The Case for the U.S. Institute of Peace
March 2, 2011
J. Stephen Morrison
Director, Global Health Policy Center
Of the many proposed budget cuts presented by the House of Representatives, eliminating funding for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is especially unwarranted and ill-advised.
Since Ronald Reagan first signed legislation in 1984 establishing USIP, the Institute has played a critical role in informing U.S. policy towards conflicted regions of the world. At a time where the world is fraught with rapid conflict, we need this type of institution – one that is both progressive and bipartisan – more than ever. Beyond this though, USIP is exceptional in that it brings practitioners from all corners of the globe to Washington to talk about their experiences in implementing peace accords; it stages very important training programs that build local capacities for managing conflicts; the Institute engages scholars as well as grants scholarships to support high-quality, analytic research; and perhaps most important, the Institute has established itself as a place where global leaders trying to end conflict can come together and engage in meaningful dialogue.
As part of a bipartisan institution that has partnered with USIP in the past, I have come to highly value its work. Among the many achievements USIP has contributed to global health, the Institute has helped with successful vaccination programs in regions of armed conflict. In some of the most strategically heated areas of the world, Afghanistan for example, USIP has applied practical recommendations to preserve funding for the Ministry of Health and develop a health system that has had a major impact on child mortality. In Israel and Palestine, moreover, USIP has demonstrated the potential and limitation of health as a bridge for peace.
For all of these reasons and many more, the United States Institute of Peace is a smart buy. A marginal fraction of U.S. funding allows high value research, analysis, and collaboration to flourish. Now is not the time to eliminate resources to such an important institution.