What is Boko Haram and why are youths in Nigeria so drawn to it? What’s happening behind the headlines of war in South Sudan? In Libya? And what IS CVE (Countering Violent Extremism)? The probing research and on-the-ground action of the experts, partners and grantees of the U.S. Institute of Peace can help answer those questions and many more likely to arise during this first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. USIP has worked in Africa for years, and its staff has decades of experience on the continent and deep relationships with local leaders in government and civil society. Here are samples of the resources and perspectives available on our website.

Immunity Cannot Allow Impunity
Peace Channel Article by Jon Temin
August 4, 2014

African leaders want to exempt themselves from prosecution for terrible crimes -- but new research shows their people aren't as forgiving as they might think.

National Security Advisor Rice Vows Long-Term Ties With Africa
News Feature by Viola Gienger
July 31, 2014

National Security Advisor Susan Rice drew attention to Africa's progress in the past two decades and its possibilities for economic growth, good governance and long-term stability, in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace on the eve of next week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
Event: July 30, 2014 - Africa and America: Partners in a Shared Future: Amb. Susan Rice: Setting the Scene for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

U.S. Africa Summit Leaders Face Weighty Agenda for Continent
News Feature by Viola Gienger
July 23, 2014

President Barack Obama and African leaders attending the first U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington next month face an array of factors undermining the democratic development and economic growth achieved on the continent in recent decades, according to three former high-level U.S. officials on Africa who spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace this week.
Event: July 22, 2014 - U.S. Policy Today for Africa Tomorrow: A Conversation with Ambassadors Carson, Lyman and Moose

Preventing Extremist Violence: Views From a Peacebuilder
Olive Branch Blog by Georgia Holmer
July 10, 2014

Countering violent extremism has traditionally involved tactics undertaken by outsiders aimed at preventing individuals from engaging in ideologically-fueled violence. USIP Senior Program Officer Georgia Holmer explains the increasing intersection with peacebuilding and how that can strengthen local communities to identify and address the drivers of radicalism and ultimately develop a more effective means of preventing extremist violence.

Holding It Together
Peace Channel Article by Jon Temin
June 25, 2014

Ending conflict demands more than knowing why countries go to pieces -- it calls for knowing why they don't.

South Sudanese, Rwandans Share Stories of Resilience in Search of Hope
In the Field by Nicoletta Barbera and Danielle Robertson
June 11, 2014

Twenty years after the genocide, Rwanda is often seen as an example of reconciliation and social reintegration. Reminders of the systemic violence perpetrated by the government that began in 1992, in addition to the 100 days of genocide in 1994, are barely visible at the surface. But University of Rwanda lecturer Alice Karekezi notes that “the Rwandan people still carry the scars of war.” And it is still considered taboo to discuss ethnicity in public. But dialogue clubs have emerged in communities and schools for Rwandans to share grievances as a healing mechanism.

Why Do Youth Join Boko Haram?
Special Report by Freedom Onuoha
June 9, 2014

Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of over two hundred schoolgirls in Nigeria has once again brought the group into the international spotlight, making more urgent the questions about how to curtail its activities and the activities of other armed groups that threaten the security of Nigeria and the region. Drawing on the results of a 2013 study in six northern Nigerian states, this report addresses the question of how youth are radicalized and recruited into armed groups and what the Nigerian government and other interested actors can do to prevent it.

Somalia Slated for First U.S. Ambassador in Two Decades
News Feature by Viola Gienger
June 3, 2014

President Barack Obama will nominate an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in more than 20 years, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said at the U.S. Institute of Peace today, as she outlined an intensified push to improve security, governance and development in the African nation.

USIP Grant Enables Peace Education Programs in Somalia
Grant Highlight by Jack Froude
May 30, 2014

If the youth are the seeds of our future, then education is the light which helps them grow – and in this case, the United States Institute of Peace's (USIP) grantees are the greenhouse, ensuring that the roots of peace begin to develop early and deeply in the communities that need it the most. Right now, USIP's grant program is supporting youth peace education in Uganda, Sudan and Somalia.

South Sudan Activists Call for Civil Society Role in Peace Process
Olive Branch Blog by Emily Fornof
May 27, 2014

The May 9 peace deal for South Sudan, signed between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, has already been violated. But there is an important upside to the agreement: it calls for including civil society in the peace process. Three South Sudanese civic leaders discussed civil society’s role in the peace process at USIP with Jon Temin, the Institute’s director of Africa programs.
Event: May 15, 2014 - Voices of South Sudanese Civil Society

“Peace Conferences Don’t Always Work” and Other Lessons for Achieving Sustainable Peace in South Sudan and Sudan
Q&A with Jacqueline H. Wilson
May 21, 2014

The recent re-eruption of political violence in South Sudan in late 2013 has not only inflamed long-standing and unresolved local grievances, but also highlights the critical need to improve the impact and sustainability of local peace processes in any region. In the new Peaceworks, “Local Peace Processes in Sudan and South Sudan,” USIP’s Jacqueline H. Wilson outlines the importance of understanding and improving local peace processes.

Boko Haram Kidnappings Prompt Northern Nigerian Women’s March
Olive Branch Blog by Georgia Holmer
May 19, 2014

Dressed in black and white to represent both lamentation and hope, and clutching red roses, 300 women from all religions and tribes in the multi-ethnic state of Plateau in northern Nigeria gathered in the streets of the state capital of Jos. Together they marched to the governor's office to deliver a communique and a stern message: the government of Nigeria must take a more committed, effective and proactive approach to rescuing the girls captured in northern Nigeria and also in combatting Boko Haram, the extremist group that is holding the girls.

Community Policing against Violent Extremism Reveals Common Factors
Olive Branch Blog by Nathaniel L. Wilson
May 19, 2014

An ill-conceived response by the Somali government and its international backers to al-Shabab’s attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall carries immense risk to Somalia’s fledgling state-making progress and to regional peace and stability. Dominik Balthasar urges the international community to think very carefully about a military response to the attack and outlines potential consequences.

South Sudan’s Violence
Q&A with Jon Temin
May 12, 2014

Leaders involved in South Sudan’s conflict signed a ceasefire agreement late last week in the second such effort to end violence that has beset the world’s newest independent nation. Jon Temin, USIP’s director of Africa programs, discusses the conflict, international approaches to encourage a resolution and strategies to help move the country forward.

Countering Hate Speech in South Sudan through Peace Radio
In the Field by Theo Dolan
May 7, 2014

Reports that the horrific violence that took place in the South Sudanese town of Bentiu recently was partly fueled by hate speech prompts inevitable comparisons with media-driven violence in Rwanda in 1994. While the environments in both countries are different, the consequences for South Sudan are considerable. The U.S. Institute of Peace is seeking to address the conflict with a radio drama intended to help young people understand their potential as individuals, respect differences and join together based on common interests.

Local Peace Processes in Sudan and South Sudan
Peaceworks by Jacqueline H. Wilson
May 6, 2014

Sudan and South Sudan have seen numerous local peacebuilding efforts in recent years, yet violence continues largely unabated. Using the Western Corridor as a case study, this report outlines the importance of understanding and improving local peace processes through an architecture that begins with conflict analysis, entails a common vision, and focuses on achieving specific objectives.

U.N. Envoy Warns Somalia Progress Is In Peril without Stalwart Support
Olive Branch Blog by Emily Fornof
April 30, 2014

United Nations Special Representative Nicholas Kay warned that the significant progress Somalia has made in the past two years could be in peril if the international community does not remain engaged and fails to continue humanitarian aid and support for African Union peacekeepers.
Event: April 22, 2014 - Progress or Peril in Somalia? A Conversation with U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay

New Technologies for Constitution Making
Special Report by Jason Gluck and Brendan Ballou
April 29, 2014

This report explores the role of new technologies in increasing participation of constitution making. Gluck and Ballou look at how using technology during the constitution-making process can strengthen the trust between citizen and government, build national unity, and promote reconciliation. New technologies—such as the web, including email, Facebook, and Twitter, and mobile phones—are opportunities to engage and educate citizens and build public awareness. Citing examples in Iceland, Ghana, and Somalia (among others), the authors illustrate the scope of these new technologies, the risks, and what may come from them in the future.

Sudan – A Conversation with Former Special Envoy Princeton Lyman
Part One: Sudan National Dialogue April 28, 2014
Part Two: Sudan National Dialogue April 30, 2014
Part Three: Sudan National Dialogue May 2, 2014
Olive Branch Series by Arif Omer

Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman served as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013 before joining the U.S. Institute of Peace as a senior advisor to the USIP president. Arif Omer, the first to hold a new four-month Sudanese youth leader residency at USIP, interviewed Lyman at length on the violence and political conflicts that have torn the African country for decades. The edited interview is being presented on The Olive Branch this week in three parts -- efforts to encourage a national dialogue, Sudan’s relations with the West and what the future holds for the conflict-torn nation.

Peace Education in Sudan? Not as Unlikely as it Might Sound
Olive Branch Blog by Linda Bishai
April 8, 2014

Nothing prepared me for the coffee-black water coming out of the taps. It happened just as a large and delicious breakfast was set out for us in a compound dining room and we were starting to wash our hands in sinks at the side. Sudden, dark, and a bit shocking, the water seemed like a betrayal of all the honest hospitality of our generous hosts. We quickly shifted to washing with bottled water and proceeded without further disruption. Still, the image of that dirty water where clean water had flowed before seemed like a sign that something larger was badly broken.

Girls’ Education Advances Security, USIP’s Kuehnast Tells House Foreign Affairs Panel
News Feature by Viola Gienger
April 7, 2014

Expanding educational opportunities for women and girls around the world advances American and international security interests and should be part of a long-term strategy to prevent violent extremism, said Kathleen Kuehnast, director of the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

USIP Examines Sudan National Dialogue in Online Discussion
News Feature by USIP Staff
March 28, 2014

Several Sudanese experts joined Institute specialists for a wide-ranging, online-only discussion of prospects for launching a national dialogue in Sudan that could provide the basis for new, political arrangements, possibly including a new constitution and renewed efforts to peacefully address the country’s violent, internal political conflicts.
Event: March 24, 2014 - National Dialogue in Sudan: Options and Outcomes

Illicit Trafficking and Libya’s Transition: Profits and Losses
Peaceworks by Mark Shaw and Fiona Mangan
February 24, 2014

As Libya emerges from forty years of autocratic rule, the criminal economy is undermining government efforts at state consolidation. This report maps the flow of weapons, migrants, drugs, and smuggled goods through Libya and details the interactions between armed groups who control illicit markets and local communities. The authors warn that efforts to beef up border control policing will not be sufficient. Combating organized crime in Libya requires a broader approach that will engage marginalized groups.

Feingold Urges DRC Reforms, Great Lakes Regional Cooperation in Remarks at USIP
News Feature by USIP Staff
February 21, 2014

Africa's Great Lakes region is ripe for progress in resolving its deadly conflicts, particularly in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but it will take deeper regional cooperation and the DRC's full implementation of internal reforms that it has already agreed to, Russell D. Feingold, the U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC, said at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) on February 20.

South Sudanese Diaspora Leaders at USIP Consider Online Speech Concerns
News Feature by USIP Staff
February 12, 2014

Members of the South Sudanese diaspora gathered at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) last week to explore ways of fostering their national unity, supporting peace efforts in a conflict with tribal dimensions and countering online speech that disparages people of other tribes.

South Sudan’s Religious Unity Can Help Heal Wounds of Violence
Olive Branch Post by Othow Okoti Abich Onger and Jacqueline H. Wilson
January 28, 2014

South Sudan is a country that originated from the throes of conflict with religious overtones. Yet the constructive role of religious leaders during the new fighting that began more than a month ago is a reminder that they can play a critical part in getting the country back on a path to peace.

Considering the Lessons of Mandela’s Legacy and South Africa’s Reconciliation
News Feature by USIP Staff
January 16, 2014

Though the politics and causes of conflicts differ significantly, the experience of South Africa’s peaceful, negotiated turn from racial apartheid to democratic majority rule suggests that a few principles exemplified by the late Nelson Mandela’s leadership are broadly applicable to other conflicts with hardened divisions, according to former participants in the South African transformation who gathered this week at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).

'We Want to Move On'
Peace Channel Article by Manal Omar
January 15, 2014

What do Egyptians really care about in their country's constitutional referendum? Not the constitution, for starters.

South Sudan Crisis, Ways Forward Analyzed at USIP
News Feature by USIP Staff
January 14, 2014

Though the immediate diplomatic focus should remain on arranging a cease-fire, a longer-term political process to overcome the crisis in South Sudan will need significant involvement by the international community, particularly the United States, members of an expert panel said at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) on January 10.
Event: January 10, 2014 - Crisis in South Sudan

Libya’s Passions, Perils in Full View
Olive Branch Blog by Joyce A. Kasee and Viola Gienger
January 14, 2014

The passions that drive Libya's post-revolutionary transition are apparent everywhere in the capital Tripoli, not least in its vibrant graffiti. And there are other tell-tale signs – the skeletons of destroyed vehicles on Tripoli's Mediterranean beaches – of the revolution against four-decade dictator Moammar Gadhafi and the transition that may take generations to gel. Powerful messages convey the issues Libyans are grappling with, their pride in their achievements, their anger at the ousted regime, and their worries about the future.

Terms of Endurance
Peace Channel Article by Jon Temin
January 10, 2014

Can South Sudan reach a peace deal that will actually last?

Crisis and Opportunity in South Sudan
PeaceBrief by Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, Susan Stigant
January 8, 2014

Only two and a half years since its birth, South Sudan is in crisis. But, horrific as the violence since mid-December has been, the crisis also presents an opportunity to put South Sudan back on the path of democratization, good governance, and peace. USIP’s Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, and Susan Stigant examine what needs to happen to create a foundation for lasting peace and stability.

Pathway to National Dialogue in Sudan
PeaceBrief by Jon Temin and Princeton Lyman
August 13, 2013

Sudan urgently needs to embark on a national dialogue and reform process that is led by Sudanese and supported by the international community. Without such a process, Sudan has little chance of breaking its destructive cycle of instability. Authors Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, a special advisor to the president of USIP and former special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and Jon Temin, director of USIP’s Horn of African program, examine the way forward.

Mali’s Precarious Democracy and the Causes of Conflict
Special Report by Susanna D. Wing
April 19, 2013

The fight to defeat jihadist militias in northern Mali has masked the underlying countrywide political crisis that feeds the conflict, according to this new Special Report. By engaging in intercommunal, inclusive dialogue to address past governance failures, Mali can begin to move toward stability and legitimacy.

What Is Boko Haram?
Special Report by Andrew Walker
May 30, 2012

The group Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, known the world over as Boko Haram, is an extremist Islamic sect in Nigeria that has created havoc across the north of the country and in the capital, Abuja. Its violent attacks on government offices, the United Nations, and churches threaten to destabilize the country. A range of conflicting narratives has grown up around Boko Haram, and the group’s origins, motivations, and future plans remain a matter of debate. This report addresses the questions stemming from these narratives and suggests how the group can be contained.

Latest Publications

Tunisia’s transition has unfinished business. Can Ennahda lead the way?

Tunisia’s transition has unfinished business. Can Ennahda lead the way?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

By: Adam Gallagher

Fresh off a busy election season, Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli is in the process of forming Tunisia’s next government. That government will have the daunting task of addressing Tunisians’ deep disenchantment with the political class and its failures to live up to the promise of the 2010-2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “The big problems confronting Tunisians have not been given enough importance” from the country’s political parties, said Abdelfattah Mourou, the first presidential candidate of the Ennahda party, during an interview at USIP.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: It’s Time for a Sequel to the Arab Peace Initiative

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: It’s Time for a Sequel to the Arab Peace Initiative

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has fallen down the list of political priorities in recent years as regional and global powers have been preoccupied with more pressing issues—including tensions with Iran; wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya; unrest in Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria; the rise of intestate competition, including with Russia and China, in the region; and a host of internal issues affecting the countries of the region. However, recent regional developments may present opportunities to reaffirm the tenets that would someday lead to a comprehensive peace.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Escape from ISIS: One Family’s Story

Escape from ISIS: One Family’s Story

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

By: Fred Strasser

The horrific story of ISIS’s bid to wipe out Iraq’s Yazidi minority is fairly well known in the United States. At least in broad terms, Americans who pay attention to such things understand that the terrorist group’s fanatical gunmen rolled in on a defenseless people, butchered men and boys by the thousands and hauled away young women into sexual slavery in a genocidal plan.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human Rights; Violent Extremism

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