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.
Most negotiated peace settlements since the 1990s have featured some aspect of power sharing, including those in Northern Ireland, Burundi, Bosnia, and Nepal. However, by freezing a sometimes unstable status quo, power sharing can create challenges to maintaining peace over the longer term as issues arise that rekindle enmity or create new suspicions among the parties. This report argues that power-sharing arrangements can be made more durable by providing robust forums, either permanent or ad hoc, that allow parties to resolve differences as they arise and to reaffirm their commitment to peace.
Iraqi leaders are concerned that efforts to improve governance and build durable institutions are being overwhelmed by rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the potential of a proxy war in the country. “This pressure has definitely undermined the Iraqi government,” says USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed.
Afghanistan’s presidential election is scheduled to take place on September 28. In planning the election, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) must overcome a number of practical challenges to avoid repeating the mistakes of the 2018 parliamentary elections—elections that undermined the legitimacy of the state and reduced Afghans’ confidence in democracy as a means for selecting their leaders. Based on a careful analysis of the IEC’s performance during the 2018 elections, this report offers recommendations for creating more resilient electoral institutions in Afghanistan and other postconflict countries.
Diplomats and peace practitioners often cite lack of familiarity with the religious landscape as a barrier to their engagement of religious actors. In 2013, USIP launched an initiative to address this need by developing a methodology for systematically mapping and assessing the religious sector’s influence on conflict and peace dynamics in discrete conflict settings. These mappings, which have been done or are underway in Libya, South Sudan, Iraq and Burma, help illuminate recommendations for effective partnerships within the religious sector for peacebuilding.
Afghanistan’s next generation of leaders have an opportunity to break out of the cycles of violence that have caused civil wars, insurgencies, and widespread human rights abuses and domestic violence over the past decades. To do this, government officials and community leaders need to have practical skills to identify sources of conflict and know how to de-escalate tensions and negotiate peaceful solutions.