Peacebuilding Policy & Democratic Security

Between 2006-2015, I was the founding director of the 3D Security Initiative and the Alliance for Peacebuilding Policy Program, one of the first attempts to make peacebuilding expertise relevant to US policymakers and security officials. The 3D Security Initiative was a response to 9/11 and the Global War on Terror that relied almost exclusively on military-led approaches.

Our goal was to offer a policy voice for civil society peacebuilding at a time when many US policymakers perceived that there was no “local capacity” for peace. The people affected by the Global War on Terror should have a voice in US security policymaking. Local civil society peacebuilders in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere needed a structured platform to voice peacebuilding alternatives to US policymakers and military leaders.

I wrote grants and hired staff with funding from the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund, Compton Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, Colombe Foundation, and the Women’ Donor Network. Together, we met with hundreds of Congressional offices, we trained thousands of US military personnel on how to relate to local civil society peacebuilders, and we achieved a variety of policy outcomes, detailed below.

This 3 minute video documents the first conference held in the US Congress focused on “whole of community” conflict prevention and peacebuilding. I organized and facilitated this conference. The video interviews key participants from the US government and civil society about the unique approach of the 3D Security Initiative to facilitate policy conversations between the US government and civil society about peacebuilding alternatives to war.

Above: 3 minute video on a policy conference on “whole of community conflict prevention” held in Congress in 2008;
Below: photographs of the civil society peacebuilding delegations I took to Congres between 2006-2015

Our policy goals focused on the following:

  • Amplify the voices of local peacebuilders by bringing delegations of civil society leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, Palestine and other countries to the US to meet with Congressional offices about peacebuilding policy options in their countries
  • Publish policy briefs based on civil society peacebuilding recommendations (see below) related to US policy with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, and other regions
  • Provide training and briefings to Congressional offices and military leaders about conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and the role of local civil society, as per Geneva Convention guidance on civil-military relations

Achievements and Core Publications

  1. Between 2006-2012, we took dozens of civil society peacebuilders on delegations to meet with Congressional offices to share their view on the relevance of local peacebuilding to US foreign policy, as per the photos. Many Congressional offices noted they had never met a Muslim, and even though they talked about Iraq and Afghanistan almost every day, they had never met a person from these countries.
  2. Our Congressional conference in 2008 brought over 100 peacebuilders to Capital Hill for a landmark “Building_Whole_of_Community_Conflict_Prevention_Conference as per this report.
  3. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee published a HCFA-SFRC paper on peacebuilding drawing extensively on our advocacy.
  4. We commissioned a poll with the Program on International Policy Attitudes to explore common ground between Republicans and Democrats on core foreign policy issues, which were presented at a Congressional briefing.
  5. Our advocacy and relationship with the Foreign Service Institute contributed to an addition of their courses in civil society peacebuilding and negotiation.
  6. We co-hosted a monthly working group with the Aspen Institute to develop shared strategic communication messsaging about conflict prevention in US foreign policy with 30 major policy advocacy groups.
  7. We successfully lobbied the State Department to develop a peace process support team. The Peace Process Support Unit at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations included many of our recommendations outlined in our training and policy briefs written for the State Department.
  8. Our lead staff Lynn Kunkle carefully coordinated a successful process to develop a landmark Experts Statement on Iran promoting diplomatic options
  9. Our lead staff Jennifer Kuiper coordinated a series of landmark Congressional briefings on Israel and Palestine. (See policy briefs below and this page for fuller description of our meetings with the White House, and appearance on CNN and Fox News on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.)
  10. Here is my Congressional testimony to House Armed Services Committee with Dr. Michael Lund.
  11. This C-Span video captures our active campaign to address the material support laws found in the Patriot Act which pose obstacles to civil society peacebuilding.
  12. With the Wilson Center, we held a major conference with US State Department, Congress, US military, and civil society peacebuiders resulting in a report on Civil Society and the US Govt in Conflict-Affected Regions in 2008.
  13. In 2009 and 2010, we held the first Alliance for Peacebuilding Congressional Advocacy Days.
  14. From 2009-2011, I made multiple trips to Afghanistan to teach at Kabul University, facilitate civil-military dialogues between ISAF and local civil society, and to research. In 2012, USIP published our report Designing a Comprehensive Peace Process in Afghanistan
  15. From 2011-2015, I shifted my advocacy focus from Congress to the US military, as we received dozens of invitations from West Point, Quantico, the US War College, Central Command and many other military academies for training in conflict prevention and peacebuilding frameworks, and the application of Geneva Convention laws toward local civil society groups. Out of this work, we published the following:

Major Policy Platforms

Policy Briefs on Peace Processes

Policy Briefs on Civil Society and Local Ownership

Policy Briefs on Civil-Military Coordination

Policy Briefs on Core Definitions and Concepts

Policy Briefs on Region Specific Policy Briefs