The field of peacebuilding is based upon principles of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion (JDEI). However, peacebuilding organizations are often asked to operate in contexts rooted in systemic injustice and inequity. This can jeopardize an organization’s ability to embody and implant JDEI values — as well as affect their impact and effectiveness, their stakeholder engagement and their understanding of how unconscious bias can permeate an organization’s programming. Launched in Spring 2021, USIP’s JDEI Initiative cooperates with civil society and U.S. government leaders to host workshops and public events, conduct research, and engage with partners around the world to further the embedment of JDEI in peacebuilding practices.

Most conversations on JDEI in the United States focuses on internal organizational structures and dynamics. Various processes and metrics are being developed and implemented to track performance and ensure accountability in areas including recruitment, compensation and leadership composition. But while looking inward is commendable, it’s equally vital for organizations to look outward and address how JDEI — or a lack thereof — can impact their external effectiveness. This outward pivot is particularly critical for organizations that strive to promote peace worldwide. Peacebuilding is, after all, rooted in JDEI principles.

USIP’s JDEI Initiative focuses on equitable, inclusive and justice-centered approaches to peacebuilding and policy programs through engagement with leaders, institutions and communities worldwide. By hosting conversations with experts across a range of regional and functional focal points; publishing research findings; and providing platforms for a diverse set of voices, the JDEI Initiative works to promote JDEI principles and make JDEI an extricable part of peacebuilding processes everywhere.

USIP’s JDEI Initiative hosts events and workshops in collaboration with civil society organizations and leaders in government positions to create steps for addressing failure in implementing JDEI throughout the peacebuilding field. These workshops, and the resulting reports, are shared with organizations and stakeholders around the world as important resources for addressing JDEI deficits.

Listening Sessions, Events and Workshops

People gather to watch the sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, Sept. 26, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)

The Importance of Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Peacebuilding

In Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, the JDEI Initiative conducted listening sessions with practitioners throughout USIP and in several adjacent government and civil society organizations to better understand the challenges that those striving to embed JDEI in peaceful processes face. Challenges identified included the unwillingness of institutional leaders to change the status quo, inadequate resourcing for JDEI programs, and inconsistencies in JDEI working definitions. 

Picture clockwise from top left: Joseph Sany, Dina Esposito, Melanie Greenberg, Ariel Eckblad, Scott Taylor, Kehinde Togun

JDEI in Peacebuilding: A Dynamic Dialogue Towards Action

The JDEI Initiative collaborated with Humanity United to host both a public panel discussion and a closed-door practitioner workshop. The participants first discussed the dilemmas that peacebuilders face while navigating systems historically rooted in patriarchy, imperialism and western colonialism. Then, participants proposed ongoing solutions and first steps toward embedding JDEI principles within peacebuilding processes.

Corinne Graff, USIP (top left); Joseph Sany, USIP (top center); Susanna Campbell, American University (top right); Pamina Firchow, Brandeis University (bottom left); Jennifer Hawkins, USAID (bottom center); Rosa Emilia Salamanca, CAISE (bottom right)

Can Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Deliver Peace?

USIP and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University hosted a discussion on how applying the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion can contribute to more effective U.S. peace and development programs around the world. Panelists considered efforts to meaningfully engage marginalized or underrepresented groups such as women, youth, and social movement actors to support locally driven peacebuilding. This event laid the foundation for the continued conversations of the JDEI Initiative today.

Coming Soon

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A new podcast on JDEI

The JDEI Initiative will be producing a new podcast that features stories of trials and triumphs in JDEI at every level of peacebuilding. This type of storytelling can help reorient our understanding of JDEI in a way that recognizes and includes those working on the ground to build peace and security. The narratives captured on the podcast will illustrate the type of imaginative thinking necessary to overcome the current limitations in embedding JDEI throughout peacebuilding processes. 

Disability-Inclusive Peacebuilding