USIP's Creation

1976

Senators Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Vance Hartke of Indiana introduce a bill to create a George Washington Peace Academy to advance the “state of peace among nations and cooperation between people.” Congress agrees that a peace academy warrants exploration.

1979

President Jimmy Carter appoints a commission to conduct further research on establishing a United States Academy of Peace. Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii chairs the commission, which holds public hearings nationwide.

1981

The commission formally recommends the creation of a national peace academy. Senators Mark Hatfield, Spark Matsunaga, and Jennings Randolph (West Virginia), along with Congressman Dan Glickman (Kansas), sponsor bills based on the recommendation. Other members of Congress playing key roles in these early years include Senator Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Representative Pat Williams of Montana, and Representative Dante Fascell of Florida.

1984

Congress includes the United States Institute of Peace Act in the Defense Authorization Act. The provision directs the new institute to conduct education, training, research, and information services “to serve the people and the government … to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts … without recourse to violence.” President Ronald Reagan signs it into law.

The Early Years: Focus on Research, Education

1986

A staff of three opens the Institute’s first office in a townhouse facing Lafayette Park, less than a block from the White House. Robert F. Turner, a career scholar on national security and law, leads the Institute as its first president. USIP’s initial programs focus on grants, fellowships, research and education.

1987

The Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace establishes USIP’s first fellowships, which have been critical in seeding America’s professional peace studies field and filling research gaps to improve the nation’s capacity to resolve conflict without violence. The Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship Program provides scholars, practitioners and mid-career specialists with opportunities to research, write and advise the Institute on topics related to international peace. USIP goes on to host hundreds of senior fellows and to create affiliated fellowships.            

1987

Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis becomes USIP’s second president. Lewis, who for decades served as a leading U.S. diplomat in Middle East peace efforts, leads the development of USIP’s first substantive programs.

1987

USIP holds its first National Peace Essay Contest for high school students. The annual event, which runs until 2014, engages hundreds of high school students and teachers nationwide each year. The contest winners from all 50 states are brought to Washington D.C. to visit USIP and Capitol Hill.

1988

The first fellowships of the Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship Program are granted. The program has supported hundreds of doctoral students enrolled in U.S. universities writing dissertations on topics related to international conflict management and peacebuilding.

1991

As the Soviet Union collapses and Russia attempts a shift toward democracy and legal reform, USIP, at the request of the Russian Constitutional Commission, provides an assessment of the draft Russian constitution.

1992

Congress authorizes the Institute to take private donations to construct a permanent headquarters. Fundraising for this private-public partnership eventually is led by former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and the University of Notre Dame’s president emeritus, the Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh.

1993

The Institute publishes its first Special Report, “Relief, Reconciliation, and Reconstruction in Somalia: Views of Prominent Somalis,” based on a study group of 15 Somalis and former U.S. Ambassador Robert B. Oakley, who subsequently became U.S. special envoy to Somalia.

1993

Richard Solomon, a former diplomat who negotiated the Cambodian Peace Agreement and rose to assistant secretary of state, becomes USIP’s third president. In his nearly two decades at the helm, the Institute expands its research, begins work on the ground in conflict zones, and runs several blue-ribbon, bipartisan panels to assess policy options on issues including U.N. reform, genocide prevention, and approaches to ending the Iraq War.        

1994

Reflecting the transformation of global politics and conflict following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, USIP hosts a conference titled “Managing Global Chaos.” A resulting book, Managing Global Chaos, becomes a widely used text at universities, including U.S. military academies.

1995

The Institute initiates training for professionals in skills such as conflict analysis and negotiations. Structured in 2009 as USIP’s Academy of International Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, such courses and seminars have reached more than 65,000 people worldwide, including diplomats, police and judicial officials, civil society leaders and military peacekeepers. Of these, 34,000 are trained in person, either in Washington D.C. or abroad. Online courses serve 31,000 people, many working in remote, hard-to-reach places.

USIP Begins Direct Work in Conflict Zones

1995

USIP conducts its first direct work in a conflict zone, supporting the post-war stabilization of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This program eventually includes training in conflict resolution, negotiation, and other skills for U.S., Bosnian, and international officials, and for personnel of non-governmental assistance organizations. USIP also sponsors interfaith dialogues to reduce tensions underlying the country’s violence. In Washington, the Institute hosts working groups to apply lessons from the conflict to future work in the Balkans and elsewhere.

1995

USIP Press publishes a three-volume compendium entitled Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes that documents how societies transitioning into functional democracies cope with legacies of repression, abuse, and violent conflict. It becomes a resource for processes including the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate, discusses issues of reconciliation and justice in a January 2000 keynote address at USIP for a meeting of Indonesian officials discussing the future of East Timor after violence related to its push for independence.

1996

Congress, in legislation sponsored by Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, authorizes the transfer to USIP of a parking lot owned by the U.S. Navy at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington D.C. The land, facing the National Mall, is designated to become the Institute’s eventual headquarters.

1997

USIP convenes “Virtual Diplomacy,” a ground-breaking two-day conference to explore the impact of the technology revolution on international security and conflict management. The conference jump-starts a new thread of USIP work, using emerging technologies to prevent conflict.

2000

USIP’s engagement in Bosnia-Herzegovina leads to a wider Balkans Initiative to promote stability in the former Yugoslavia—through law reform and movement toward European Union membership, among other means—following nearly a decade of violent conflict.

2001

The Institute convenes national security officials, including the national security advisors of outgoing President Bill Clinton and incoming President George W. Bush. The conference, called “Passing the Baton,” begins a USIP practice of hosting current, former, and incoming national security leaders as U.S. administrations conduct their transitions of power.

2001

USIP Press publishes Turbulent Peace, an update of its main textbook on conflict management. The volume becomes a leading classroom text in the field.

New Work: Afghanistan, Iraq, High-Level Panels

2002

USIP begins its work in Afghanistan to reduce instability and conflict, strengthen the rule of law, and encourage more transparent and accountable governance following the November 2001 overthrow of the Taliban in a U.S.-led operation.

2003

As the United States prepares for military intervention in Iraq, USIP provides analysis on the challenges that will follow military operations. After major combat ends, a congressional appropriation to USIP sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa allows the Institute to begin peacebuilding activities on the ground to promote stability and curb civil conflict. USIP’s efforts include training Iraqi officials and civil society leaders in managing potentially violent tensions among the country’s disparate communities. The Institute facilitates dialogues among religious and ethnic groups and ultimately aids in rebuilding a legal and judicial system.

2003

At the request of the State Department, USIP helps facilitate a peace process between the government of the Philippines and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the southern island of Mindanao. While no agreement is reached, the Institute assists the two sides in devising creative solutions for stubborn issues and supports the start of a dialogue among disparate Moro ethnic groups to generate a more unified front in the talks.

2004

Working with Nigerian partners Imam Mohammed Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye of the Interfaith Mediation Center, USIP helps mediate an agreement to halt Christian-Muslim fighting that killed more than 1,000 people in Plateau State. The agreement held, and USIP supported Ashafa and Wuye in subsequent peacebuilding efforts in Kaduna and Bauchi states, and in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

2004

Congress appropriates funds for the construction of USIP’s permanent headquarters.

2005

At the direction of Congress, USIP convenes the bipartisan Task Force on the United Nations, chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. The task force’s report, published by the Institute, finds that “an effective U.N. is in America’s interest,” but that institutional reforms are needed for the United Nations to effectively confront post-Cold War threats such as terrorism, genocide, human rights violations, poverty, and nuclear proliferation.

2005

USIP marks its 20th anniversary with a tribute to founders Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii and Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia. Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, John Warner of Virginia, and Tom Harkin of Iowa recognize the occasion in a Senate Resolution. An event on Capitol Hill includes keynote remarks by Senators Inouye and Ted Stevens of Alaska.

2006

Congress, in legislation sponsored by Senator John Warner of Virginia, authorizes the extension of USIP’s headquarters to include two adjacent former U.S. Navy buildings on 23rd Street to expand the Institute’s training and other programs.

2006

Upon a request from Congress, USIP facilitates the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and the former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Representative Lee Hamilton of Indiana. The Institute publishes the group’s report on the situation in Iraq and its implications for the U.S. and the Middle East It becomes one of the Institute’s most influential studies, gaining unprecedented attention from policymakers and the public. It eventually is downloaded tens of thousands of times from USIP’s website.

Advancing Dialogue Techniques

2007

After Nepal’s decade-long civil war, the Institute facilitates community dialogues to ease public distrust of police. USIP trains dozens of local non-government organizations to conduct more than 500 such dialogues, which engage members of civil society, law enforcement agencies, and political parties. Later surveys find that the dialogues improved security and police-community relations in many areas while bolstering respect for the rule of law.

2007

Prominent scholars and practitioners assembled by USIP produce a new volume of its leading peace studies textbook, Leashing the Dogs of War. It wins an Outstanding Academic Title Award from the library journal CHOICE.

2007

At the request of Iraqi community leaders and the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, USIP facilitates a series of dialogues in Mahmoudiyah, a region south of Baghdad nicknamed the “Triangle of Death” for its intensive sectarian and clan warfare. Engaging Iraqi civil society and tribal leaders and local officials, USIP advises on a peace accord that allows normalization of life, an economic recovery, and a reduction in U.S. forces in the area. The Mahmoudiyah peace agreement is part of an expanding USIP effort, begun after the 1990s, to mediate directly in violent conflicts in places as disparate as Iraq, Nigeria, Kosovo and Colombia.

2007

USIP and partner institutions convene the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. The group’s report, issued in 2008, recommends steps for U.S. policy that gain support in a Senate resolution. President Barack Obama creates the U.S. Atrocities Prevention Board and bars entry to the United States by persons who attempt genocide or other war crimes.

2008

In Washington, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and the Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, University of Notre Dame’s president emeritus, join in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Institute’s headquarters, facing the Lincoln Memorial.

2009

USIP hosts current and former U.S. foreign policy leaders and nearly 1,900 others for its second “Passing the Baton conference at the transition from the administration of President George W. Bush to that of President Barack Obama.

2009

The bipartisan Senior Working Group on Middle East Peace, co-chaired by former National Security Advisors Stephen Hadley and Samuel Berger, begins work, building on USIP research and programs on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The panel of top scholars, former negotiators, and former members of Congress formulates ideas on U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Arab-Israeli peace processes as part of the Institute’s work at the policy and grassroots levels to prepare the ground for peace.

Peacekeeper Training, Public Education

2009

USIP’s Academy begins training African peacekeeping troops in conflict analysis, negotiation, mediation, and the protection of civilians. By 2016, more than 4,000 troops from 20 countries will be trained and deployed to at least eight African Union or United Nations peacekeeping missions, including those in Darfur and Somalia.

2010

At Congress’ direction, USIP facilitates an independent assessment of the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review—a long-term planning document also mandated by Congress. The USIP-facilitated assessment, called the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, is co-chaired by former National Security Advisor Hadley and former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Four years later, Congress and the Defense Department ask USIP again to facilitate an assessment of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. This panel is chaired by Retired Army Gen. John Abizaid.

2010

USIP establishes secretariat for U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace & Security to help craft and guide the implementation of a National Action Plan, based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 calling for the protection of women in conflict and their participation in security and peace processes. President Barack Obama sets out the final plan in a December 2011 executive order.

2011

USIP establishes a dedicated program of public education, the Global Peacebuilding Center to fulfill Congress’ founding mandate that the Institute provide the American people with resources and information on international conflict management and peacebuilding. In its first three years, the center conducts over 350 educational workshops, engaging 15,000 students, educators, and others from 39 U.S. states. It reaches thousands more people through online resources and activities.

2011

The Institute moves into its new headquarters building, designed by architect Moshe Safdie.

2011

USIP is among the first organizations to enter Libya after the popular uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Amid the country’s violent conflicts, the Institute conducts work on prison reform, research on tribal dynamics and support for Libyan professionals acting as community mediators.

2012

USIP provides start-up funding and advice for the Sudd Institute, an independent policy research organization in newly independent South Sudan to fill gaps in policy input from local, non-governmental sources. The project represents the latest in USIP support to ending the north-south conflict in Sudan and stabilizing the new nation after an agreed-upon referendum affirmed its split from the north.

2012

Jim Marshall, a former four-term congressman and U.S. Army Ranger, becomes USIP’s fourth president. During his tenure, the Institute conducts a strategic-planning process that produces a five-year roadmap for the Institute.

2012

In connection with USIP’s work for peaceful transition in Burma/Myanmar from military to democratic rule, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi makes a public address at the Institute. Following her imprisonment in Myanmar over her pro-democracy campaign, the event is her first public appearance in the United States in more than two decades. In subsequent years, USIP hosts and works with other Nobel Peace Prize winners, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkol Karman, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Technology, New Take on Gender Issues

2012

The Institute launches the PeaceTech Initiative to gather engineers, technologists and data scientists along with peacebuilding specialists to develop and deploy technology for conflict management and building peace.

2012

USIP and partner institutions co-found the Missing Peace Initiative to advance research on ways to end sexual violence amid wars and civil upheavals. The effort, co-founded with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America, the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, convenes scholars, policymakers, military professionals, civil society leaders and government officials.

2013

USIP holds its first PeaceGame for leading minds in national security, international affairs, academia, business, and media to “game” out how to achieve peace on a key issue as seriously as often occurs with war games. Co-hosted by the FP Group, this game focused on Syria. Subsequent topics included global violent extremism and violence surrounding Nigerian elections.

2013

The Institute conducts inaugural symposium on Men, Peace and Security to complement the international agenda on Women, Peace and Security with attention to enlisting men in support of those goals and encouraging non-violent notions of masculinity in societies affected by violent conflict.

2014

USIP creates a non-profit corporation, the PeaceTech Lab, to advance its work for peace in conflict zones. PeaceTech Lab focuses on using technology, new methods of data collection and analysis, and multimedia content.

2014

Tunisia adopts a constitution and holds democratic elections to avert a political crisis and become the only Arab Spring country to convert its peaceful revolution into a democratic transition. USIP expands its help for that process with training and support for a network of Tunisians who can facilitate dialogues to resolve conflicts peacefully. One such team leads discussions to end attacks between rival university student groups in Tunis. USIP also conducts dialogues to build relations between mistrustful communities and local police.

2015

Nancy Lindborg becomes USIP’s fifth president. Lindborg, a former assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) previously was president of the humanitarian organization Mercy Corps.

2015

USIP and its Iraqi partners facilitate a peace accord that averts revenge killings in the region of Tikrit when government forces recapture it from the Islamic State (ISIS). Shia Muslim forces accused Sunni residents of complicity in an ISIS massacre of Shias the previous year, prompting Sunnis to flee. By 2016, with the peace accord holding, more than 306,000 displaced people had returned home around Tikrit.

2015

USIP assumes the role of coordinator for the international RESOLVE network, a consortium of research organizations and individuals working to counter and prevent violent extremism. The network was convened by USIP, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

2015

Marking the Institute’s 30th anniversary, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gives a keynote address, followed by a conversation with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and Representative Nita Lowey of New York.

2015

The Institute’s public education program, the Global Peacebuilding Center, launches three initiatives to engage students and teachers across the U.S. on peacebuilding: a USIPeace Teachers Program that helps selected middle and high school educators bring peacebuilding to life in classrooms; the USIP Global Peace Prize, offered to U.S. students for National History Day projects that demonstrate America’s commitment to peace; and a successor National High School Essay Contest in partnership with the American Foreign Service Association focusing on diplomacy and peace in today’s world.

2015

USIP creates the Peace Day Challenge, a campaign via social media to spur participation in the annual International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. It immediately reaches an estimated 21 million people worldwide and inspires activities in 24 U.S. states and 36 countries.

2016

The Dalai Lama meets for two days with 28 young peace leaders brought together by USIP at his residence in Dharamsala, India. The Tibetan spiritual leader lauds the peacebuilding work of the youths, who live in 13 countries facing violent extremism. A month later, he urges compassion and support for youth in a discussion at USIP in Washington.

2016

Colombia’s government signs an accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to end a 52-year-old insurgency. More than a decade of USIP support helped the war’s victims, including women and other marginalized groups, win acknowledgement of their losses and provisions for compensation. After the Colombian public rejected the agreement in a referendum, negotiators began working on revisions in a bid to gain ultimate approval.

2016

The Fragility Working Group, led by USIP President Nancy Lindborg and her counterparts William J. Burns of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Michele Flournoy of the Center for a New American Security, issues its report, U.S. Leadership and the Challenge of ‘State Fragility.’ Aimed at informing thinking in the next administration, the report argues that weak states are a key source of global instability and require concerted attention from the U.S. government.

2017

National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her successor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, are among the headliners at USIP’s third “Passing the Baton” conference, marking the impending transition from the administration of President Barack Obama to that of President Donald Trump. Current, former, and incoming foreign policy and national security leaders, including Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, explore risks ranging from violent upheavals in failed or fragile states, to cyber-attacks, to an erosion in the global security system of the previous 70 years.