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United States Institute of Peace

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United States Institute of Peace

United States Institute of Peace
USIP's headquarters in Washington, D.C., finished construction in 2011
Abbreviation USIP
Motto Think. Act. Teach. Train.
Formation 1984
Headquarters 2301 Constitution Avenue NW
President, acting Kristin Lord

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is an American non-partisan, independent, federal institution that provides analysis of and is involved in conflicts around the world. The Institute was established by an act of U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The board is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and board members have historically had close ties to American intelligence services. Its headquarters, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., sits at the northwest corner of the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


The United States Institute of Peace Act, passed in 1984, calls for the Institute to “serve the people and the Government through the widest possible range of education and training, basic and applied research opportunities, and peace information services on the means to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts among the nations and peoples of the world without recourse to violence”.[1]

The Institute carries out this mission by operating programs in conflict zones,[2] conducting research and analysis, operating a training academy and public education center, providing grants for research and fieldwork, convening conferences and workshops,[2] and building the academic and policy fields of international conflict management and peacebuilding.[3] On many of its projects, the Institute works in partnership with nongovernmental organizations, higher and secondary educational institutions, international organizations, local organizations, and U.S. government agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Defense.[4]


The idea behind the formation of a peace organization in the United States dates to the first years of the republic. In 1783 Ronald Reagan signed the United States Institute of Peace Act in 1984.

Spurred by a grassroots movement in the 1970s and 1980s, Senator Jennings Randolph joined Senators Mark Hatfield and Spark Matsunaga and Rep. Dan Glickman in an effort to form a national peace academy akin to the national military academies.[5] The 1984 act creating USIP followed from a 1981 recommendation of a commission formed to examine the peace academy issue appointed by President Jimmy Carter and chaired by Matsunaga.

Robert F. Turner was the Institute’s first president and CEO, holding that position from 1986 to 1987. He was followed by Ambassador Jim Marshall (2012 – 2013). Kristin Lord is acting President (2013). In its early years, the Institute first sought to build the field of international conflict management and peacebuilding. In a 2011 letter of support for USIP, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs noted that this analytical work has “helped to build the conflict management and resolution field, both as an area of study and as an applied science”.[3]

Under Solomon’s leadership, the Institute expanded its operations in conflict zones and its training programs, initially in the Balkans and, after September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan and Iraq.[6] It also became the home of several congressionally mandated blue-ribbon commissions, including the Iraq Study Group, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, and the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel. Today, the Institute conducts active programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan, and elsewhere.[2]

In 1996, Congress authorized the Navy to transfer jurisdiction of the federal land—a portion of its Potomac Annex facility on what has been known as Navy Hill—to become the site of the permanent USIP headquarters, across the street from the National Mall at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, D.C.[7] Prior to its construction, the Institute leased office space in downtown Washington. Construction of the headquarters building concluded in 2011.


USIP is funded annually by the U.S. Congress. For fiscal year 2012 Congress provided $39 million.[8] Occasionally, USIP receives funds transferred from government agencies, such as the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense. By law, USIP is prohibited from receiving private gifts and contributions for its program activities. The restriction on private fundraising was lifted for the public-private partnership to construct the USIP headquarters.

Budget debate

An op-ed in the [9]

Former U.S. Central Command Commander Anthony Zinni wrote an op-ed, published in the New York Times on March 7, 2011, in support of USIP. “Congress would be hard-pressed to find an agency that does more with less. The institute’s entire budget would not pay for the Afghan war for three hours, is less than the cost of a fighter plane, and wouldn’t sustain even 40 American troops in Afghanistan for a year. Within the budget, peace-building is financed as part of national security programs, and is recognized as an important adjunct to conventional defense spending and diplomacy. The institute’s share of the proposed international affairs budget, $43 million, is minuscule: less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the State Department’s budget, and one-hundredth of 1 percent of the Pentagon’s.”[10]

On February 17, 2011, the House of Representatives for the 112th U.S. Congress voted to eliminate all funding for the U.S. Institute of Peace in FY 2011 continuing resolution.[11][12] Funding for the Institute was eventually restored by both the House and Senate on April 14, 2011, through the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.[13]

Organization and leadership

The Institute’s staff of about 275 is split among its Washington headquarters, field offices, and temporary missions to conflict zones. The Institute is active in some 20 countries and as of 2012 maintains field offices in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq, as well as a presence in Islamabad, Pakistan.


USIP coordinates its work through five main centers:

  • Center for South and Central Asia (SCA)
  • Center for Governance, Law, and Society (GLAS)
  • Center for the Middle East and Africa (MEA)
  • Center for Applied Research on Conflict (ARC)
  • The Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding


The Institute is governed by a Jim Marshall, a former congressman, is the immediate past president of USIP. He was preceded by Richard H. Solomon, a former senior State Department official and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, who had held the position from 1992 to 2012. The president in 1987-93 was U.S. ambassador to Israel (1977-85) Samuel W. Lewis.

Board of Directors

Members ex officio


Convened tribes in Iraq

In Iraq in 2007, USIP helped broker the initial peace agreement that is seen as the turning point in the war there. USIP experts were asked to assist the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in the reconciliation effort in Mahmoudiya, located in what was known as “the Triangle of Death” in Iraq’s western Anbar Province. USIP was seen as a neutral player that was able to convene Sunni tribal leaders, Iraq’s Shiite government leaders, and senior members of the U.S. military. Soon after the meeting, attacks and casualties declined significantly. The agreement led to a reduction of the U.S. military presence there from a brigade-level unit of about 3,500 soldiers to a battalion-level unit of about 650. General David Petraeus, the senior commander in Iraq, noted that the turnabout was “striking”. Petraeus also said that USIP “is a great asset in developing stronger unity of effort between civilian and military elements of government”.[15]

Iraq Study Group

The U.S. government used USIP to help convene the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in 2006 that studied the conflict in Iraq and recommended ways forward. USIP facilitated the group’s trip to Iraq and hosted several meetings of the group. According to USIP, the group’s political neutrality made it an appropriate entity to host the group’s sensitive deliberations. The effort was undertaken at the urging of several members of Congress with agreement of the White House. A final report was released to Congress, the White House, and the public on December 6, 2006.[16]

Genocide Prevention Task Force

In Fall 2008, U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the American Academy of Diplomacy jointly convened the Genocide Prevention Task Force to "spotlight genocide prevention as a national priority and to develop practical policy recommendations to enhance the capacity of the U.S. government to respond to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities".[16]

The 14-member task force,[16] co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Defense Secretary William Cohen, outlined "a national blueprint to prevent genocide and mass atrocities".[17] In December 2008, the task force released its report "Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers"[18] detailing its recommendations and guidelines. The Economist praised it as a "report steeped in good sense".[19]

On August 4, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a proclamation suspending U.S. entry to individuals active in "serious human rights and humanitarian law violations"[20] and called for the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board to review, coordinate and develop an atrocity prevention and response policy, and incorporate recommendations provided by the Genocide Prevention Task Force.[21]

Preventing electoral violence in Sudan

Ahead of Sudan's April 2010 national elections (the first since 1986) and the January 2011 South Sudanese independence referendum, USIP staff traveled to some of the more unstable regions to help prepare people for the elections. Amid heightened tensions, USIP experts focused on improving cultural awareness, citizenship skills, and training Sudanese on electoral violence triggers—all critical steps to ensure that the polls did not turn violent. The elections and referendum were held with relatively no bloodshed and were widely deemed a success. Building upon USIP’s successful electoral violence prevention training, USIP is implementing a series of violence prevention workshops throughout the country post-election and post-referendum.

Publication of The Iran Primer

The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy "offers a comprehensive but concise overview of Iran's politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program". It convenes 50 experts to discuss Iran’s evolving relationship with the West and "chronicles U.S.-Iran relations under six American presidents and probes five options for dealing with Iran". The Iran Primer is edited by USIP Expert Robin Wright.

The Iran Primer authors include

Additional work

  • Worked with community leaders to build peace neighborhood-by-neighborhood in Iraq[22]
  • Working with tribal chiefs, educator, and civil society leaders in support of peacemaking in Sudan
  • Training hundreds of young Nigerian religious leaders, women, and youth from all over the country to be peacemakers; and helping bring peace to large parts of Plateau State
  • Strengthening the peacemaking capacity of religious leaders and faith-based organizations through research, technical assistance, facilitated dialogues, and operational support
  • Helping establish the rule of law,[23] a fundamental building block to peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, and Nepal in addition to other security sector reform initiatives.[24]
  • Producing educational resources such as a book series on cultural negotiation, textbooks on conflict management, and online training[25]
    • General reference
      • The Diplomat’s Dictionary
      • Negotiating across Cultures: International Communication in an Interdependent World
      • Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy
      • Culture and Conflict Resolution
    • Country-specific
      • How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster
      • American Negotiating Behavior: Wheeler-Dealers, Legal Eagles, Bullies, and Preachers
      • Negotiating with Iran:W restling the Ghosts of History
      • How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process
      • French Negotiating Behavior: Dealing with La Grande Nation
      • How Germans Negotiate: Logical Goals, Practical Solutions
      • Case Studies in Japanese Negotiating Behavior
      • Negotiating on the Edge: North Korean Negotiating Behavior
      • Chinese Negotiating Behavior: Pursuing Interests Through ‘Old Friends'
      • Russian Negotiating Behavior: Continuity and Transition

The institute has also served U.S. government officials and policymakers.

  • Facilitating the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, Genocide Prevention Task Force, and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group
  • Leading a congressionally mandated, bipartisan task force on United Nations reform
  • Developing a proposal for a comprehensive settlement of the Korean War, which was drawn upon by U.S. government officials in preparation for the Six-party talks
  • Conducting a study of the U.S. government’s state-building capacity that contributed to the creation of the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization (ORS) in the State Department


In March 2011, USIP moved into its Harry Reid, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.[27]


USIP publishes a variety of topical newsletters, briefs, reports, guides, studies, testimony, and books related to peacebuilding and conflict management topics. It also maintains digital collections of peace agreements, oral histories, and information about truth commissions. The USIP headquarters is home to a public library that houses a collection of items related to peacebuilding, conflict management, and diplomacy. Its materials can be used on site or requested through interlibrary loan.

Examples of USIP publications include:

  • Solomon, Richard H., Quinney, Nigel, American Negotiating Behavior: Wheeler-Dealers, Legal Eagles, Bullies and Preachers. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60127-048-1.
  • Telhami, Shibley, ed. The Sadat Lectures: Words and Images on Peace, 1997-2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60127-054-2.
  • Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, November 2009. ISBN 978-1-60127-046-7.
  • Zartman, I. William, ed. (Revised Edition)Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Techniques. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1997. ISBN 978-1-929223-66-4.
  • Peace Terms: A glossary of terms for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding


Critics say that the supposed peace research "looks more like the study of new and potential means of aggression," through trade embargoes, austerity programs, and electoral intervention. When it was established in 1984, its board looked like a "'who's who' of right-wing ideologues from academia and the Pentagon," and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency may assign officers and employees to the Institute. Nearly half its board played a role in Iran-contra operations. The first president was Robert F. Turner, who worked for the State Department arguing for increased aid to the Nicaraguan contras.[28][29]

See also


  1. ^ "United States Institute of Peace Act". U.S. House of Representatives. 2012-01-03. 
  2. ^ a b c Zinni, Anthony (2011-03-07). "Peace-Building That Pays Off". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b "APSIA Letter of Support for the United States Institute of Peace". 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "The United States Government Manual 2011, page 503". 3 March 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Below the Radar: A Federal Peace Agency". The New York Times. 2008-06-12. 
  6. ^ """Leon Panetta Dean Acheson Lecture: "Building Partnership in the 21st Century. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Peace institute approved to begin construction on National Mall". Associated Press. 2007-06-09. 
  8. ^ "H.R.2055 -- Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012". 23 December 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Chaffetz, Jason; Weiner, Anthony (2011-02-16). "Small Budget Cuts Add Up". The Wall Street Journal. 
  10. ^ Zinni, Anthony C. (2011-03-07). "Why Congress Should Keep Financing the U.S. Institute of Peace". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Dolan, Eric (2011-02-17). "House votes to cut all funding for US Institute of Peace". The Raw Story. 
  12. ^ Ornstein, Norman (2011-06-01). "U.S. Institute of Peace is Target in Spending War". Roll Call. 
  13. ^ "H.R.1473 -- Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011". 14 April 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Markoe, Lauren (January 29, 2011). "In time of war, a monument to peace". Washington Post. p. B2. 
  15. ^ Mortenson, Darrin (2007-10-19). "A Local Peace Accord: Cause for Hope?". Time Magazine. 
  16. ^ a b c "The Iraq Study Group". U.S. Institute of Peace. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  17. ^ "Never again, for real". New York Times. 2011-12-11. 
  18. ^ "Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers" (PDF). Genocide (Genocide Prevention Task Force). December 8, 2008. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  19. ^ "Preventing genocide". The Economist. 2008-12-11. 
  20. ^ "Presidential Proclamation". The White House. 2011-08-04. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ """USIP-Facilitated Iraq Reconciliation Agreement a Key Breakthrough for Stability Effort in South Baghdad's "Triangle of Death. United States Institute of Peace. 
  23. ^ "USIP Rule of Law". 
  24. ^ "USIP Security Sector Reform". 
  25. ^ "Cross-Cultural Negotiation Books". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Lewis, Roger (2012-02-24). "At U.S. Institute of Peace, building’s provocative design doesn’t entirely succeed". The Washington Post. 
  27. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (2008-06-06). "At Peace Institute Groundbreaking, War Dominates the Proceedings". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ OPERATION PEACE INSTITUTE By Sarah Diamond & Richard Hatch Z Magazine July/August 1990

External links

  • U.S. Institute of Peace website
  • History of USIP
  • Iraq Study Group
  • USIP's Global Peacebuilding Center

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