This Request for Applications (RfA) seeks applications from senior experts who will advance thought leadership and research that strengthens understanding of how multilateral institutions can be reformed to more effectively build and sustain peace. Priority will be given to research which identifies the factors impacting multilateral peacebuilding and conflict prevention and offers concrete recommendations to reform, rebuild, and sustain more effective institutions at the global and regional levels. Priority will be given to proposals that draw evidence from priority countries and regions, including Afghanistan, Burma, CAR, China, Colombia, the Horn of Africa, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the Sahel, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

Problem Statement

With the emergence of China and resurgence of Russia, and the growing involvement of both great and regional powers in intrastate conflicts, accepted norms of international behavior have come under intense pressure. Faced with changing geo-politics and reliant on outmoded forms of intervention, the multilateral institutions mandated to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflict are struggling to build effective partnerships with local actors to advance peace, and some face crises of both legitimacy and funding. Recognizing the need to adapt, several of these institutions including the United Nations, African Union, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have embarked on reforms and restructuring. While welcome, the practical impact of these actions in conflict-affected countries and communities remains an open question, particularly absent broader changes in member state practices.

Possible Research Questions

  • Multilateral Peacebuilding in a Shifting Global Context: How can multilateral institutions adapt to the shifts in global dynamics described in the Problem Statement to more effectively prevent violent conflict and build and sustain peace? How do global and regional institutions complement each other to prevent and resolve today’s complex conflicts in light of the changing international dynamics described above? Applications should propose research with clear potential to generate recommendations for policymakers and peacebuilders on how to forge more effective international and regional institutions that more successfully build and sustain peace. Excellent applications will demonstrate how research findings will be drawn from rigorous analyses of evidence, especially evidence from priority countries.
  • Local Partnerships and Multilateral Peacebuilding: To what extent has the international system for sustaining peace evolved into a more distributed arrangement—one in which regional and non-state actors play a more significant role in preventing and resolving violent conflict? What has been the impact of this evolution? What are the pathways for harnessing new partnerships and networks to help build more effective multilateral peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts? To what extent have multilateral reforms led to more productive partnerships? Applications should propose research with clear potential to generate recommendations for policymakers and peacebuilders on how to forge more effective international and regional institutions that more successfully build and sustain peace. Excellent applications will demonstrate how research findings will be drawn from rigorous analyses of evidence, especially evidence from priority countries.

Grant and Fellowship Opportunities under the theme "Reinvigorating Multilateral Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding"

USIP is launching consecutively a Grant competition and the Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship competition on the same theme, "Reinvigorating Multilateral Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding.” Individuals may apply to either the USIP Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship or as a part of a team applying to the USIP Grant competition. Individuals may not simultaneously apply to or be a part of both competitions.

Application Requirements

Applicants should have demonstrated experience in research, policy and/or practice, and a strong record of scholarship related to international relations, political science, and peace and conflict studies. Applicants will be selected based on their potential to make original contributions to the field by focusing on one of the two questions listed above. USIP values qualitative, quantitative, and participatory research approaches.

Profile of USIP Jennings Randolph Senior Fellows

The Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship Program offers residential fellowships at USIP headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Fellowships may be conducted from remote locations pending guidelines for access to the USIP headquarters during the COVID pandemic.) The competition seeks senior experts who have worked in conflict settings and have notable experience in research, practice, or policy. During their tenure, Jennings Randolph Senior Fellows will conduct research in their areas of expertise, while also becoming an integral part of USIP through contributing to thought leadership and research efforts.

Registration, Application Process, and Due Dates

  1. REGISTER: The application process begins with registration. Registration is required for all applicants to this competition, even if you have registered previously for another USIP competition. Registration opens on Thursday, May 13, 2021. All applicants must register online by Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 12:00 noon EDT. Please go to usip.fluxx.io to register for this competition.
  2. APPLICATION: After completing the registration, applicants must prepare and submit a complete application. The deadline for submitting the application is Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 12:00 noon EDT. Further instructions on completing the application are included in USIP’s online application system FLUXX. USIP will not be able to provide status updates on submitted applications at any time.
  3. REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS: Once a full application has been submitted, it undergoes a series of rigorous reviews. The final docket of recommended proposals is reviewed by USIP’s executive office and Board of Directors, which make the final decision on awards. All selected applicants will be notified by late 2021. Any inquiries regarding the online application system should be directed to Grants-Fellowships@usip.org.

Fellowship Details

USIP expects to award up to three fellowships related to the thematic questions described above. Each fellowship is for an eight-month period at USIP in Washington, D.C., pending the reopening of its headquarters. Should further complications occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellowship will take place remotely.

Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $11,500. The fellowship does not cover housing costs nor health insurance. USIP will cover one round-trip airfare to Washington, D.C. if the headquarters is fully operational. The start date is negotiable for either the Winter or Spring of 2022.