Rachel is a program specialist with the Africa program at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Rachel joined USIP as full time staff after one year as a graduate student research assistant with the Africa team. Prior to joining USIP, Rachel worked with the Initiatives Team in the President’s Office at Georgetown University.

Rachel specializes in the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic, working with the Africa team and USIP’s IMPACT initiative. Her research interests include extremist violence, democracy and governance in Africa, hybrid authoritarian regimes and identity narratives.

Rachel holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution with concentrations in African Politics and Terrorism from Georgetown University, with some coursework completed through the University of Maryland National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French Language & Literature from the University of Chicago, with some coursework completed through the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris.

Publications By Rachel

Central African Republic’s Disputed Elections Exacerbate Rising Tensions

Central African Republic’s Disputed Elections Exacerbate Rising Tensions

Thursday, January 7, 2021

By: Elizabeth Murray; Rachel Sullivan

After an election period marked by violence and rising tension, the Central African Republic’s (CAR) incumbent president, Faustin Archange Touadéra, has been re-elected, according to the country’s election commission. Days before the vote, a disparate medley of armed groups coalesced to demand the vote be postponed. Since the polls’ closing, there has been a serious spike in violence with fighting in many major towns. The political opposition as well as the newly formed armed coalition have rejected the results and have demanded a re-run election. USIP’s Elizabeth Murray and Rachel Sullivan explain what led to rising violence in the weeks before the polls, what it means for the floundering 2019 peace agreement, and where the international community stands.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Electoral Violence

Amid the Central African Republic’s search for peace, Russia steps in. Is China next?

Amid the Central African Republic’s search for peace, Russia steps in. Is China next?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

By: Leslie Minney; Rachel Sullivan; Rachel Vandenbrink

The 2017 National Security Strategy refocused U.S. foreign and defense policy to address resurgent major power competition with Russia and China. In U.S. foreign policy, Africa has emerged as a frontline for this competition, as in recent years both Moscow and Beijing have sought to expand their influence and promote their interests on the continent. Nowhere is the role of major powers more apparent than in the Central African Republic (CAR), where Russia has emerged as a key power broker amid a civil war that has simmered since 2012. Despite concerns about the need to counter other major powers, the best course for U.S. policy in CAR is to not allow competition with Russia and China to distract from the fundamental priority of supporting a democratic, inclusive path to peace.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

Central African Republic Struggles to Implement Peace Deal

Central African Republic Struggles to Implement Peace Deal

Thursday, October 17, 2019

By: Elizabeth Murray; Rachel Sullivan

The peace agreement signed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in early 2019 is the eighth in seven years, numbers that suggest how difficult it will be to even attempt to end to the country’s multi-sided conflict. That said, the accord this time was reached after more extensive preparations for talks and with greater international support than in the past, perhaps improving conditions for a sustainable halt to violence that has displaced more than 1.2 million people.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

In Central African Republic, a Door Opens to Citizen Voices

In Central African Republic, a Door Opens to Citizen Voices

Friday, September 23, 2016

By: Rachel Sullivan

On a cool Friday morning in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the conference room is silent for the first time in days. Expert presentations on disarmament and security sector reform, followed by lively debates, had filled the room since Wednesday afternoon. Now, only the air conditioning hums as a diverse group of mid- and-senior level officials and civic leaders—gathered by the U.S. Institute of Peace—pore over findings from citizen consultations held in communities aroun...

Type: In the Field

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

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