Despite our success protecting America’s homeland, extremism is spreading. Since 9/11, the number of terrorist attacks worldwide per year has increased fivefold. As long as this continues, the United States will remain vulnerable to terrorism while extremism contributes to chaos, conflict, and coercion that drains U.S. resources, weakens our allies, and provides openings for our competitors.
Complementing its work to build peace internationally, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) also serves the American people directly as a core part of its founding mandate from Congress.
Every summer, the U.S. Institute of Peace hosts future military leaders for an in-residence internship with USIP regional and thematic teams. During their time at the Institute, these rising leaders work alongside a variety of experts. As a result, they broaden their perspectives, acquire new skills, learn peacebuilding techniques, and gain practical experience that informs their military careers.
U.S. military and civilian agencies frequently deploy on complex missions that require them to operate in the same environment, whether in humanitarian disasters, fragile states or violent conflicts. The success of these operations depends in part on each agency’s understanding of the objectives, resources and authorities of the others. While coordination has improved in recent years, enhanced cooperation is still needed to accomplish the primary goals of these critical missions: saving lives and stabilizing areas in turmoil.
The U.S. Institute of Peace gathered 31 youth leaders from countries confronting violent conflict at a meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in October 2018, where he encouraged them to sustain their efforts to build peace in their homelands. This third annual dialogue is a partnership between USIP and the Dalai Lama, a global voice for peace and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The project aims to strengthen the abilities of young people working to build peace in the world’s most violent regions. This year’s group of leaders came from 12 countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Colombia and Nigeria.
Establishing enduring peace in fragile and conflict-affected states requires a coordinated approach, one in which civilian and military agencies consciously collaborate. However, many groups aren’t aware of other organizations’ initiatives, don’t understand their purposes, and fail to synchronize resources—resulting in duplicative, piecemeal efforts, inefficient use of limited resources, and other negative consequences.
Since the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, extremist groups have expanded in fragile states across the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Against this backdrop, the congressionally mandated, bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States has released a report that calls for a new strategy to mitigate the conditions that enable extremist groups to take root, spread, and thrive in fragile states.
Our mission to prevent violent conflict is a cost effective contribution to U.S. national security that saves lives and protects military, diplomatic and development investments world-wide. USIP’s unique status gives it the flexibility to work in conflict zones with both government and civil society. No national security actor or private non-profit can perform this Congressional-mandated mission.
After five decades of autocratic military rule, Burma (also known as Myanmar) has initiated a critical transformation to representative democracy. But various regional and national tensions threaten the already tenuous transition; the Rohingya crisis, on-going clashes between ethnic armed organizations and the military in Kachin and Shan States, disagreements between the military and elected civilian government, intercommunal and religious cleavages, and precarious security structures threaten the nation’s stability.
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.