The United States Institute of Peace: A National Security Investment

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is requesting $54,000,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, equivalent to the enacted FY 2022 level, to promote peace in accordance with its congressional mandate to help prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict abroad.

older woman in doorway
(Alex Kuehni/iStock)

Throughout its nearly forty years as a public institute, USIP has played a significant role in national security, working in partnership with U.S. departments and agencies to help prevent and resolve conflicts in countries where U.S. strategic interests are at stake.

USIP uses its distinctive capabilities to help develop the capacity of countries and people working for peace to prevent and resolve their own violent conflicts before the United States is drawn into them or U.S. interests are threatened.

As a specialized institute, USIP’s range and impact are highly cost-effective, with more than 300 initiatives in Asia, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East and a long-term presence in 16 countries.

USIP has a unique institutional character

USIP works in a unique way, incorporating both “think” and “do” functions in a research-training-application-evaluation-policy cycle. The cycle starts with USIP thematic and area experts, who develop the intellectual foundations for peacebuilding strategies through rigorous research and analysis. USIP’s specialized trainers then teach these tools to peacebuilders, and field teams pilot and apply them on the ground. Program evaluators assess the impact of strategies over time and recommend changes in practice and policy based on these evaluations. Lessons and changes in policy are folded back into the peacebuilding literature, leading to a new cycle of research, training, application, evaluation, and policy.

USIP relies on partnerships to deepen its impact. In fragile and war-torn countries, USIP provides training and resources and nurtures long-term relationships with a broad range of institutions, organizations, and stakeholders. These networks have multiple benefits: they drive peace efforts in their own countries, give depth to the Institute’s analysis, and enlarge the broad coalition of U.S. allies and friendly nations.

The Institute’s structure and identity also contribute to its impact. Programs are implemented directly, allowing the Institute to learn quickly what works and to apply lessons immediately, avoiding the long lead times required by other agencies for redesign and rebidding. As a nonpartisan institute, with strong bipartisan support, USIP is also able to develop objective analysis and provide policy guidance that incorporates multiple perspectives grounded in evidence and best practice.

USIP has distinctive institutional capabilities

USIP has distinctive capabilities that amplify the efforts of other U.S. departments and agencies. These include prevention capabilities that help unstable countries prevent recruitment into extremist forces, manage global shocks without resorting to violence, and de-escalate tensions before they erupt into major conflict.

USIP also helps parties to lay the groundwork for the cessation of hostilities and sequence realistic steps from ceasefire to disengagement to peace agreement. USIP specializes in helping parties launch inclusive peace processes, establish transitional justice mechanisms, and negotiate post-conflict arrangements that apportion resources and power more equitably and democratically, leading to more sustainable peace.

Woman in green dress going to Galalie

Priorities and Key Initiatives: Helping to Reduce Threats to Peace Where U.S. Interests Are at Stake

USIP is responding to the growing threats to U.S. national security and global stability

In support of other components of the national security system, USIP is orienting its work in response to the rapidly growing threats to U.S. national security and global stability from authoritarian regimes, rivalry between major powers, pandemics, climate change, violence, extremism, and anti democratic ideologies.

In all of its initiatives, whether new or continuing, USIP remains fully committed to promoting American soft power by demonstrating the United States’ highest ideals, including the country’s commitment to democracy, rule of law, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the pursuit of peace. During FY 2023, USIP will work in close partnership with departments, agencies, institutions, organizations, and networks committed to peace and will continue to focus on four areas:

  • Strategic rivalry: The aim is to help mitigate the potential for violent conflict created by strategic rivalry among major powers, whether directly among those competitors or among proxy forces in regions where China, Russia, or regional powers are seeking to extend their influence.
  • Violence and extremism in fragile states: The aim is to help reduce state fragility by helping political, security, and civil society leaders manage and nonviolently resolve their own internal conflicts.
  • Global shocks: The aim is to help reduce the potential for violent conflict arising from global shocks, including climate change and pandemics, by helping to identify, establish, and field-test mechanisms that will help fragile states and societies manage coming disruptions.
  • American peacebuilding: The aim is to advance global security and prosperity by promoting U.S. peacebuilding norms and values, in contrast to alternate models offered by U.S. competitors.

The Institute is expanding priority initiatives in countries of strategic importance

During FY 2023, USIP will strengthen its work in each of the four priority areas through a wide array of initiatives.

Strategic Rivalry: With China and Russia seeking to enhance their status alongside the United States through multiple means, including Russia’s blatant aggression and unjustified use of force, USIP is committed to assessing and, where possible, helping to mitigate the risk of conflict between the United States and either power, and in regions and countries where China and Russia are attempting to expand their economic, military, political, and cultural influence. This work includes the following initiatives.

  • In support of U.S. efforts to reinvigorate the management and monitoring of strategic weapons in the face of authoritarian expansion, USIP is continuing to convene a high-level, bipartisan Study Group on Strategic Security and Stability that engages with experts and counterparts to formulate recommendations for U.S. policymakers designed to reduce risks from new Russian cyber, space, hypersonic, and artificial intelligence technologies and from potential triggers that could escalate confrontations from conventional to nuclear conflict.
  • In support of U.S. efforts to establish predictable deescalation mechanisms, USIP is researching China’s and Russia’s approach to crisis management and deterrence and convening Expert Working Groups to identify opportunities to reduce strategic risks, de-escalate tensions, and improve communications between Washington and Beijing and, if conditions permit in the future, between Washington and Moscow.
  • As part of ongoing efforts to assess the role of Russia and China in areas of strategic U.S. interests, USIP is continuing to convene bipartisan Senior Study Groups to analyze and recommend policies on countries and regions where the actions of China and Russia contribute to violent conflict, including West Africa, North Africa, the Red Sea, South Asia, Myanmar, and the Pacific Islands. USIP is also collaborating with researchers around the world to generate policy recommendations designed to counter China’s role in transnational crime in Southeast Asia and China’s growing influence in the United Nations and other multilateral governance and human rights bodies.
  • Committed to supporting multiple communication channels, USIP remains available to convene experts and former officials from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Europe in track-two dialogues, if and as it makes sense to do so in support of track-one diplomacy, to explore potential solutions for protecting civilians and restoring full Ukrainian sovereignty as input to U.S. government policy. USIP also continues to convene track-1.5 discussions with current officials and experts from the United States and China, as well as a range of track-two dialogues on conflicts in South Asia, the Korean Peninsula, and Myanmar, to identify new mechanisms for managing competition and avoiding conflict.
  • Recognizing the threat that China’s actions pose to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, USIP is launching a Pacific Islands Initiative, in support of the United States’ new Indo-Pacific Strategy, that will provide analysis, perspective, and policy options for expanded U.S. engagement.
  • Committed to engaging and supporting peacebuilding institutions and organizations in countries where democracy is under pressure from geopolitical rivalry, USIP is facilitating dialogues with civil society organizations in the Sahel, North Africa, the Philippines, and Cambodia.
  • Recognizing the role of international alliances in constraining and helping to manage rivalries between great and emerging powers, USIP is launching a major research project to assess existing multilateral and regional capabilities and identify options for new mechanisms, where relevant.
Close up of a man in Dharamsala

Violence and Extremism in Fragile States: Although progress continues to be made in degrading the impact and reach of terrorist movements, new and existing extremist forces, including criminal networks, remain major drivers of global instability and conflict, particularly in fragile countries that lack institutional mechanisms for reducing violence, addressing popular grievances, and managing tensions. USIP is committed to mitigating these forces in the following ways.

  • With the aim of helping to reduce violence and mass migration from northern Central America, USIP is piloting programs to counter violence, address corruption, and build trust in institutions in districts in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras where emigration rates are high. The Institute is also convening dialogues with women’s groups, universities, youth networks, religious organizations, and the private sector to develop initiatives to im prove law and order, expand job opportunities, and slow environmental degradation.
  • Committed to helping prevent a resurgence of violent extremist forces in areas where they have been degraded, USIP is working in coordination with the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to identify options for the return and reintegration of families of former Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Iraq and Central Asian countries. In cooperation with the Department of State, USIP is training government officials and civil society leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan to combat terrorist recruitment and radicalization on social media. In Iraq, USIP is continuing to train and mentor peacebuilding partners and support local-level peace agreements in communities vulnerable to extremist influence. In Afghanistan, the Institute is supporting women, youth, and religious leaders inside the country and in the diaspora to create demand on country leadership for transparency, inclusion, and justice. USIP is follow ing a similar approach to reducing communal violence and strengthening democratic governance in vulnerable communities in Nigeria, Tunisia, Libya, and the Sahel.
  • With the aim of reducing violence and extremist influence in Africa through nonviolent action, USIP is continuing to engage traditional leaders in the Central African Republic to counter recruitment and hate speech in partnership with regional and frontline organizations. USIP is strengthening civil society organizations in Mozambique, Nigeria, the Sahel, and the Red Sea region to resist extremist influence and resolve local conflicts before they are exploited by violent movements. USIP is also using research from the fields of psychology, neurobiology, and conflict resolution to develop innovative ways to promote nonviolent action as an alternative to radicalization.
  • Recognizing the importance of advancing the U.S. Global Fragility Act, USIP is co-leading a project in Sudan with the Department of State to field-test and refine strategies for implementing key components of the act. The Institute is also convening experts from universities, think tanks, and the U.S. government to identify best practices for addressing state fragility.
  • Recognizing the role that women leaders and youth activists play in reducing violence in their communities, USIP is expanding training and mentoring for grassroots women’s groups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia in West and North Africa, and in Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania in East Africa. The Institute is also expanding training and support for community-level youth leaders across more than a dozen countries facing violent conflict.
  • Committed to building a broad network of partners to better understand and more effectively counter extremist forces, USIP is continuing to facilitate the work of the RESOLVE (Researching Solutions to Violent Extremism) Network, a consortium of global experts and more than three dozen organizations focused on addressing the drivers of recruitment, building community resilience, and disengaging adherents from violent extremist movements.

Global Shocks: Climate change and resource scarcity, including in some of the world’s most unstable and fragile states, continue to drive conflict and migration around the globe. New risks to global security and stability are emerging as countries struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and as major and emerging powers exploit the new global inequities created by the pandemic. USIP is helping to mitigate the impact of these dynamics in the following ways.

  • Building on its record of innovative partnerships, USIP is partnering with U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to identify and respond to climate risks in regions of stra tegic importance to the United States. The Institute is also bringing rival groups together in Nigeria to jointly manage scarce land and water resources, supporting peacebuilding organizations working on resource governance in Myanmar, and facilitating tripartite IsraeliPalestinian-Jordanian cooperation to develop regional strategies for renewable energy.
  • Recognizing the need for policy-relevant analysis in the emerging field of environmental peacebuilding, USIP is continuing to sponsor research on water management in South and Central Asia, the relationship between decarbonization and political power, and the impact of militarized groups on conservation. The Institute is also researching the impact of climate change on migration and assessing the effectiveness of existing institutions to mitigate environmentally generated conflicts.
  • Concerned that localized conflicts may arise because of the COVID-19 pandemic, USIP is partnering with peacebuilding and academic institutions to develop methodologies for tracking the impact of the pandemic on fragile states and to offer policy options for quickly addressing the factors likely to further destabilize these countries. The Institute is also partnering with civil society networks to analyze the impact of the pandemic on elections and the ways authoritarian governments are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to centralize power.

American Peacebuilding: With the rules-based international order under increasing pressure from major power rivalry, global inequities, climate change, and pandemics, USIP is committed to promoting U.S. peacebuilding, with its focus on transparency, dialogue, de-escalation, inclusiveness, political and religious freedom, justice, and rule of law, as the most effective way of sustaining global stability. This work includes the following initiatives.

  • Committed to promoting nonviolent action as one of the most effective ways of advancing social change and resolving grievances, USIP is establishing the Gandhi-King Global Academy, at the request of Congress, to develop and share best practices and tools for nonviolent resistance with peacebuilders on the front lines of conflict. USIP is also working to build the capacity of grassroots activists, organizers, and peacebuilders in Venezuela, Tunisia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Myanmar.
  • Recognizing that reconciliation is more durable when former belligerents work together to address the legacies of war, USIP is launching an initiative, at the request of Congress, to support joint U.S. and Vietnamese efforts to account for Vietnamese combatants who remain missing in action. USIP is also assessing the role and impact of truth and reconciliation commissions as mechanisms for restorative justice.
  • Recognizing that inclusion, justice, and equity are the foundation for sustainable peace and security, USIP is engaging with peacebuilders, institutes, and partners across the world to find practical ways to embed these principles in all aspects of peacebuilding theory, policy, and practice.
  • Committed to ensuring the involvement of women in all aspects of peacebuilding as one of the most effective ways of achieving longer-lasting peace after conflict, USIP is continuing to partner with the U.S. government and civil society leaders to strengthen implementation of the U.S. Women, Peace, and Security Act. USIP is also helping to elevate women’s leadership in peacebuilding by supporting, training, and mentoring frontline women’s organizations in countries where the Institute is engaged and by honoring annually exceptional women peacebuilders through the international Women Building Peace Award.
  • Understanding that dialogue, mediation, and the search for shared goals and interests are essential elements of any peace process, USIP is continuing to help train and mentor civil society delegations involved in formal and informal negotiations in Colombia, Venezuela, Tunisia, Libya, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Ukraine. USIP is also continuing to provide direct support to official mediators upon request and is supporting peace and mediation initiatives led by the African Union in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa and by the Economic Community of West African States in the Sahel.
  • Recognizing that religious freedom and coexistence are fundamental to stability and peace in all countries, USIP is providing specialized guidance to the State Department and USAID to help strengthen engagement with religious communities and advance religious freedoms in countries facing violence and fragility. USIP is also publishing research and practical guides for addressing the religious elements of conflicts.
  • Committed to building and mentoring a new generation of peace activists, USIP is funding and guiding communitylevel peacebuilding projects led by youth in more than a dozen countries, including in Colombia, Venezuela, Tunisia, Libya, the Israel-Palestinian Territories, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Teresita Gaviria in Colombia

Instruments and Facilities

The Institute uses a wide range of instruments and facilities

Over decades of experience and practice, USIP has estab lished a number of specialized instruments and facilities to advance peacebuilding in the countries where it works. In countries where the Institute has a long-term presence, many of these instruments are applied simultaneously, creating significant impact. Among peacebuilding organizations, USIP is unique in the range and impact of its instruments, which include the following.

Mediation, Negotiation, and Dialogue: In countries central to U.S. interests, USIP conducts track-1.5, track-two, and track-three dialogues; empowers networks of women, youth, and religious peacebuilders; and facilitates dialogue between citizens and security sector officials.

Training of Peacebuilders: Building on its decades-long experience educating practitioners, the Institute’s new Gandhi-King Global Academy provides in-person and online training in conflict resolution and nonviolent action for frontline peacebuilders; offers public education to U.S. primary, secondary, and tertiary schools; and distills the lessons of international peacebuilding for local and national leaders in the United States. The Institute’s existing Global Campus, which is being folded into the new Gandhi-King Global Academy during FY 2023, already has reached as many as 90,000 practitioners, including professionals in NATO, peacekeepers in Africa, and African militaries, as well as thousands of teachers and students at U.S. high schools and middle schools. The Global Campus offers more than 35 online courses on conflict analysis, negotia tion, and mediation, of which 24 are also available in Arabic, Dari, French, Pashto, and Spanish.

Research and Publishing: USIP sponsors in-house research on country-specific and cross-national peacebuilding topics; commissions additional research by international experts, including through the Institute’s Grants and Fellows Program; and publishes research and analysis through online commentaries, working papers, and signature series, including USIP Peaceworks and USIP Special Reports.

Convening: As a trusted nonpartisan partner, USIP brings together officials, practitioners, and academics in public and private forums. The Institute’s flagship events include “Passing the Baton,” held at the start of each new Administration; an event series entitled “Bipartisan Congressional Dialogues”; and a series of interviews featuring global leaders. The Institute convenes meetings on regional and thematic topics; private roundtables providing discreet settings for exploring new policy options; expert Study Groups that seek bipartisan solutions to emerging challenges; tabletop exercises that assemble congressional, governmental, and nongovernmental representatives in real-time simulations of conflict scenarios; and regular briefings for congressional and executivebranch officials.

Awards: USIP has established the annual Women Building Peace Award to celebrate the role that women play in all aspects of peacebuilding and is renewing the Spark M. Matsunaga Medal of Peace, which has been bestowed on Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

The Institute plays an enabling role across U.S. departments and agencies and among peacebuilding partners

During its almost 40-year history as an Institute, USIP has helped to shape and professionalize the field of peacebuilding by assisting colleges and universities with the development of peace and conflict studies programs and by training diplomats, humanitarians, development workers, and other frontline peacebuilders. USIP continues to share its knowledge and practice with other peacebuilding entities, including the United Nations, civil society networks, nongovernmental organizations, universities, foreign affairs councils and federations, specialized peacebuilding institutes in other countries, and U.S. departments and agencies, and performs a series of functions and services within the national security system and among peacebuilding organizations that multiply the overall impact of these communities. These include:

  • Supporting negotiations, engagement, and mediation in priority countries, including through track-1.5, track-two, and track-three dialogues.
  • Facilitating expert Study Groups that analyze and provide recommendations to Congress and the Administration on critical foreign and security issues that impact violent conflict abroad, demonstrating the value of nonpartisan debate and unity to fellow Americans, as well as to allies and adversaries overseas.
  • Convening Democratic and Republican senators and representatives for bipartisan dialogues on key aspects of foreign and security policy that impact violent conflict abroad.
  • Producing independent research, evidence-based analysis, and policy options on critical foreign and security issues that impact violent conflict abroad based on specialist expertise and practitioner experience.
  • Promoting, disseminating, and honoring U.S. democratic norms and values as one of the most sustainable ways of ensuring global peace, security, and prosperity.
  • Finding and sharing practical solutions, including confidence-building measures and institutional support, that reduce conflict, advance reconciliation, and rein force peace processes in countries central to U.S. national interests.
  • Facilitating conflict resolution and reconciliation in unstable communities and supporting frontline peacebuilders in countries where U.S. strategic interests are at stake.
  • Helping to build, mentor, and consolidate networks of international peacebuilders, including women and youth, who share a commitment to conflict prevention and resolution.
  • Developing and sharing practical tools that can be used by U.S. and international partners to expand the scale and impact of their peacebuilding work.