Peacebuilding as a U.S.-Japan Alliance Mission: Developing a Complementary “Whole-of-Alliance” Approach

Last updated April 13, 2012

Since the end of the Cold War, failed states have multiplied at an alarming rate, requiring increased attention and action from the international community as their polities become vulnerable to criminal networks, paramilitary groups, and terrorist organizations that threaten the livelihood of civilians as well as efforts to promote stability and sustainable development.  While the United States and Japan have tried to respond to this broad challenge, they have generally done so in a piecemeal fashion, often without a proper understanding of local realities or lessons learned from previous operations.  The two allies have also rarely harmonized their stabilization operations with each other or with international organizations, resulting in missed opportunities and sub-optimal performance.  Furthermore, both the United States and Japan have struggled domestically to implement a whole-of-government approach that can fully integrate existing military and civilian resources across multiple agencies to achieve greater effectiveness in peacebuilding operations.

Working together with partners from Osaka University’s School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) and others, IFPA has undertaken a two-year research and dialogue project aimed at helping to narrow peacebuilding strategy gaps between Japan and the United States and placing this mission squarely on a renewed alliance agenda.  To accomplish this goal, IFPA has assembled a group of seven core research members representing U.S., Japanese, and UN perspectives to evaluate the allies' peacebuilding cooperation in two of the most intractable cases of collapsed states: Afghanistan and Sudan. Over the past year, the project team has examined ways to broaden bilateral peacebuilding cooperation beyond the UN agenda so that officials in both countries can be made aware of opportunities to work together in a “whole-of-alliance” approach to maximize peacebuilding efforts in the field.

In line with this objective, IFPA held a one-day workshop on April 29, 2011, in Washington, D.C., entitled “Peacebuilding as a U.S.-Japan Alliance Mission: Developing a Complementary ‘Whole-of-Alliance’ Approach.” The purpose of this event was to convene a group of experts and practitioners to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the United States and Japan in international peacebuilding operations. The workshop discussions were led by the seven core research members, with additional participants from the government and NGO sector contributing to an open exchange of ideas about how Japan and the United States can best cooperate and work synergistically in a whole-of-alliance approach to peacebuilding operations in vulnerable or failing states.

Following the conclusion of the workshop and publication of the core research members’ papers, IFPA is set to begin year two of the project by taking the initial findings and further developing a framework for cooperation centered on the critical seam between stabilization and peace consolidation (based on shared priorities). Follow-up research and interviews will be conducted, along with a second round of workshops and conferences.  The second phase of the project will provide an opportunity to test the most promising avenues of cooperation and to address some of the practical problems that could impede such cooperation.  Based on the supplemental project research, IFPA will prepare a final comprehensive project report for publication and broad dissemination to policy makers and experts on both sides of the Pacific.