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  • Author: Sean Kane, William Taylor
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With U.S. military forces scheduled to depart Iraq in December of this year, the State Department and other civilian agencies are being asked to assume a scale of operational and programmatic responsibilities far beyond any other embassy in recent memory. The capacity of the U.S. civilian agencies to assume these responsibilities does not now fully exist. Notably, securing and moving U.S. civilians will require more than 5,000 security contractors. A limited U.S. military contingent post-2011 may well be more cost-effective than private security guards and could also relieve State and other civilian agencies of logistical and security responsibilities. This would enable them to focus on their comparative advantages: diplomacy and development assistance. Planning for the post-2011 U.S. mission in Iraq, however, remains hampered by uncertainty as to whether the Iraqi government will request an extension of the American military presence in the country. A small follow-on U.S. military force would appear to safeguard Iraqi stability and make the achievement of U.S. strategic objectives in Iraq more likely, but cannot be counted on. Should such a request not be received from the Iraqi government, the U.S. may need to reduce the planned scale and scope of its operations and goals in Iraq.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: John K. Naland
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While the U.S. government has long employed special envoys for occasional diplomatic missions, the Obama administration's 24 special envoys represent an unprecedented expansion of this mechanism after the Bush administration, which generally did not use them.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alison Laporte-Oshiro
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Consolidating the legitimate use of force in the hands of the state is a vital first step in post-conflict peacebuilding. Transitional governments must move quickly to neutralize rival armed groups and provide a basic level of security for citizens. Two processes are vital to securing a monopoly of force: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and security sector reform. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) involve disbanding armed groups that challenge the government's monopoly of force. Security sector reform (SSR) means reforming and rebuilding the national security forces so that they are professional and accountable. U.S. experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo yielded three crosscutting lessons: go in heavy, tackle DDR and SSR in tandem, and consolidate U.S. capacity to implement both tasks in a coordinated, scalable way.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia
  • 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: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Faced with difficulties establishing legitimate, effective rule of law and the predominance of informal or traditional justice mechanisms in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and the international community have increasingly focused on engaging informal justice systems to resolve both civil and criminal disputes. While informal systems vary across the country, they are generally based upon restorative justice and the preservation of communal harmony. They currently resolve the vast majority of legal disputes and other conflicts in the country, particularly in rural areas. Engagement with informal systems and linking such systems to state institutions present some of the more effective opportunities for resolving conflicts and increasing access to justice for all Afghans because they are familiar, locally available, and involve relatively low costs. Such engagement, however, also faces significant logistical, cultural, political, and legal challenges. When engaging informal systems and/or implementing programs to link them to the state, it is important to have sound understanding of local power dynamics and how local dispute resolution systems function. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has been working on informal justice in Afghanistan since 2002 and has run pilot projects in six districts that test ways of designing or strengthening links between the state and informal systems to increase access to justice. Some of the best practices identified from the pilot projects include the importance of regular and substantive communication between informal and state justice actors, the promotion of the use of written records of decisions by informal systems, and the monitoring of decisions to ensure applicable Afghan laws and international human rights standards are upheld.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Nike Carstarphen, Craig Zelizer, Robert Harris, David J. Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Graduate-level academic institutions are not adequately preparing students for careers in international peace and conflict management. Curricula need to incorporate more applied skills, cross-sectoral coursework, and field-experience opportunities. Unlike most faculty, students, and alumni, employers see substantial room for improvement in preparing students for the field. Overseas experience is, for employers, the most valuable asset. General project management skills—program planning and design, monitoring and evaluation, computer literacy, report writing skills, budgeting, staff management, research skills, grant writing, and knowledge of the funding and policy world—and cross-cultural competencies and language skills are critical. International peace and conflict management practices increasingly overlap with more traditional work, such as human rights, humanitarian issues, and development programming. Employers want candidates who have a holistic understanding of international conflict work, specialized knowledge and skills, practical know-how, and political savvy, yet often fail to grasp what academic programs are in fact teaching students to prepare them for the field. Academic programs need to strengthen their outreach and interaction with employers and to market the value of their programs. To better prepare themselves for the field, recent graduates and alumni are seeking to increase their applied education, field experience, project management skills, mentoring, and career guidance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Education, Peace Studies, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William J. Long
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The spread of old and new infectious diseases constitutes both a threat to U.S. and global security and peace and an opportunity for the United States to burnish its international image through strengthening foreign capacity in infectious disease surveillance and response. Despite an increase in overall U.S. expenditures on global public health, U.S. policy is not to fully meeting this challenge or capturing this opportunity. Little-known policies implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense offer cost-effective strategies that should be expanded under President Obama's new Global Health Initiative to improve infectious disease control abroad as both a frontline defense against a potential pandemic and a peaceful and positive dimension of U.S. global health diplomacy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Globalization, Health, Infectious Diseases
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent surge in the number of American Muslims involved in terrorism has led U.S. authorities to question the long-held assumption that American Muslims are immune to radicalization, and to follow the example of other Western democracies in devising a comprehensive counter radicalization strategy. Radicalization is a highly individualized process determined by the complex interaction of various personal and structural factors. Because no one theory can exhaustively explain it, policymakers must understand the many paths to radicalization and adopt flexible approaches when trying to combat it. The role of religion in the radicalization process is debated, but theories that set aside ideology and religion as factors in the radicalization of Western jihadists are not convincing. Policymakers who choose to tackle religious aspects should do so cautiously, however, cognizant of the many implications of dealing with such a sensitive issue. Policymakers need to determine whether a counter radicalization strategy aims to tackle violent radicalism alone or, more ambitiously, cognitive radicalism. The relation between the two forms is contested. Challenging cognitive radicalism, though possibly useful for both security and social cohesion purposes, is extremely difficult for any Western democracy.Finding partners in the Muslim community is vital to any counter radicalization program. In light of the fragmentation of that community, a diverse array of partners appears to be the best solution. There is the risk, however, that counter radicalization efforts could be perceived by Muslims as unfairly targeting them. Partnerships with nonviolent Islamists could provide results in the short term, but there are doubts as to their long-term implications. All aspects of a partnership with such groups should be carefully examined before any decision is made. Policymakers need to find ways to empirically measure their programs' effectiveness.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Stephanie Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, supported by the U.S, had the unintentional consequence of fueling splinter insurgent groups including Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam. Currently Somalia faces a humanitarian crisis with 3.6 million people displaced. Countering the insurgency and alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Somalia demands a creative rethinking of international policy. While the 2008 Dijbouti Accord created a more inclusive Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the international community must weigh whether continued support for the TFG will bring real progress in governance or if it will strengthen popular support for the insurgency. If the international community sees support for the TFG as beneficial, they could consider policies including: Flooding Somalia with development aid and investing in civil society; Expanding the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission to include representation from other Muslim countries; Finding creative solutions for inter-Somali governance and reconciliation. If the international community calculates that support for the TFG is not beneficial because it will only fuel the insurgency, they should consider a policy of "constructive disengagement," withdrawing support from the TFG and the AU peacekeeping mission, while simultaneously investing in local and regional development projects.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Ethiopia, Somalia
  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia