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The United States Institute of Peace or USIP, established in 1984, is an independent, nonpartisan, government-funded institution established and funded by the United States 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

Designed to be nonpartisan and independent, the Institute aims to produce research and engage in training and active peacebuilding initiatives.

The Institute’s primary operating model is powerful and straightforward. USIP conducts or sponsors relevant research on violent conflict, its causes, and ways to mitigate it. Drawing on this intellectual capital, Institute staff identify promising models, approaches, and practices, and develop innovative conflict management tools. USIP specialists share these tools with others through a variety of vehicles, including publications, the web, and training programs. At the same time, staff employ this robust and growing toolkit in peacebuilding projects around the world.


The Institute has leveraged its expertise, partnerships, and contacts into a broad range of successful programs that span the globe. Examples of recent and ongoing USIP programs are listed below.

  • Working with community leaders to build peace neighborhood-by-neighborhood in Iraq.
  • 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.
  • Working with the National Security Council to convene a series of working sessions to help develop a U.S. counter-terrorism strategy.
  • 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, a fundamental building back to peace in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, and Nepal.
  • Producing a preeminent book series on cultural negotiating behavior, field-defining textbooks on conflict management, and online training available across the globe.
  • Investing in and working with non-governmental organizations in 75 countries on customized peacebuilding projects.

The Institute also serves as a critical source of expertise to policymakers. Examples include:

  • Facilitating 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.
  • Developing a strategy to support Serbian civil society that gained congressional and administration support and helped lead to the defeat of Slobodan Milosevic at the polls and to his peaceful departure from power in 2000.


The USIP has various programs housed in different research departments:
  • Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention
  • Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution
  • Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations
  • Centers of Innovation
  • Rule of Law
  • Religion and Peacemaking
  • Virtual Diplomacy
  • Education and Training Center/International and Domestic
  • Training Program
  • Muslim World Initiative

The USIP offers free online certificate training courses in conflict analysis and resolution and holds events that are open to the public (audio archives of events are frequently available).

Courses include actual case studies of genocide in Rwandamarker and escalating armed conflict in Kosovomarker.

USIP National Peace Essay Contest

The USIP sponsors an annual national peace essay contest for high school students.

Iraq Study Group (ISG)

On March 15, 2006, Congress announced the formation of the Iraq Study Group, facilitated by USIP and supported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Center for the Study of the Presidency(CSP), and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. The task force delivered an independent assessment of the situation in Iraq, the Iraq Study Group Report, on December 6, 2006.

The ISG was led by co-chairs James Baker III and Lee Hamilton and was composed of five Republicans and five Democrats.


Establishment of an official government institution dedicated to the cause of international peace can be traced back to debates by the framers of the United States Constitution. In 1976, the first cornerstone for the campaign that led to the creation of the U.S. Institute of Peace, though, was laid when Senator Vance Hartke of Indianamarker and Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregonmarker introduced a bill to create the George Washington Peace Academy. After hearings in the Senate on the Hartke-Hatfield bill, it was decided that further study was needed. In 1979, a provision was successfully added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriation Bill for the establishment of the Commission on Proposals for the National Academy of Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Consisting of appointees named by President Jimmy Carter and the leadership of the House and Senate, the Commission worked for over a year and half. Chaired by Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaiimarker, the Matsunaga Commission, conducted a wide survey and study of the theories, techniques, and institutions involved in the resolution of international conflicts. The commission met with military and government officials, leading educators, conflict resolution professionals, and representatives from various religious, ethnic, and scientific communities. In addition to these sessions, the commission heard from thousands of citizens through a series of public meetings held across the nation that resulted in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts.

In 1981, after the completion of its deliberations, the Matsunaga Commission issued a final report recommending the creation of a national peace academy. Based upon the recommendations included in the report, bills were subsequently introduced in both houses of Congress under the bipartisan sponsorship of Senators Mark Hatfield, Spark Matsunaga, and Jennings Randolph, and Congressman Dan Glickman.

A vigorous public campaign led by Milton C. Mapes of the National Peace Academy Campaign supported these efforts. Mapes died before the bill passed.

Robert J. Conlan was hired and reorganized the campaign under his leadership in The National Peace Institute Foundation. After considerable debate about the appropriate form of the new institution, the United States Institute of Peace Act was finally passed and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.


The Institute is governed by a bipartisan Board of Directors appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The president and executive officers of the Institute are in turn selected by the Board of Directors.

Board of Directors

Members ex officio

Senior Staff
  • President, Richard H. Solomon
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Patricia P. Thomson
  • Vice President, Charles E. Nelson
  • Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention (acting), Scott Lasensky
  • Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, David R. Smock
  • Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, Daniel. P. Serwer
  • Education and Training/Domestic, Pamela Aall
  • Education and Training Center/International, Michael Lekson
  • Grants and Fellowships, Steven Heydemann
Centers of Innovation
  • Religion and Peacemaking, David R. Smock
  • Rule of Law, Neil Kritz
  • Economies and Conflict, Raymond Gilpin
  • Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding, Sheldon Himelfarb
  • Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding, Sheldon Himelfarb
  • Management, Michael Graham


By act of Congress, USIP secured a site in Washington, D.C. for its permanent headquarters facility, located at the northwest corner of the National Mall at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street NW. The site faces the Lincoln Memorial and is adjacent to the Korean War and Vietnam Veterans' Memorials.

The headquarters is intended to be a national center for research, education, training, and policy development on issues of international conflict prevention, management, and resolution. The building will contain working spaces for program and administrative staff and research fellows, a research library and archives, a state-of-the-art conference center that includes classrooms and professional training rooms, and a public education center. Designed to appeal to people of all ages from the United States and abroad, the Public Education Center will offer a wide range of exhibits that engage and inform citizens about the issues critical to global security and international peacemaking.

The architectural firm for the headquarters is Moshe Safdie and Associates. Safdie’s design reflects his vision that the headquarters, given its location, is a symbolic structure on the capital’s skyline representing the striving for peace. The building’s roofs form a series of wing-like elements. Constructed of steel frame and white translucent glass, they will be white on the exterior during the day and glow from light within at night. The roof structures will be visible from many locations along the National Mall as well as from the roads and bridges into the city that cross the Potomac River. The building will be a LEED-certified green building.

Funding for the project is a public-private partnership. Congress has provided $100 million to the Institute for construction of the facility. Private funds are being raised to complete the project. Ground was scheduled to begin in early 2008 and complete construction by the first quarter of 2010.


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