Economic and environmental crises such as poverty and famine are often blamed for driving conflict, but the relationship is complicated. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to better understand the connections between violence, economics and the environment. The Institute then uses these insights to identify effective peacebuilding interventions that prevent or end violence during an economic or environmental crisis.
South Asia’s extreme smog worsens each winter, helping to kill an estimated 1.2 million Indians and 128,000 Pakistanis annually—more than have died in either country from the COVID virus. As pollution this past winter exacerbated the pandemic, India’s and Pakistan’s governments responded with mutual blame. Yet COVID, and a sudden moment of détente between these bitter rivals, could offer an opportunity to address the smog crisis, and build rare collaboration with the only strategy that can work: a joint one. The governments, their U.S. and international allies and civil society should use this chance to jumpstart such an effort.
Revitalizing Afghanistan’s badly damaged Ministry of Finance is critical for the state’s survival today and will be equally important during a peace process or under any interim or power-sharing arrangement. Without curbs on political interference and corruption at the ministry, Afghanistan will be hard pressed to ensure that aid pledges made at November’s Geneva international conference materialize.
Will people go to war over water? According to the United Nations, “Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change” in the years ahead. As access to this finite, vital resource becomes increasingly imperiled, water-related tensions will rise — both between states and within them. In recent decades, disputes between governments and local stakeholders have resulted in mass action events centered on water governance. Today, in the age of accelerating climate change, nonviolent movements will need to adapt their strategic thinking if they are to improve water governance and prevent violent conflict.
The U.S. Institute of Peace supports programs and research that contribute to the mission of promoting enduring peace in South Asia. The institute provides analysis, capacity development and resources to individuals and institutions working to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict. In Pakistan, USIP awards funding in three categories, ranging from projects that test new, experimental ideas to supporting local and international organizations on policy relevant research.