Initiated in 2012, the Missing Peace Initiative is a partnership bringing together policymakers, practitioners and junior and senior scholars who are working on the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. Together, these individuals identify gaps in knowledge and reporting and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence. Since 2013, the Missing Peace Scholars Network has ensured that this research is communicated cogently to policymakers by producing annual special reports intended to produce meaningful change regarding acts of conflict-related sexual violence.

Conflict-related sexual violence is increasingly recognized as not only a calculated strategy of warfare used by armed actors, but a threat to international peace and security. From violent extremists in Syria to conflicts in the Balkans, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, state and nonstate actors have used sexual violence against women, men and children to intimidate and terrorize populations. It has served to displace people from contested territory, destroy communities and silence victims. Even after these wars have ended, sexual violence often goes unaddressed. This, in turn, undermines reconstruction efforts and the transition to more stable, secure and peaceful societies.

participant at the 2018 The Missing Peace Initiative's Young Scholars Workshop

In 2008, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1820 (SCR 1820) condemning the use of sexual violence as a strategy of war and asserting that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.” SCR 1820 spells out the intention to end these acts of violence, but no comprehensive framework has been deployed in understanding the causes and long-term effects. As such, sexual violence in conflict has not abated despite implementation of SCR 1820.

Initiatives to prevent or mitigate these violent acts continue to fall short. Two prominent measures that preceded SCR 1820 are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), which asserts that women have fundamental human rights, and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), which acknowledges the impact of conflict on women and girls. Despite these three critical international declarations defining a framework to advance the status of women, there remains no intervention that has an integrated understanding of the causes of sexual violence and its long-term implications for societies at large. As a result, these declarations have been ineffective at eliminating conflict-related sexual violence.

About Missing Peace Initiative

The Missing Peace Initiative (MPI) amplifies new research on conflict-related sexual violence through its Missing Peace Scholars Network. Some of the most innovative research on sexual violence is being undertaken by scholars currently in doctorate programs or recently minted doctorates who spend months — or even years — researching, analyzing and writing about the complex and difficult aspects of understanding and preventing conflict-related sexual violence. These scholars are frequently on the cutting edge of data collection methodologies and have important insights to share with the broader academic, practice and policy communities.

The Missing Peace Scholars Network was formed in 2013 to support the professional development of emerging scholars focused on conflict-related sexual violence and the dissemination of their work. With their combined resources and networks in academia, policymaking and nongovernmental communities, the MPI organizers invite scholars to share their research and build connections within the broader community of researchers focused on conflict-related sexual violence.

To facilitate these efforts, the Missing Peace Scholars Network hosts annual workshops sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace and co-hosted by the MPI partner organizations: the Peace Research Institute of Oslo; Women in International Security; and The Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis. Since the original 2013 symposium, these workshops provide an opportunity for feedback, collaboration and skill-building. In addition, an on-the-ground training for practitioners from the Global South was held in August 2015 in Kampala, Uganda, and an international conference was held in December 2017 in Oslo, Norway, to discuss international criminal prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence and its impact on peacebuilding.

Reports

Each year a policy document is produced following the annual Missing Peace Initiative Workshop to inform current trends of the field. 

August 2021

2013 – 2020

If interested in joining the Missing Peace Scholars Network, please email gender@usip.org for more information.

Latest Publications

A Formula to Resolve the South Korea-Japan Wartime Forced Labor Issue

A Formula to Resolve the South Korea-Japan Wartime Forced Labor Issue

Thursday, August 18, 2022

By: Timothy Webster

As the United States revitalizes its alliances in East Asia, World War II reparations issues loom large. The United States’ two closest allies in the region — Japan and South Korea — remain at odds on issues ranging from forced labor that Koreans performed for Japanese corporations to the comfort women system of sexual enslavement. The failure to redress these issues has stretched the bilateral relationship to its thinnest point in 50 years. Although the new administration in Seoul promises a more “forward-looking” approach to Japan, resolution of various historical issues seems unlikely in the near term.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyReconciliation

Three Early Lessons from Kenya’s Elections

Three Early Lessons from Kenya’s Elections

Thursday, August 18, 2022

By: Aly Verjee

On August 15, William Ruto was declared president-elect of Kenya, following a vote last week. His chief competitor, Raila Odinga, rejected the results and says he will go to court to seek their invalidation. So far, little evidence of electoral misconduct has been presented, with most observers suggesting the conduct of the polls improved compared to the last vote in 2017. As the country waits for the judicial process to unfold, here are three takeaways from this year’s Kenyan experience.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

A Year into Taliban Rule, Afghans Face Spiraling Economic, Humanitarian Crises

A Year into Taliban Rule, Afghans Face Spiraling Economic, Humanitarian Crises

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By: Dhabie Brown;  Yasmin Faruki;  Ashley Igwe;  Allyson Neville;  Becky Roby

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year — followed by economic sanctions and other restrictions from the international community — precipitated a dire humanitarian crisis. Afghan women and children, particularly girls, have been hit the hardest. After two decades of hard-won gains, Afghan women have seen their rights evaporate before their eyes and young girls’ dreams for their futures have been squashed. Meanwhile, the country’s economic crisis has left nearly the entire population in hunger, with limited access to health care and other basic needs.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsHuman Rights

In Senegal’s War-Torn Casamance, a Dialogue Builds Stability

In Senegal’s War-Torn Casamance, a Dialogue Builds Stability

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By: Boucar Baba Ndiaye

Senegal, one of West Africa’s most stable countries, is a key partner in countering extremism, military coups and other violence in the Sahel and in coastal states. Yet Senegal’s democracy and stability face challenges, notably the 40-year insurgency in the Casamance region. As Senegal attempts political and security reforms to build peace there, a community dialogue process in one Casamance town is helping improve security. Local dialogues—among communities, government officials and security forces—offer an efficient method for Senegal and its partners to heal conflict, bolster Senegal’s stability and counter West Africa’s slippage toward violence.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceFragility & Resilience

One Year Later: Taliban Reprise Repressive Rule, but Struggle to Build a State

One Year Later: Taliban Reprise Repressive Rule, but Struggle to Build a State

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By: Andrew Watkins

When the Taliban swept into power last August, many expected they would reprise the draconian governance of their 1990s emirate. Despite pledges of moderation and reform from some Taliban factions, one year later those predictions have largely turned out to be prescient. The group has yet to establish a formal governance structure, with the interim cabinet appointed early in their tenure still intact. But the Taliban have swiftly reinstated many of their harshest policies, pushing women out of public life and brooking no dissent. USIP’s Andrew Watkins explains how the Taliban government functions, who’s really in charge and how the Taliban have dealt with challenges to their authority.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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