By
USIP Staff
With only Tunisia evolving peacefully toward democracy from the Arab Spring movement of 2011, a broader democratization in the Arab world depends on continued U.S. engagement in the Middle East, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi told a May 20 public forum at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
May 2015
By
Theo Dolan
To reach people in a conflict, sometimes low-tech is the best tech.
May 2015
By
Viola Gienger
The attempted coup in the tiny African country of Burundi, after weeks of unrest that has killed more than 20 people, provided immediate examples of quandaries for peacebuilding during a discussion at USIP this week: how U.S. diplomacy can emphasize prevention to counter threats, and how best to support young people to deter dangerous forms of extremism.
May 2015
By
Nancy Lindborg
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that wreaked havoc in Kathmandu has opened up an opportunity for the reform the country so desperately needs.
May 2015
By
Steven Ruder
Security naturally takes top priority for Libyan citizens these days amid renewed violent conflict, but nationwide political rifts also are causing local civic institutions to break down, said Libyan activists, journalists and analysts during a May 4 online discussion organized by USIP.
May 2015
By
Viola Gienger
President Masoud Barzani of Iraq's Kurdistan region stressed the need for reconciliation and dialogue in Iraq during a visit to Washington this week, saying the fight against the "Islamic State" militant group and the restoration of internal stability depends on a unified effort and "peaceful co-existence."
May 2015
By
USIP Staff
As the United Nations begins a third attempt in as many years to guide a peace process in Syria’s civil war, the new head of the country’s Western-backed opposition coalition says Syrians should work to avoid any “sudden collapse of the regime in Damascus.” While the government of President Bashar al-Assad appears to be weakening, “the only power that can force the regime to negotiate is Iran,” said the Syrian National Coalition’s president, Khaled Khoja.
May 2015
By
Viola Gienger
USIP joins the many other organizations, friends and family honoring the life of Ammar al-Shahbander, the Iraq chief of mission for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), who died May 2 in Baghdad as a result of a car bomb attack. A number of USIP staff worked with Ammar to advance his country’s search for peace and security.

Latest Publications and Tools

May 2015
By
Erica Gaston and Lillian Dang
Disputes over land in Afghanistan have become one of the key drivers of conflict and criminal violence. Both formal and informal mechanisms for land dispute resolution are weak. The legal framework fails to recognize the reality of informal or customary ownership arrangements. The current land law, revised in 2008, is a fraught one—to establish ownership a person must already have formal documents proving ownership, and if ownership by an individual cannot be proved, title defaults to the state. However, formal documentation is scarce: no more than 20 percent of land is titled. This report discusses a new approach to addressing the problem and offers recommendations for reform.
May 2015
By
Deedee Derksen
Four international programs designed to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate militias in Afghanistan since 2001 have largely failed. They have instead largely reinforced existing power relations. Perhaps their gravest impact has been to deepen patterns of political exclusion that underlie much of the violence that have driven support for the insurgency. Demilitarization, this report makes clear, is only part of a wider political process, both with Taliban leaders and between pro-government factions. Until prospects for such a process exist, no demilitarization effort is likely to contribute to peace in Afghanistan.
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May 2015
By
Ronald E. Neumann
The U.S. relationship with Afghan president Hamid Karzai deteriorated from a warm start to suspicion and hostility over the course of Karzai’s term. Intertwining personal and political considerations, this report examines how aspects of the Afghan political culture that is part of Karzai’s life experience, combined with a counterproductive U.S. approach that unnecessarily aggravated the situation, led to a downward spiral of miscommunication and mistrust that continued to the end of Karzai’s presidency in September 2014.
May 2015
Tunisia’s democratic transition, often hailed as the only real success of the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011, remains at a critical intersection of conflict and peacebuilding. While Tunisia made significant political progress with parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014, the country confronts threats of violent extremism rooted both domestically and in the surrounding region. The government has focused its recent reform efforts on border security and on development policies to alleviate underlying causes of conflict in communities far outside Tunis. With a thriving civil society and newly elected Parliament, Tunisia serves in its region as an example of perseverance and patience, steadily progressing in its democratic transition.
May 2015
By
William A. Byrd
For several years, Afghanistan’s economy and public finances have worsened, culminating in a full-blown fiscal crisis in 2014. Political uncertainties, the weakening Afghan economy, corruption in tax collection, stagnant government revenues, and increasing expenditures have contributed to the current fiscal impasse.  In the absence of bold actions by the Afghan government along with proactive international support to turn around the fiscal situation, the fiscal crisis and its insidious effects will continue. 
May 2015
By
Raza Rumi
Traditionally ruled by military or quasi-military regimes, Pakistan is struggling to strengthen its democratic governance but the military remains in charge of country’s security policy. This period of incremental democratization corresponds to the unprecedented rise in terrorism and domestic insurgencies that have challenged state capacity and taken a toll on both the morale of the country and the economy. This report reviews Pakistan’s progress in devising and implementing counterterrorism policy frameworks in recent years. In highlighting key related strategic and operational issues, it offers Pakistani policymakers ways forward on how best to ensure internal stability and security, reminding us that a balance in civilian and military institutions is vital for effective policy outcomes.
April 2015
By
Naji Abou Khalil and Laurence Hargreaves
Three years after the fall of Muammar Gadhafi and his regime, Libya is again on the brink of civil war. Various circumstances underlie this predicament—mistrust between regions, political power struggles, and sporadic and uncoordinated security and justice sector reforms. So that better understanding of the security needs of Libyan citizens today is possible, this report assesses the popular legitimacy of security providers in the country today and identifies their local, religious, and legal legitimacies.
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April 2015
By
Naji Abou-Khalil and Laurence Hargreaves
During and after Libya’s revolution, national media outlets became known and popular for their balanced reporting. The situation in the few years since has changed, however. The security landscape in Libya today is a confusing array of institutional and non-institutional actors each asserting legitimacy. The country is on the brink of full-scale civil war. Its media has become both polarized and a key tool for many security actors. This report looks at three primary television channels to offer insights into the media’s role in shaping public perceptions and building political constituencies.
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. 

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