Peace Picks February 18 – 21

1.Urbanization and Insecurity: Crowding, Conflict, and Gender

Tuesday, February 18 | 12:00 – 2:00pm

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW


Recent comparative studies of rapidly growing cities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have identified a variety of threats to women’s personal security and an equally varied set of government and community responses. This seminar features presentations of the results of large-scale comparative studies as well as ethnographic studies that highlight the role of gender in urban violence.

Alison Brysk
Mellichamp Chair in Global Governance, Professor, University of California Santa Barbara

Richard Cincotta
Global Fellow
Demographer in Residence, The Stimson Center

Caroline Wanjiku Kihato
Visiting Senior Researcher, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Alfred Omenya
Principal Researcher & Architect, Eco-Build Africa, Nairobi

2. Moving Beyond Coal: Shifting China onto a Path Toward 100% Renewable Electricity

Wednesday, February 19 | 9:00 – 11:00am

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW


2013 was a bad air year for China, bookended with “airpocalypses” that left Chinese cities blanketed in thick smog for weeks. Much of the fine particulates that created this smog came from coal plant emissions, as the Chinese government approved the construction of more than 100 million tons of new coal production capacity last year, a six-fold increase over 2012. So although China is the world’s leading investor in clean energy technologies, coal remains king. But more than ever, pollution problems are threatening coal’s reign.

On February 19th, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum (CEF) together with WWF will host a panel delves into the ambitious question of how China can entirely phase out coal from the country’s electricity mix. The discussion will be anchored by a new WWF and Energy Transition Research Institute (Entri) report China’s Future Generation: Assessing the Maximum Potential for Renewable Power Sources in China to 2050 that assesses the scenarios at which China can technically transition to majority renewable electricity over the next 36 years. The analysis shows that with existing commercially available technology and aggressive policies shifting the country away from energy-intensive industries, around 80 percent of China’s electricity generation can be met by renewable sources by 2050. The report will be released the day of this meeting and available online. The panel of industry, research, and NGO representatives will reflect on the near-term opportunities for businesses and the gaps that NGOs and other stakeholders could fill to accelerate this transition.

Lunyan Lu
Climate & Energy Program Director, WWF China

William Chandler
Research Director, Energy Transition Research Institute

Wenqian Tang
Executive Vice Secretary-General, Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association

Ethan Zindler
Global Head of Policy Analysis, Bloomberg New Energy Finance

3. Reestablishing US Diplomatic Presence in Iran

Wednesday, February 19 | 10am

12th floor, Atlantic Council; 1030 15th Street NW


The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center invites you to a discussion of a new report published by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans entitled Establishing an American-Staffed Interests Section in Iran: Advancing US National Security and Serving American Citizens. The report, written by Iran Task Force member and analyst Ramin Asgard, reviews the pros and cons of opening a US Interests Section in Tehran staffed by American diplomats.

Thirty-four years after the United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran in the throes of the hostage crisis, US-Iran relations are improving as a result of successful negotiations on an interim nuclear agreement. In his report, Asgard argues that an official presence in Iran through a US Interests Section is in the national security interest of the United States, and now is the time to seek the return of American diplomats to Tehran. The proposed Interests Section would process visas for Iranians, provide services to Americans and dual nationals, and facilitate academic and cultural exchanges between Iranians and Americans. It would allow for direct contact between officials of the United States and ordinary Iranian citizens for the first time since 1979. The panelists will explore the short- and long-term implications of re-establishing a US diplomatic presence in Iran.

Ramin Asgard
Former US Foreign Service Officer 

John Limbert
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and former US hostage in Tehran

Morad Ghorban
Director, Government Affairs and Policy – Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans

Introduced and moderated by
Barbara Salvin
Senior Fellow, South Asia Center – Atlantic Council

4. Leveraging Civil Society in Afghanistan

Wednesday, February 19 | 1:30pm – 3pm

Despite investing over $647.1 billion in Afghanistan over the past decade, insecurity and terrorism continue to plague the country. Specialists at the World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE) argue that effective civil society engagement is the missing piece towards securing Afghanistan’s future. Please join us for the launch of the WORDE report, “Afghanistan 2014 and Beyond: The Role of Civil Society in Peace building and Countering Violent Extremism.” Hosted by Dr. Robert D. Lamb of CSIS, the panel features the report’s authors, as well as special guest, General John R. Allen (U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.), who recently served as the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces, Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to share his perspectives on engaging Afghan civil society following the 2014 troop withdrawal.

General John R. Allen, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) and Distinguished Fellow, The Brookings Institution 

Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, President, WORDE

Mehreen Farooq, Senior Fellow, WORDE 

Waleed Ziad, Director of South and Central Asia Programs, WORDE

5. The Gulf States and the Contest for the Middle East

Sponsored by the Reserve Officers Association and the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on National Security and Program on the Middle East

Wednesday, February 19 | 1:45 – 4:00pm

Reserve Officers Association, 1 Constitution Ave NE

To register for this event, please email
Register here for the webcast

In the latest chapter in festering geopolitical competition over dominance in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, the proxy war in Syria between Iran and the Gulf States has garnered worldwide attention. A panel discussion made up of regional experts and international relations scholars will explore the dangerous regional balance of power and examine courses of action.

Amin Tarzi
Director of Middle East Studies at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA and Senior Fellow at FRPI

Brandon Friedman
Research Fellow, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, and Senior Fellow, FPRI

Jakub Grygiel
George H.W. Bush Senior Associate Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and Senior Fellow, FPRI

6. East Africa’s Oil and Gas Boom – Promise and Peril

Thursday, February 20 | 9am – 2:30pm

Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW

Register here for the live webcast

Recent discoveries of oil and gas reserves in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique have the potential to greatly impact and transform economies in East Africa. More than 50 wells were completed in the region in 2012, delivering nearly half of conventional oil and gas resources found worldwide that year. Used responsibly, billions of dollars of new government revenues will support investments in infrastructure and social services; at the same time, these discoveries can engender or exacerbate local conflicts, fuel corruption, negatively impact the environment, and disrupt local communities and livelihoods.

On February 20, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings and Oxfam America will live webcast a multi-panel discussion on the East African oil and gas boom. Speakers from government, the private sector, civil society, think tanks and academia will examine the contours of the boom; how to maximize benefits from the sector; lessons from other new producers, such as Ghana; the risks facing these countries; and the necessary policy responses needed to make the most of this new found wealth while protecting the rights of people and the environment.

7. Peace Prospects in the Great Lakes: A Discussion with U.S. Special Envoy Russell D. Feingold

Thursday, February 20 | 1:00 – 2:30pm

U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW


Africa’s Great Lakes region has been a violent and unstable for years. April marks 20 years since the Rwandan genocide resulted in the deaths of half a million people in 100 days. Conflict in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo alone has displaced or killed more than 5 million residents in the past two decades, making it the deadliest war in Africa’s modern history. The region is challenged by ethnic tensions, the exploitation of resources, the continued use of child soldiers, dozens of armed rebel armed groups, and violence against women. Russ Feingold, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, described the area as “one of the greatest human tragedies not only in Africa, but in the entire world.”

There is reason for cautious optimism, however. War weariness, enhanced international attention to the crisis, more effective UN intervention and a Peace, Security & Cooperation Framework are providing a fragile platform for progress. Part of this cautious optimism stems from the naming of a full-time U.S. envoy, working in collaboration with other influential envoys.

USIP is pleased to host Russ Feingold, former U.S. senator and currently the U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, for a discussion of his perspectives on peace in the region, the challenges and opportunities for resolving the ongoing crisis in eastern Congo and the Great Lakes, and his strategy for achieving his mandate as lead U.S. representative.

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Introduction and Moderator
Senior Advisor to the President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Russ Feingold, Keynote Remarks
U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, U.S. Department of State

8. Symposium on Language, Peace, and Security

Friday, February 21 | 1 – 5pm

U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW

To register for this event, please email

The role of language—both as a means of communication and as an expression of identity – is a vital consideration for any serious discussion of peace and security. The Symposium on Language, Peace, and Security, which marks UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, will:

Look at the overlooked linguistic and educational dimensions of a simmering conflict pitting Pattani Malay-speaking Muslims against the government of Thailand.

Address the importance of ensuring linguistic human rights through educational policies and practices that value and promote linguistic diversity.

Consider language policy in education and how it may serve to exacerbate or mitigate violence.

Can careful consideration of language and communications in discussions of peace and security lead to real solutions to conflicts? How do issues of language, language complexity, and communication play out in peace-building efforts and ongoing security? How can language issues be identified and addressed effectively in policy planning and execution?

Join SIL International, the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and the United States Institute of Peace for an exploration of these issues at the Symposium on Language, Peace, and Security on February 21, 2014.

Keynote Presenters:
Patricia Friedrich
Associate Professor of Linguistics/Rhetoric and Composition, Arizona State University

Suwilai Presrirat
Professor of Linguistics and Founder of the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand

Terrence Wiley
President, Center for Applied Linguistics

Zeena Zakharia
Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education, University of Massachusetts, Boston

George A. Lopez, Keynote Discussant
Vice President of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace

Peter Weinberger, Moderator
Senior Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace

Perspectives from the Grassroots
Community-based practitioners reflect on the relevance of language to peace and security.
Joel Trudel, SIL International; Unian Samoh, Mahidol University; Cecilia Ochoa, Save the Children; Micael Olsson, World Vision

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