Daniel Serwer

Daniel Serwer

Academic Director of Conflict Management
Conflict Management

Rome 416


  • Afghanistan
  • Balkans
  • Eastern Europe
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Middle East
  • Northern Africa
  • Pakistan
  • South Asia
  • Western Europe
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
  • Energy Issues
  • European Union and Transatlantic Relations
  • Foreign Aid and Global Poverty
  • Governance
  • Nation-building and Democratization
  • Peacekeeping
  • Strategic and Security Issues
  • Italian

Background and Education

Also a scholar at the Middle East Institute, Daniel Serwer is the author of Righting the Balance (Potomac Books, November 2013), editor (with David Smock) of Facilitating Dialogue (USIP, 2012) and supervised preparation of Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction (USIP, 2009).  Righting the Balance focuses on how to strengthen the civilian instruments of American foreign policy to match its strong military arm.  Facilitating Dialogue analyzes specific cases and best practices in getting people to talk to each other in conflict zones. Guiding Principles is the leading compilation of best practices for civilians and military in post-war state-building. 

As vice president of the Centers of Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Serwer led teams working on rule of law, peacebuilding, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance and gender. He was also vice president for peace and stability operations at USIP, overseeing its peacebuilding work in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Iraq and Sudan and serving as executive director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group.  

As a minister-counselor at the U.S. Department of State, Serwer directed the European office of intelligence and research and served as U.S. special envoy and coordinator for the Bosnian Federation, mediating between Croats and Muslims and negotiating the first agreement reached at the Dayton Peace Talks; from 1990 to 1993, he was deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, leading a major diplomatic mission through the end of the Cold War and the first Gulf War.

Serwer is a graduate of Haverford College and earned masters degrees at the University of Chicago and Princeton, where he also did his PhD in history. 

Serwer blogs at www.peacefare.net and tweets @DanielSerwer

This book focus...

This book focuses on the origins, consequences, and aftermath of the 1995 and 1999 Western military interventions that led to the end of the most recent Balkan wars. Conflict prevention and state-building efforts thereafter have been partly successful, though challenging problems remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Each of these is examined on its own merits, as well as their prospects for entry into NATO and the EU, whose doors are in principle open to all the Balkan states. The lessons learned are applied to the Middle East and Ukraine, which lack the Western teleology of the Balkans, even if some of their identity-based conflicts and their consequences for sovereignty and territorial integrity are similar. This accessible treatment of what makes war and how to make peace will appeal to both scholarly and lay readers interested in how violent international conflicts can be managed.

Forthcoming, December 2018,
Pallgrave McMillan

How You Can Help Protect America
Potomac Books, ...

Potomac Books, 2013.

When Daniel Serwer is asked what he does, he often replies, “I make peace. I put it in cans and ship it abroad.” That pursuit of peace took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, and many places in between during Serwer’s forty years in public service.

His experiences at the sharp end of foreign policy have shaped his view of the United States’ ability to protect itself from today’s threats. In Righting the Balance, Serwer focuses on what should be done to protect the United States by offering alternatives that move away from an exclusive reliance on the military. Most fundamentally, Serwer stresses that civilians—diplomats, aid workers, UN officials, humanitarians, police trainers, lawyers, judges, and entrepreneurs—can and should be involved in helping bring about peace.

Righting the Balance offers a proposal to reform our civilian institutions for the twenty-first century so that they can help deliver real results in the search for peace even when confronting difficult conditions in faraway places.

Spring 2019 
Since the end o...
Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has grappled with the challenge of stabilizing and reconstructing failed states and war-torn societies, from Haiti to Afghanistan, Liberia to Iraq. The record of these efforts has been decidedly mixed. Yet the persistence of state failure, internal violence and human suffering means that the United States and its partners will face continual pressure to intervene in and assist the recovery of conflict prone-societies. This course seeks to provide students with a thorough understanding of the main assumptions, actors, challenges and dilemmas in contemporary "nation-building" exercises. Drawing on the historical record and more recent experiences, we will seek to clarify the nature of the task(s); identify the requirements for sustainable reconstruction and peace-building; examine the evolving roles and approaches of the United States, the United Nations, host governments and other key actors; analyze the determinants of success or failure in recent cases; and develop policy options for contemporary challenges. The course will include simulations, role plays and oral presentations as well as written papers. Please note that in order to accommodate simulations and role plays, five sessions at the beginning of the spring semester will extend until 9pm.