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Elections in Nigeria: A New Hope for Peace and Governance?

On November 1, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on Nigeria’s consequential upcoming elections.  Oge Onubogu, Senior Program Officer of Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace, was joined by Christopher O’Connor, Senior Program Officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy, to discuss the implications of Nigeria’s upcoming elections on the future of democracy, peace and corruption in the country.  This event was moderated Lauren Ploch Blanchard.


Oge Onubogu

Oge Onubogu is senior program officer for Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she leads programming in Nigeria. In this position, she provides leadership, strategic management, and oversees the design and implementation of projects to promote inclusion and community security by partnering with policymakers, civic leaders, and organizations in Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin area. Oge’s thematic focus is on governance and civil society development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining USIP, she managed governance, citizen engagement, and election observation programs in Nigeria and across Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa) with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Before that, she worked as program officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) where for several years, she oversaw democratic governance projects and managed a multi-million dollar grants portfolio to civil society organizations in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Cameroon. Oge has consulted for the World Bank, observed elections with the Carter Center, and coordinated refugee resettlement programs with the International Rescue Committee. She earned her MA in International Development from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and BA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma.

 


Christopher O’Connor

Christopher O’Connor is the Senior Program Officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Christopher oversees a diverse civil society grants program in Nigeria that aims to strengthen democracy, improve human rights, and consolidate peace. He also works on West Africa regional, Liberia, and Ghana governance projects. Prior to joining NED, Christopher served as an International Development Fellow with Catholic Relief Services in Abuja, Nigeria, where he worked on peacebuilding and good governance projects. He received his MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and his BA in African, Asian, and Russian History from Washington and Lee University.

 

 

 


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Lauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.

Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.

Ending ISIS in North Africa: The Road Through Libya and Tunisia

On July 16th, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace Mike Yaffe and Senior Analyst and Africa Team Lead for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute Emily Estelle discussed evolving efforts in Libya and Tunisia to counter terrorist operations across the region.  The discussion took place as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

In Monday’s briefing, the expert panel discussed both the stark differences and shared problems in Tunisia and Libya. The discussion focused on issues of establishing good governance on the national and local level, boosting economic growth, and countering terrorism and crime–especially along the border. The panelists also discussed the role of external actors such as Russia, Egypt, and the Gulf. The tone of the discussion was one of fragile optimism as the panel acknowledged that, despite severe problems, there are opportunities for improvement. The panel encouraged Congress and the executive branch to adopt a clear strategy in conjunction with European allies to address these crises in North Africa.


Mike Yaffe

Michael Yaffe joined the United States Institute of Peace after serving as the senior advisor to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations at the U.S. Department of State. Between 2001 and 2012, he was an academic dean and distinguished professor of strategic studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Previously, Dr. Yaffe was a career foreign affairs officer at the State Department concentrating on the Middle East peace negotiations, regional security, and nonproliferation, and served on U.S. delegations to the “Madrid” Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security talks, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO.

During his twenty-five year career with the U.S. Government he was the recipient of several State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well Department of Defense commendations. He was an Olin post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and peace scholar at the United States Institute of Peace (1988-1989). Mike earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Emily Estelle

Emily Estelle is a senior analyst for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute and the Africa Team Lead. She studies the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa, including al Qaeda, ISIS, and associated groups. She specializes in the Libya conflict. Emily also coordinates CTP’s training and tradecraft and manages the integration of technology into the research process. Emily graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Anthropology modified with Arabic

U.S. Military Presence in Africa

On February 22nd, the United States Institute of Peace’s Director of Africa Programs Susan Stigant and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory discussed the recent terror threats in Sub-Saharan Africa as a part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. Congressional Research Service Specialist in African Affairs, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, moderated the discussion. The briefing explored the role for U.S. military, regional partners and civil society in countering these threats. In addition, the briefing focused on the evolving footprint of the U.S.’s military presence in the region and what regional partners and civil society can do to build a sustainable stability. This event was a closed off-the-record event held for congressional staff.


Susan Stigant:

Susan Stigant is the director of Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she oversees programming in South Sudan, Nigeria, Sudan, CAR, DRC, Tanzania and Kenya and with the African Union. Susan’s thematic focus is on the design and implementation of inclusive constitutional reform and national dialogue processes. She has and continues to advise government officials and civil society actors on inclusive processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere. Susan also serves as co-chair of USIP’s national dialogue working group. Prior to joining USIP, she managed constitutional development, citizen engagement and election observation programs with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). From 2005-2011, she served as program director with NDI in South Sudan, where she supported the implementation of the peace agreement.  She also worked with the Forum of Federations on comparative federalism and with the research unit of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in South Africa.


Amanda Dory

Image result for amanda doryAmanda J. Dory joined the War College faculty in 2017.  She is a career member of the Senior Executive Service.

From 2012-2017 she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).  She served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy from 2008-2011 and as the Principal Director for Policy Planning in OSD.  In both capacities her responsibilities included strategy development, force planning scenarios, and long-term trends analysis.

She has worked on multiple Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDRs), to include as the chief of staff to lead implementation of QDR execution roadmaps for Building Partner Capacity and Irregular Warfare in 2007-2008.  In addition to strategic and regional assignments, Amanda has also served in OSD’s Homeland Defense office as the director for planning and integration.  In 2002, she was selected as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow and conducted an independent research project based at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Amanda has received numerous awards to include the Presidential Rank Award in 2010 and 2015 and awards for exceptional and meritorious civilian service.  She is an alumna of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received a master’s degree with concentrations in international economics and African studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Image result for lauren ploch blanchardLauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.

Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.

CPP Fall 2017 Retreat

On October 21st and 22nd, participants in the Fall 2017 class of the Congressional Partnership Program joined foreign policy and national security experts for a weekend of thought provoking discussions and bipartisan team-building. This retreat was a great opportunity for participants to assess global challenges, explore differences, and build common ground.


Bipartisan Forum

Participants heard from Mr. Luke Murry and Mr. Michael Kuiken on the mechanics of bipartisan consensus on the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Speakers discussed their negotiation of the bill language and passage through both chambers of Congress.

Featuring: 

Mr. Luke Murry – National Security Advisor for House Majority Leader, Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Mr. Michael Kuiken – National Security Advisor for Senate Minority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer

 


Keynote Address

The Keynote address was provided by Mr. Michael Morell who discussed “Global Challenges for Today and Tomorrow.” Mr. Morell discussed global instability, challenges facing the intelligence community, and opportunities for Congressional engagement.

Featuring:

Mr. Michael Morell – Former Deputy Director of the CIA and Former Acting Director of the CIA.

 


Breakout Sessions

Ambassador Roger Noreiga discussed the Venezuelan crisis including high inflation and unemployment, a rise in violence, and crushing debt. Ambassador Noriega also addressed U.S. policy options when dealing with Venezuela.

Ambassador Barbara Bodine discussed Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. She outlined the various countries vying for influence in Yemen, how the war affects the Arabian Peninsula, and strategies the U.S. should employ to help bring the war to an end.

Featuring:

Ambassador Roger Noreiga – Former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States

Ambassador Barbara Bodine – Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen.


National Security Council Simulation

Participants engaged in a National Security Council Simulation led by Mr. Robert Sheldon to advance strategic negotiation and communication skills.

Featuring: 

Mr. Robert Sheldon – Director for Policy – Emerging Threats at the Business Executives for National Security.

South Sudan: Congress’ Role in Building a Sustainable Peace

On April 10th, South Sudan experts Ambassador Princeton Lyman and Susan Stigant, of the United States Institute of Peace discussed the current situation in South Sudan and what Congress can do to stop the spread of famine and genocide.

Lauren Ploch-Blanchard of the Congressional Research Service moderated the discussion.

This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.


Ambassador Princeton Lyman

Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman served as United States special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013.  As special envoy he led U.S. policy in helping in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Ambassador Lyman previously held the position of Ralph Bunche Fellow for African Affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. From 1999 to 2003, he was executive director of the Global Interdependence Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

Ambassador Lyman’s previous career in government included assignments as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs (1981-1986), U.S. ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989), director of refugee programs (1989-1992), U.S. ambassador to South Africa (1992-1995), and assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs (1996-1998). From 2008-2010, he was a member of the African Advisory Committee to the United States Trade Representative. He began his government career with the U.S. Agency for International Development and served as USAID director in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1976 to 1978.


Susan Stigant

Susan Stigant is the director of Africa programs in the Middle East & Africa center at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Stigant’s focus is on the design and implementation of constitution-making processes in post-conflict and transitional states. She has and continues to advise government officials and civil society actors on issues of constitutional reform in Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere. Ms. Stigant also serves as co-chair of USIP’s national dialogue working group, where she coordinates the development of practitioner-focused research and tools to support and evaluate national dialogues as a mechanism for conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Substantively, Stigant’s areas of expertise include constitutional design, civic education and citizen engagement, decentralization and federalism.

Ms. Stigant joined USIP in 2013. Previously, she managed constitutional development and engagement programs in Somalia, Yemen, and South Sudan with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). From 2005-2011, she served as program director with NDI in South Sudan, where she worked with civil society and government officials to support constitutional development, elections, and citizen participation. She also worked with the Forum of Federations on comparative federalism and with the research unit of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in South Africa. Stigant holds a Master’s degree in comparative politics, negotiation, and conflict management from the University of North Carolina and Duke University.


This was the 37th event in the USIP/PSA Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, and educational program designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in the international conflict resolution and prevention field.

USIP-PSA Celebrate 35th Event of Briefing Series

On November 3rd, The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) celebrated the 35th event in the Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention. This series is an educational program that is designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums.

This series has been very successful in providing an opportunity for staff to receive fact-based updates on conflict around the world and discuss opportunities for bipartisan consensus. It has featured events on conflict resolution in countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia, and Pakistan. The series has also focused on how to prevent conflict by hosting briefings on issues including countering violent extremism in Africa and civil nonviolent resistance.

Notable speakers include General John Allen, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Congressman Jim Kolbe, Dr. Andrew Wilder, and Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Over the lifetime of the program, this briefing series has hosted hundreds of congressional foreign policy and national security staffers.

 

Civil Non-Violent Resistance: Why it Works and Why it Matters

Dr. Maria Stephan, Senior Policy Fellow at the US Institute of Peace, and two prominent activists who led civil resistance campaigns in conflict zones discussed the importance of non-violent resistance, what makes these campaigns successful and what Congress can do to ensure their success.


Dr. Maria J. Stephan

Dr. Maria J. Stephan is a senior policy fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where she focuses on the dynamics of civil resistance and their relevance for violent conflict prevention and democratic development. Previously, Stephan was lead foreign affairs officer in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), where she worked on both policy and operations.  Earlier, she was detailed to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan to focus on subnational governance and civil-military planning. Prior to government service, Stephan directed policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), a DC-based NGO dedicated to developing and disseminating knowledge about nonviolent struggle.  She is the co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2011).  The latter book was awarded the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Prize by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science and the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.


Omolola Adele-Oso

Omolola “Lola” Adele-Oso serves as the Executive Director & Co-Founder of Act4Accountability (ACT4). ACT4’s mission is to create a culture of accountability among Africans and in the Diaspora. She advocates for accountability and transparency and develops tools that promote civil engagement and social change. Prior to joining ACT4 Lola served as the Program Manager at Taproot Foundation’s Washington, DC office. As Program Manager, Lola oversaw Taproot’s docket of projects in the Washington, DC area. Her role was to offer support and serve as the liaison between Pro Bono Consultants and the nonprofits seeking their expertise. Previously, Lola served as the Operation Manager and Community Organizer at National AIDS Housing Coalition. She was also a Project Manager and Designer at GTM Architects for six years. Omolola attended Howard University and studied Architecture and earned a Bachelors degree in 2001. Lola received her Master’s degree in Organization Development in May 2013.


Ielyzaveta Shchepetylnykova

Ielyzaveta (Liza) Shchepetylnykova is a Fulbright scholar at the George Washington University and a monitor of academic freedom violations in Ukraine at the Scholars at Risk Network. Prior to joining the Fulbright Program, Liza served as a president of the Ukrainian Association of Student Self-government – the national union of students in Ukraine, which represents students of the country in higher education decision-making on national and international level. Liza led Ukrainian student protests during the Euromaidan and represented youngsters, as a Maidan Council Presidium Member. Likewise, she was charring work of the Maidan Council committee on youth and students issues, acting in the protection of young protesters rights and building international solidarity network with young people from other countries. After victory of Euromaidan she was among the movement representatives nominated for the Sakharov prize by the European Parliament.


Addressing Drivers of Extremism in Africa

Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, USIP Program Officer, and Kate Almquist Knopf, the Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, discussed U.S. efforts to counter violent extremism in Africa.


Kate Almquist Knopf

Kate Almquist Knopf is the director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), Ms. Knopf was most recently a senior advisor for the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI); she has also been a visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and a member of the adjunct faculty of the Africa Center since 2010.
Ms. Knopf previously held several senior positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including as assistant administrator for Africa (2007-2009), Sudan mission director (2006-2007), deputy assistant administrator for Africa (2004-2006), and special assistant and senior policy advisor to the administrator (2001-2004).


Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

strong>Muhammad Fraser-Rahim is a program officer for Africa programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. His areas of expertise include security sector reform, countering violent extremism (CVE) and community oriented policing in Africa. Prior to joining USIP, Mr. Fraser-Rahim worked for the United States Government for more than a decade providing strategic advice and executive branch analytical support on CVE to the White House and the National Security Council. Mr. Fraser-Rahim has conducted original research in more than 40 countries on the African continent, and has worked as a conflict mediator, ESL instructor and adjunct professor on topics related to Africa, CVE and international relations. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University in African Studies with a focus on Islamic Thought, Spirituality and Modernity, and holds a master’s degree from Howard University in History.

The PSA/USIP Series: Ambassador Johnnie Carson – Why We Can No Longer Ignore Africa

The Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held an off-the-record, bipartisan group discussion with former Ambassador Johnnie Carson, whose appointments include Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs and Ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994).

Following President Obama’s June 27-July 2 visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, Ambassador Carson discussed why critical elements – including economic opportunities, national security priorities, and democratic developments – in Sub-Saharan Africa are now drawing renewed interest in the United States. Upcoming Congressional consideration of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade pact renewal, new opportunities for security partnerships targeting emerging threats from violent extremism and international terrorism, and rising foreign competition for resources and allies in the region highlight the rising importance of Africa in U.S. foreign policy.


Ambassador Johnnie Carson is Senior Advisor to the President of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Previously, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs from May 2009 to March 2013.

A retired U.S. ambassador, Johnnie Carson spent 37 years working for the Foreign Service, mostly on assignments throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to serving as Assistant Secretary of the State Department for the Bureau of African Affairs, he was the National Intelligence Officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council, after serving as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C.

Carson’s Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997-1999). Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982-1986), Botswana (1986-1990), Mozambique (1975-1978), and Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971-1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978-1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives (1979-1982).

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Drake University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies at the University of London.

Ambassador Carson is the recipient of several Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State and a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Centers for Disease Control presented Ambassador Carson its highest award, “Champion of Prevention Award,” for his leadership in directing the U.S. Government’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.

Carson is married and has two daughters and a son.


This was the sixth event of the PSA/USIP Congressional Briefing Series – topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, an educational program designed to provide congressional staff opportunities to engage with leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in the international conflict resolution and prevention field.

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