Human rights abuses can spur violent conflict, or vice-versa. Effective protection of human rights underpins the legitimate governance and rule of law that establish the conditions for a state to resolve conflicts and grievances without violence. The U.S. Institute of Peace provides grants, fellowships, education and publications to deepen understanding of the critical role of human rights protection in preventing and managing violence.
Over the past week, members of China’s ethnic Uyghur minority have provided moving testimony about their persecution to the Uyghur Tribunal, an unofficial, civil society-led investigation into possible genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Beijing. Although the “people’s tribunal” is not backed by any government and its findings will not be binding on any country, the hearings play an important role in providing recognition to victims’ suffering and in strengthening the legal argument for a U.N. Commission of Inquiry or other international accountability mechanisms. As such, the tribunal serves as an important tool for civil society to move atrocity prevention efforts forward when U.N. or international court action is blocked.
On May 12, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the Biden administration’s first annual religious freedom report. It was accompanied by a strong speech, highlighting the importance of the issue and singling out countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Nigeria, among others, for their particularly severe violations. The secretary also made a point to establish that the Biden administration’s approach emphasizes that the right to religious freedom is one component of an integrated human rights agenda. This stands in contrast to others who view religious freedom to be of unique importance and deserving of singular attention.
Two years after the Easter Sunday attacks that left 269 dead and injured more than 500, Sri Lanka’s Christian community is still waiting for justice while its Muslim community is reeling from the backlash that followed the bombings. Recent government restrictions targeting Muslims have exacerbated religious tensions in the South Asian nation and risk alienating large portions of the community.
Government restrictions on religion have risen steadily in recent years, raising questions about both their causes and consequences. In partnership with USAID’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, USIP launched the Closing the Gap initiative earlier this year to more carefully examine these trends. The project, which will take place over the course of 2020, will explore the relationship between freedom of religion, peace, and development through statistical analysis and case studies. The findings will inform a more nuanced, strategic, and impactful policy and practice of advancing religious freedom.
Conflict-related sexual violence is increasingly recognized as not only a weapon of war, but a threat to international peace and security. In 2012, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Human Rights Center at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, and Women in International Security (WIIS), launched the Missing Peace Initiative to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings...