Peaceful, prosperous societies need people and institutions to be subject to law that is fairly applied. The U.S. Institute of Peace helps states and members of society work together to strengthen the rule of law, often through justice and security sector reforms. USIP develops innovative models to foster and shepherd sustainable and locally supported reforms, trains rule-of-law practitioners, conducts research and holds forums to share knowledge. The institute also supports programs such as Justice and Security Dialogues, which seek to build trust between civil society and officials from the justice and security sectors.

Featured Publications

Extending Constitutional Rights to Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Extending Constitutional Rights to Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

By: Umar Mahmood Khan; Rana Hamza Ijaz; Sevim Saadat

When Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas were officially merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in May 2018, the five million residents of the former tribal areas acquired the same constitutional rights and protections—including access to a formal judicial system—as Pakistan’s other citizens. This report, based on field research carried out by the authors, explores the status of the formal justice system’s expansion, finding both positive trends and severe administrative and capacity challenges, and offers recommendations to address these issues.

Type: Special Report

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

“No Going Backward”: Afghanistan’s Post–Peace Accord Security Sector

“No Going Backward”: Afghanistan’s Post–Peace Accord Security Sector

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

By: Annie Pforzheimer; Andrew Hyde; Jason Criss Howk

Failure to plan realistically for needed changes in Afghanistan’s security sector following a peace settlement—and failure to start phasing in changes now—will lead to post-settlement instability. This report examines the particular challenges Afghanistan will face, with examples from the climate following peace settlements in other parts of the world offering insight into what may occur and possibilities for response.

Type: Peaceworks

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Nigeria Needs Justice, Not Payoffs, to Build Peace

Nigeria Needs Justice, Not Payoffs, to Build Peace

Thursday, March 18, 2021

By: Oge Onubogu

When gunmen stormed a Nigerian government high school last week, kidnapping dozens of students for ransom, this fourth mass kidnapping in three months underscored that Nigeria’s response so far is not reducing the violence and insecurity spreading across the country’s north. That response has been largely ad hoc, a mix of federal military actions, state officials negotiating with the criminal gangs and, allegedly, the payment of ransoms. A more effective response will require better coordination among federal and state authorities, the inclusion of civil society in a broad strategy, and support from the international community.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

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Current Projects

Security Sector Governance and Reform

Security Sector Governance and Reform

USIP believes that peace is impossible without security. Our work offers a peacebuilding approach to security sector governance and reform. Providing citizens with human security is one of the most fundamental obligations of any state. But too often, those intended to provide security, such as military and police forces, instead trigger violence or exacerbate ongoing conflicts.

Civilian-Military Relations; Democracy & Governance; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

The Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya project was launched in July 2020 to fill existing knowledge gaps on correctional facilities in Libya and the criminal justice system in the Fezzan region. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), this project aims to strengthen the rule of law in Libya by providing the international community and Libyan officials with a more complete picture of the region’s institutions, as well as actionable recommendations to inform the development and implementation of future policy and programming.

Democracy & Governance; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Justice and Security Dialogue in Saaba

Justice and Security Dialogue in Saaba

In 2015, the United States Institute of Peace launched an initiative in Saaba, a small community in the West African country of Burkina Faso, where tensions were rising between informal security groups and the police. Local authorities, police, and leaders of the informal security group initially refused to meet in person. The following story chronicles how these groups came together to build trust and work to improve security in their community.

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

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