The United States is setting a new priority on building peace in five West African nations threatened by domestic crises and by violence that is spreading from the neighboring Sahel region. The White House named those countries among others in which to launch a new U.S. strategy to prevent violent conflicts in unstable regions. This choice signaled that stability in coastal West Africa is a vital U.S. interest — and that these five countries, while in varied stages of building democracies, can strengthen democracy and stability with more focused, long-term U.S. support. A broad consultation of scholarly and policy experts on coastal West Africa is buttressing that idea.
As dozens of nations seek to strengthen democracy at this week’s White House summit, indicators for effective methods can be found in Guinea, one of five nations that this year suffered a coup by its military. An overarching lesson is for the United States and other more distant governments and institutions to recognize the greater efficacy of putting regional communities in the lead. For Guinea, this will mean supporting a stronger role by neighboring countries and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—a 15 nation grouping that has shown real promise as a promoter of democracy.
Money spent on peace is an “investment” that will eventually “mature,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Oct. 27, bringing both short- and long-term gains to the United States and countries around the world. Garamendi, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia from 1966 to 1968, offered his remarks at a USIP event marking the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps’ founding.
The Global Fragility Act (GFA) is an ambitious law that makes preventing conflicts and promoting stability in countries prone to conflict a U.S. foreign policy priority. Following years of efforts that overemphasized military operations in response to extremist violence and insurgencies, the GFA requires a long-term investment to address the underlying drivers of conflict. The Biden administration has released a new strategy to implement the GFA with 10-year commitments of assistance to a group of fragile states. The GFA and the new strategy rely, in part, on recommendations made by the USIP-convened Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States.
Ahead of the Biden administration’s Summit for Democracy, the U.S. Institute of Peace is convening a multi-part conversation about the dynamics driving four of the seven coups and coup attempts since the onset of the pandemic.