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.
The diplomatic agreements being signed this week among the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel present formidable challenges to the long-standing paradigm for peacemaking in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are yet to provide a viable substitute. While final contours of the agreements remain to unfold, their approach undermines the paradigm of providing an incentive for Israel to accept Palestinian self-determination as part of normalized relations with its Arab neighbors. With the Israeli-Palestinian divide wider now than any time since 1967, the erosion of these cornerstones for peacemaking is a precursor for an eventual new crisis.
The intra-Afghan negotiations that began on Saturday represent a watershed moment in the war: the first direct, official talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. These historic talks commenced 19 years and one day after al-Qaida's 9/11 terrorist attacks drew the United States into Afghanistan's civil war. Just getting the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban to the table is an accomplishment. The main reason the talks materialized is the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in February of this year; that agreement delivered a timetable for the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops, which met the Taliban’s years-long precondition for opening talks with the Afghan government.
For decades, many Arab states were united in their hostility toward Israel and support for the Palestinian cause, even though in some cases that backing was simply rhetorical. In recent years, however, Israel and some Arab countries have engaged in a quiet rapprochement, spurred by common concerns over Iran’s influence in the region, among other things. The August 13 announcement of the “Abraham Accord” between Israel and the UAE was the most public and dramatic demonstration of these shifting regional dynamics. But what does this mean for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of the region in finding a resolution?
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.
The congressionally mandated Afghanistan Peace Process Study Group (ASG) has been charged with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.” The ASG will submit a document containing forward-looking recommendations to Congress, the administration, and the public in early 2021.
The U.S. Institute of Peace’s Office of Strategic Stability and Security was established in 2020 to provide research and analysis on the growing impact of global powers on peace and stability. Housing USIP’s Russia program, and with plans to work closely with the Institute’s China program, the office convenes experts and local actors to develop an understanding of how the reemergence of major power competition is shaping the prospects for peace—with a special focus on Ukraine.