The U.S. Institute of Peace convenes officials and policy experts, influences high-level debates, and works with other institutions, government and civil society groups to discuss and develop better strategies that will prevent, mitigate or resolve violent conflict. Among the institute’s global policy priorities are the problem of fragility—when a state is vulnerable to violent conflict because government is unwilling or unable to address its citizens’ needs—and the need to better connect humanitarian relief, security sector assistance, political action and longer-term development aid.
With the novel coronavirus emerging in late 2019, the attention of Western governments and international NGOs was dominated by the COVID pandemic in 2020, upending everything from domestic policies to international assistance priorities. The Devex funding database reveals more than $20.5 trillion has been committed to the global COVID-19 response from January to November 2020, with around $186 million for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Does this prioritization of COVID align with challenges facing the people of the region? Conversations with local peacebuilders expose that although the COVID cases might increase in 2021, pressing socioeconomic needs continue to trump concerns about the pandemic.
Documented evidence of large-scale human rights abuses in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region has painted a clear picture that Beijing is perpetrating mass atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim ethnic groups. But even in the face of transparent evidence, the strategies the international community and the United States typically deploy to prevent atrocities have failed to stop the problem. The United States and like-minded countries have an obligation to act to end the ongoing atrocities and to protect the Uyghur people. While many important steps have been taken, none have had a noticeable impact on Beijing. It’s time for the international community to take stock of the atrocity prevention toolkit, to consider why it has failed the Uyghurs, and to discuss how these failures can inform updates or adaptations to respond to the Xinjiang crisis.
Emerging from the economic havoc of the Great Depression and the violence of World War II, the United States found itself at a hinge of history moment. American leaders like President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson believed that the United States should not only change the way it engaged with the world but assert itself to shape and lead it into a new era of international cooperation. Today, amid a global pandemic, the world faces a similar moment, with massive technological, demographic, environmental, and geopolitical shifts redefining the global order, said former Secretary of State George Shultz. “They [American leaders after World War II] said what we could say now … we are part of this world, whether we like it or not. And they set out to try to make something different.”
The International Partnerships team leads the Institute’s policy engagements with international actors to enable foresight, insight and action on the most pressing global challenges to building and sustaining peace. Through the development of a virtuous circle of timely, policy-relevant thought-leadership and collaborative partnerships with major international policy actors and dialogue forums, the IP team works to expand USIP’s global policy influence and advance USIP’s mission to prevent and mitigate violent conflict.
The Conflict Prevention and Fragility Working Group develops timely, policy-relevant analysis at the intersection of the global response to COVID-19 and conflict prevention, identifying practical policy solutions for embedding a fragility lens into the global pandemic response. Building on the findings of the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States and the Global Fragility Act (GFA), this group of experts includes thought-leaders with a wide-range of experience and expertise—from advocates to academics to frontline peacebuilders.
The congressionally mandated Afghanistan Peace Process Study Group (ASG) has been charged with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.” The ASG will submit a document containing forward-looking recommendations to Congress, the administration, and the public in early 2021.