Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In a Global Crisis, Should USIP Take Charge?

The Washington Post's David Ignatius asks who should take charge in order to stabilize a global political or security crisis - US Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the US Institute of Peace (USIP)?

Here is what Ignatius says about USIP:
Does the stabilizing mission belong to the facilitators and analysts at the U.S. Institute of Peace, which was created in 1984 to help resolve conflicts peacefully?
The U.S. Institute of Peace, headed by Jim Marshall, prides itself on being a small, nimble organization with a cadre of specialists who can travel to crisis zones and meet with different sects, tribes and parties. But the organization likes its independence and doesn’t want to be an arm of the State Department or any other bureaucracy. It’s a boutique, but that means its efforts are hard to multiply. And its presence can create confusion about who’s doing what.

Here is a USIP manual from 2009 titled "Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction," which USIP says presents the "first strategic doctrine ever produced for civilians engaged in peacebuilding missions."

USIP says that it is helping to develop metrics for measuring progress in reconstruction and stabilization operations.  It is doing so in partnership with the State Department, the Fund for Peace, the US Army, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

USIP's Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations is currently conducting work in the following zones of conflict: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, and Sri Lanka.

USIP will be holding a five-day course from October 14-18, 2013 titled "Stabilization and Peacebuilding: Understanding Dynamic Processes and Making Them Work."  An example course syllabus can be found here.

In related USIP news, Stephen J. Hadley has just been nominated by President Obama to be on the Board of Directors of the USIP.  Mr. Hadley is currently a Senior Adviser for International Affairs at USIP.  Previously, he was Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs in the Bush Administration.

USIP's Board of Directors list can be found here.  Here is what the law says in terms of USIP Board Members:
The board is composed of twelve members from outside federal service appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate, and four ex-officio members: the secretary of state (who may designate another Senate-confirmed State Department official), the secretary of defense (who may designate another Senate-confirmed Defense Department official), the president of the National Defense University (who may designate the vice president of the National Defense University), and the president of the Institute (nonvoting). The board is prohibited by law from having more than eight voting members of the same political party.
USIP was just ranked as the 18th best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 28th best security and international affairs think tank in the world.