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  • Author: John Paden
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria is by far the largest country in the world—with a population of just over 180 mil-lion—evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. The 2011 presidential election split the country along ethno-religious-regional lines. Thus, concerns for the upcoming 2015 election are widespread. Muslims in Nigeria include Sufi, Izala, women's organizations, student organizations, emir-ate traditions, and ordinary people, as well as Boko Haram extremists. Christians range from Catholic to mainstream Protestant to Evangelical to Pentecostal to African syncretism. The candidates in the upcoming election are the same as in 2011: Muhammadu Buhari for the All Progressive Congress party (APC) and Goodluck Jonathan for the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). At the national level, the APC is running on the themes of security and anticorruption, the PDP on the theme of transformation. The APC believes that it can sweep seventeen of the nineteen northern states as well as the southwest. The PDP is confident that it can win the south-south and southeast as well as parts of Middle Belt. Such a scenario could set up ethno-regional tensions in the aftermath of the election. The presidential election is scheduled for February 14, 2015. State-level elections, including for governors, are set for February 28, creating a possible bandwagon effect after the presidential election for whichever party wins. Postelection court challenges follow. The inauguration is scheduled for May 29. Do religious symbols exacerbate or mitigate conflict, especially during an electoral season? What are the interfaith efforts to ameliorate or mitigate ethno-religious conflict? What are the consequences of a polarized election? How might recent patterns of extremist violence—with ethno-religious implications—affect this election? The question is framed in the context of broader patterns of religious identity and conflict that have plagued Nigeria's Fourth Republic. Most important will be a national election such that whoever wins, it will stand as a milestone in the quest for democratic practices rather than as a testament to a failed state.
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Freedom C. Onuoha
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since Nigeria's return to democracy in May 1999, armed nonstate groups have significantly undermined the country's internal security environment, largely using young men as foot soldiers. Among these groups, Boko Haram has grown to become a serious national, regional, and international concern. Estimates of the death toll from Boko Haram attacks since 2009 range as high as ten thousand fatalities. With Boko Haram and other groups seemingly gaining in strength, questions arise as to why young men join them in the first place and what the government and other actors can do to prevent it. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups conducted in Nigeria in 2013 suggest that poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and weak family structures make or contribute to making young men vulnerable to radicalization. Itinerant preachers capitalize on the situation by preaching an extreme version of religious teachings and conveying a narrative of the government as weak and corrupt. Armed groups such as Boko Haram can then recruit and train youth for activities ranging from errand running to suicide bombings. To weaken the armed groups' abilities to radicalize and recruit young men, the Nigerian government at all levels, perhaps with support from interested international actors, could institute monitoring and regulation of religious preaching; strengthen education, job training, and job creation programs; design robust programs to aid destitute children; promote peace education; and embark on an anticorruption campaign. Addressing the conditions that make it possible for insurgents to recruit young men in Nigeria can significantly diminish the strength of the insurgency, if not eliminate it altogether.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Princeton N. Lyman, Jon Temin, Susan Stigant
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ongoing negotiations to end the South Sudan crisis cannot simply return the country to the previous status quo. For lasting peace, the negotiating parties and mediators will need to reach beyond national political elites and those bearing arms and invite active involvement of the international community. South Sudan needs to build national cohesion and address fundamental issues of governance, democracy, and human rights. Restarting the stalled constitution-making process presents an opportunity to achieve these objectives. Following negotiations, a broad-based, inclusive, interim government that includes a degree of joint South Sudanese-international community administration and management should govern and ensure preparations for new elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Poverty, Power Politics, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Muhammad Quraish Khan
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Former U.N. peacekeepers are an emerging cadre within Pakistan's police who are precursors of professionalization and other positive changes in police culture. Given their peacekeeping experience, they are torchbearers of human rights protection in policing, and believers in gender equality and the rule of law. They have also shown an ability to resist undue political pressure by government ministers, politicians and interest groups. They form a resilient force when it comes to fighting the tide of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. This pool of trained resources may be utilized by the United Nations Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO) for the quick start of new peacekeeping missions. The Government of Pakistan could also utilize them for police-reform initiatives, imparting training and demonstrating best practices. Given the potential gains from police participation in U.N. peacekeeping, Pakistan's recent, self-imposed ban on police joining peacekeeping deployments in the future should be reversed.
  • Topic: Security, Culture
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, United States
  • Author: Palwasha L. Kakar
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Religious leaders are among Afghanistan's traditional "gatekeepers" for making local decisions, especially on questions of women's rights, and they can be effectively engaged. Despite the very negative reactions by religious leaders to women's rights at the national political level, some at the local level have shown continuing interest in women's rights when they are involved within an Islamic framework and have participated in protecting such rights. Effective engagement with religious leaders starts with respecting their opinions and involving them directly in processes of changing strongly held social norms on women's rights and other sensitive topics, such as tolerance and peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa
  • Author: Jon Temin, Princeton N. Lyman, Ph.D.
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan urgently needs to embark on a national dialogue and reform process that is led by Sudanese and supported by the international community. The process should be broadly inclusive, involving elements of the current regime, Islamists, and all armed and unarmed opposition groups. Any meaningful process will be lengthy, likely requiring years to complete. If a genuine, inclusive process is underway, elections in 2015 may need to be delayed. The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel has a critical role to play in advocating for and guiding such a process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Jon Temin, Lawerence Woocher
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Numerous predictions asserted that the referendum on the secession of southern Sudan would lead to renewed civil war. Despite ongoing violence in many parts of Sudan and South Sudan, the referendum process was largely peaceful. This unanticipated result may prove a relatively rare instance of documented success in conflict prevention. Warnings of impending violence came from many sources. They were timely but tended to be vague. Whether they were overly dire because of faulty assumptions about the conflict dynamics deserves scrutiny. Two prominent narratives explain why the referendum process was peaceful: one that emphasizes domestic factors and another that focuses on international intervention by Africans and westerners. It is highly likely that both contain important explanations for the peaceful referendum. People in Sudan and South Sudan tend to emphasize the domestic narrative; members of the international community tend to focus on international engagement. Several lessons for global conflict prevention can be drawn from the Sudan referendum experience: Preventing conflict in what seems like dire circumstances is possible. Coordinated outside actions should support local conflict-mitigating dynamics. Technical actions, such as election or referendum logistics, can have a significant positive impact on political processes. International actors need to be receptive to taking preventive action. Focusing on successes, as well as failures, is critical.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, Territorial Disputes, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Andrew Walker
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. Since August 2011 Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public or in churches in Nigeria's northeast. The group has also broadened its targets to include setting fire to schools. In March 2012, some twelve public schools in Maiduguri were burned down during the night, and as many as 10,000 pupils were forced out of education. Boko Haram is not in the same global jihadist bracket as Algeria's al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or Somalia's al Shabab. Despite its successful attack on the UN compound in Abuja in August 2011, Boko Haram is not bent on attacking Western interests. There have been no further attacks on international interests since that time. Following the failed rescue of hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in north¬eastern Nigeria in March 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan played up the connections between the group and international terrorism. However, links between Boko Haram and the kidnappers are questionable. It is difficult to see how there can be meaningful dialogue between the government and the group. The group's cell-like structure is open for factions and splits, and there would be no guarantee that someone speaking for the group is speaking for all of the members. Tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consis-tently brutal and counterproductive. Their reliance on extrajudicial execution as a tactic in “dealing” with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand. The group will continue to attack softer targets in the northeast rather than international targets inside or outside Nigeria. It is also likely to become increasingly involved in the Jos crisis, where it will attack Christian indigenes of the north and try to push them out. Such a move would further threaten to destabilize the country's stability and unity.Now that the group has expanded beyond a small number of mosques, radical reforms in policing strategy are necessary if there is to be any progress in countering the group. Wide¬spread radical reform of the police is also long overdue throughout Nigeria. As a first step, jailing a number of police officers responsible for ordering human rights abuses might go some way to removing a key objection of the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Religion, United Nations, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia
  • Author: Susan Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The field of religious peacebuilding has begun to move closer to the mainstream of conflict resolution practice and theory. The 2011 unrest in the Middle East and North Africa—the Arab Spring—reflects ongoing challenges and opportunities for the field. American and European nongovernmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. government, academia, and international organizations—sectors that once held religious issues at a distance or understood religion mainly as a driver of violence—increasingly engage religious communities and institutions as partners in creating peace. Meanwhile, religious organizations that have been involved in creating peace for decades, if not longer, increasingly have institutionalized and professionalized their work, suggesting ways that religious and secular organizations could coordinate their efforts more closely. The U.S. Institute of Peace's own programs on religion reflect the development of the wider field, having moved from research and analysis to on-the-ground programming to foster interfaith dialogue in the Balkans, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan. In addition, it has trained religious actors in conflict management in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Colombia and developed peace curricula based on Islamic principles for religious and secular schools in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As the U.S. field of religious peacebuilding continues to develop, challenges include integrating further with secular peacebuilding efforts, engaging women and youth and addressing their priorities, working more effectively with non-Abrahamic religious traditions, and improving evaluation, both to show how religious peacebuilding can reduce and resolve conflict and to strengthen the field's ability to do so.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Aaron Sayne
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Many of Nigeria's worst conflicts pit the recognized original inhabitants, or indigenes, of a particular place against supposedly later settlers. These conflicts may be growing deadlier and more numerous with time. State and local governments have free rein to pick who is an indigene. Abuse of the label can foster deep socioeconomic inequalities, given that indigenes enjoy preferential access to land, schools, development spending, and public jobs. These inequalities feed into violence, although righting inequality may not be sufficient to end violence in every case. The indigene-settler distinction is also explosive because it reinforces and is reinforced by other identity-based divides in Nigeria. These differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and culture can be longstanding and deeply felt, but how they factor into violence is again not well understood. Poor law enforcement responses also help entrench violence between indigenes and settlers. Official complicity and indifference make prosecutions rare. Destructive conduct by the Nigerian security forces itself often becomes a structural cause of violence. Serious thought about how to prevent or resolve indigene-settler violence has barely started in Nigeria. Addressing inequality between indigenes and settlers calls for serious, microlevel analysis of local economic dysfunctions and opportunities, along with real official commitment to make and enforce better policies. More holistic understandings of justice are also needed. The worst hot spots will need a wide menu of well-planned interventions. Options include securitization, criminal prosecution, mediation and dialogue, truth commissions, victim compensation programs, public health and trauma assistance, public institutional reforms, education, and communications work. In some cases, building sustainable peace could take a generation or more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria