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.
The Institute also serves as a critical source of expertise to policymakers. Examples include:
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). Moreover, the USIP sponsors an annual national peace essay contest for high school students.
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 Indiana and Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon 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 Hawaii, 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 over 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.
Board of Directors
Members ex officio
Centers of Innovation
The headquarters will serve the American people, the federal government, and the international community as 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, in keeping with the Institute’s mission to serve the federal government and the American people. Congress has provided $100 million to the Institute for construction of the facility. Private funds are being raised to complete the project. The current schedule is to break ground in early 2008 and complete construction by the first quarter of 2010.