Given religion’s influence on conflict dynamics around the world, it is critical that practitioners and policymakers understand and partner with religious leaders and people of faith to build peace. For more than 25 years, the U.S. Institute of Peace has worked on the role of religion in violence and peace, advancing cutting-edge research and policy, and developing effective strategies to engage religious actors, institutions and ideas across traditions in support of peace. From enhancing the peacemaking capacities of individuals and faith-based organizations to fostering meaningful dialogue within and across faiths, USIP works with local partners to promote inclusive religious peacebuilding. 

Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on Religious Engagement in Peacebuilding.

 

Featured   Publications

Knox Thames on the Role of Religion in the Ukraine War

Knox Thames on the Role of Religion in the Ukraine War

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

By: Knox Thames

Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked religion as part of his justification for Russia's attack on Ukraine, believing their shared Orthodox history would lend credibility to his ambitions. "Of course, the Ukrainians beg to differ," says USIP's Knox Thames. "It's actually strengthening Ukrainian resistance to [Putin's] aggressive actions."

Type: Podcast

Religion

Common Ground on International Religious Freedom Enhances U.S. National Security

Common Ground on International Religious Freedom Enhances U.S. National Security

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Knox Thames

Religious freedom, like other human rights, is strongly correlated with political stability — and repression of religion or belief can serve as a major driver of conflict and violence. Around the world today, we see discrimination against or targeting of religious minorities associated with rising social tensions, intercommunal strife, violence and even mass atrocities. Muslims in India, Rohingya in Myanmar, Uyghurs in China, Yazidis in Iraq, and Christians in Pakistan: all are subject to forms of violence that have corollary effects on broader prospects for peace and stability in their respective contexts.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Maintaining International Religious Freedom as a Central Tenet of U.S. National Security

Maintaining International Religious Freedom as a Central Tenet of U.S. National Security

Monday, October 17, 2022

By: Knox Thames;  Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

In 2021–22, USIP’s Religion and Inclusive Societies Program convened a bipartisan working group of advocates, academics, and former government officials to discuss how the United States can advance global peace and stability by embracing international religious freedom as a major pillar of its diplomatic engagement. This report, written by the working group’s co-chairs, examines the history of the US commitment to international religious freedom and the challenges to ensuring that it remains a central tenet of US foreign policy and national security.

Type: Special Report

Religion

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Current  Projects

Religion and Conflict Country Profiles

Religion and Conflict Country Profiles

While religion has not been a primary driver of conflict in Ukraine, its distinctive history and recent politicization have ensured that it remains an important aspect of the broader context surrounding the current war. Religion has shaped the formation of conflict narratives, as well as understandings and perceptions of the war within different communities. Misunderstanding and indifference to the role of religion in society can significantly exacerbate conflict dynamics, while understanding the peacebuilding potential of religious communities can shape interventions and create opportunities for future stability and social cohesion.

Religion

The USIP Learning Agenda

The USIP Learning Agenda

In support of the Evidence Act and as part of the U.S. national security architecture, USIP is carrying out its own learning agenda. Peacebuilding has long been viewed as too messy and complex for evidence-based approaches — but USIP’s mix of research and practice belies that assumption.

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGenderJustice, Security & Rule of LawMediation, Negotiation & DialogueNonviolent ActionPeace ProcessesReconciliationReligionViolent ExtremismYouth

Religious Literacy and Peacebuilding

Religious Literacy and Peacebuilding

Peacebuilders and policymakers are engaged and involved with religious actors in almost every aspect of their work. Even where religion is not an explicit presence, it is a cultural undercurrent that is immutably present — and one that is often vastly underestimated by policymakers. As USIP’s three decades of experience working at the intersection of religion, peace and conflict has shown, the teachings of various religious traditions, the lived experience of those who practice them and the knowledge of how to engage with people of faith are all essential elements of effective peacebuilding.

Religion

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