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

How Did Martial Law Affect the Upcoming Election in Ukraine?

How Did Martial Law Affect the Upcoming Election in Ukraine?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

By: Jonas Claes; Jack Stuart

On November 26, 2018, Ukrainian President Poroshenko enacted martial law—for 30 days—in response to Russian naval ships ramming Ukrainian vessels in the Azov Sea and seizing the strategic Kerch Strait. The decision led to concerns that voter rights and civil liberties would be constrained, just a few months before a critical election. Now that the period of increased military preparedness has officially ended, it is time to evaluate the impact martial law had on the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for March 31. USIP recently published an assessment of these elections, identifying conflict drivers, scenarios for violence and recommendations for election violence prevention.

Electoral Violence

Ukraine’s Elections Could Turn Violent—This is How to Prevent It

Ukraine’s Elections Could Turn Violent—This is How to Prevent It

Thursday, December 20, 2018

By: Jonas Claes; Artem Miroshnichenko

Ukraine is facing a busy election season in 2019, with presidential elections on March 31 and parliamentary elections scheduled for October, amid a challenging security context. Many Ukrainians expect turbulent and “dirty” elections with increased tension during the campaign periods, and between Election Day and the likely presidential run-off.

Electoral Violence

If History is Any Guide, Bangladesh Elections are About to Get Ugly

If History is Any Guide, Bangladesh Elections are About to Get Ugly

Monday, December 3, 2018

By: Jonas Claes

Elections in Bangladesh are traditionally a violent affair, and the general elections on December 30 will be no different. The leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zhia, is imprisoned for alleged corruption, while recent confrontations between her supporters and the police led to widespread destruction and several dozen injuries in the first violent marches of the election season.

Electoral Violence

In Madagascar, a Presidential Vote Sees Old Fissures Resurface

In Madagascar, a Presidential Vote Sees Old Fissures Resurface

Thursday, November 1, 2018

By: Aly Verjee; Jonas Claes

On November 7, the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar, a country larger in area than California and more populous than Florida, goes to the polls to elect its next president. With a history of political crisis and fraught elections, the 2018 polls have seen renewed acrimony as no less than four former presidents of Madagascar seek the country’s highest office. USIP’s Aly Verjee and Jonas Claes discuss what’s at stake, the challenges ahead and how election disputes and violence can be mitigated. 

Electoral Violence; Democracy & Governance

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