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.
In the weeks since Pakistan’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus, the country’s response has laid bare troubling weaknesses in governance, public health, and economic stability—and raised serious questions about Pakistan’s capacity to weather a large-scale outbreak absent significant international assistance. USIP’s Cyril Almeida and Ambassador Richard Olson look at how friction between the military and federal government poses a risk to Pakistan’s democracy, the possible avenues for medical and economic relief, and what COVID-19 means for the situation in Kashmir and Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process.
Last month’s breakthrough between South Sudan’s government and its armed opposition on establishing a new transitional government represents a critical step toward ending the country’s civil war, a conflict that over the past six years has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced a third of the nation’s population of 12 million.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads in both countries, USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed examines the obstacles facing Iraq’s newly appointed prime minister, as well as whether addressing the crisis might open the door for de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran, saying, “I do hope that these unfortunate challenges still come with some opportunity.”
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.