Peace processes involve a series of negotiated steps to end wars and build sustainable peace. The U.S. Institute of Peace works with practitioners, diplomats and officials to understand how to effectively manage or facilitate such processes. This includes how such negotiations can be structured and supported, the issues to be resolved, the trade-offs involved, and the consequences and challenges that result. From considering gender and the role of women in Colombia’s peace process to furthering a new understanding of Myanmar’s long road towards peace, USIP works to ensure that peace agreements in conflict areas are inclusive, participatory, and locally led and supported.
U.S. and NATO troops are rapidly executing President Biden’s policy of a complete withdrawal of American troops and contactors supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) by a deadline of September 11. Based on the rate of progress, the last American soldier could depart before the end of July. The decision to withdraw without a cease-fire or a framework for a political agreement between the Taliban and the government caught Afghans and regional countries by surprise. The Taliban have capitalized on the moment to seize dozens of districts and project an air of confidence and victory.
The recent outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence raised renewed discussion on how Arab states that inked normalization agreements with Israel in 2020 can advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The “new normalizers” (UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco) may be weighing the pros and cons of heavily involving themselves in efforts to resolve this protracted conflict but should not dismiss the opportunity. They can and should play a more proactive and constructive role, which would enhance regional stability and prosperity and advance the normalizers’ own interests. It will be up to the international community, the Palestinians and regional stakeholders to bring them into the peacemaking fold.
Coming into office, the Biden administration was clear that the Middle East would largely take a backseat in its foreign policy agenda. But recent developments in Jerusalem and the 11-day war on Gaza forced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back into the forefront of international attention and revealed elements of the administration’s approach to the conflict. U.S. policy on the conflict has long been a point of bipartisan harmony, with more consensus than contention. The Biden administration’s emerging policy largely aligns with past administrations’ policies, with a few notable differences. But can this approach advance peace amid this protracted conflict?
Almost 20 years after the United States ousted the Taliban regime, the first direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government began in Doha, Qatar in September 2020. The Taliban, Afghan government, and international forces have fought to a deadly stalemate, with both battle deaths and civilian casualties near record highs in recent years.
The International Partnerships team leads the Institute’s policy engagements with international actors to enable foresight, insight and action on the most pressing global challenges to building and sustaining peace. Through the development of a virtuous circle of timely, policy-relevant thought-leadership and collaborative partnerships with major international policy actors and dialogue forums, the IP team works to expand USIP’s global policy influence and advance USIP’s mission to prevent and mitigate violent conflict.
Since 2018, USIP, InclusivePeace, and the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy have been conducting research that explores the roles that religious actors play in track 1 dialogues and official peace processes. While distinct cases demonstrate the impact—both real and potential—that religious actors and communities have on formal peace processes, little research or analysis exists to show whether, when, how, and to what extent religious actors should be engaged as part of these processes.