USIP is proud to partner with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on the annual National High School Essay Contest for 2017-2018. The contest each year engages high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, encouraging appreciation for diplomacy's role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security.
Why Diplomacy and Peacebuilding Matter
The United States has many tools to advance and defend its foreign policy and national security interests around the world-from diplomatic approaches pursued by members of the Foreign Service, to the range of options available to the U.S. military. In countries affected by or vulnerable to violent conflict, peacebuilding tools are important additions to the national security toolkit.
In such complex environments, cooperation across agencies and approaches is challenging, but it can also blend knowledge and skills in ways that strengthen the overall effort to establish a lasting peace. On the other hand, lack of coordination can lead to duplication of effort, inefficient use of limited resources and unintended consequences.
In a 1,000-1,250-word essay, identify two cases-one you deem successful and one you deem unsuccessful-where the U.S. pursued an integrated approach to build peace in a conflict-affected country. Analyze and compare these two cases, addressing the following questions:
A) What relative strengths did members of the Foreign Service and military actors bring to the table? What peacebuilding tools were employed? Ultimately, what worked or did not work in each case?
B) How was each situation relevant to U.S. national security interests?
C) What lessons may be drawn from these experiences for the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy more broadly?