Wherever armed conflict erupts, its causes can almost always be traced back to weak or broken social contracts between government and its people. The U.S. Institute of Peace sees such “state fragility” as a complex issue that needs urgent attention. USIP strives to address the challenge of fragility through new approaches to conflict prevention and by strengthening resilience that promotes a sound social compact between the state and society. USIP has joined in convening the Fragility Study Group, a non-partisan initiative aimed at improving the U.S. government’s approach to reducing global fragility.
The question for international assistance efforts in fragile and conflict-affected countries is the extent to which aid programs are associated with changes in key metrics, including security, popular support for the government, community cohesion and resilience, population health, economic well-being, and internal violence. With an eye to lessons learned for the future, this report examines USAID stabilization programming in Afghanistan, focusing on whether it reduced violence, increased support for the government, and promoted other desirable political and economic outcomes.
In Nigeria, a radio call-in show with local Islamic scholars provided an alternative to extremist propaganda. In Somalia, training youth in nonviolent advocacy for better governance produced a sharp drop in support for political violence. In the Lake Chad region, coordinating U.S. defense, development and diplomatic efforts helped push back Boko Haram and strengthened surrounding states. Such cases illustrate ways to close off the openings for extremism in fragile states, experts said in a discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
The 2011 famine in Somalia, caused by a prolonged drought, killed an estimated 260,000 people. But this was more than a natural disaster. Amid the starvation, food shortages prompted rebels of al-Shabab, the armed group fighting Somalia’s government and spreading terror abroad, to attack local farmers to seize their food reserves, causing even more civilian deaths. It’s a pattern that plays out in rural regions across the developing world.
Over the last decade, the U.S. government (USG) has undertaken efforts to prevent or mitigate crisis in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions. As a follow on to the tripartite Fragility Study Group, this project aims to learn from recent experience in specific complex crises where prevention and mitigation efforts by defense, development and diplomatic (3D) institutions may have had some success. Its goal is to develop corresponding programmatic and operational lessons that may help inform preparation of the workforce to be better able to succeed in today’s complex operating environments.
Join us for 60 days of learning to highlight the connections among youth, peace and gender equality. We’ll celebrate the stories of young women and men working for peace, and we’ll exchange crucial skills and approaches for building more inclusive societies.
The Fragility Study Group is an independent, non-partisan initiative, jointly convened by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), to improve the U.S. government’s approach to reducing global fragility.