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  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2019, Congress established the Afghanistan Study Group and tasked it with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.” The Study Group’s report, released on February 3, 2021, concluded that there is a real opportunity to align U.S. policies, actions, and messaging behind achieving a durable peace settlement to end four decades of violent conflict in Afghanistan. This new approach would protect U.S. national interests in Afghanistan and the region by reducing terrorist threats, promoting regional stability, and protecting important gains in human rights and democratic institutions that have been made in Afghanistan. Active regional diplomacy could help generate a consensus among Afghanistan’s neighbors that all would benefit in both economic and security terms from supporting and sustaining peace in Afghanistan rather than fueling conflict through proxies.
  • Topic: Conflict, Negotiation, Peace, Mediation
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Benjamin R. Young
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: North Korea serves as a mutually beneficial partner for many African governments. Although these ties are often viewed solely through the lens of economic and security interests, this report shows Pyongyang's deep historical connections and ideological linkages with several of the continent’s nations. North Korea–Africa relations are also bolstered by China, which has been complicit in North Korea’s arms and ivory trade, activities providing funds that likely support the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions and allow it to withstand international sanctions.
  • Topic: History, Governance, Sanctions, Democracy, Solidarity
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Eloïse Bertrand
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In October 2014, a massive popular uprising unseated Burkina Faso’s long-time president, Blaise Compaoré, and drove a civilian-led transition that culminated in free and fair elections in November 2015. This report shows the importance of the national culture of dialogue and consensus and the benefit of a vast, resilient network across negotiating groups. Although violence in the country has since increased, lessons from Burkina Faso’s transition can inform the dynamics of popular mobilization, negotiations, and prospects for long-term peace and democracy in other settings.
  • Topic: Democracy, Negotiation, Transition, Nonviolence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Annie Pforzheimer, Andrew Hyde, Jason Criss Howk
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Failure to plan realistically for needed changes in Afghanistan’s security sector following a peace settlement—and failure to start phasing in changes now—will lead to post-settlement instability. This report examines the particular challenges Afghanistan will face, with examples from the climate following peace settlements in other parts of the world offering insight into what may occur and possibilities for response. An Afghan-owned and Afghan-led strategy that incorporates some of this report’s recommendations can help create a lasting foundation for Afghan and regional stability.
  • Topic: Security, Political stability, Rule of Law, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Umar Mahmood Khan, Rana Hamza Ijaz, Sevim Saadat
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: When Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas were officially merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in May 2018, the five million residents of the former tribal areas acquired the same constitutional rights and protections—including access to a formal judicial system—as Pakistan’s other citizens. This report, based on field research carried out by the authors, explores the status of the formal justice system’s expansion, finding both positive trends and severe administrative and capacity challenges, and offers recommendations to address these issues.
  • Topic: Security, Rule of Law, Justice, Tribes
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Alan Boswell
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: South Sudan’s civil war expanded into Equatoria, the country’s southernmost region, in 2016, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring Uganda in what has been called Africa’s largest refugee exodus since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Equatoria is now the last major hot spot in the civil war. If lasting peace is to come to South Sudan, writes Alan Boswell, it will require a peace effort that more fully reckons with the long-held grievances of Equatorians.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Conflict, Crisis Management, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Patricia M. Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As strategic competition between the United States and China intensifies, preventing a destabilizing arms race and lowering the risk of military, especially nuclear, confrontation is critical. The essays in this volume—based on a series of workshops convened by USIP’s Asia Center in late 2020—highlight both the striking differences and the commonalities between U.S. and Chinese assessments of the root causes of instability and the drivers of conflict in the nuclear, conventional missile and missile defense, space, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence realms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Peace, Artificial Intelligence, Strategic Competition, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Watkins
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. and Afghan governments have, at various times, intentionally pursued strategies of “divide and defeat” in an attempt to fragment and weaken the Taliban. These approaches have proved ineffective and, as long as peace efforts are being pursued, should be discontinued. Contrary to lingering narratives from earlier eras of the Afghan conflict, the Taliban today are a relatively cohesive insurgent group and are unlikely to fragment in the near term. This has not happened by accident: the Taliban’s leadership has consistently, at times ruthlessly, worked to retain and strengthen its organizational cohesion. To this day, the group is unwilling to cross internal “red lines” that might threaten that cohesion. The literature on insurgency and negotiated peace suggests that only cohesive movements are capable of following through and enforcing peace agreements. Many of the feared scenarios of Taliban fragmentation, including the defection of “hard-liners” or mass recruitment by the Islamic State, do not correspond to current realities on the ground. Fragmentation of the Taliban is not impossible, and the group is certainly far from monolithic, but ideological rifts are not a sufficient explanation of why this has taken place in the past—or might again. By studying what makes the Taliban cohesive and what has caused instances of its fragmentation, all parties invested in an Afghan peace process might be better equipped to negotiate with the Taliban under terms the movement would be willing to accept, even if it has not defined those terms publicly. This report examines the phenomenon of insurgent fragmentation within Afghanistan’s Taliban and implications for the Afghan peace process. This study, which the author undertook as an independent researcher supported by the Asia Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is based on a survey of the academic literature on insurgency, civil war, and negotiated peace, as well as on interviews the author conducted in Afghanistan in 2019 and 2020.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gladys Kudzaishe Hlatywayo, Charles Mangongera
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Civil society and social movements have long been at the center of pushing back against corruption and authoritarian practices. Zimbabwe was no exception in the run-up to the November 2017 coup d’état that ousted Robert Mugabe after four decades of unaccountable rule. This report, based on in-country interviews and focus group discussions, examines the transition that followed the coup to draw broader lessons for how the international community can support, without harming, grassroots nonviolent action initiatives in countries undergoing profound political shifts.
  • Topic: Politics, Social Movement, Authoritarianism, Elections, Coup
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Zachary Constantino
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The most consequential regional competition for influence in Afghanistan is the contest between India and Pakistan. Indian leaders strive to cultivate Afghanistan as a natural partner and reliable bulwark against Islamic militants, including Pakistan-backed groups, while Islamabad seeks to counter what it regards as an Indo-Afghan nexus to encircle and weaken Pakistan. This report examines the interests and strategies of both countries in Afghanistan within the context of peace negotiations and developments in Kashmir.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Conflict, Peace, Strategic Competition, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, India, Kashmir
  • Author: Priscilla Clapp
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Developing countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America are grappling with how to deal with China's rising economic influence—particularly the multibillion-dollar development projects financed through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Myanmar, however, appears to be approaching foreign investment proposals with considerable caution. This report examines the framework the country is developing to promote transparency and accountability and to reserve for itself the authority to weigh the economic, social, and environmental impacts of major projects proposed by international investors, including China.
  • Topic: Development, Infrastructure, Economy, Conflict, Investment, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Fiona Mangan, Igor Acko, Manal Taha
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Coffee production is a fairly small part of the Central African Republic's economy, but it plays an outsize role in the country's ongoing conflict. Armed militia groups that hold sway over the country's main coffee growing regions and trade routes reap millions of dollars in funding to sustain their operations. This report discusses how understanding the political economy of conflict in the Central African Republic can help national and international stakeholders break the cycle of violence.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Economy, Conflict, Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central African Republic
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: China has embarked on a grand journey west. Officials in Beijing are driven by aspirations of leadership across their home continent of Asia, feelings of being hemmed in on their eastern flank by U.S. alliances, and their perception that opportunities await across Eurasia and the Indian Ocean. Along the way, their first stop is South Asia, which this report defines as comprising eight countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—along with the Indian Ocean (particularly the eastern portions but with implications for its entirety). China’s ties to the region are long-standing and date back well before the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Alliance, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, South Asia, India, Asia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives
  • Author: Andreas T. Hirblinger
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Inclusion in peace processes is conventionally understood in “offline” terms, such as being physically present at the negotiation table. However, digital technology can support a mediator’s efforts to integrate a broad variety of perspectives, interests, and needs into a peace process. This report explores the current and future practice of digital inclusion, giving a framework for understanding the possibilities and risks, and providing examples of practical ways digital technologies can contribute to mediated peace processes.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Negotiation, Peace, Participation, Mediation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Matt Ferchen
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The outsized ambitions and scale of the China-Venezuela political and financial relationship in the twenty-first century have meant that its failures and disappointments have been correspondingly large. This report explores how the nations came to be involved, how each side has responded to Venezuela’s extended economic and political crisis, and the implications for the future of the bilateral relationship and for China’s aspirations to be a leader and agent of international development.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Bertil Lintner
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: After seven decades of civil war and five failed peace efforts, Burma is no closer than before to reaching an agreement that would bring an end to its many conflicts. Analysis of those previous attempts shows that they all foundered on immutable attitudes on both sides. This report suggests that the peace process needs a fresh start, learning from the past and seeking to resolve underlying political disparities while prioritizing community interests and sustainable development.
  • Topic: Development, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: Rebecca Ebenezer-Abiola, Jeremy Moore
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Until the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 in 2015, the international community had no comprehensive framework with which to address the specific needs and opportunities of a key demographic group—young people. This report presents the findings of a meta-review assessing fifty-one youth projects supported or implemented by USIP between 2011 and 2018 and offers recommendations for continuing to develop and support peacebuilding activities with effective engagement, cooperation, and flexibility among civil society organizations and funders.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Demographics, United Nations, Youth, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Between May 2019 and September 2020, the United States Institute of Peace convened a bipartisan senior study group to consider the factors that have reshaped the Red Sea arena. The study group determined that, in recent years, the geopolitical and geo-economic dynamics of the Horn of Africa have become tied to the Middle East and broader Indian Ocean in a manner unprecedented in the last century. However, U.S. strategy in this evolving environment has struggled to keep pace with these interconnected, complex, and transregional dynamics and to account for the region’s increased relevance to U.S. interests. The final report of the senior study group defines U.S. interests within a hierarchy of priorities to assist policymakers in calibrating diplomatic, development, humanitarian, and security interventions and provides recommendations for defending and advancing these interests
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, United States of America, Red Sea
  • Author: David Scott Mathieson
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Armed conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw, the national army, has escalated sharply in the past two years. This development has been largely eclipsed, however, by the continuing international focus on the human rights crisis of the Rohingya Muslim minority. As this report explains, if this new conflict continues to expand in scope and ferocity, the hope of repatriating Rohingya refugees will recede into the future and the rest of the country will suffer from the increasing violence and destabilization.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Minorities, Refugees, Ethnic Cleansing, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Khyber Farahi, Scott Guggenheim
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Even if the warring parties in Afghanistan manage to secure a still-elusive agreement on resolving the current conflict, significant economic challenges remain for the country, which will require continued assistance and support for core government functions. This report, based on an examination of Afghanistan’s recent development performance, provides a framework for how the Afghan government and its donor partners can more effectively deliver equitable development going forward.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia