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

The Taliban Continue to Tighten Their Grip on Afghan Women and Girls

The Taliban Continue to Tighten Their Grip on Afghan Women and Girls

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  Scott Worden

Since the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover of Afghanistan, they have ratcheted up restrictions on women and girls as the group consolidates power. These restrictions include limitations on employment, education, public interactions and other fundamental rights such as access to justice. These restrictions have only tightened over time with increasingly draconian enforcement — the latest being public floggings that harken back to the Taliban’s 1990s rule. Amid the U.N.’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, USIP has compiled a comprehensive archive of Taliban decrees and public statements on the treatment of women and girls. While leaders and activists around the globe strategize and develop plans to address gender-based violence in their respective countries, Afghanistan stands out as a worst-case example, with two decades of hard-won progress rapidly unwinding.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

U.S. and African Leaders Need to Focus on Democratization

U.S. and African Leaders Need to Focus on Democratization

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Ambassador Makila James;  Ambassador Terence P. McCulley;  USIP Staff

The U.S. government is gathering this month’s second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit not least because the swiftly rising challenges of the 21st century are pushing Africa squarely to the center of global and U.S. interests. Managing increased violent conflict, climate degradation and human displacement all depend on a better U.S.-African partnership, one that shares an interest in strengthening the democratic rule of law within and among nations. Democracy has eroded, globally and in Africa, since the first U.S.-Africa summit eight years ago — but this month’s conference can reverse that pattern, say two USIP experts, both former ambassadors in Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Policy

Will the U.S.-Africa Summit Address U.N. Security Council Reform?

Will the U.S.-Africa Summit Address U.N. Security Council Reform?

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Solomon Dersso;  Tim Murithi;  Susan Stigant

U.N. Security Council (UNSC) reform has been a long-standing demand from many in the international community, but calls for an overhaul of the institution have grown louder amid renewed interest in democratizing the international system and addressing historical exclusion and injustices in its core institutions. And in a major development this past September, President Biden told the U.N. General Assembly the United States would support reforming the Security Council — specifically mentioning the addition of permanent members from Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Andrew Scobell on China’s Zero-COVID Protests

Andrew Scobell on China’s Zero-COVID Protests

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.

After protests forced China to ease its zero-COVID policies, Xi Jinping will need to weigh socioeconomic stability against his authoritarian aims, says USIP’s Andrew Scobell: “You’re seeing domestically what many countries have noticed China doing beyond its borders: Being more assertive or aggressive.”

Type: Podcast

The Water Wars Myth: India, China and the Brahmaputra

The Water Wars Myth: India, China and the Brahmaputra

Thursday, December 8, 2022

By: Mark Giordano;  Anya Wahal

South Asia’s Brahmaputra has been cited as one of the basins most at risk for interstate water conflict. While violent conflict has occurred between China and India within the Brahmaputra’s basin boundaries, the risks of conflict over water are in fact low. This is in part because China functionally contributes less to the Brahmaputra’s flow than is commonly perceived and in part because, despite its massive volume, the river can contribute little to solving India’s significant water security challenges. Nonetheless, the Brahmaputra is and will continue to be intimately connected to Sino-Indian tensions largely through the use of water infrastructure investment as a form of territorial demarcation and control.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionEnvironment

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