Jonas Claes is a senior program officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he conducts research and analysis on the prevention of electoral violence and mass atrocities. In this capacity, Claes coordinates prevention projects and consults senior U.S., U.N. and EU officials in fine-tuning prevention practices. He has engaged in election observation, research and training around the world, including in Kenya, Liberia, Bangladesh, Suriname and Honduras.

Mr. Claes is the editor of “Electing Peace,” a USIP research volume that takes an important step at identifying what works, and what does not, in preventing election violence. The book evaluates the utility of preventive diplomacy, security sector engagement, peace messaging and several other instruments for the purpose of election violence prevention. Claes has written extensively on the responsibility to protect as well, including a journal article on “Protecting Civilians from Mass Atrocities: Meeting the Challenges of R2P Opposition” published in Global Responsibility to Protect, and a chapter on “The Responsibility to Prevent” in the Cambridge volume The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect.

Previously, Jonas served as senior program specialist in the Center for Conflict Management, supporting USIP’s work on conflict analysis and prevention, including the Working Group on the Responsibility to Protect co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the late Ambassador Richard Williamson. In 2016, he worked from the European Institute of Peace (EIP) office to continue his work on election security from Brussels, and to integrate the work of USIP and EIP. He holds a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a master’s degree in international relations from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).

Publications By Jonas

The Dilemma of Delaying Elections

The Dilemma of Delaying Elections

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

Algeria’s Constitutional Council announced over the weekend it would cancel elections planned for next month in response to demands from protesters. Although such delays are often criticized, there are often good reasons to postpone an election in countries at risk of violent conflict. The security situation may complicate the logistics or put poll workers and voters at risk; heated campaigns may risk escalating communal tensions and endanger candidates; or conditions for a fair campaign may simply not be in place amid a state of emergency. At the same time there are risks associated with postponing a voting process. Along with Algeria, other recent examples from Afghanistan, Libya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlight this dilemma.

Electoral Violence

India: Keeping the Peace in the World’s Largest Election

India: Keeping the Peace in the World’s Largest Election

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

By: Jonas Claes

From April 11 till May 19 voters are heading to the polls in India. Organizing an election with roughly one million polling stations and an electorate of 900 million people is no small effort. Providing security presents a herculean task in the face of religious intolerance, rising tensions in Kashmir, and inter-party clashes in northeast India.

Electoral Violence

Protecting Elections from Cyberattacks

Protecting Elections from Cyberattacks

Monday, April 1, 2019

By: Jonas Claes; Jack Stuart

With elections increasingly dependent on modern technology, cybersecurity has become a vital shield against election violence and manipulation. Cyberattacks present a growing threat to both nascent and mature democracies, as they can shape the election process, erode citizen trust and trigger other forms of election violence. The 2019 elections in Indonesia and Ukraine illustrate the threat cyberattacks pose, even in relatively consolidated and stable democracies.

Electoral Violence

Bougainville: Is the Delayed Independence Referendum a Next Step Toward Peace?

Bougainville: Is the Delayed Independence Referendum a Next Step Toward Peace?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

By: Jonas Claes; Jack Stuart

The autonomous region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is entering a new phase in its quest for peace, almost 20 years after a peace agreement ended a 10-year civil war. Later this year the island will vote in a referendum on greater autonomy or independence from PNG. Unresolved tensions, an unclear referendum timeline, and fears of a return to violence will all impact this tense election process.

Electoral Violence

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