In recent months, Nicaragua’s government has escalated its effort to silence dissent by waging a systematic campaign of repression against the Catholic Church. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo’s crackdown on clergy and church-affiliated organizations critical of their authoritarian regime not only threatens Nicaragua’s religious freedom but also erects significant roadblocks to the country’s return to peace and democracy.
Three and a half years after Sudan’s military deposed the authoritarian ruler, Omar Bashir, in response to massive protests, the current military leadership and divisions among political factions are stalling a return to elected civilian government. This year has brought a deepening economic crisis and violent communal clashes — but also a new wave of nonviolent, grassroots campaigns for a return to democracy. As Sudanese democracy advocates and their international allies seek ways to press the military for that transition, all sides should note, and work to sustain, Sudan’s nonviolent civic action.
Although social contract theory—the idea that encountering someone with a different group identity can lead to greater understanding, empathy, and trust—has become a bedrock of most peacebuilding initiatives in recent decades, doubts remain about whether such initiatives prevent violence. This report provides practical insights and recommendations for improving peacebuilding efforts by more effectively factoring an understanding of human behavior into the design, implementation, and evaluation of social contact interventions.
Earlier this month Chinese leader Xi Jinping made his first foreign trip since the coronavirus outbreak, joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The summit was Xi’s first in-person opportunity to win support outside of China’s borders for his new Global Security Initiative (GSI), which he launched in April. While the GSI remains notional and somewhat vague, Xi is on the offensive, seeking to position his vision of a new global security architecture as an alternative to the Western-led security order. In an era of heightened strategic rivalry between Washington and Beijing, Xi’s GSI campaign could amount to yet another challenge to the U.S.-China relationship and the two countries’ ability to peacefully manage differences.
Vladimir Putin is under increased pressure as Russia continues to lose ground inside Ukraine. Faced with the prospect of stark losses — potentially leaving Russia in a worse position than before its February 24 invasion — Moscow may be embarked on an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy. By raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation twice in recent weeks, Putin may in fact be seeking a way out of his dilemma marked by Russia’s strategic failure in Ukraine. The coming weeks will be critical as Putin pursues nuclear brinksmanship — possibly even repositioning tactical nuclear weapons — while actually seeking an exit.
With Ukraine making massive gains on the ground, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s escalating threats "show that [he] is getting a little bit desperate," says USIP's Mary Glantz. "He's been feeling a lot of pressure to show some victories," which has left the world "holding their breath to see what might happen."
Serious combat has resumed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, despite a continuing de facto cease-fire declared by the military just before its coup last year. Unlike previous rounds of fighting in Rakhine that could be viewed as a localized internal conflict, the renewed violence is taking place in the context of a nationwide civil war triggered by the coup, and its consequences are spreading far beyond the state’s borders. The resumption of war in Rakhine State, in short, could be a hinge on which the future of the resistance’s self-described “Spring Revolution” will turn. Its progression bears close watching.
“The world stands today at the dawn of a decisive decade — a moment of consequence and peril, of profound pain and extraordinary possibility,” President Biden declared in April. These words came just two months into Russia’s war on Ukraine and during a time of concern for Western countries as China flexed its muscular diplomacy in the Pacific Islands region. Biden’s statement also sets the scene for the U.S. administration’s new approach to peacebuilding, which aims to prevent conflict from erupting in fragile states by disrupting drivers of instability.
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled over Cambodia committed untold atrocities, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people dying of starvation, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. In mid-September, over 40 years after its reign of terror, the only formal accountability mechanism to prosecute the Khmer Rouge —the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — issued the final decision of its judicial mandate. While the court's legacy is complex, it served an important platform for accountability and reparations for victims. As it moves to a new phase of residual functions over the next three years, the international community should prioritize supporting its work, which is vital to boosting peace and stability and protecting the rights of Cambodians.
Justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (JDEIA) is often seen as an elusive concept rather than a concrete set of values and needs. The U.S. Institute of Peace’s Joseph Sany defines JDEIA as a peacebuilding practice and explains why it’s so important for USIP to bring people together to discuss it.