Thursday, December 19, 2019
I recently visited Afghanistan for the first time since serving at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from 2009-2011. When I was last there, the fighting was intense and peace seemed far off. My days were spent working long hours at the embassy, and my nights were spent working on a book about violent and nonviolent resistance, a project which changed my life. Today, talks between the Taliban and the U.S.—and recently between the Taliban and Afghan leaders—have renewed hope for peace after decades of conflict. What role can civil resistance play amid the steady stream of violence in Afghanistan?
As the Americas’ biggest political and refugee crisis has mushroomed, Venezuela’s massive youth population faces an agonizing choice: to endure the conflict and the privations of a collapsed economy, or to seek economic survival and a better life abroad. With a recent surge of people fleeing the country, more than 4 million Venezuelans now are refugees, the United Nations reported last month. Still, a strong core of youth—nonviolent protest leaders, humanitarian workers and grassroots organizers—is working on peaceful ways to restore stability and democracy.
The Global Gender Gap Index ranked Pakistan in 2016 as the second lowest country in the world for gender equality. Women’s political participation is recognized as an essential component of gender equality and in Pakistan the gender gap in participation is particularly high. Ensuring gender equality in political participation matters: A recent survey conducted by these authors finds that, at least in some public policy domains in Pakistan’s big cities, the issues that matter to women are different from the issues that matter to men. This demonstrates that greater gender equality in electoral participation could substantively change what issues are represented in the political arena.
Last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts to enact political reforms and broker a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea ushered in new hope for the country. But recent political assassinations have raised questions over Ethiopia’s transition. Here are three things you need to know.
Nour Darwish is a Generation Change fellow, medical student, and a part-time primary school educator from Libya who works with youth to understand the importance of promoting peace. She was the lead organizer of the first TedxYouth event in Libya and works as a project manager for a youth-led NGO called Makers of Hope. She is one of 30 young civil society leaders from 12 nations facing violent conflict whom USIP gathered in 2018 for training and mentorship with the Nobel peace laureate and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Across Afghanistan, Rafiullah Stanikzai has spent thousands of hours with young men, learning how 40 years of war has warped Afghans’ ancient culture and corrupted their notions of how, simply, to be a man. Stanikzai is working to reverse that change, because stabilizing any country from war requires not only political negotiations, like those between U.S. diplomats and the Taliban. Any sustainable peace must also change enough hearts and minds that a people can return to settling disputes without guns and grenades.
Algeria’s Constitutional Council announced over the weekend it would cancel elections planned for next month in response to demands from protesters. Although such delays are often criticized, there are often good reasons to postpone an election in countries at risk of violent conflict. The security situation may complicate the logistics or put poll workers and voters at risk; heated campaigns may risk escalating communal tensions and endanger candidates; or conditions for a fair campaign may simply not be in place amid a state of emergency. At the same time there are risks associated with postponing a voting process. Along with Algeria, other recent examples from Afghanistan, Libya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlight this dilemma.
U.S. forces lost more than 100 soldiers killed over two years in Iraq’s “Triangle of Death,” south of Baghdad—until, with USIP, they helped usher in a 2007 peace accord among tribes in the region.
It’s been more than a year since the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq, and the country has since made notable progress on several fronts, as I saw on a recent trip to Iraq. Concrete barriers known as t-walls are being removed from the streets, relations between Baghdad and Erbil have improved, and a more vibrant air permeates the streets of Baghdad. The peaceful election held last year was the fourth since 2005, marking an important milestone, with the formation of the new government almost complete.
In the span of a few weeks in April, two longtime North African dictators—Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria and Omar al-Bashir in Sudan—were toppled by nonviolent movements. These successes further bolster what nonviolent theorists have long argued: nonviolent resistance is twice as effective as violence in achieving major political goals. Less understood and examined is the special, disarming role that humor can play in propelling nonviolent movements and defeating oppressive structures.