Reconciliation encompasses truth-telling, sharing of historical narratives, or dialogue to transform relations among groups affected by conflict and rebuild trust between the state and citizens so that former enemies can envision and realize a shared future. USIP supports research to evaluate and better understand the practices of reconciliation used around the world and their impact.
Since taking power in August, the Taliban have repeatedly expressed the expectation that the international community will recognize their authority as the new government of Afghanistan and have taken several procedural steps to pursue recognition. But the group has done very little to demonstrate a willingness to meet the conditions put forward by Western powers and some regional states. USIP’s Andrew Watkins, Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Kate Bateman assess the latest Taliban efforts to win international recognition, the position of Pakistan and other key regional players and options for U.S. policy to shape Taliban behavior and the engagement decisions of other international partners.
The Taliban’s rapid victory in Afghanistan evoked many comparisons to the collapse of the South Vietnamese regime and U.S. evacuation from Saigon in 1975. Ironically, during the same week in late August that the last U.S. forces were withdrawing from Kabul, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris carried out a remarkably successful visit to Hanoi. U.S.-Vietnam relations have arguably never been better — a stark contrast to the scent of failure in Afghanistan.
Since Myanmar’s military illegally deposed the country’s elected government on February 1, it has killed more than 1,000 people and is actively undermining efforts to manage the COVID pandemic by arresting volunteer doctors, blocking imports of medical supplies and hoarding and stealing oxygen. The military’s inhumanity and daily atrocities have created a common enemy for a divided society and a rare opportunity for the Myanmar people to initiate a much-needed nation-building process. The opposition is a loose group of organizations largely held together by a shared hatred for the military. If it is to decisively shift the trajectory of this conflict and end the military’s 70-year stranglehold on power, it will need to unify through a transformative reconciliation process.
In 2021, the U.S. Institute of Peace launched a multiyear project to foster greater dialogue both in and between the United States and Vietnam on war legacy issues and reconciliation. This project stems from the U.S. Congress’s landmark 2021 authorization for the U.S. government to assist Vietnam in identifying its missing personnel, following decades of Vietnamese cooperation to help the United States conduct the fullest possible accounting of U.S. personnel. This project will support this bilateral initiative while also engaging in the work that remains to addresss legacies of war — including the continuing impacts of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance — and to deepen reconciliation.
Violent Extremist Disengagement and Reconciliation (VEDR) is the peacebuilding contribution to disengagement from violent extremism and reconciliation with local communities. It de-exceptionalizes violent extremism from other challenges that result from similar sets of risk factors and social environments by emphasizing peacebuilding and public health.
Through the Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation project in Libya, USIP has built the capacity of local leaders in conflict analysis, transitional justice, and dialogue facilitation. USIP is now mentoring these individuals, who are from three conflict-affected areas in Libya—Sebha, Ubari, and Nalut-Siyaan—through the process of implementing community dialogues. The goal of this project, which is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is to build trust between these fractured communities, ultimately resulting in increased social cohesion and longterm, sustainable reconciliation and peace. The project began in October 2018 and will conclude in April 2021.