Jonas Claes is a senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he conducts research and analysis on the prevention of electoral violence and mass atrocities. In this capacity, Claes coordinates prevention projects and consults senior U.S., U.N. and EU officials in fine-tuning prevention practices. He has engaged in election observation, research and training around the world, including in Kenya, Liberia, Bangladesh, Suriname and Honduras.

Mr. Claes is the editor of “Electing Peace,” a USIP research volume that takes an important step at identifying what works, and what does not, in preventing election violence. The book evaluates the utility of preventive diplomacy, security sector engagement, peace messaging and several other instruments for the purpose of election violence prevention. Claes has written extensively on the responsibility to protect as well, including a journal article on “Protecting Civilians from Mass Atrocities: Meeting the Challenges of R2P Opposition” published in Global Responsibility to Protect, and a chapter on “The Responsibility to Prevent” in the Cambridge volume The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect.

Previously, Jonas served as senior program specialist in the Center for Conflict Management, supporting USIP’s work on conflict analysis and prevention, including the Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the late Ambassador Richard Williamson. In 2016, he worked from the European Institute of Peace (EIP) office to continue his work on election security from Brussels, and to integrate the work of USIP and EIP. He holds a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a master’s degree in international relations from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).

Publications By Jonas

Walking a Fine Line: Holding Elections Amid Peace Processes

Walking a Fine Line: Holding Elections Amid Peace Processes

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

Elections that are organized amid a peace process can either destabilize or pacify a conflict. The vote can put significant pressure on a peace accord, as Colombia is experiencing today, or it can integrate formerly warring parties into the political process, as in Nepal’s 2008 Constituent Assembly elections. The timing of elections in relation to peace processes, as well as the inclusivity of the process itself, are critical in determining whether peace or conflict prevails at the polls.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Electoral Violence; Peace Processes

Burma’s Big Test: Preventing Election Violence in 2020

Burma’s Big Test: Preventing Election Violence in 2020

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

The people of Burma will head to the polls in late 2020 to elect more than 1,100 representatives to national, state, and regional legislative bodies. During a recent field assessment, the U.S. Institute of Peace confirmed that the risk of election-related violence is surprisingly low considering the ongoing conflicts and multitude of grievances. However, hate speech, disinformation, and intense competition between parties could create violent incidents, particularly during the campaign period. Early efforts to promote peaceful elections need to start now as the window for effective prevention will soon be closed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Electoral Violence

The Dilemma of Delaying Elections

The Dilemma of Delaying Elections

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

Algeria’s Constitutional Council announced over the weekend it would cancel elections planned for next month in response to demands from protesters. Although such delays are often criticized, there are often good reasons to postpone an election in countries at risk of violent conflict. The security situation may complicate the logistics or put poll workers and voters at risk; heated campaigns may risk escalating communal tensions and endanger candidates; or conditions for a fair campaign may simply not be in place amid a state of emergency. At the same time there are risks associated with postponing a voting process. Along with Algeria, other recent examples from Afghanistan, Libya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlight this dilemma.

Electoral Violence

India: Keeping the Peace in the World’s Largest Election

India: Keeping the Peace in the World’s Largest Election

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

From April 11 till May 19 voters are heading to the polls in India. Organizing an election with roughly one million polling stations and an electorate of 900 million people is no small effort. Providing security presents a herculean task in the face of religious intolerance, rising tensions in Kashmir, and inter-party clashes in northeast India.

Electoral Violence

Protecting Elections from Cyberattacks

Protecting Elections from Cyberattacks

Monday, April 1, 2019

By: Jonas Claes; Jack Stuart

With elections increasingly dependent on modern technology, cybersecurity has become a vital shield against election violence and manipulation. Cyberattacks present a growing threat to both nascent and mature democracies, as they can shape the election process, erode citizen trust and trigger other forms of election violence. The 2019 elections in Indonesia and Ukraine illustrate the threat cyberattacks pose, even in relatively consolidated and stable democracies.

Electoral Violence

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