Young people are hungry for examples of people working for peace in some of the world’s most violent conflicts, and they are curious about ways they too can make a positive difference. Megan Chabalowski explains how USIP’s Peace Teachers Program provides educators with the in-depth training and resources needed to incorporate peacebuilding into their classrooms and communities.
Following unprecedented talks between Taliban and Afghan leaders this week, which have provided renewed hope for peace, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack in Ghanzi province. Scott Smith says Afghanistan is now exhibiting “one of the usual paradoxes of this stage of a peace process … where both parties, as they begin to talk more, they begin to fight more.”
At a recent USIP event, Nobel laureate Nadia Murad discussed her efforts to end sexual violence and human trafficking—two criminal practices that Kathleen Kuehnast says “have been institutionalized and militarized.” To disincentivize these human rights abuses, Kuehnast says we must reinforce that these heinous but often lucrative practices are “not a livelihood—this is criminality.”
A year after the first summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, “both sides are very much committed to diplomacy and trying to reach an agreement,” says Frank Aum. Despite the stalled talks, Aum says that Chinese President Xi’s visit to North Korea will likely encourage Kim to continue along the path of diplomacy.
Massive unrest has hit Hong Kong, as citizens protest an extradition law they believe is favorable to China. Vikram Singh says protesters’ fear that Beijing is working to undermine Hong Kong’s longstanding judicial independence. Looking at India and Pakistan, Singh says that the chances for meaningful dialogue right now are small, as both countries focus on their own issues.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has made protecting sovereignty a core principle of its foreign policy and U.S.-China relations. While Beijing prioritizes protecting sovereignty at home, “its actions abroad raise questions about whether it’s interested in protecting the sovereignty of other countries,” says USIP’s Jacob Stokes.
In the last two months, dictators in Sudan and Algeria were forced to step down because of popular pressure, demonstrating the power of nonviolent resistance to movements in places like Nicaragua and Venezuela. “When large numbers of people engage in various forms of noncooperation … that is where the real power of nonviolent resistance comes from,” says Maria Stephan.
What’s at stake in Sudan as tense negotiations between the Transitional Military Council and protesters continue? “We need to see a swift transition to civilian-led rule,” says Payton Knopf. “Otherwise I’m afraid what will result is increased instability … or potentially a catastrophic failure of the state.”
Reflecting on recent conversations in Doha and Kabul, USIP’s Belquis Ahmadi says that Afghans told her they want peace, but are not willing to sacrifice the hard-won gains of the last 18 years to get there. As U.S.-Taliban talks move forward, the extent of the Taliban’s evolution on issues like women’s rights remains in question. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” says Ahmadi.
Nearly 20 years after 9/11, determining the profile of someone who is going to join a terrorist group remains a deeply challenging effort. For too long we have looked at simple explanations— like poverty or lack of education—for why people join violent movements. Erdberg discusses a new project to investigate the psychology and neuroscience that motivates people to resort to extremism.