Extremist movements — such as ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Shabab — fuel, and often stem from, instability and violent conflict and present a complex challenge. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to understand the underlying causes of violent extremism and helps develop localized and viable solutions by providing research, training and expertise to practitioners and policymakers. From examining the critical role of women in combating violent extremism in Afghanistan to exploring the dynamics of radicalization in Kosovo, USIP seeks to reduce this ever-shifting threat.
Learn more in our fact sheet on USIP’s Work on Violent Extremism.
Central Asia Needs a New Approach to Security
After three decades of independence following the fall of the Soviet Union, Central Asian countries continue to face challenges to their stability and governance. Last year saw large-scale domestic unrest in three of the region’s five countries — Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — and a devastating cross-border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was the largest ever trans-boundary escalation in the region. Many of these events follow similar patterns: growing tensions and grievances among citizens lead to protests, which are met with a harsh and disproportionate response including the use of lethal force by security forces, feeding into further mistrust between authorities and the population.
Africa’s Sahel Needs a Coordinated Plan on Extremist Violence
The African Union held its summit last weekend in the dark shadow of escalating bloodshed amid the violent extremist upheavals of the Sahel region. The surge in violence underscores a need to redouble regional and international efforts to address multiple, simultaneous crises in a holistic and unified manner that goes beyond the security-focused response that has characterized efforts to curb the violence to date.
Fragile States Provide Extremists Fertile Ground to Recruit and Grow
Editor’s Note: Below are the excerpts of an interview originally published by the European Eye on Radicalization with USIP’s Mona Yacoubian about the various drivers of terrorism and constructive ways to address the phenomenon. She says the fragility of states provide an enabling environment for terrorists to operate and underscores the various ways that extremists benefit from this environment.
Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel
In May 2021, USIP created the Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel comprised of 12 current and former high-level U.S. officials, renowned academics and prominent Africa experts. The senior study group aims to generate new insights into the complex challenges facing the Sahel region, including food security, human rights, security assistance, private sector development and job creation — as well as great power competition. The senior study group will provide original recommendations to the U.S. government and governments in the Sahel region to improve foreign assistance, resolve conflict and support lasting peace.
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.
Violent Extremist Disengagement and 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.