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  • Author: Casey Garret Johnson, William A. Byrd, Sanaullah Tasal
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The still unsigned Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States provides the legal basis for continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. In addition to its substantive importance, the BSA is also a confidence-building mechanism. The delay in putting it in place is compounding uncertainty and further diminishing economic confidence during Afghanistan's already challenging and uncertain transition. Afghans' responses include, among others, hedging behavior (legal and illegal), personal decisions on whether to come back to or stay in Afghanistan, delays in investments, incipient job losses, declining demand for goods and services and real estate prices, and farmers planting more opium poppy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Democratization, Development, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Michael Semple
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan Taliban Movement has publicly rejected the legitimacy of the April 2014 elections. The Taliban's military leadership has issued instructions to officials and commanders to disrupt the elections but has left field commanders with wide discretion on how to go about doing so. Many in the Taliban follow the electoral contest closely and comment on developments in terms very similar to how they are described by the political and educated class in Kabul. However, the anti-election sentiment in the Taliban leaves no scope for any faction to cooperate with the process. The Taliban will likely be able to intensify violence approaching the election, but not sufficiently to derail the overall process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: At the Tokyo conference on July 8, donors committed to provide massive civilian aid to Afghanistan and improve aid effectiveness, while the Afghan government committed to a number of governance and political benchmarks. The outcome at Tokyo exceeded expectations, but a review of Afghan and international experience suggests that implementing the Tokyo mutual accountability framework will be a major challenge. The multiplicity of donors could weaken coherence around targets and enforcing benchmarks, and undermine the accountability of the international community for overall funding levels. Uncertain political and security prospects raise doubts about the government's ability to meet its commitments, and political will for needed reforms understandably may decline as security transition proceeds and the next election cycle approaches. It is doubtful whether major political issues can be handled through an articulated mutual accountability framework with benchmarks and associated financial incentives. The civilian aid figure agreed upon at Tokyo ($16 billion over four years) is ambitious and exceeded expectations; if the international community falls short, this could be used to justify the Afghan government failing to achieve its benchmarks. Finally, given past experience there are doubts about how well the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) process (mandated to oversee implementation), and the series of further high-level meetings agreed at Tokyo, will work.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Development, Economics, Governance, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Brian Rose
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The 2011 Conference on Disarmament (CD) began contentiously when Ambassador Zamir Akram, Pakistan\'s permanent representative to the United Nations, criticized United States\' support of India\'s membership in export organizations that would allow it to engage in nuclear trade. Pakistan believes such membership would further favor India and accentuate the asymmetry in fissile materials stockpiles of the two states. Strategic and security concerns drive Pakistan\'s commitment to block negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty. Progress during the CD seems unlikely if the United States and Pakistan remain entrenched in their respective positions.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, India, Asia
  • Author: Hannah Byam, Christopher Neu
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With a rise in terrorist activity spreading fear through highly publicized attacks, Pakistan's media landscape has increasingly been used as a battleground between those seeking to promote violent conflict and others seeking to manage or deter it. Pakistan's media community has not yet developed an adequate or widely accepted strategy for responding to this context of persistent extremism and conflict. The rapid rise of extremist radio stations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) provinces has paralleled an increase in terrorist attacks, facilitated by affordable access to FM radio, loose government regulation of broadcast media and militant control of pockets in KPK and FATA. Negative media attitudes toward the Pakistan-U.S. relationship often reflect national political differences and market incentives for sensationalist coverage. These attitudes can be transformed through changes in the diplomatic relationship between the countries based on open communication rather than institutional media reform.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Terrorism, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Whitney Parker, Scott Worden, Shani Ross, Sahar Azar
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Post-conflict justice mechanisms such as truth commissions, war crimes tribunals and reparations programs have emerged as a fundamental building block of durable peace settlements in Latin America, Africa and Asia. They are relatively rare, however, in Muslim countries recovering from conflict-despite the fact that social and criminal justice is a fundamental principle of Islamic law.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Crime, Islam, War, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Arabia, Latin America
  • Author: Sylvana Q. Sinha
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: At least 80% of all disputes in Afghanistan are resolved through traditional dispute resolution (TDR) mechanisms, principally community councils called shuras or jirgas. TDR is therefore impossible to ignore as the primary justice institution in the country. Still, most women's groups in Afghanistan tend to oppose international donor or Afghan government support for TDR because they generally exclude women from participation and are known to issue decisions that violate women's rights. In the spring of 2011, the U.S. Institute of Peace in Kabul hosted meetings to examine the broader question of how women can gain greater access to justice. The outcome of the conversations was a more nuanced view of TDR and women in Afghanistan and a recognition that creative engagement rather than condemnation is a more productive approach to resolving deficiencies in women's rights in TDR venues.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Foreign Aid, Law
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: John Dempsey, Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Stability in Afghanistan will remain elusive unless disputes between individuals and among communities can be resolved through peaceful and equitable means. However, state justice institutions are barely functioning in much of the country and are incapable of meeting many justice and dispute resolution needs of Afghans. Instead, the majority of Afghans turn to traditional justice mechanisms—including tribal councils and village and religious leaders—to address both civil and criminal disputes. In many parts of the country, including areas recently cleared of insurgents, the best way to make signi_cant, visible, short-term (12 to 18 months) gains in peacefully resolving disputes is to work with community-based structures. USIP has drawn important lessons from its work with Afghan partners to implement pilot programs exploring links between the state and traditional justice systems in four provinces across the country (in Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia and Herat). Programs designed to create or strengthen existing links between traditional justice bodies and state institutions can build mutual trust and harness the strengths of each. Donor-funded traditional justice programs need to involve the Afghan government while also accounting for the practical needs of communities to settle disputes in line with their own traditions and procedures, as well as Afghanistan's laws and human rights norms.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Scott Worden
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The presidential and provincial council elections held in Afghanistan in August 2009 were marred by irregularities and fraud, leading voters and candidates to question the fairness and utility of the democratic process there. The Afghan government announced in late January that it will delay Parliamentary elections until September 2010—several months beyond the deadline set by Afghanistan's constitution. The extra time is needed to make adequate logistical preparations, but little has been done so far to reform electoral institutions or policies to prevent a repeat of the problems of the 2009 elections. Without signi_cant changes in the personnel and policies of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)—the constitutional body responsible for overseeing all electoral processes— the 2010 election is likely to fall below international standards and risks undermining government (and international) legitimacy at a critical period for the counterinsurgency strategy. In addition, signi_ cant long-term reforms, including a wholesale revision of the voter registry, must be initiated now to ensure that the district council and other future Afghan elections are credible and acceptable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Sovereignty, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Raymond Gilpin, Lex Rieffel
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: After decades of domestic conflict, military rule and authoritarian governance, Burma's economy could provide a viable entry point for effective international assistance to promote peace. Doing so would require a detailed understanding of the country's complex and evolving political economy.
  • Topic: Development, Political Economy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia