Despite a tumultuous year, one seemingly defined by devastating civil wars, violent extremism, and countries on the cusp of famine, U.S. Institute of Peace President Nancy Lindborg argues in a new video that “peace is very possible” in part due to the practical solutions that USIP’s teams work on every day.
Humanitarian emergencies in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, alongside a record 65.6 million people displaced by conflict, dominated news headlines this year. But USIP’s “top-down, bottom-up” approach to peacebuilding made meaningful progress towards peace in places as diverse as Colombia, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan.
By working from the “top-down,” USIP engages with politicians and influential civic and faith leaders to support inclusive political processes and responsive institutions in conflict zones around the world. In Nigeria, for example, USIP convened both powerful state governors and civil society members to address the crises that have helped fuel the Boko Haram insurgency.
If you can build peace in a place like Mahmoudiya, peace has a chance just about anywhere.
USIP complements that “top-down” work with “bottom-up” programs in communities on the front lines of conflict. As Iraq and its international allies reclaimed territory from the Islamic State, USIP was working with local leaders to restore peace and prevent cycles of revenge violence in areas affected by the terrorist group.
Those dialogues built on the lessons from a 2007 partnership with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, which led to a peace accord in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, a dangerous region known among American soldiers as the “Triangle of Death.” This year, USIP marked the ten year anniversary of that peace agreement, and honored the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division for their work in securing a peace that continues to hold to this day.
In Pakistan, USIP used its “bottom-up” approach to counter violent extremism at the local level: rehabilitating youth that had been radicalized as militants and terrorists. “The monitoring center that works on this [program] reports an almost 100 percent success rate,” explains Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president for USIP’s Asia Center.
We’re also seeing the rise of great power competition.
Together, these “top-down, bottom-up” initiatives yield constructive, cost-effective solutions to peacefully resolving crises abroad. The insights USIP gathers in these settings also serve to inform its efforts to provide training, analysis, and resources to people, organizations, and governments working to build peace.
Closer to home, USIP launched the Peace Trail on the National Mall, a new app “that highlights peace themes among our nation’s most iconic monuments and memorials,” according to Ann-Louise Colgan, USIP’s director of public education.
USIP also contributed to a smooth transition of power from the Obama administration to the Trump administration by once again hosting the landmark Passing the Baton conference to review the global challenges confronting our nation and advance informed, bipartisan problem-solving on threats to U.S. national interests.
As we enter 2018, Lindborg cites the rise of great power competition as one of those threats, noting that USIP “will remain agile and alert to all the ways that we can contribute to national security and a more peaceful world.” Watch the video above for a more complete summary of USIP’s work in 2017.