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 response to nationwide protests, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would not seek a fifth term to extend his 20-year rule. Bouteflika’s decision was greeted with celebration by the protesters, who saw it as the first victory in a potential democratic revolution. However, the upcoming presidential elections have been delayed, effectively allowing Bouteflika and a small group of ruling elites to govern indefinitely. What follows for Algeria is an uncertain period, one that echoes the “Arab Spring” that swept through the region in 2011. USIP’s Thomas Hill discusses Algeria’s future and the possibility of a second “Arab Spring” on the horizon.
Echoing his country’s leaders, Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, affirmed that his government will take an across-the-board approach to controlling extremist groups without regard for their particular cause or connections.
On March 9, Nigerians return to the polls to elect governors and state legislators. The balloting follows the presidential elections held February 23, which saw the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, re-elected for another four-year term. USIP’s Chris Kwaja and Aly Verjee discuss how Buhari’s victory may impact the state elections, Nigerians’ seeming disenchantment with voting, and how to avert potential violence.
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.