Urgent Action: U.S. House votes to cut ALL FUNDING for U.S. Institute of Peace
On Thursday 17th February 2011, the new U.S. House voted to cut all funding for the United States Institute of Peace. All of it!
To put it mildly, this is a stunning development that could prove to be a serious setback for the work of peacebuilding around the world and a blow to the growing movement we’ve been seeing for peacebuilding investment in our government.
The United States Institute of Peace Act, passed by the Congress and signed into law in 1984, established the Institute as a publicly funded national institution. Congressional leaders spearheading the charge to eliminate U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that USIP is a “waste of taxpayer money.”
The funding in question, $42 million, is change by Federal Government standards. $42 million Is one tenth of one percent of the State Department budget, not even enough funds to support 40 troops in Afghanistan for a year, nor to pay for three hours of the Afghanistan War. Yet this small investment in USIP is one of the smartest investments the US government can make. As one of the only institutions in Federal government working to support peacebuilding, the Institute desperately needs our support. Join us:
Iraq would have further spiraled out of control had USIP not existed.
When the situation on the ground in Iraq seemed it could not get any worse, our country turned to USIP for answers. USIP President Richard Solomon writes: “When Congress needed a forward-looking bipartisan commission to evaluate U.S. options in Iraq, they turned to USIP. Under the co-chairmanship of former Secretary of State James A. Baker and Rep. Lee Hamilton, we gathered input from many organizations to produce what became a widely recognized guide to dealing with Iraq: The Iraq Study Group.”
According to General David Petreas: “In Iraq the Institute stepped up to the plate beginning in August 2007 to assist the 10th Mountain Division in a reconciliation effort in Mahmoudiya, a community on the southern edge of Baghdad that was once known as the ‘Triangle of Death. Since then, General Odierno and I have often cited Mahmouidya as a striking success story.” Before USIP mediated between conflicting Iraqi tribes, dozens of American soldiers died in the region. After USIP’s intervention, only one US serviceman lost his life. General Patreas concludes: “USIP’s continuing reconciliation efforts at the community level… hold great promise for the future.”
USIP has also played a critical role in Afghanistan. According to General Patreus: “USIP’s work on the informal justice system has been invaluable as we work toward improving rule of law at the provincial level. Their plans for reconciliation efforts at the community level on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border are likewise a potential key to success in the enormous challenges we face.”
USIP has a proven track-record as the pioneering US institute advancing peacebuilding on our behalf, a bright light emanating from our nation throughout some of the darkest corners on the planet. USIP’s budget shouldn’t be cut, it should be increased!
Prevention and nonviolent intervention pays off. There is a temptation, and it far too often turns out to be the reality, that we cut prevention and intervention programs first when budgets get tight. That’s true from the community level all the way up to national – and it’s exactly the opposite of what we should do, both from a fiscal and moral perspective. This is an issue we must stand behind. We cannot allow the USIP to slip away.Take action today.
About The United States Institute of Peace
The USIP provides the analysis, training and tools that prevent and end conflicts, promotes stability and professionalizes the field of peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding: A Global Imperative
It is essential that the United States, working with the international community, play an active part in preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts. Fragile states, ethnic and religious strife, extremism, competition for scarce resources and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction all pose significant challenges to peace. The resulting suffering and destabilization of societies make effective forms of managing conflict imperative. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is dedicated to meeting this imperative in new and innovative ways.
USIP’s Mission and Goals
The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:
- Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
- Promote post-conflict stability and development
- Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide
The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.
USIP’s Programs and Activities
In order to achieve the above goals, the Institute undertakes a unique combination of activities, including the following:
- Operating on-the-ground in zones of conflict, most recently in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Colombia, Iraq, Kashmir, Liberia, the Korean Peninsula, Nepal, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda. Specific projects involve:
- Mediating and facilitating dialogue among parties in conflict
- Building conflict management skills and capacity
- Identifying and disseminating best practices in conflict management
- Promoting the rule of law
- Reforming/strengthening education systems
- Strengthening civil society and state-building
- Educating the public through events, films, radio programs, and an array of other outreach activities
- Performing cutting edge research resulting in publications for practitioners, policymakers, and academia (over 400 to date).
- Identifying best practices and developing innovative peacebuilding tools. Tools developed by USIP include a seminal set of books on international mediation, a portfolio of resources on religious peacemaking, a toolkit for promoting the rule of law in fragile states, guidelines for civilian and military interaction in hostile environments, a preeminent series on cultural negotiating behavior, and field-defining textbooks on conflict management.
- Training on conflict management—including mediation and negotiation skills—to government and military personnel, civil society leaders, and the staff of non-governmental and international organizations.
- Educating high school and college students about conflict, strengthening related curricula, and increasing the peacebuilding capabilities of future leaders.
- Supporting policymakers by providing analyses, policy options, and advice, as well as by sponsoring a wide range of country-oriented working groups. Recent efforts include the Iraq Study Group; Task Force on the United Nations; and standing working groups on Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Liberia, Syria, and Sudan.
The United States Institute of Peace draws on a variety of resources in fulfilling its mandate, including Institute staff, grantees, fellows, and a broad set of governmental and non-governmental partners:
- Institute Specialists: The Institute employs more than 70 specialists with both geographic and subject-matter expertise. These experts are leaders in their fields. They come from the government, military, NGOs, academia, and the private sector. .
- Partners/Grantees: The Institute works with an extensive network of partners, including non-profits, academic institutions, government agencies, international organizations, and the military. Through its grantmaking program, the Institute has invested $58 million in over 1,700 peacebuilding projects in 76 countries around the world.
- Jennings Randolph Fellows: The Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace awards residential fellowship annually. Since the program’s inception, Senior Fellows have produced more than 125 books and special reports. The Jennings Randolph program also awards non-resident Peace Scholar Fellowships to students at U.S. universities working on doctoral dissertations related to the Institute’s mandate.
Download a fact sheet about USIP (PDF 264KB)
Download the National Journal article about USIP (PDF 615KB)