With 84 percent of people worldwide identifying with a faith tradition, religion influences local, national, and international decision-making. Across the globe, violent extremism often is couched in religious terms, and religious discrimination is on the rise. At the same time, people of faith and religious organizations frequently are on the frontlines of peace efforts, assisting communities affected by violence. Although religious considerations have been marginal to peace efforts historically, governments and peacebuilding organizations increasingly recognize the importance of religion.
The people of Burma will head to the polls in late 2020 to elect more than 1,100 representatives to national, state, and regional legislative bodies. During a recent field assessment, the U.S. Institute of Peace confirmed that the risk of election-related violence is surprisingly low considering the ongoing conflicts and multitude of grievances. However, hate speech, disinformation, and intense competition between parties could create violent incidents, particularly during the campaign period. Early efforts to promote peaceful elections need to start now as the window for effective prevention will soon be closed.
From Kenya to Ukraine to Guatemala, citizen-led campaigns are fighting against corruption and demanding government accountability and transparency. Government donors and private foundation have increasingly supported such efforts. But, how does foreign funding impact the goals social movements seek to achieve and the tactics they use to get there? How does foreign funding impact a social movement’s ability to mobilize the masses? And what should external funders consider when supporting social movements? USIP’s Davin O’Regan discusses the finding of a forthcoming USIP Peaceworks examining the impact of external support to social movements focused on transparency and accountability.
Since the beginning of South Sudan's civil war in 2013, the country's religious actors have sought to play an active role in turning the tide from war and violence to peace and reconciliation. Drawing on interviews, focus groups, and consultations, this report maps the religious landscape of South Sudan and showcases the legitimate and influential religious actors and institutions, highlights challenges impeding their peace work, and provides recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to better engage with religious actors for peace.
Palwasha Kakar, senior program officer for religion and inclusive societies, testified on June 13 at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues' hearing on "Women in Conflict: Advancing Women's Role in Peace and Security.” Her expert testimony as prepared is presented below.
Editor’s Note: Congress charged the U.S. Institute of Peace with convening the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Following the public launch of the Task Force’s final report, four groups of experts came together to discuss how to implement the report’s recommendations. This four-part series will discuss the findings from these strategy sessions. Part one summarizes expert discussion on how civil society actors are preventing violent extremism and building resilience in their communities and practical ways the U.S. and other international actors can more effectively interact with civil society to bolster its role in prevention.
In the last two months, dictators in Sudan and Algeria were forced to step down because of popular pressure, demonstrating the power of nonviolent resistance to movements in places like Nicaragua and Venezuela. “When large numbers of people engage in various forms of noncooperation … that is where the real power of nonviolent resistance comes from,” says Maria Stephan.
In the wake of the Euromaidan protests that toppled the government of Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, Ukrainian activists and civil society organizations have pressed hard for anti-corruption reforms and greater openness and transparency in the public sector. Five years later, however, corruption remains a fixture of civic life—and a majority of Ukrainians believe the fight against corruption has been a failure. This new report reviews the changes that have taken place in the anti-corruption movement since the Euromaidan and identifies practical actions the international community can take to support reform efforts in Ukraine.
A perfect storm of violence is breaking upon Africa’s Sahel. Since late 2018, communal conflicts—many over access to food, water or productive land—have produced thousands of deadly attacks. Across the region, nearly 4,800 people died in conflicts from November to March, according to the violence-monitoring group ACLED. The greatest surge in bloodshed is in Burkina Faso, where communal militias or religious extremists killed 500 people over five months. But amid the dire headlines, governments and civic groups in Burkina Faso and other Sahel countries cite progress in stabilizing communities with a basic step that simply has seldom been undertaken: broad, local dialogues among community groups, police forces and officials. Community leaders and government officials say they are now expanding those dialogues to improve national security policies to help counter the tide of violence.
The peace accord that halted a half-century of violent conflict in Colombia has reached a critical juncture. With the population almost evenly split over the terms of the 2016 agreement and a new government led by the party that opposed it, analysts and political figures see sustainable peace as increasingly endangered.