Democracy embodies responsive and responsible governance, rule of law, human rights, civic participation and peaceful transfers of power through electoral processes. Each of these underpins a peaceful and stable society. The U.S. Institute of Peace teaches democratic principles and democratization processes and techniques that are critical to both peacebuilding and effective governance. USIP seeks to strengthen governance by supporting inclusive, accountable institutions and a robust civil society. These in turn uphold human rights, justice and the rule of law, and promote public participation in social and political processes.

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

After a Year of Turmoil, Bolivia’s Election Offers Chance to Reduce Divides

After a Year of Turmoil, Bolivia’s Election Offers Chance to Reduce Divides

Thursday, October 22, 2020

By: Steve Hege

Bolivians took part on Sunday in one of the country’s most decisive and historic general elections, in which the former governing party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) and its candidate Luis Arce garnered a resounding victory. The vote culminated nearly 12 months of instability since elections in October 2019 led to allegations of fraud, followed by massive street protests and the departure of former President Evo Morales after nearly 14 years in power. Bolivia has not experienced a peaceful transition of power since 2002, but a window of opportunity has opened for the ethnically diverse Andean nation to emerge from the paralyzing polarization that has plagued it over the past years.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Protests Test Nigeria’s Democracy and its Leadership in Africa

Protests Test Nigeria’s Democracy and its Leadership in Africa

Thursday, October 22, 2020

By: Oge Onubogu

Nigeria’s protests against police brutality already were the largest in the country’s history before security forces opened fire on a crowd in Lagos on October 20. The protest and bloodshed have only heightened the need for the government in Africa’s most populous country to end the pattern of violence by security forces against civilians. Leaders must finally acknowledge that this brutality has fueled violent extremism. How the Nigerian government will respond to citizens’ insistent demand for accountable governance will influence similar struggles—for democracy, accountability, nonviolence and stability—across much of Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance; Nonviolent Action

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Current Projects

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

Closing the Gap: Analyzing the Link Between Religious Freedom, Peace, and Development

Closing the Gap: Analyzing the Link Between Religious Freedom, Peace, and Development

Government restrictions on religion have risen steadily in recent years, raising questions about both their causes and consequences. In partnership with USAID’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, USIP launched the Closing the Gap initiative earlier this year to more carefully examine these trends. The project, which will take place over the course of 2020, will explore the relationship between freedom of religion, peace, and development through statistical analysis and case studies. The findings will inform a more nuanced, strategic, and impactful policy and practice of advancing religious freedom.

Democracy & Governance; Human Rights; Religion

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