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  • 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
  • Author: Jon Temin, Theodore Murphy
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Approaches to Sudan's challenges—by both Sudanese and the international community— have been fragmented and regionally focused rather than national in scope. They overlook fundamental governance challenges at the roots of Sudan's decades of instability and the center of the country's economic and political dominance of the periphery, which marginalizes a majority of the population. Such fragmentation diffuses efforts into fighting various eruptions of violence throughout the periphery and confounds efforts to address governance and identity issues. Ongoing processes in the future Republic of Sudan, sometimes referred to as north Sudan, continue this trend. While Darfur negotiations and popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states should continue, they should eventually be subsumed into a national process aimed at addressing the root causes of Sudan's governance failures. The process should feed into, and then be reified by, development of a new national constitution. Even now the goal of these regional processes should be re-envisaged as steps toward a national process. Sudanese negotiations largely occur between elites. Negotiators often cannot claim genuine representativeness, resulting in lack of broad buy-in and minimal consultation with the wider population. The ongoing Darfur negotiations are a case in point. To avoid prolonging the trend, a more national process should be broad-based and consultative. It should feature an inclusive dialogue, involving representatives from throughout the periphery, about the nature of the Sudanese state and how to manage Sudan's considerable diversity. Southern secession in July 2011 presents an opportunity for Sudanese to take a more comprehensive, holistic approach to their governance problems. Significant adjustments are warranted by the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, such as the development of a new constitution. The opportunity to initiate fundamental governance reform may be ripe because the ruling National Congress Party is under intense political and economic pressure. The Arab Spring revolts, the economic shock of lost oil revenue, and the proof of governance failure that southern secession represents have inspired, among some NCP leaders, a belief in the necessity of preemptive change. Any reform of northern governance should be led by Sudanese. Perceptions that external actors are forcing change can be counterproductive. The international community can support a reform process but should tread carefully. International efforts should focus on promoting an enabling environment in which nascent Sudanese-led efforts can take root and grow. Support to constructive voices and aid to inchoate political initiatives should be available when requested. Supporting a national process poses a challenge for the international community as its capacity, pressure, and incentives are already distributed across the various regional political processes. Pressures and incentives are tied to specific benchmarks defined by those processes, making it difficult to reorient them toward the new criteria dictated by a national process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Chris Newsom
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Neither Nigeria nor foreign donors are investing enough to end violent conflict in the Niger Delta. While Nigerian officials opt to buy short-term cease-fires, such as the 2009 amnesty process, other governments spend too little in money and manpower to grow local civil society, engage core conflict issues, or adequately understand the region's problems. All parties likewise fail to focus on deeper trends when planning their anticonflict strategies. This causes them to undervalue the potential costs of ongoing violence, as well as the importance of a peaceful Niger Delta to Nigeria's economic development and global energy security. A tragedy of the commons results. The situation in the delta remains fragile and will likely return either to intermittent conflict or full-blown insurgency within six to eighteen months if a "business as usual" approach is taken to interventions. The amnesty process opened a door for stabilization but did not reduce the long-term potential for violence or deal with root conflict issues. Governance is both at the heart of the conflict and the best place to seek solutions. To best help catalyze peace in the region, donors should invest heavily in democratization and learn lessons from a decade of setbacks and poor investment choices. International support for governance reform in the delta must start at the grass roots. The key is to lay a foundation to support and argue for better government practices higher up. Civil society is already having some success promoting accountability at the community level. Obstacles are high and progress is slow, making longer commitments from donors a must. Reformers in the Niger Delta also have operated too much in isolation. Local and international actors need a multilateral strategy allowing them to combine levers and use each other's momentum. They must ground this strategy in deeper analysis of the region's problems and a unified theory of change. Donors should also complement their support of governance reform in the delta with funding for innovative local development work. Ideas and best practices should be sought from other countries, with flexibility for keying in to promising government initiatives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil Society, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Kitenge N'Gambwa
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) gained its independence in 1960, the country 's leadership has been lacking three attributes of the utmost importance to the country's welfare: a real vision for the DRC's future, the competence and ability to execute the vision, and the character needed to ensure the realization of the vision with sound judgment, integrity, and equity. To break from the DRC's past patterns of poor governance, a clear and practical vision for the country's future must be articulated and implemented, requiring concerted effort from a new and energized leadership. This type of leadership should come from the Congolese people—both those living in the country and those who are part of its far-flung diaspora. Opportunities and avenues for reform include revamping democratic governance and electoral reform, promoting economic growth by moving beyond aid and creating a favorable environment for investment, reforming the mining sector, improving the health and education systems, and strengthening the DRC's judiciary. A well-organized and invigorated Congolese diaspora can join with Congolese living in the DRC to work toward the reforms. The upcoming elections in November 2011 offer a chance to step up these organizational and advocacy efforts.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Economics, Health, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Julie Flint
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The response to the renewed war in Sudan's Nuba Mountains has been driven largely by a human rights and humanitarian crisis. The crisis will continue indefinitely without a political agreement that acknowledges the Nuba rebellion is self-sustaining and reflects a wider malaise within the new Republic of Sudan. With Sudan facing financial collapse, economic normalization must be part of negotiations with Khartoum to end the war in the Nuba Mountains and promote democratization throughout Sudan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Human Rights, War, Insurgency, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Nada Mustafa Ali
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: South Sudan’s independence ends decades of conflict as well as socioeconomic and political marginalization at the hands of successive governments in Khartoum, which affected women in gender-specific ways. Independence thus opens up opportunities for women’s economic and social empowerment, ensuring that the new country’s political and economic structures and institutions reflect commitments to women’s participation and human rights. In turn, empowering women will enable South Sudan to strengthen its economic and political structures and institutions. There is great potential for gender equality and respect for women’s rights in South Sudan. The government has expressed commitments to equality between women and men and to women’s participation. South Sudan is relatively egalitarian and lacking in religious extremism. International actors interested in South Sudan recognize that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) are key to maintaining peace and security and helping South Sudan’s economy grow. Challenges abound, however. South Sudan is severely lacking in infrastructure and has some of the worst human development indicators worldwide. Social and cultural practices harmful to women compound the effects of conflict and marginalization. There are constant internal and external security threats, a limited understanding of gender equality, and a tendency within communities to view gender as an alien and illegitimate concern, given the acute problems that South Sudan faces. The government of South Sudan, with the support of regional partners and the international community, should ensure that gender equality and women’s rights are fully integrated into and are outcomes of state building. National planning, developing the permanent constitution, and building the country’s new institutions and structures should reflect commitments to gender equality and input from women and women’s groups across South Sudan. The government should cost and meet the full budgetary needs of the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Welfare; ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; strengthen efforts to prevent GBV and address the needs of GBV victims and survivors; and invest more in quality and accessible health and education.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Gender Issues, Government, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan
  • Author: Jon Temin
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With Southern Sudan's referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan or secede approaching, it is vital that the international community encourage and support negotiations on postreferendum arrangements, which include issues ranging from wealth sharing to citizenship rights to security arrangements. Good coordination among the international community will be essential. A single mediator with a clear and strong mandate should lead negotiations on postreferendum arrangements, supported by a contact group or group of friends that can insert targeted pressures and incentives into the process. The mediator needs to be strong enough to prevent “forum shopping” and contain or co-opt spoilers. States and non-state actors that wish to play a central role in negotiations on post-referendum arrangements should demonstrate a long term commitment to Sudan and to overseeing implementation of any agreement. Negotiations on post-referendum arrangements and the ongoing negotiations on Darfur should be kept separate.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Studies indicate that violence in Africa's elections affects between 19 and 25 percent of elections. In many countries where electoral violence is a risk, it tends to recur and may consequently lead to an unfavorable view of democratization. The regularity with which electoral violence occurs suggests that underlying grievances or structural characteristics may be tied to the elections and fuel the violence. Electoral violence, especially recurrent, seems indicative of more widespread systemic grievances and tensions. Tensions over land rights, employment and ethnic marginalization are three dominant characteristics of recurring electoral violence. These areas intersect and are frequently manipulated by politicians. Some recent actions taken by the government and civil society may offer insights into reversing the trends of recurring violence. These actions warrant further analysis in order to improve strategies to reduce violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa