The U.S. Institute of Peace established the Middle East North Africa Center (MENA) to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflicts in the area stretching from Iran to Morocco by engaging directly in conflicts zones, providing policy analysis to the U.S. government and resources to those working for peace in this region.  To do this, our experts engage local, national, and regional actors in participatory processes that promote sustainable peace.

Within this wide region, the MENA Center has programs on:

  • The Middle East: Our MENA Middle East program focuses primarily on Iraq and Syria, where we work to promote reconciliation and social cohesion by engaging religious, civic, and tribal leaders in action-oriented dialogues.
  • North Africa: MENA’s North Africa program focuses on TunisiaLibya, and Egypt, where we work to strengthen the rule of law and promote non-violent conflict resolution through facilitation and mediation in country-specific dialogue projects.
  • The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The MENA Center works to inform policy, bridge divides, strengthen Palestinian institutions, and prepare the ground for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Arab-Israeli arena. We serve as a trusted convener to inform policy considerations and approaches, support inclusive dialogue between religious and ideological communities, foster trust-building and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian institutions, and strengthen grassroots capacity to create an environment conducive to a sustainable Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli peace.
  • MENA’s Iran program runs The Iran Primer, which provides original articles, analysis, data, timelines, policy statements and other resources on Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program on a website co-hosted with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
  • In partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, MENA’s Islamist program focuses on the origins, evolution, and positions of Islamist movements in the Middle East. These movements are redefining the order and borders in the world’s most volatile region, yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies that sometimes rival each other. 

Current Projects

Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation in Libya

Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation in Libya

Through the Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation project in Libya, USIP has built the capacity of local leaders in conflict analysis, transitional justice, and dialogue facilitation. USIP is now mentoring these individuals, who are from three conflict-affected areas in Libya—Sebha, Ubari, and Nalut-Siyaan—through the process of implementing community dialogues. The goal of this project, which is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is to build trust between these fractured communities, ultimately resulting in increased social cohesion and longterm, sustainable reconciliation and peace. The project began in October 2018 and will conclude in April 2021.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Reconciliation

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

The Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya project was launched in July 2020 to fill existing knowledge gaps on correctional facilities in Libya and the criminal justice system in the Fezzan region. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), this project aims to strengthen the rule of law in Libya by providing the international community and Libyan officials with a more complete picture of the region’s institutions, as well as actionable recommendations to inform the development and implementation of future policy and programming.

Democracy & Governance; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework

Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework

The Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework (CSMF) is a data collection tool adapted to the Iraq context from USIP’s Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments framework. CSMF collects data directly from Iraq’s conflict-affected communities using a set of 48 indicators tied to four core conflict and stabilization dynamics: community security, rule of law, governance, and livelihoods. The CSMF was created to establish a robust evidence base for peacebuilding in Iraq using systemic, longitudinal data.

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Featured Publications

Could Algeria’s Referendum Lead to Democratic Progress or Uphold Status Quo?

Could Algeria’s Referendum Lead to Democratic Progress or Uphold Status Quo?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

By: Thomas M. Hill

Algerians took to the streets in February 2019 to protest the re-election bid of longtime authoritarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Those protests—which came to be known as the Hirak movement and resulted in Bouteflika’s resignation in April of that year—evolved quickly to calls for a fundamental overhaul of the country’s political system. Few real changes have been made since. This Sunday, Algeria will hold a referendum on constitutional amendments to ostensibly bolster the country’s democracy. But, the Hirak says the constitutional changes do not go far enough. USIP’S Tom Hill looks at why the constitutional amendments have stirred tension with the opposition, the movement’s struggles to coalesce behind specific demands, and the role of Algeria’s military and floundering economy in the transition.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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